Ernestine Rose Society

Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner on the Death of Ernestine Rose

Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner was the daughter of Charles Bradlaugh, a prominent figure in the British freethinker movement and a close friend of Ernestine Rose. After her father's death, Hypatia kept her father's commitment to Rose to protect her from proselytizers seeking deathbed conversions of well-known atheists. Bradlaugh Bonner was among the first British women to graduate from university and went to on to become a family court judge.

"I have lost another true and valued friend, and the world has lost a good citizen. "…Mrs. Rose was a Pole by nationality, but an American by adoption. She was born on 13th January, 1810 and was therefore in her 83rd year when she died…She was a wonderfully terse and eloquent speaker, and as she spoke — even in ordinary conversation — her face lit up, and in its varying expressions lent additional force to her words. In America she worked and spoke for women's rights and was one of the first women to speak on a public platform for the abolition of slavery. In Charlestown (South Carolina), where she once went to speak on women's rights, the notion got about that she had come to preach abolition and one of the Southern slave-holding gentlemen (sic) asked her if she knew what was done to people who came there to disturb the minds of the slaves? …'We tar and feather them.' Mrs. Rose said: "I did not come here to speak against slavery, but you have shown me my duty: I shall now do so. You Southern gentlemen are too idle; you have not enough to do; I will give you some work; get your tar and feathers ready.' Mrs. Rose delivered, I think, three abolition lectures there, but was not tarred and feathered. Only those who have read of the horrible way in which the devoted abolitionists, men and women, were often treated can realize what splendid courage Mrs. Rose showed."
—From an obituary by Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner in the "National Reformer," August 14, 1892