Archive for category Suffrage Stories

Suffrage Stories: Is This Edith Craig’s Banner For The Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society?

 

 

I was very interested to see this image when it appeared on an internet site the other day because I’m not sure I’ve ever before seen a banner of the Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society.

The Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society was formed in June 1911 and in 1912 Beatrice Anna Augusta Gadsby BA (1878-1973) worked a banner for the society. The fact that she was responsible for the embroidery is mentioned in a 15 May 1939 Nottingham Evening Post report of a pilgrimage by the St Joan Alliance (as the CWSS was now called) to Walsingham. ‘The society’s banner of white, blue and gold headed the procession’, carried by Beatrice Gadsby and Gabrielle Jeffery, the society’s founder.

However, there are no further details of the design of this ‘blue,
white and gold banner’. It might be thought that the ‘Joan of Arc’ banner held in the Women’s Library@LSE fitted the bill – its colouring and subject matter certainly do – but this was created, by the Artists’ Suffrage League, in 1908, three years before the founding of the CWSS.

Joan of Arc banner

In my opinion, the banner that was carried in the Walsingham Pilgrimage  is more likely to be that in the photo below. I think it is the one, representing Joan of Arc, that is known to have been designed by Edith Craig and presented to the CWSS by Christopher St John.


And that Beatrice Gadsby was responsible for the embroidery. It’s location – and fate – is now unknown

Besides St Joan, the banner bears the names of ‘Iesus’ and ‘Marie’ down the sides of the banner, the name of the society across the bottom.

I think the occasion on which the photograph was taken was probably the women’s ‘Peace with Ireland Demonstration’, organized by the Women’s Freedom League. It was held on 2 July 1921  and the CWSS, with their banner, are noted as comprising ‘Section C’ of the procession.

The banner was present at the ‘Equal Franchise’ rally in Hyde Park on 3 July 1926, alongside a new banner designed by the artist Gladys Hynes, which bore the society’s new name, The St Joan’s Social and Political Alliance.

 

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Unveiling A Plaque to Rhoda And Agnes Garrett

Here we see Rhoda Garrett, cousin to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Agnes Garrett, speaking at an important women’s suffrage meeting in 1872. She was the suffrage movement’s star speaker until her early death ten years later.

In addition to their involvement in the suffrage campaign, Rhoda and Agnes Garrett were the first women in Britain to become professionally-trained interior decorators, a career that brought an income and status rather more rewarding than the life of ‘governessing’  or of ‘a daughter-at-home’ that had seemed their respective lots.

Early pioneers are easily forgotten – but today, on the 100th anniversary of women first casting a parliamentary vote, I am honoured to have been invited to unveil a plaque to Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. It is placed on the house in Rustington in Sussex which they rented and where, together with Rhoda’s half-siblings and Millicent and Philippa Fawcett, they went to relax, away from London’s cares and responsibilities. Close by, in a now unmarked grave, Rhoda lies in Rustington churchyard.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Alice Lucas

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the seventeenth – and last:

Mrs Alice Lucas, who stood as a Conservative candidate for the Kennington constituency in London. In fact she was the only woman candidate to stand as a Conservative, having taken over the nomination at the last minute from her husband, who died suddenly in the ‘flu epidemic three days before the election. Lucas had been MP for Lowestoft from 1900 until 1906 and had unsuccessfully contested Kennington in the two 1910 elections. In 1918 neither he nor Mrs Lucas received the Coalition government’s ‘coupon’, which went to the Liberal candidate. Alice Lucas was known in the area, having been chairman of the Lambeth Auxiliary Hospital during the war

Alice Lucas (1853-1924) was a member of a Jewish family and after her nomination a false rumour circulated that she was an enemy alien, born in Germany. This was vigorously denied by her agent. In fact her election address was vehemently anti-German, stating that she wished:

to bring the Kaiser and his associates to trial

to make Germany pay the full cost of the war

to deal most generously with returning soldiers and sailors

and for ‘imprisoned conscientious objectors to remain under government control until it was impossible for them to snatch jobs from returning heroes’ (South London Press, 20 December 1918)

Because she took over the nomination so close to polling day, voting in Kennington was postponed until 20 December when Alice Lucas came second to the Liberal candidate. In fact, by polling 3573 votes she gained 63 more votes for the Conservatives than her husband had polled in December 1910. In 1918 the Liberal winner took 4705 votes and the Labour candidate 2817.

