Friday, 11 March 2016

Susanna Inge: photo and letters of a female Chartist

Susanna Inge and Mary Ann Walker of the City of London Female Charter Association have always been fascinating characters in the Chartist story – not least for their willingness to stand up for women’s right to a political voice.

But as with so many Chartists, their involvement with the movement represented just one episode of their lives.

Neither was previously known to have had any political involvement, and both disappeared back into obscurity after no more than two years in the spotlight. So where did they come from, and what happened to them in later life?

I am thrilled to be able to say that the life of Susanna Inge is no longer a mystery.

A photograph of her in later life has come to light, she has been identified in baptismal, census and death records. And, excitingly, a cache of letters, poems and short stories has been found.

The story of Susanna Inge’s life now appears on ChartistAncestors, so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice to say it includes lowly origins and a struggle to learn to write, the birth of a son (most likely outside marriage), emigration and a long if hard life which took her into the early years of the 20th century.

I am enormously grateful to Lorna P Cowan, a family historian who though not a direct descendent of Susanna Inge is related to her and has kindly shared her research with me.

Among her family papers, Lorna has a number of letters and other documents written by Susanna and sent to her nieces in London from the 1870s onwards. She also did all the hard work of identifying and tracking Susanna through the official records.

And it is thanks to her contact with Susanna’s direct descendants that the photograph has been found.

Read about the life of Susanna Inge.

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