History Posts, Scribbles From Life
Comments 8

The Celebrated Mrs Macaulay

May I introduce you all to the celebrated Mrs Macaulay!


For those who you who haven’t read my profile, (not blaming you, I’m not really a profile reader either), and for those of you who have simply forgotten what it says, (I think it is mentioned), I am currently studying for my history degree at Bath Spa University.

The core module for second years, the very enticingly named HY5001 module, is basically looking at how and why history was written, with case studies of Historians such as Herodotus (Greek historian; so called ‘Father of History’) and others such as Catherine Macaulay (First female British historian.)

Catherine Macaulay is the topic of my joint presentation which is due in on the 9th of December. So this weekend I am working my war through a lever-arch-file, of about one inch in thickness, all of which is either journal articles on Mrs Macaulay or the first segment of her History of England. (I think the printer must have been short of the letter ‘s’ when it was printed because a significant proportion of the ‘s’ letters are replaced with ‘f’. It can makes things a little hard going but I did rather enjoy the introduction.

Mrs Macaulay was something of a radical, or at least in the sense of her daring to write and publish a History at all. She lived during the eighteenth century, her work claimed that the Glorious Revolution (deposition of Catholic James II in favour of his protestant daughter Ann and her husband William of Orange) had not gone far enough to restrict monarchic power. Freedom was a great theme that ran through her work and she commanded some incredibly high levels or respect from others around the world. One of her correspondence in America was none other than George Washington. Catherine herself had greatly supported America’s bid for independence and had a significant network of friends and acquaintances over the other side of the Atlantic.

I can hardly say that I agree with all of her views. The more I read about her, the more flaws I find, just as you would researching any individual. Calling Mrs Macaulay a feminist would hardly seem appropriate when you look into her views on inheritance through a female line, or her supposed belief that all women should be capable of marriage and those too deformed or ugly to find a husband should be supported by their nearest male relative.

However, she was still the first female British Historian. She had the courage, and the self educated intellect to write her eight volume History of England, and then to also right numerous pamphlets on political matters. Unfortunately I have not been able to track any of these pamphlets down, but from my reading so far it seems that even though she did not advocate the right for women to vote or enter parliament, she did defend the political rights already at the disposal of women, such as the right to petition.

The Celebrated Mrs Macaulay is an example of a strong female character, and though as I said, I do not agree with all she stood for, she is still one that inspiration can be drawn from.



Macaulay, Catherine The History of England From The Accession of James I To That Of The Brunswick Line Vol. 1 (1768)


Gilbride Fox, Claire ‘Catherine Macaulay, An Eighteenth-Century Clio’. Winterthur Portfolio, 4, 1968, pp.129-142

Maner, Martin ‘Women in the Eighteenth-Century British Fiction and Transatlantic Politics’. Eighteenth Century Life, 32, (1), 2008, pp. 90-95.

Staves, Susan ‘ “The Liberty of A She-Subject of England”: Right Rhetoric and the Female Thucydides’. Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature, 1, (2), 1989, pp. 161-183

Taylor, Barbara ‘Feminism and the Enlightenment 1650-1850’. History Workshop Journal, 47, 1999, pp.261-272

This entry was posted in: History Posts, Scribbles From Life


Carol Forrester is a twenty-four year old writer trying to be a better one. Don’t ask her what her hobbies are because the list doesn’t get much beyond, reading, writing and talking about the same. She has a 2:1 BA degree in history from Bath Spa University and various poems and stories scattered across the net. Her flash fiction story ‘Glorious Silence’ was named as River Ram Press’ short story of the month for August 2014 and her short story ‘A Visit From The Fortune Teller’ has been showcased on the literary site Ink Pantry’s. Most recently, her poem ‘Sunsets’ was featured on Eyes Plus Words, and her personal blog Writing and Works hosts a mass of writing from across the last five years. She has been lucky enough to write guest posts for sites such as Inky Tavern and Song of The Forlorn and is always open to writing more and hosting guest bloggers here on Writing and Works. With hopes of publishing a novel in the next five years and perhaps a collection or two of smaller works, Carol Forrester is nothing if not ambitious. Her writing tries to cover every theme in human life and a lot of her work pulls inspiration from her own eccentric family in the rural wonders of Shropshire life.


  1. Thank you for you posting here and before – I admit that I am sadly all to busy (in my head) to respond or comment upon the writings, poems, thoughts of those who, like yourself (myself?) are studying the word or creating it.

    Good luck with your History Degree – I did half a degree in the 90s with a combined Eng. Lit / Eng. History course in Winchester – it is so good an environment to really get to the depths of people from the past. Thank you for this brief insight into Mrs Macaulay – times were different then – we don’t always see how – Graeme:)

  2. But, I will try to get better at feeding back – it is important, and, yes I love feedback to – god, bad or indifferent – it means that you are talking to somebody… and they may have listened… G:)

    • My phone showed me this comment first, leaving me a little confused, but it made sense one I had read through all three comments.
      I was doing a joint degree at first, but since I want to complete a masters and PHD, I dropped down to just history.
      I’m glad that you enjoyed my little piece on Mrs Macaulay.

  3. Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûdmönd says

    That is very interesting. I’m not an historian, and knew only of a Thomas Babington Macaulay.

    • It is rather infuriating when most of my searches lead me to him I must admit.
      I’m glad that you found the piece interesting, I’m only partway through my researching and I didn’t want to throw too much information at people so it was fairly brief.
      I might start including more pieces of a similar nature on the blog from now on though.

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  5. Pingback: Why Am I Even Doing This? – Tips From Seven Years Of Blogging | Writing and Works

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