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Bloomsbury Institutions


Midnight Meeting Movement

Also known as Midnight Meeting Movement for the Rescue and Reclamation of Fallen Women


It was founded in 1860 by Theophilus A. Smith and others; Smith was its Secretary from 1861 to 1864 (Sidney Lee ed, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 53, 1898)

Rev. Baptist Wriothesley Noel spoke at its first meeting (The Times, 23 February 1860)

One of its Treasurers in 1862 was John Stabb, who was also involved with the English Monthly Tract Society at the same address, 27 Red Lion Square (The Revival: An Advocate of Evangelical Truth, 2 July 1862)

By 1862 Smith said it had held 20 meetings, addressing 4000 women, circulating 23,000 tracts and other religious items to them, and reclaiming 287 women, including restoring 89 to their friends, sending 75 into service, and sending another 81 into homes (Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor: A Cyclopædia of the Condition and Earnings of Those that Will Work, Those that Cannot Work, and Those that Will Not Work, vol. IV, 1861–1862)

In 1870 one William Summers was brought up at Bow Street on a charge of attempting to obtain money under false pretences; he had been going door to door in Regent Square at first claiming to be collecting for the policeman Beetleson, whose family had died in a recent tragic fire in Sandwich Street (The Times, 10 January 1870)

When arrested, he then claimed to be collecting for the Midnight Meeting Movement, and produced tracts and one of its collecting books, but the Society said that they had not authorised him (The Times, 10 January 1870)

It worked closely with the Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution; women found by the Midnight Meeting Movement who were willing to be rescued were sent to live in the Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution, and the Secretary of the latter apparently received £5 for each one sent (The Times, 24 February 1880)

The two were listed as one institution at 4 Liverpool Street in Whitaker’s Almanack for 1922

In 1880 a court case revealed that a former Secretary of the Movement had been discovered to be purloining its funds; he was summarily dismissed but not prosecuted (The Times, 24 February 1880)

Its Secretary in 1891 was C. Wilson M’Cree (The Times, 24 December 1891)

It no longer exists

What was reforming about it?

Its approach to reforming prostitutes was to hold meetings for them during their working hours in the night

It also adopted innovative techniques to grab attention: its placards containing extracts from Christian texts were in both English and French, and in special large type to allow them to be read by gaslight (The Revival: An Advocate of Evangelical Truth, 2 July 1862)

Where in Bloomsbury

It was based at 27 Red Lion Square in 1862 (The Revival: An Advocate of Evangelical Truth, 2 July 1862) and 5 Red Lion Square in 1865–1866 (The Times, 7 January 1865, 6 January 1866)

It later moved to 8A Red Lion Square (Dickens’s Dictionary of London, both 1879 and 1888 editions); it was still there in 1891 (The Times, 24 December 1891)

It had amalgamated with the Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution by 1922 and was based with the latter at 4 Liverpool Street (Whitaker’s Almanack, 1922)

The amalgamated institution was still at 4 Liverpool Street (by then known as Birkenhead Street) in 1941 (Whitaker’s Almanack, 1941)

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

Isabel Reaney, ‘Anywhere, Anything, Only— ’ (1907)

Its Annual Reports were published; copies are held in the British Library

It also published a journal, The Friend of the Fallen, from 1870; copies are held in the British Library


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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