The Forgotten Women of Wakefield

Forgotten Women Wake

Mary Frances Heaton

Mary Frances Heaton

In 1837, aged in her 30s, Doncaster-born Mary was committed to the asylum. She had caused a disturbance during a church service, demanding to be paid for music lessons she had delivered to the local preacher’s daughter.

According to the Forgotten Women researchers, in one of the surviving samplers, stitched by Mary prior to her time in the asylum, she writes: “I wish the vicar would submit to arbitration my claim against him for music lessons given to his daughter, regularly, twice a week, during the years 1834 and 1835.”

It would appear he had refused to pay Mary for her services, and so denied any opportunity for negotiation on the matter, she called him out in public – which of course made her dangerous and “insane”.

“Speaking out, getting excited, challenging male authority and refusing to conform would quickly be used as evidence of insanity,” our researchers note.” These kinds of actions were seen as ‘irrational’.”

Mary stayed at the institution until she was transferred to an asylum in South Yorkshire in 1873.

Mary’s Blue Plaque can be found on the old Clock Tower at the original hospital site, now known as Stanley Royd.

Mary is Blue Plaque number 15 in our quest for #BluePlaqueParity.

We unveiled Mary’s blue plaque as part of the Suppressed Suffragist Exhibition supporting the Unfinished Business Exhibition from London Library September 2020 at Wakefield Library.

 

Mary Frances Heaton Broadsheets

Find out all about Mary and her hardships and quiet forms of resistance with our broadsheets below. Just click on broadsheet page you wish to read and then double click to zoom in and read at your leisure. Please contact us if you require the text in a different format.

Artistic Expression Based on Mary's Story

Listen to “The Unravelling Fantasia of Miss H” Audio Play here!

Creative Workshops before lockdown, Wakefield Artwalk and The Hepworth Wellbeing Event

Mary's Blue Plaque Unveiling

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