Leading female figure in the anti-slavery movement
Jane Smeal, the daughter of William Smeal, a Quaker tea merchant from Glasgow, was one of the leading female figures in the anti-slavery movement. Jane joined with Elizabeth Pease to help women form their own anti-slavery societies. Jane established the Glasgow Ladies Emancipation Society whereas Elizabeth created the Darlington Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society. By 1837 there were eight of these women's groups. In March 1838, Jane and Elizabeth published a pamphlet, Address to the Women of Great Britain, where they urged women to form female anti-slavery associations to speak at public meetings.
The Richardson, Wigham and Smeal families were very much intermingled by marriage. Eliza Wigham was the daughter of Jane Richardson and John Wigham, Jane Smeal became her stepmother. John Wigham’s cousin, also John, married Sarah Pease who was Elizabeth’s Pease’s sister.
In the 1840s, Jane, along with her close friends, Elizabeth Pease and Anne Knight, were supporters of the Moral Force Chartist movement.
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