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Nursing Mothers: Dissenting Women and Opposition Politics

  • Melinda S. Zook
Chapter
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Part of the Early Modern History: Society and Culture book series

Abstract

Between 1663 and 1665, informants to Secretary of State, Sir Joseph Williamson, reported on one Mrs. Holmes, living at St. Lawrence Lane, London. Jane Holmes was reputed to be a “great patroness of the worst sort of people.” She consorted with regicides and Rump MPs. She frequented prisons and encouraged those that were in “greatest opposition to the government.” A widow of “great estate,” she spent her money liberally among “those that lie in wait to disturb the peace of the kingdom … and gains with her money from the Church daily and under the pretense of charity corrupts many and wanting people.”2 She was hardly alone. Spy reports in the 1660s are filled with stories about women of various social groups who were thought to be aiding and abetting political opposition to the government. How so? What exactly were these women doing and what made them so dangerous that the government paid informants to spy on their travels, haunts, friends, and neighbors? Not surprisingly, they were doing what women in persecutory societies have often done throughout Western history. They were nurturing the faith and fortifying the faithful by acting as missionaries and organizers, working for the reprieve and release of political and religious prisoners, publishing and distributing sectarian literature, patronizing preachers, supporting nonconformist families in trouble, and more.

Keywords

State Trial Nurse Mother Fellow Traveler Religious Liberty Elite Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Melinda S. Zook 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melinda S. Zook
    • 1
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityUSA

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