‘Doing good by wholesale’: women, gender, and politics in the family network of Thomas Fowell Buxton

Kathryn Gleadle

in Borderline Citizens

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780197264492
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734274 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

‘Doing good by wholesale’: women, gender, and politics in the family network of Thomas Fowell Buxton

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This chapter focuses on a family network and considers how the various sites of political engagement — the ‘public’ sphere, the parochial realm, and the family — functioned together in the construction of subjectivities and political experience. It examines the conceptualization of female influence, the gendered complexities of collaborative authorship, the construction of corporate family identities, the problematic position of women within the civic sphere (as compared to the parochial sphere), and the significance of gendered space for the constitution of female political subjectivity. Since the publication of Clare Midgley's acclaimed study of female anti-slavery activism, the involvement of women in the campaign to liberate slaves in Britain's colonial territories has become a firmly established feature of our understanding of nineteenth-century political culture. This chapter analyses the family network involved in one particular anti-slavery organization: the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and the Civilization of Africa (African Civilization Society), whose founder and leading light, Thomas Fowell Buxton, presented the famous ladies' anti-slavery petition to parliament in 1833.

Keywords: Thomas Fowell Buxton; family network; gendered space; public sphere; parochial realm; female influence; slavery; Britain; African Civilization Society

Chapter.  13984 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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