Although Alice Lucas was unsuccessful, it was to be in similar circumstances – that of a woman standing in a seat in which her husband had an interest – that the first woman MP – and several others who closely followed – was to be elected. It was not until 1923, with the election of Margaret Bondfield, that a woman became an MP solely through her own effort.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Ray Strachey

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the sixteenth:

 

Ray Strachey

Mrs Oliver Strachey, who was standing as an Independent for the Brentford and Chiswick constituency in Middlesex, supported by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

Ray Strachey (1887-1940) (née Costelloe) was educated at Newnham College, where she was an active member of the Cambridge University Women’s Suffrage Society. In 1911 she married Oliver Strachey and by 1913 was chairman of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage, of which her sister-in-law, Philippa, was secretary. From 1916 until 1921 Ray was honorary parliamentary secretary to the NUWSS, responsible for supervising the passage of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

Common Cause (20 December 1918) reported that she was asked to stand by ‘a large section of the electors, who were dissatisfied with Col Grant Morden [the candidate backed by the Coalition ‘coupon’]. Her meetings are always crowded. One of the things most widely resented was the sayin gof Col Grant Morden ‘the lady candidate ought to stay at home and look after her kiddies’. Mrs Strachey replied “She wants to go to Parliament in order to look after the kiddies. They need mothers there”; and Mrs Henry Fawcett, speaking on her behalf, has said it would be well to have among the 707 members of the House of Commons someone who knew one end of a baby from the other. The candidate herself, however, is not appealing for support on account of her sex. She is asking the elector for their votes, not because she is a woman, but because “she is a good candidate, and will represent them well.”

In her election address Ray Strachey declared:

I stand as a supporter of the Coalition Government. We have kept a united front during the war, and we must keep that unity until a good and lasting peace shall be established abroad, and until we have built up a t home those measures of reconstruction for which the whole nation waits.

It falls to us now to see that the victory is not in vain. This war must be the last war. I therefore support the establishment of a League of Nations, with such immediate mutual disarmament as is safe, and I trust that the question of the future economic policies and tariffs of the whole world will be settled through the agency of the League itself.

With regard to domestic reforms, I believe that housing is the most urgent and important question before us. In it I see the solution of many pressing social evils.

I attach the greatest importance to the question of the pensions to be paid to those brave men who have won our safety for us, and to the widows of those who have laid down their lives. Their well-being must be a first charge upon the State.

I care also, very particularly for the drastic improvement of industrial conditions, for education, and the care of public health and infant welfare,, and for all those public matters which affect the domestic life of the community.

I make no apology for asking you to vote for a woman. Women have their contribution to make to public thought and public service. I believe, with a profound conviction, that men and women should work together for the progress and good government of the Nation as they must for that of their homes. I hold the interests of men and women are so closely bound up together that they cannot be divided, and that what is for the good of one sex, must certainly be for the good of the other. It is for this reason that I support the perfect equality of men and women in the eyes of the law and the state.

The 20 December issue of Common Cause mentioned that Col Morden, in a bid to undermine her candidature, issued a large poster stating in ‘bold scarlet letters that “A Vote for Strachey is a Vote for the League of Nations”. Mrs Strachey naturally displayed this poster with pride, and explained that the League of Nations was what she did stand for before anything else.’ ..Mrs Strachey’s Committee Rooms were said by impartial witnesses to be the liveliest Committee Rooms in London. Many old friends met there, members of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage came forward gallantly to the fray. Much devoted voluntary work was done by members of the Chiswick branch of the LSWS, some of whom came from distant constituencies in order to have the pleasure of doing voluntary work for Mrs Strachey.’

