In the wake of Carol Pateman`s influential critique of liberal contractual theory as a pact among male subjects leading to exclusion of women from the political realm in The Sexual Contract (1988), there has been a greater impetus for feminists to conceptualize a feminism that can override the narrow bounds of liberal ideas of freedom and equality. From this re-visionary perspective, it has seemed all the more remarkable that so many female poets, playwrights, and philosophers of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century were so overwhelmingly Tory. Political thought was largely based on religious and theological positions, and many women writers felt it was their duty to publish their thought based on their faith. Religious debate was not an issue of private belief, but at the very core of the public sphere discourse of politics and letters. It is in this context that we must figure the extraordinary writing of Mary Astell (1668-1731), a deeply religious, and deeply conservative English woman who was both a true royalist and a true promoter of freedom for women. This paper takes into close consideration her first published work, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, to examine her stance on how an institution for female knowledge and religion can contribute to female freedom and virtue. Astell`s understanding of freedom as a Christian ideal is at once religious and political, and has influenced many subsequent feminist writers as seemingly different as Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft.