Sarah Parker Remond, as an African American and as a woman, had to counter popular British stereotypes and parodies of black speakers.


Brudder Bones’ Book of Stump Speeches, and Burlesque Orations, Also

Containing Humorous Lectures, Ethiopian Dialogue, Plantation Scenes, Negro

Farces and Burlesques, Laughable Interludes, and Comic Recitations

Brudder Bones’s Nigger Dialogues; containing Most Laughable Drolleries and Funny Stories, abounding in Wit, Humour, and Sarcasm, for Representation by Two Delineations of Ethiopian Character at Public or Private Entertainments.

Publisher: Glasgow, Cameron, Ferguson & Company, n.d. [1869]

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In London, Remond often stayed at the home of her close friend and fellow activist, Clementia Taylor.

Taylor [née Doughty], Clementia (1810–1908),was born on 17 December 1810 at Brockdish, Norfolk, one of twelve children of John Doughty (d. 1837), a farmer and tanner, and his wife, Mary (née Simons). The family’s faith was Unitarian and it was probably through a Unitarian connection that Clementia (known to her friends and family as Mentia) was employed as governess to the daughters of a Unitarian minister, J. P. Malleson (1796–1869), who ran a boys’ boarding-school in Hove. On 27 September 1842 at West Gate Chapel, Lewes, she married Peter Alfred Taylor (1819–1891), a cousin of her pupils. Her obituarist was to describe her as:

somewhat tall as well as slight; the features were refined and regular—the head well formed and carried, the hair bright blonde, the brow broad, the speaking grey eyes rather deep set, the nose slightly acquiline [sic], a certain firmness about the mouth, a delicately pointed chin. (Englishwoman’s Review, 157)

P. A. Taylor was a partner in the family firm, Courtaulds, a wealthy man and radical Liberal MP for Leicester (1862–84). After their marriage, which was childless, the couple were involved in the main social and political movements of the day. Clementia Taylor was, from 1845, a close friend of Mazzini, helping him by organizing concerts and bazaars for the benefit of the school for poor Italian children which he had established, and by finding employment for Italian exiles. The Taylors were both concerned that slavery should be abolished: Clementia took under her wing, and into her home, Sarah Parker Remond (1824–1894), a young black woman who toured Britain lecturing on the slavery issue. On the outbreak of the American Civil War she formed the Freedmen’s Aid Association and in 1863 founded and became honorary secretary of the newly formed Ladies’ London Emancipation Society, the first national female anti-slavery society.

In 1860 the Taylors had rented Aubrey House in Kensington, and in 1863 bought its freehold. This early eighteenth-century house, once the country home of Lady Mary Coke, became a centre for mid-nineteenth-century radical movements. Elizabeth Malleson, the daughter-in-law of J. P. Malleson, wrote:
Those monthly [other sources say fortnightly] parties during the London season were unique and very enjoyable, for Mentia and her husband … were admirably free of class prejudice in persons and opinions, so that all kinds of literary people—refugees from several countries—artists and humble lovers of social enjoyment, mingled with supporters of ‘causes’ of all kinds. (Elizabeth Malleson, 98)

The American author Louisa May Alcott also described the charm of Clementia Taylor’s salon:
I consider her a model Englishwoman—simple, sincere and accomplished, full of good sense, intelligence and energy. Her house is open to all, friend and stranger, black and white, rich and poor. Great men and earnest women meet there. … Though wealthy and living in an historical mansion … the hostess [is] the simplest dressed lady. 

In 1846 Clementia Taylor had been on the committee of the Whittington Club, a radical Unitarian venture launched in 1846 which offered working people rational recreation and amusement, while providing libraries, reading-rooms, and lecture halls. Following this initiative, and that of Elizabeth and Frank Malleson in founding the Working Women’s College in 1864, the Taylors opened in 1869, in the grounds of Aubrey House, the Aubrey Institute, to give young men and women the opportunity of rectifying a deficient education. Mary Grant, wife of P. A. Taylor’s secretary, was employed as a teacher and the Taylors equipped a lending library and reading-room with over 500 books. Their friends, many eminent, were volunteer lecturers at the institute, which continued successfully until the Taylors were forced, by P. A.’s ill health, to sell Aubrey House and move to Brighton. Clementia carried on her philanthropic work by establishing in 1875 a Home for Young Women Servants in Pimlico.

Clementia Taylor was on the organizing committee of the 1866 petition in favour of women’s suffrage that J. S. Mill presented to parliament; the 1499 signatures were collated in Aubrey House. She was treasurer of the London Provisional Petition Committee set up in 1866 to capitalize on the momentum created by the Mill petition. It was in Aubrey House that this committee’s successor, the Committee of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, held its first meeting on 5 July 1867. Clementia Taylor took the chair in July 1869 at the first public women’s suffrage meeting ever held in London. She was joint secretary of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage until 1871, when she resigned from the society with other radical members, after a conflict with Mill. At this time George Eliot, a good friend, wrote ‘Welcome back from your absorption in the franchise! Somebody else ought to have your share of work now, and you ought to rest’ (George Eliot Letters, 5.150). However, she carried on supporting the cause, chairing meetings and in 1878 rejoining the executive committee of the central committee of the National Society.

In addition, in the 1870s Clementia Taylor was on the executive committee of the Married Women’s Property Committee (1876–82); a member of the committee of the Ladies’ National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts; treasurer of the Personal Rights Association; and on the general committee of Dr Garrett Anderson’s newly founded Woman’s Hospital in London. She was a member of the council of the Women’s Franchise League when it was formed in 1889, and later joined the Women’s Emancipation Union, still being a member in 1897. In all her associations Clementia Taylor demonstrated a commitment to a radical interpretation of women’s rights. She died at the age of ninety-eight, on 11 April 1908, at her home, 16 Eaton Place, Brighton, after some years of failing health and memory.

ELIZABETH CRAWFORD

From The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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