Tottenham Female Benefit Club

In October 2018, to celebrate the 220 year anniversary of the founding of the Tottenham Female Benefit Club, a new plaque will be unveiled and a talk given by Associate Professor Susan Johnson, University of Bath titled Reflections on Feminism and Microfinance. Information on the celebrations can be found on the Priscilla Wakefield website here 

Read more about Priscilla’s pioneering work to establish an early form of savings bank.

A previous post on this blog:

Priscilla Wakefield: Tottenham Activist:


Published in: on September 18, 2018 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  


Further research has led me to agree with Janine McVeagh that the date of the picture (below) is earlier than 1774, more likely to be 1771, the year Edward and Priscilla married. It was customary to give gloves as tokens at weddings to the bride, groom and guests. The portrayal of fine clothes and gloves are described in the book Portraits, Painters, and Publics in Provincial England, 1540-1640 by Robert Tittler (DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199585601.001.0001). Although the date coverage of this text is earlier than the marriage his comments are relevant. When discussing gloves in portraits he says:

“We find gloves in all sorts of portraits: of men and women, of the courtly and the non-courtly, the landed gentry and urban tradesmen. We find them in various states: worn, lying on a table, and, most often, as a pair held together in one hand. We also see them in various states of finery and embellishment, from the relatively mundane to the extraordinarily ordinate.” (p.130)

Focusing on the gloves in the portrait Edward is wearing a right-hand glove and holding the left. The unpaired gloves have been described as “aristocratic iconography” by Peter Stallybrass and Ann Rosalind Jones in their article ‘Fetisizing the glove in renaissance Europe’  Catherine wears the long gloves that became popular in the 1700s, according to this website  and looking closely at the seated Priscilla she appears to be wearing fine pale or flesh coloured gloves befitting a bride.

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 8:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Mr and Mrs Wakefield and Catherine Bell


Francis Wheatley (1749-1801), Norfolk Museums Service,  More information here

In 2009 I did post about this picture and received some comments. It was painted  around 1774 and depicts Edward Wakefield, his wife Priscilla (on the right) and Priscilla’s sister Catherine Bell in the centre.  Read about Catherine here

It is such an intriguing composition that seems full of hidden meaning. I welcome any further comment on the background, the position of the subjects, the hands, the objects they are holding and the clothing.

Published in: on July 4, 2018 at 2:05 am  Comments (1)  

Tottenham remembers

In 2018 two Tottenham residents developed a website that highlights many aspects of Priscilla’s life.

Priscilla Wakefield: Tottenham Activist

Follow the associated Twitter account @TottenhamQuaker

Published in: on July 2, 2018 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Familiar science

The following article was published by The Royal Society and features Priscilla and two other women who contributed to what is described as ‘familiar science’.

Eleanor Anne Peters, (2017) “Observation, experiment or autonomy in the domestic sphere? Women’s familiar science writing in Britain, 1790-1830” in Notes and Records 17, 71-90. DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2016.0018

A link to the article is here:



Published in: on June 9, 2018 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Edward Gibbon Wakefield Doctoral Scholarship

The University of Canterbury in New Zealand offers a scholarship in the memory of Edward Gibbon Wakefield who was the grandson of Priscilla Wakefield.

Information about the scholarship is here



Published in: on June 9, 2018 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Online Priscilla

When I first began researching Priscilla Wakefield I had to scour the national libraries to locate print copies of her publications. I had to make appointments and take time off work to visit research libraries. I had to take hand written notes in pencil or pay for expensive photocopies. Times have changed. Internet sites such as this bring together digitized copies of Priscilla’s works

Published in: on December 19, 2014 at 7:47 am  Comments (1)  

Darton & Harvey archive

A recent Internet search has revealed a source related to Priscilla’s publications. It is the Darton & Harvey archive held at the University of Reading. The link to information about this archive is here and Priscilla is noted at the bottom of the entry.

Published in: on November 1, 2014 at 4:52 am  Comments (1)  

More about maps


The inclusion of folded maps was a feature of Priscilla’s travel books. The above image provides a sense of the scale of these maps in comparison to the text. It must have been a source of delight to children to carefully unfold them and follow the adventures of Arthur, Henry Franklin and Sancho in North America.

This image is on the website of an online auction for Excursions in North America with the following description.

third edition, 1 large folding engraved map of North America, some very light browning, contemporary ink inscription to front free endpaper, contemporary blind-stamped calf, gilt, spine gilt in compartments, rubbed, 1819 § Birkbeck (Morris) Notes on a Journey in America , third edition, 1 large folding engraved map ‘from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois’, hand-coloured in outline, some slight soiling, modern morocco, spine gilt, edges uncut, 1818; and 4 others, similar America, 8vo, (6).

Published in: on October 27, 2014 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  


There has been interest from later descendants and academics in researching Priscilla Wakefield. One of the descendants was Mrs Mary Priscilla Mitchell who accumulated a lot of Wakefield material. Following is a link to the transcript of a recording that was made in 1986 and held in the Borrow Collection at Flinders University Click on the ‘view/open’ link to read the transcript.

Of particular interest is the confirmation that Priscilla’s Journals could not be located at that time and appear to be lost.

Published in: on May 25, 2013 at 5:20 am  Comments (1)