Partner Emily Faithfull

Queer Places:
112 Eaton Square, Belgravia, London SW1W, Regno Unito

Helen Jane Smith Codrington (1828-1876) was the wife of Admiral Sir Henry Codrington and had a relationship with Emily Faithfull.

Helen Jane Webb Smith was the daughter of C. Webb Smith, of Florence, and Anne MacKenzie (1790-1868). Faithfull was a pioneer in the promotion of employment for women, and amongst other achievements opened the Victoria Press with a largely female workforce in 1860. Probably because they were worried at this innovation of female compositors, the trade unions protested, claiming that having men and women working together in a print shop (the men were there to do the heavy work) would lead to immoral goings-on. Nevertheless, the Victoria Press was a success, not only commercially, but in the high standards it set for good working conditions for employees. In 1864, however, Emily was involved as the third party in scandalous divorce case between Admiral Henry Codrington and his wife, Helen Jane. Emily and Helen had begun a love affair in 1854, whilst the Admiral was deployed abroad in the Crimean War. He returned home two years later to find Emily had usurped his place in Helen’s bed and worse still, Helen was refusing to be a ‘proper’ wife to him. His Victorian patriarchal sensibilities enraged, the Admiral threw Emily out of his house and deposited with his brother a packet of incriminating paperwork, possibly letters between the two women. Emily was called as a witness in the divorce case, but the scandal did not seem to damage her illustrious career as a campaigner and speaker on, and for, women’s matters, working tirelessly to improve the lives of dressmakers, cotton operatives, and women who had fallen on hard times. In 1892, she even received a Civil List pension of £50 per year and a signed photograph of Queen Victoria.

Helen Codrington had two daughters: Anne Jane Codrington, m. 12 Jan 1882, Henry Stormont (Finch-Hatton), 13th Earl of Winchilsea and 8th Earl of Nottingham; and Ellen Codrington, m. 12 Jul 1878, Sir John Roche Dasent, C.B.


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