Alas, despite this effort, Ray Strachey came last in the contest, polling 1263 votes to Col Morden’s 9077, with a Labour candidate taking 2620 votes. She stood again at Chiswick in 1922 and this time in a straight fight with Morden (now a Unionist) polled 7804 votes against his 10,150.  In 1923, standing again at Chiswick as an Independent, she took 4828 votes, coming second to Morden, with the Labour candidate polling 3216 votes. She did not stand again for Parliament, but in 1931 became private political secretary to the first woman MP, Lady Astor.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Christabel Pankhurst

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the fourteenth:

Christabel Pankhurst, 1918

Miss Christabel Pankhurst, who stood as the Women’s Party candidate at Smethwick, the only woman to be given the Coalition government’s ‘coupon’.

Christabel Pankhurst (1880-1958) had been one of the leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union as it campaigned for votes for women before the First World War. During the war she had worked alongside her mother, Emmeline Pankhurst, and with Flora Drummond and Annie Kenney, to aid Lloyd George’s war efforts. She was vehemently anti-Asquith, attacking him in the pages of Britannia (the successor to The Suffragette) as pro-German.

In 1917 the Pankhursts relaunched the WSPU as The Women’s Party, the programme of which was based on ‘equality of rights and responsibilities in the social and political life of the nation’. During 1917 and 1918 the Women’s Party campaigned in the industrial heartlands, particularly in South Wales, advocating industrial peace and warning against the dangers of Bolshevism.

When Christabel Pankhurst stood for parliament at Smethwick in 1918 her platform was to:

secure a lasting peace based on obtaining material guarantees against future German aggression

to improve the social conditions of the working classes by a levelling up in society

by industrial salvation and wealth production

to crusade against Bolshevism and ‘shirkers’

Christabel began her two-week campaign in Smethwick at the end of November 1918. At a meeting her mother, Emmeline Pankhurst, explained that Smethwick had been chosen because it was a new constituency – with no sitting member to be aggrieved when the Women’s Party won the seat. As a reward for fighting what Lloyd George termed ‘the Bolshevist and Pacifist element’ Christabel was given a coveted ‘coupon’ of coalition endorsement – and praised the chivalry of the Unionist candidate, who also had a ‘coupon’ but who withdrew to give her a clear run.

Voting took place on 14 December but it was a further two weeks before the results were announced and, in the meantime, Christabel gave her final speech of the campaign on 17 December – not in Smethwick but in London. Her last words, reported in what turned out to be the final edition of Britannia – were –

‘I would not change places with any other MP, because it is like a little bit of the heart of England, is this Smethwick. You have there an intensely patriotic people, a highly progressive people, including a body of working people who have not forgotten that they are citizens as well as workers…It is now for us to rouse ourselves and prepare ourselves for a year more full of duty and of high endeavour than we have ever known since we were born.’  

But it was not to be. Christabel was defeated, polling 8614 votes to the Labour candidate’s 9389. She never repeated the experience, nor again became involved in politics, eventually moving to the USA and devoting herself to Second Adventism.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Eunice Murray

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the thirteenth:

Eunice Murray (c 1922)

Miss Eunice Murraywho was standing as an Independent in the Bridgeton constituency in Glasgow. She was the only woman candidate in Scotland.

Eunice Guthrie Murray (1877-1960), the daughter of a Glasgow lawyer, became president of the Glasgow branch of the Women’s Freedom League and by 1913 was president of the WFL in Scotland. During the First World War she worked in a munitions factory and in 1917 she published a novel, The Hidden Tragedy, that centres on the heroine’s involvement in the militant suffrage movement.

Even before the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act Eunice Murray declared as early as April 1918 that she would stand as a parliamentary candidate for Bridgeton at the next general election. The Daily Record and Mail, 23 May 1918, reported that she stood for:

Victory of Britain in the war

Women on the reconstruction boards

The restoration of Alsace and Lorraine to France, with the restoration of Belgium, Rumania, Servia, Poland, and Armenia.

The same treatment for Ireland as for other parts of the Empire. If Ireland wished Home Rule, Ireland ought to support herself, and not require our money.

She hoped that when the local veto came into operation in 1920, the bulk of the people would decide to shut the whisky shops.

In the settlement of peace terms, we must demand ton for ton from the enemy in respect of torpedoed vessels.

