Josephine Elizabeth Butler

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About Josephine Elizabeth Butler

Josephine Elizabeth Butler (née Grey) was a Victorian era British feminist who was especially concerned with the welfare of prostitutes. She led the long campaign for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts both in Britain and internationally from 1869 to 1886.

Josephine Elizabeth Grey was born at Milfield House, Milfield, Northumberland and was the seventh child of John Grey (1785–1868, b. Milfield, Northumberland) and Hannah Eliza Annett (b. 1792, Alnwick, d. 15 May 1860). The couple married in 1815. John Grey, son of George Grey (d. 1793) and Mary Burn, was an internationally respected agricultural expert, and the cousin of the reformist British Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and a slavery abolitionist himself. He played a significant role in Catholic emancipation, and also worked for the Reform Act 1832. In 1833 he was appointed manager of the Dilston Estate (Greenwich Hospital), near Corbridge, Northumberland, and the family moved there. He lost most of his savings in the fall of 1857, with the failure of the New Castle Bank

Josephine married George Butler (1819-1890 b. Harrow, Middlesex), a scholar and cleric, in 1852, they both shared a broad Christianity, a cultural attachment to Italy, as well as a strong commitment to liberal reforms. George Butler encouraged his wife in her public work, and he would suffer set-backs in his own career on account of his wife's notoriety. She gave birth to four children: George G. (b. 1853, Oxford); Arthur Charles (b. 1855, Oxford); Charles Augustin Vaughan (1857, Clifton, Gloucestershire); Evangeline Mary. (1859–1864), Cheltenham]. The Butlers had strong radical sympathies, including support for the Union in the American Civil War.

Their only daughter, Evangeline died in 1863. This led Josephine to seek solace by ministering to people with greater pain than her own. Against her friends' and family's advice, she began visiting Liverpool's Brownlow Hill workhouse which led to her first involvement with prostitutes.

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Josephine Elizabeth Butler's Timeline

April 13, 1828
Amble, Northumberland, UK
Of Ewart Park, Wooler, Northumberland, England, United Kingdom
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
December 30, 1906
Age 78
Wooler, Northumberland, UK
Kirknewton, Northumberland, England, United Kingdom