World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Madame Restell

Article Id: WHEBN0003133425
Reproduction Date:

Title: Madame Restell  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: George Washington Dixon, History of abortion, Peer review/George Washington Dixon/archive1, Criminals who committed suicide, Susan B. Anthony abortion dispute
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Madame Restell

Drawing of abortionist Ann Lohman (a.k.a. Madame Restell) based on a photograph, 1888
The burial site of Madame Restell in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Ann Trow (May 6, 1812 – April 1, 1878), better known as Madame Restell, was an early-19th-century abortionist who practiced in New York City.


  • Biography 1
  • Literature 2
  • See also 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • External links 5


Restell was born in Painswick, Gloucestershire, England. Her father was a labourer. At the age of fifteen she started work as a maid in a butcher's family, and at sixteen she married a Wiltshire man called Henry Summer. After three years living in England, they emigrated to New York in 1831 where Summer died of yellow fever. Restell was forced to make a poor living as a seamstress.

Restell remarried in 1836, to a Free Inquirer. With Matsell, Lohman was involved in the publication of Robert Dale Owen's book Moral Physiology; or, a Brief and Plain Treatise on the Population Question (1831) and Charles Knowlton's Fruits of Philosophy; or, The Private Companion of Young Married People (1831).

Restell's brother, Joseph Trow, had also emigrated to New York, and was working as a sales assistant in a pharmacy. Restell began to develop an interest in women's health, selling patent medicine, and (probably in partnership with her husband and brother) creating birth control products such as "preventative powders" and "Female Monthly Pills", advertised under the name "Madame Restell". She sold these products through the post and performed house visits. The term "Restellism" became a euphemism for abortion.[1]

Ann Lohman arrested by Anthony Comstock. From 23 February 1878 edition of the New York Illustrated Times.

Her business was one of a number at the time, and like them was under constant attack by the respectable and the National Police Gazette also refused her advertisements.

In 1841, Mary Rogers was found dead in the Hudson River. Newspapers suggested that she had died during an abortion carried out by Restell, although later evidence seems to contradict this. Regardless, abortion was soon outlawed. Soon it became legally defined as an obscene subject and was no longer covered in the papers.[3] Evidence given in a breach-of-promise case in 1854 suggests Restell and her husband were charging between $50 and $100 per abortion at this time and had a regular clientele. The complainant in the case claimed to have had five abortions over a period of seven years, of which three were performed by Restell. At this time abortion in New York was a felony punishable by not less than one and not more than three years in prison.[4] In a further court case Restell conceded she had arranged the adoption of an unwanted child.[5] Following Restell's arrest in early 1878, a maid discovered Restell in the bathtub at her Fifth Avenue home; she had slit her own throat on the morning of April 1, 1878. Upon her death, she was claimed to have been worth between $500,000-$600,000 ($12.2 million-$14.7 million in present-day terms[6]).


Ann Trow Lohman is acknowledged to be the inspiration for Kate Manning's heroine Annie "Axie" Muldoon in her historical novel My Notorious Life by Madame X, published on June 6, 2013 (UK) by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Madame Restell is also a prominent character in Marge Piercy's historical novel, "Sex Wars", which depicts the social and political climate surrounding women's sexual, physical, and reproductive activities during the Gilded Age.

See also


  1. ^ Carlson, A. The Crimes of Womanhood, page 116 (University of Illinois Press 2009).
  2. ^ Schudson, Michael. Discovering the News, page 20 (Basic Books 1981).
  3. ^ Paul Collins, The Murder of the Century. p. 156.
  4. ^
  5. ^ : Fredrica W. Michenger vs. Mary Lohman, alias Madam Restell, Supreme Court, 16 December 1856.
  6. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.

External links

  • "In the Eye of Power: The Notorious Madam Restell" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 23, 2005) by Cynthia Watkins Richardson
  • "Sins of New York As 'Exposed' by the Police Gazette" (1930) by Edward van Every
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.