Jane Carlile now came into her own. We cannot know what her thoughts on reform were, or how political were her beliefs. Certainly, there were women marching at the St. Peter's Field rally in support of women's emancipation. Whether Jane supported their views, we don't know. But she took over publication of The Republican in her husband's absence, and the journal from those days bear her name as publisher. She was from modest origins in Devon; Richard himself had only six years of schooling. How much, I wonder, did she have? Nevertheless she defended her husband's agitation for freedom of the press, and continued his work.
In 1821, she was herself charged with seditious libel. At that time, she pleaded that she had taken on the role of publisher only out of 'conjugal duty'. Did she, or was she a reformer, convinced of the rightness of their cause by the poor working conditions and worse situation of many of her contemporaries? Whatever the truth of her convictions, she was sentenced to two years in Dorchester Gaol, and shared a cell with her husband. (Their marriage, already in difficulty, was not enhanced by this enforced cohabitation.)
At this point, Carlile's sister, Mary-Anne stepped into the role as publisher for The Republican. It is difficult to imagine that duty alone led her to risk imprisonment. Was she also a woman of strong belief in the reform movement? Did she fight for women's equality and subscribe to the principles of republicanism? Whether she did or did not, she too was sentenced to gaol, for six months, in 1821. In 1823, she petitioned the House of Commons for her release as she was still being held because she could not pay the fines levied on her.
The Republican continued to be published despite the difficulties of its publishers. Richard Carlile, when he left prison, went on to agitate for change, becoming more and more radical, alienating supporters and eventually advocating free love, and something he called 'moral divorce' and subsequently 'moral marriage'.
Here's to you, Jane and Mary-Anne. I hope your lives proved fulfilling and successful.
'Til next time,
The following publications are available in their entirety at Google Books--
"Suppressed Defence: The Defence of Mary-Anne Carlile to the Vice Society's Indictment..."
"The Debate in the House of Commons...Mary-Ann Carlile..."
"The Trials with the Defences at Large...for Selling the Publications of Richard Carlile..."
"The Republican, Volume I"
"The Republican, Volume III"
"The Republican, Volume IV"
The trials of Jane Carlile are not available although there are a variety of listings. A search on 'Jane Carlile' will show what is available.