The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

James B. Wookey

James B. Wookey

A cabinet card portrait of James Benjamin Wookey, an evangelist and social reformer in the Salvation Army who lectured frequently on the traffic in young girls.

Born at Winscombe in Somerset in 1857, his father Joseph Wookey was a ‘general labourer’ (1851 census) and his mother Ann was a ‘laundress’ (1861 census).

On 7 December 1882 he married Kate Sarah Polgrain at St Saviour’s, Coalpit Heath, a village near Bristol in South Gloucestershire. The couple appear on the 1891 census living at Willesden in north west London with their children, Eric (aged 14) and Anne (aged 9). James gave ‘Evangelist’ as his profession.

A large part of Wookey's ministry was concerned with the suppression of child prostitution, a subject on which he frequently lectured. ‘Mr James B. Wookey, of Bristol, lectured last Monday in the Arcade, on English and Continental Vice, its laws, nature and remedy’ (Tamworth Herald, 14 June 1884). ‘A very large gathering of men only met last Monday at the Salvation Barracks, Lowesmoor, to hear a lecture from Mr James B. Wookey on Social Purity’ (Worcester Chronicle, 28 June 1884). ‘A mass meeting of men only was held in the Protestant Hall, Whitehaven, on Monday night, to hear an address by Mr James B. Wookey on the British and foreign traffic in English girls’ (Yorkshire Post, 17 June 1885). At the time of the furore surrounding the publication of Stead’s ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’ Wookey wasn’t above identifying by name those members of the British aristocracy whom he knew frequented brothels, and local newspapers weren’t above printing those names.

James Benjamin Wookey died at Stepney in East London in 1929, aged 72.

Photographed by A. and G. Taylor of London and numerous other branches.


Code: 126791
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© Paul Frecker 2018