The Female Advocate

The Female Advocate

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Mary Ann Radcliffe (c. 1746 - 1810 or after) was an important British figure in the early feminist movement. She was born Mary Ann Clayton in Nottingham, the elder daughter of a successful Anglican merchant James Clayton and his Catholic wife Sarah Blatherwick and christened at St Nicholas Nottingham on 18 June 1746. James Clayton was already 70 at the time of Mary Ann's birth and died when she was four. Mary Ann's sister Sarah predeceased him leaving Mary Ann as his heiress. Radcliffe was raised as a Catholic by her mother and educated at the Bar Convent in York. Mary Ann eloped to marry Joseph Radcliffe of Coxwold, Yorkshire at age 15. Initially they were married in private by a Catholic priest, but Radcliffe's guardians insisted that she be married in the Anglican Church and the marriage was conducted at St Nicholas' in Nottingham on 2 May 1762. The couple had eight children in quick succession, Ann, Mary Sarah, Joseph, James, Charles, Winifred and Frances. The two latter died as infants. Financial difficulties due to their growing family forced Joseph Radcliffe to invest in the sugar industry, and after unsuccessful speculations Mary Ann's inheritance was depleted. The family estates in three counties inherited from James Clayton were sold to pay Joseph's debts. From this point in 1783 Mary Ann's husband could not provide for the family. She sought positions as a housekeeper at Traquair House, governess, and in a milliner shop. With hard work she was able to put her sons, Joseph, James and Charles through school. Joseph Radcliffe Senior found work as house steward to Sir John Stanley,6th Baronet Stanley at Alderley Park in1783 and was never to see Mary Ann Radcliffe again. Joseph Radcliffe senior died in 1804. Mary Ann's eldest son Joseph became a merchant, her second son James a pastrycook in Holborn and her youngest son Charles after absconding from the army became a successful though minor painter who died in Salem Massachusetts in 1806. Of Mary Ann and her husband, William Radcliffe the Rouge Croix Pursuivant writes "Joseph Radclyffe of Coxwold, born in 1726, married the heiress of James Clayton of Nottingham. "Having some little fortune of his own, which was improved by that of his wife, he soon after his marriage kept a house in Grosvenor Square, with a coach and four, and kept it up as the means lasted. His widow, a clever sensible woman, kept a ready-made shoe shop, in about 1795, in Oxford Street, and is now (1810) in Edinburgh, on the bounty, I believe, of some old female acquaintance." While working as housekeeper at Traquair House for the Earl of Traquair and his wife, the former Mary Ravenscroft - a student with Radcliffe at the Bar Convent, Radcliffe befriended the controversial Scottish theologian Alexander Geddes. This friendship was to last until his death in 1802. Geddes encouraged her to follow her conscience, leading to her abandonment of Catholicism. This led to further estrangement from her friends and supporters and increased her difficulties in finding employment. Her Memoirs, commenced in 1807, were written to raise money after her final business venture, a pastry shop near Portobello in Scotland failed due to Mary Ann's rheumatism and failing health. By the time of the publications of her Memoirs in 1810 she was living on the charity of her friend, Mrs Ferrier of St John's Hill in Edinburgh. Ferrier and Watersons Wax Chandlers of High Street, Edinburgh were the point of sale for the book.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 70 pages
  • 177.8 x 254 x 4.06mm | 190.51g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514150964
  • 9781514150962
  • 1,819,666