When the election was called Eunice Murray was supported in her candidature by the Glasgow branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Just before polling day Eunice Murray stated in The Common Cause (13 December 1918)

As the only woman candidate nominated in Scotland, i want to place on record my strong appreciation of the sincerity with which my candidature has been accepted. it has been an honest election contest, and I have met no treatment that would not have been dealt out to a man candidate. My opponents are both strong men; and should I be so fortunate as to secure a victory, I shall feel really proud. My woman agent has mapped out the campaign in a masterly fashion; and I have had splendid support.

In the event she forfeited her deposit, polling 991 votes and coming third behind the Liberal (10,887 votes) and Labour (7860 votes).

In the event she forfeited her deposit, polling 991 votes and coming third behind the Liberal (10,887 votes) and Labour (7860 votes). She never again stood for parliament although in 1938 she chaired a Status of Women Conference in Glasgow. She became interested in folk history, writing books on the history of costume and on Scottish Women in Bygone Days (1930), and serving on the committee of the National Trust for Scotland.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Edith How Martyn

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the twelfth:

Edith How Martyn, wearing her WFL ‘Holloway’ brooch

Mrs Edith How Martyn, who stood as an Independent candidate (Women’s Parliamentary League) for the Hendon constituency in Middlesex. Unlike many of the women candidates, she did live close to her constituency, in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Edith How Martyn (1875-1954)  was a lecturer in Mathematics at Westfield College, London,  and a member of the Independent Labour party when she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1906, one of its first London members. She soon gave up her teaching post to devote herself full time to the suffrage movement and in October 1906 was one of the women arrested in the Lobby of the House of Commons, receiving a two-month prison sentence.

In 1907, with Mrs Charlotte Despard, Edith How Martyn broke away from the WSPU to found the Women’s Freedom League. She believed in passive resistance but not in violent militancy. She was honorary secretary of the WFL from October 1907 until 1911 and was then head of the WFL’s Political and Militant department until 1912, when she resigned, ostensibly through illness, but very disappointed with the results achieved by the League.

At one of her first Hendon  election meetings the chair was taken by Miss Councillor E.C. Growse and Alison Neilans, a very active member of the WFL spoke from the platform, mentioning that Edith How Martyn had great experience in political movements, and had taken honors at London University in political science and public administration. Mrs How Martyn mentioned that She stood for sane reform in all directions, and would support any measure which would tend to bring about better conditions of life. She trusted the people of this country did not intend to return in many respects to the kind of life that was tolerated before the war. They had tolerated poverty, disease, ill-health, unequal conditions of income, sweated work and slums. During the war it was realised we had a greater responsibility towards our fellow creatures. She might say, almost without reservation, that she was heartily in support of the Coalition programme, and so long as the Coalition Government carried out that programme, she would be a loyal and hearty supporter of it. But if it departed from the programme or did not attempt to carry it out, then the members of the House of Commons should vote against the Government.

She was in favour of a League of Nations and suggested that the claims of the widows and orphans in the war could be voiced in Parliament just as well by women as by men. She was in favour of everyone having a fair chance in life and more equality between the sexes. Especially did they want the diplomatic profession and the Foreign Office open to women.

She believed Germany and her Allies should make full reparation for all the crimes they had committed.

She was in favour of just as much Free Trade as they could get.

She was in favour of the reform of the House of Lords. One of the first reforms would be to put a few women there; and then the House should be made a more useful Second Chamber than it was now.

Ireland should have Home Rule as quickly as possible, but she did not believe in forcing it upon Ulster by means of machine guns or bayonets. She hoped in time to see separate Parliaments for Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and perhaps two English Home Rule Parliaments – one for the South and one for the North – and then an Imperial Parliament.

She was in favour of the nationalisation of land.

Although it might not be brought about in the next Parliament, some practical steps might be taken in the way of giving more powers to local authorities.

In the 20 December issue of the Hendon and Finchley Times Mrs How Martyn commented ‘Saturday was doubly noteworthy for women, as not only could they vote but could vote for a woman candidate. It was a satisfaction and delight to see women pouring to into the polling stations to use their newly-acquired rights of citizenship.’ She said that she did not really expect to win, although she might have had success in a straight fight with either of the two other candidates. In the event she polled 2067 votes, coming last behind the Unionist (14,431 votes) and Labour (3159 votes). One woman who did turn out to vote for her was Mrs Alice Singer, who, before the War, had been treasurer of the Hendon and Golders Green WSPU. On 14 December 1918 Alice wrote in her diary:   I recorded in favour of Mrs Edith How-Martyn for the new constituency of Hendon. 

