Suffrage Stories: Suffrage Sympathisers In Late-19th-Century Alton, Hampshire

While researching ‘women’s suffrage’ in the Hampshire Record Office, Anthony Brunning came across an interesting record of the 19th-century campaign. He has kindly given me permission to publish – below – the names of the Alton women who in 1894 signed the Special Appeal, organised in the hope of  convincing the government of the day that women were serious in their call for enfranchisement. The names were, mistakenly, excluded from the final total of 257,796. If anyone has any further information on any of the ladies listed, do let me know.

As the documents bearing the names included in the grand total were, apparently, returned to the various societies with which they were associated, Mrs Wickham’s collecting book is a rare survivor of one of the campaigns that belies the popularly-held view that the 19th-century women’s suffrage campaign lacked enterprise.

You can find details of the Special Appeal Committee in the entry of that name in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide. 

Alton Suffragists in 1894

by Anthony Brunning

Among the documents in the Wickham Family papers held by the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester is a Booklet for collecting signatures for an appeal to the House of Commons for an extension of Parliamentary Franchise to women. The booklet was produced by a Special Appeal Committee, formed for the purpose of collecting signatures, under the Chairmanship of Mrs Fawcett.[1] The signed books were to be returned to the Secretary at the Appeal Office (Albany Buildings, 47, Victoria Street, Westminster) by15 January 1894. A page at the end of the booklet states that “the booklet was to be returned to Mrs. Wickham, Binsted Wyke or Miss Julia Cameron, 47 Victoria St., Westminster.”

At the beginning of the booklet is the appeal:

AN APPEAL FROM WOMEN

Of all Parties and all Classes

To the Members of the House of commons

Gentlemen

Many of the women who sign this appeal differ in opinion on other political questions, but all are of one mind that the continued denial of the franchise to women while it is at the same time being gradually extended amongst men is at once unjust and inexpedient.

In our homes it fosters the impression that women’s opinion of questions of public interest is of no value to the nation, while the fact of women having no vote lessens the representative character of the House of Commons.

In the factory and workshop it places power to restrict women’s work in the hands of men who are working alongside of women whom they too often treat as rivals rather than as fellow-workers.

In Parliament it prevents men from realizing how one-sided are many of the laws affecting women.

We therefore earnestly beg you to support any well-considered measure for the extension of the Parliamentary franchise to women.

Each page had two tear off slips in which ladies could signify their consent to the Appeal.  Each slip had line for signing their Christian and surname, stating their title (Mrs., Miss, or other), give an address and record the name of the Parliamentary constituency in which they lived. Above the tear-off slips were three directives: “N.B. ― All Women over 18 may sign. Each must sign for herself. No one may sign twice.” Each slip began with the statement “I have read the Appeal from Women and desire that my name be added.” The booklet contained twenty-five pages of slips with serrations between them.

Thirty of the ladies who signed came from Alton, two from Binsted 4 miles east by north from Alton and one from East Worldham, 2 miles south-east of Alton. All lived with the Eastern Division of Hants (Petersfield).

Name Title Address
Sophia Emma Wickham Mrs Binsted Wyke, Alton
Eleonore Clements Mrs Binsted Wyke, Alton
Maria Hall Mrs The Manor House, Alton
Ethel M. Hall Miss The Manor House, Alton
Edith Turner Mrs Wey House, Alton, Hants
Emma Isabel Redding Mrs High St., Alton
Mabel E. Trimmond Miss The Parmont, Alton
M. L. Bedding Miss High St., Alton, Hants
Eliza Little Mrs High Street, Alton, Hants
Louisa Trimbrell Mrs High Street, Alton, Hants
M. Conduit Mrs Regent House, Alton, Hants
E. M. Green Miss Regent House, Alton, Hants
Elizabeth J, Castle Mrs High St., Alton
L. Eleanor Faith Miss High St., Alton
Gertrude E. Burrell Mrs Brooklands, Alton
Theodosia Hanson Miss Alton, Hants
Mildred E. Trimmer Miss The Pavement, Alton, Hants
Helen Mary Hall Mrs Brook House, Alton, Hants
Ellen Osborn Miss RosebankSchool, Alton, Hants
Emily Piggott Mrs West End, Alton, Hants
Louisa Dyer Mrs Ivy House, Alton, Hants
Alice M. Dyer Miss Ivy House, Alton, Hants
Bessie Farthing Mrs Westfield, Alton
Florence C. Farthing Miss Westfield, Alton
Bertha Leslie Mrs Alton, Hants
Annie Laura Dyer Mrs Hill House, Alton
Mary Hanna Petar Miss Weybourne, Alton, Hants
Selina Petar Miss Weybourne, Alton, Hants
H. Katie Wilkman Mrs Alton, Hants
Frances J. Chalcraft Mrs Anstey Lodge, Alton, Hants
Millicent Chalcraft Miss Anstey, Alton, Hants
Katharine S. Fell Mrs Worldham Rectory, Alton, Hants
Annie Moule Mrs High Street, Alton

On the inside back cover the collector of signatures was ask to sign, giving name and address in testimony of the authenticity of the contents.

Mrs Sophia Emma Wickham, 60,[2] was the wife of William Wickham, esq, chairman of the County Magistrates for Alton Petty Sessional Division, who according to the 1891 Census was ‘living on his own means and a magistrate’.[3] Katharine Fell, 49, was the wife of Reverend George Hunter Fell, 72, vicar of East and West Worldham.[4]

The booklet is interesting in that it gives an indication that there was a women working for extension of the franchise to women in Alton and district in 1893 and that by mischance it was not sent to Central Office. It may be possible to identify the ladies using the 1891 Census and Kelly’s Directory for Hampshire.

Source:

Hampshire Record Office HRO 38M49/D9/29. Printed booklet, ‘Women’s Suffrage: An appeal from women’ belonging to Sophia Wickham, 1894.


[1]    The Committee was composed of: President: Mrs. Fawcett. Treasurer: Mrs. Frank Morrison. Members: The Lady Frances Balfour, Miss Balfour, Miss Helen Blackburn, Mrs. Leonard Courtney, The Lady Knightley, Mrs. Eva McLaren, Mrs. Massingberd, Miss Mordan, Mrs. Wynford Philipps, Mrs. Broadley Reid, The Lady Henry Somerset, Mrs. T. Taylor (Chipchase), Miss Vernon. Secretary: Miss Julia Cameron.

[2]    Age given after the names is the age in 1893 calculated from the age given in the census consulted.

[3]    Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1895, 28. TNA: PRO RG12/952/24/2. Binsted, Hants.

[4]    Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1895, 574. TNA PRO RG11/1247/74/14. East Worldham, Hants.

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