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Jane Gomeldon

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Jane Gomeldon (formerly Jane Middleton; around 1720 – 10 July 1779)[1] was an English writer, poet, and adventurer. She was known after her death as an early supporter of feminism.

Jane Middleton was born in the Newcastle area to a Quaker family worked in glassmaking. She took a detailed education in philosophy, science, and languages.[1] At a young age, she married Captain Francis Gomeldon, an officer in Sir John Bruce Hope's Regiment of Foot and a friend of George Bowes, a coal seller.

Shortly after her marriage, she went to France, where she had a few adventures, often hid herself as a man. These included unusual pursuits like courting a young nun she nearly persuaded to elope.[2] In 1740, her husband publicly announced her departure in the Newcastle Journal. He asked her to respond in the rival Newcastle Courant, citing his cruelty and interference with her inheritance.[3] She later sued for separation for the reason of cruelty.[4][5]

After her husband's death, she wasn't included in his will, which left her belongings to his nephew, Thomas Lake.[6] She was interested in the Lying-in Hospital in Newcastle. She supported expansion and fundraising through her first book, published in 1766.

Gomeldon wanted to join Captain James Cook on his first voyage. This was possibly inspired by her cousin, Sydney Parkinson, who also joined Cook. She provided evidence in a court dispute related to the voyage's publication, supporting Parkinson against Dr. Hawkesworth's claims.[2] A letter from Gomeldon (addressed to Parkinson as "Dear Cousin") is published in the preface to the first published edition of Parkinson's journal.[7]

Jane Gomeldon died on 10 July 1779, as reported in the Newcastle Courant.[8]

The Medley: Her first book, The Medley, aimed to support the Lying-in Hospital, raising approximately £53 through subscriptions. The work consists of satirical essays mocking societal figures like Lord and Lady Magnesia. This work included taboo topics such as female education, cross-dressing, and adultery.

Written from the perspective of a fictional male narrator, the essays critique societal norms and support for men to better themselves as companions for women.[9]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Joseph Smith (1863). A Descriptive Catalogue of Friends' Books: Or Books Written by Members of the Society of Friends, Commonly Called Quakers, from Their First Rise to the Present Time, Interspersed with Critical Remarks, and Occasional Biographical Notices ... Joseph Smith. p. 848.
  2. 2.0 2.1 H. C. G. Matthews and Brian Harrison (editors): The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-861366-0,
  3. Bailey, Joanne, Unquiet Lives: marriage and marriage breakdown in England 1660–1800, Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-81058-2.
  4. Gomeldon v Gomeldon National Archives, Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings 1714 to 1758, reference C 11/803/22
  5. Bailey, Joanne (2001), Voices in court: lawyers' or litigants'?. Historical Research 74 (186), 392–408. doi:10.1111/1468-2281.00134
  6. Will of Francis Gomeldon; National Archives catalogue reference: Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury PROB 11/785
  7. Sydney Parkinson's Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship, The Endeavour, London: 1773
  8. John Sykes, Local Records, 1833
  9. J. Gomeldon: The Medley, consisting of thirty-one essays on various subjects presented by the author to one of the governesses of the lying-in hospital in Newcastle to be printed for the benefit of that charity, Newcastle, 1766. Printed by J. White and T. Saint