Edith How Martyn did not stand again for Parliament, but in 1919 became the first woman member of the Middlesex County Council and was its first woman chairman. She was also actively involved in the birth-control movement and became honorary direction of the Birth Control Information Centre. In 1926 she was founder and first president of the Suffragette Fellowship, which aimed to perpetuate the ‘suffragette spirit’. At the outbreak of the Second World War she emigrated with her husband to Australia.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Millicent MacKenzie

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the tenth:

Millicent MacKenzie

 

Mrs Millicent MacKenzie, who stood as a Labour candidate for the University of Wales seat.

Millicent MacKenzie (1863-1942) had been the first female professor in Wales, appointed as the professor of education (women) in 1910 having, most unusually, been allowed to keep her teaching position after her marriage in 1898. She had also been the co-founder of the Cardiff branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

Millicent MacKenzie had retired by 1918, when she was the only woman parliamentary candidate standing in Wales.  In fact the existing male Labour candidate, Professor Joseph Jones, had given up his place to her.

Millicent MacKenzie’s election platform does not appear to have caught the attention of the press. Her only comment that I can find is a rather bland statement in Common Cause, to the effect that ‘Women have won the vote, let them see to it that it is used to forward the highest interests of humanity’.

At the election Millicent MacKenzie polled 176 votes, the winner, The Rt Hon Herbert Lewis, vice president of the Board of Education, a Coalition Liberal, won with 739 votes. She did not stand again for parliament, devoting her energies to promoting the educational theories of Rudolph Steiner.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Janet McEwan

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the ninth:

(image courtesy of Mirror Online)

Mrs Janet McEwan, who stood as a Liberal in the Enfield constituency in Middlesex, having taken the place of her husband, John McEwan, as prospective candidate after a breakdown in his health. John McEwan presided over the first campaign meeting that she held in Enfield in early December 1918. Janet (or Jenny) McEwan (1860-1921), mother of five, had been an active member of the Free Church League for Women’s Suffrage, holding drawing-room meetings at her home, ‘Carisbrooke’, Culloden Road, Enfield.

Janet McEwan had worked for many years ‘at the maternity centres and on the care committees, the education organisations, and the numerous local agencies which seek to give help wisely where it is needed.

She seeks to place the understanding born of experience and first-hand knowledge at the service of her country in the wider sphere of Westminster. She declares that Parliament will be better for the presence of women, and the work of reconstruction more wisely carried out if men and women of all parties work together in friendly co-operation. ‘(The Vote, 6 December 1918.)

Although Janet McEwan supported the Coalition Government, the Coalition’s backing (its ‘coupon’) had been given to the Unionist candidate, making her chances of success slim. She was reported in Common Cause (13 December 1918) as saying:

It is urgently required that women in general should be stirred from their apathy and led to realise the responsibility upon them to record their votes. There are indications that the poll will be a very small one in proportion to the large electorate. Workers and canvassers are almost unobtainable. This seat might be won by a women if adequate help could be thrown into the division on Polling Day.

Alas, Mrs McEwan suffered the fate of many other unsupported Liberals, and came a poor third (with 1987 votes) behind the Unionist (8290 votes) and the Labour (6176) candidates. She never had a chance of repeating her candidature, dying in 1921, before the next General Election.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the eighth:

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence (centre) with her husband, Frederick and Christabel Pankhurst

Mrs Pethick Lawrence, who was standing as a Labour candidate in the Rusholme constituency of Manchester.

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence had been one of the leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union until, in the autumn of 1912, ousted, along with her husband, Frederick, after they had both spent a term in prison on a charge of conspiracy to commit damage. They then set up a new organisation, the Votes for Women Fellowship, centring around their paper, Votes for Women. In July 1914 the Pethick Lawrences joined the United Suffragists and gave their paper to the new society.

