Boucherett, Emilia Jessie (DNB12)

BOUCHERETT, EMILIA JESSIE (1825–1905), advocate of women's progress, born in November 1825 at Willingham, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, was youngest child of Ayscoghe Boucherett (1791-1857) (third of the name) by his wife Louisa, daughter of Frederick John Pigou of Dartford, Kent. The father, who was high sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1820, and published 'A Few Observations on Corn, Currency, &c., with a Plan for promoting the Interests of Agriculture' (1840), descended from Mathew Boucheret, a Frenchman who was naturalised in this country in 1644 and became lord of the manor at Willingham. That property remained in the possession of his issue until its extinction. An elder sister, Louisa (1821-1895), a pioneer of the movement for boarding out pauper children, succeeded to the family estates on the death unmarried in 1877 of her only surviving brother, Henry Robert, high sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1866. On Louisa's death in 1895 the property passed to Emilia Jessie, the last of the family.

Jessie was educated at the school of the four Miss Byerleys (daughters of Josiah Wedgwood's relative and partner, Thomas Byerley) at Avonbank, Stratford-on-Avon, where Mrs. Gaskell had been a pupil. A lover of the country and a bold rider to hounds, Miss Boucherett at the same time read widely. An early study of the 'English-woman's Journal' (founded March 1858) led her to consider means of providing profitable employment for educated women. Coming to London in June 1859, she, in partnership with Adelaide Ann Procter and Barbara Leigh Smith (Madame Bodichon) [q. v. Suppl. I], founded in 1860 the Society for the Promotion of Employment of Women. When John Stuart Mill entered parliament in 1865, and urged the extension of the franchise to women, Jessie Boucherett organised a committee of which Harriet Martineau, Frances Power Cobbe, Mary Somerville, and others were members, to present the first petition on the subject to parliament in 1866. The same year she founded and edited the 'Englishwoman's Review' (with which the earlier 'Journal' was amalgamated). She retired from the editorship in January 1871, but continued to support it until her death.

A strong conservative, and one of the founders of the Freedom of Labour Defence League, she urged the return of the people to the land, and advocated poultry and pig farming as occupations for educated women. She also started a middle-class school in London for training young women as bookkeepers, clerks, and cashiers. She died on 18 Oct. 1905 at North Willingham, and was buried there.

Besides contributions on manorial history and on women's work and culture to the 'Englishwoman's Review,' she wrote articles on industrial women for the 'Edinburgh Review' (1859); on the condition of women in France for the 'Contemporary Review' (May 1867; republished 1868); and on 'Provision for Superfluous Women' for Josephine Butler's 'Essays' (1868).

[The Times, 21 Oct. 1905; Burke's Landed Gentry; Englishwoman's Review, passim; Helen Blackburn's Woman's Suffrage (with portrait); Madame Belloc's Essays on Woman's Work, 1865; Hays, Women of the Day, 1885.]

C. F. S.