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Separated by Their SexWomen in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World$
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Mary Beth Norton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449499

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449499.001.0001

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Lady Frances Berkeley and Virginia Politics, 1675–1678

Lady Frances Berkeley and Virginia Politics, 1675–1678

(p.9) Chapter 1 Lady Frances Berkeley and Virginia Politics, 1675–1678
Separated by Their Sex

Mary Beth Norton

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the notion that all women inappropriately entered the public sphere by focusing on the case of Lady Frances Berkeley, wife of Virginia Governor Sir William Berkeley, and her role in the Bacon's Rebellion of 1675–1676. More specifically, it considers the traditional context within which Lady France maneuvered to achieve her political ends. The chapter first provides an overview of Lady Frances's relationship to Nathaniel Bacon before discussing Bacon's challenge to the governor's authority and their eventual confrontation, along with the rebellion spearheaded by Bacon. It also explores the role played by women, including Lady Frances and Mistress Sarah Grendon, in the events of Bacon's Rebellion and in Virginia politics more generally. It shows that Lady Frances, an aristocrat by birth and marriage, engaged in behavior recognized and accepted by her contemporaries. Whereas her specific actions sometimes evoked criticism, her political activism in general did not.

Keywords:   women, public sphere, Lady Frances Berkeley, Virginia, William Berkeley, Bacon's Rebellion, Nathaniel Bacon, Sarah Grendon, political activism, politics

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