During the First World war Emmeline Pethick Lawrence was one of those women who backed the idea of a negotiated peace and was one of only three British women able to attend the Women’s Peace Congress, held in the Hague in 1915. She worked for peace during the remainder of the war and when she stood at the 1918 General Election her platform was partly devoted to the idea that the only chance for permanent peace in Europe was a just settlement with Germany.

In her Election Address on domestic matters she wrote:

Social Reconstruction is the business of the next Parliament. I support the resolutions adopted at the Labour Conference of June 1918. These include:

  1. The Restitution of Trade Union Conditions.
  2. National Scheme of Housing carried out with capital supplied by National Government.
  3. National Non-Militaristic Education on basis of social equality from nursery school to University.
  4. Prevention of Unemployment.
  5. Minimum Wage.
  6. Equal Pay for Equal Work.
  7. Increased Old-Age Pensions.
  8. Nationalisation of Railways, Shipping, Canals, Mines, Banks, and Land.
  9. Nationalisation of the Drink Traffic.
  10. Abolition o the Poor Law and Development of Municipal Health Service.
  11. Free Trade and the Open Door in Commerce.
  12. Admission of women to full political rights on an equality with men.
  13. Pensions for Mother, who, deprived of the breadwinner of the family,, have to tend and provide for dependent children. 

Repeal of Repressive Legislation

  1. I stand for the immediate repeal of Military Conscription  and of every form of Industrial Conscription, believing Conscription to be the supreme expression of arbitrary force in contra-distinction to self-governing freedom.
  2. For the Repeal of D.O.R.A.
  3. For the immediate restoration of civil liberties.
  4. The immediate release of all political prisoners.

The vital question of sex morality can only be dealt with my men and women taking counsel together.

Rusholme was a new seat created in Manchester. In the event Emmeline Pethick Lawrence came third, polling 2985 votes, not far behind the Liberal candidate with 3690 votes. The winning Unionist candidate took 12,447 votes

The Vote, the paper of the Women’s Freedom League, carried a post-election piece in its 17 January 1919 issue, in which Mrs Pethick Lawrence declared: ‘that candidates should make a closer study of the psychology of their electors. Feeling counts infinitely more than opinions at great national crises. Last month the electors were actuated for the most part by a passion for justice, expressed in the minds of many by the demand for “the hanging of the Kaiser”. Appeals to enlightened self-interest,, the prospects of better housing, better wages – nothing moved them as much as this passionate devotion to an idea. “We have learnt at this election we must study the feelings and ideals of the people.”‘ Polling day, Mrs Pethick Lawrence declared, was the happiest day of her life in seeing women carrying out the rights of citizenship, even though the vote of the young and enthusiastic women is still to come.’

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence continued to campaign on women’s issues for the rest of her life , becoming president of the Women’s Freedom League and a vice-president of the Six Point Group.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , ,

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Alison Garland

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the seventh:

Alison Garland

Miss Alison Garlandwho was standing as a Liberal for Portsmouth South, but did not have the backing of the Coalition Government.

Alison Garland (1862-1939) was speaking, as a Liberal, at meetings of the Central and West of England Society for Women’s Suffrage as early as 1897 and in 1899 was elected president of the Devon Union of the Women’s Liberal Association. In 1899 she was the first woman to address the Indian National Congress, sent by the British Indian Parliamentary Committee.

By 1905 Alison Garland was a member of the executive committee of the Women’s Liberal Federation. She took part in the NUWSS ‘Mud March’ in February 1907 and in 1913 published a suffrage play, The Better Half’, which received glowing reviews in the daily press.

In her 1918 Election Address she wrote:

In the difficult period of Reconstruction there will be industrial problems specially affecting women, and I appeal to the women voters to elect me to speak and work on their behalf. 

Women have helped to win the war, and their voice must be heard in the winning of Peace. They have their special point of view in such questions as

  1. the upbringing and  protection of children
  2. the maintenance of an equal moral standard for men and women
  3. the housing of the people
  4. the formation of a Ministry of Health
  5. national education

I have been all my life an ardent worker for the emancipation of women, and I would like to complete my labours by advocating their cause in the House of Commons.

