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4 The regulation of ‘disordered’ families The profound dislocations associated with social and industrial transformation led to a range of acute social problems—poverty, ill health and the demise of traditional forms of employment and income generation. The encouragement of ‘proper’ families came to be seen by powerful evangelicals and Utilitarians as a way of solving these problems, and the regulation of ‘disordered’ families a key to building a more stable nation. A particular kind of family was identified as ‘better’, both morally and socially, and improving the family became a way of dealing with seemingly intractable social and political problems.
8 Elizabeth Cadbury to Maria Cadbury and Sarah Barrow, 3 June 1828, ‘Cadbury Family Letters’, Birmingham Reference Library. , ‘A collection of letters concerning the family of Benjamin and Candia Cadbury 1806–51’, Birmingham Reference Library. (Davidoff and Hall, 1987, pp. 52, 56–9) COMMENT The Cadburys were Quakers, a religious grouping with particular rules and practices which marked them off from the wider community. However, Quakers were also touched by the evangelical spirit and were powerfully affected by new familial discourse.
Her life was one of service to family and friends, her financial support came from that family enterprise she indirectly succoured. For her nieces, however, growing up in the 1830s and 1840s, there were new possibilities. Her brother Benjamin had seven daughters, to each of whom she left £300. The six who survived took up philanthropic work as a profession, an option that did not exist for their aunts who had to pioneer the right of women to engage with issues such as anti-slavery. Their aunt Candia had so disliked public activities that she had pursued her philanthropic works silently and unostentatiously, though in her own family ‘she shone bright as the wife and mother’.