Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Daughters of the Anglican Clergy: Religion, Gender and Identity in Victorian England

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Daughters of the Anglican Clergy: Religion, Gender and Identity in Victorian England

Article excerpt

Daughters of the Anglican Clergy: Religion, Gender and Identity in Victorian England, By Midori Yamaguchi. (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014, Pp. xiii 4- 324. £ 68.00.)

Midori Yamaguchi, in Daughters of the Anglican Clergy: Religion, Gender and Identity in Victorian England, reconstructs the ecclesiastical life and culture of a group of nineteenth-century women who shared fathers in the same occupation-parish clergy- and investigates how a vicarage upbringing influenced their vocational choices. This far-reaching study illustrates how clergy daughters were linked with many of the major reform movements of Victorian England, including the birth of feminism, women's educational reform, the growth of charitable organizations, and the strategies of the Church of England. Yamaguchi's thesis contends that for clergy daughters, their father's occupation had an immense impact on the construction of their identities. Though few were satisfied with the education they received in the parsonage, clergy daughters were nonetheless highly visible in the religious, cultural, and political matrix of Victorian England, and were highly influential in regards to the church's view of women. Moreover, Yamaguchi argues that the period's evangelical fervor, along with a series of crises-threats of disestablishment, the spread of nonconformist sects, agricultural depression, and widespread religious doubt-changed the role of clergy families and the nature of the ministry itself. As the church began to enforce rules making it necessary for clergy families to live within the parish, their role as paragons of middle-class virtue became more prominent. For daughters, often in the absence of brothers sent away for schooling, their role within the family grew to include ministering to the poor and the sick, teaching religious education, and other charitable works. A feminized parsonage was the result of the national and global networks which resulted from the growing numbers of women from parishes knitted together through voluntary acts of charity.

Yamaguchi, a professor at Daito Bunka University in Japan, presents this study of clergy daughters as an exercise in "collective biography" in the belief that such studies of children of persons in particular professions can yield new insight into historical analysis. …

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