I pledge myself to support a Coalition Government, led by Mr Lloyd George, in the settlement of the terms of Peace and any and every measure of Reconstruciton on progressive democratic lines. We have been a united nation to win the war. May this unity be preserved in rebuilding a new and better Britain. We entered into war to end all wars, therefore a League of Nations must be formed to secure the preservation of Peace.

I believe in self-determination for municipalities on all questions relating to Local Government,; therefore I am in favour of full popular control of the Liquor Traffic. Bright and cheerful places of public resort where men and women could gather for social intercourse should be provided.

As ‘self-governing’ nations alone are free, and free people alone are essentially progressive, I would vote for Home Rule for Ireland (with reasonable safeguards for Ulster) and a generous measure of self-government for India.

I favour the continuance of our Free Trade system which, having given us nearly one-half of the world’s Merchant Shipping, has enabled us to save the Allied cause from disaster. I stand by Free Trade because Protection impoverishes industry, encourages profiteering, and probably will be necessary to protect our key industries, but care must be taken that the resulting profits shall go to the State.

The crying need of the nation is the proper Housing of its people both in town and country. The Empire on which the sun never sets should not contain hovels on which the sun never shines. The Government has promised this national task, and they will have my loyal support in this and all measures taken to secure the health of the people.

A minimum wage should be established in every branch of employment to secure a reasonable standard of comfort. This should be regarded as the first charge on every trade and industry.

Alison Garland polled 4283 votes in the 1918 General Election, coming second to the Unionist candidate (with 15,842 votes). Labour came last (3070 votes). She stood again as a Liberal at Dartford (Kent) in the 1922 General Election, coming a very poor third, with 2175 votes. The winner was the National Liberal candidate. She came third again as the Liberal candidate in the Warrington constituency in the 1929 General Election, when the seat was taken by Labour.

Alison Garland did not stand for election again. She was president of the Women’s National Liberal Federation, 1934-36, to whom in her will she eventually left £50, and in 1937 was awarded an OBE for political and public service.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Norah Dacre Fox

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the sixth:

Norah Dacre Fox

Mrs Dacre Fox, standing as an Independent in Richmond, Surrey. Although born in Ireland, she had lived for many years in south-west London so it was a constituency with which she was familiar.

Norah Dacre Fox (1878-1961) had risen to prominence in the Women’s Social and Political Union during 1913 and 1914 and between May and July 1914 was imprisoned three times, on hunger strike. During the First World War she joined Mrs Pankhurst’s campaigns to mobilise workers into munition factories and to prevent industrial unrest.

During these war-time campaigns she supported the Pankhursts’ virulently anti-German policy and carried this forward into her Election Address. The Derby Daily Telegraph (26 November 1918) noted that she confined ‘her programme to the barring of all Germans from responsible public positions inn England, and excluding the Huns for ever from our trade and business. Nothing from her election address appears to have been reproduced in The Common Cause or The Vote – or, rather surprisingly, in Britannia, the Pankhursts’ paper..

However, this message seems to have had  some appeal to the Richmond electors as Mrs Dacre Fox took second place at the election, with 3615 votes. The Unionist candidate won, with 8364 votes, but she beat the Liberal and another Independent candidate.

She never stood again for Parliament although, having in the 1930s become a leading member of the women’s section of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, she was from 1937 the prospective BUF candidate for Northampton. However, war intervened, the general election did not take place, and Norah Dacre Fox (now Norah Elam) was interned in Holloway as a Nazi sympathiser.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Charlotte Despard

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the fifth:

 

Mrs Charlotte Despard, who stood as the Labour candidate for North Battersea, a new constituency, backed by support from the Women’s Freedom League. She had been selected by the Labour party after John Burns withdrew his candidature.

Charlotte Despard (1844-1939) had been the leader of the Women’s Freedom League  since its formation in 1907, when she led a group away from the Women’s Social and Political Union, dissatisfied with the autocratic style of Emmeline and and Christabel Pankhurst’s leadership. Charlotte Despard advocated, within the structure of a democratic organization, civil disobedience that broke no ‘moral law’, and a need for an awareness of the reality of the social and economic ills that could be remedied if women were enfranchised. During the campaign she was imprisoned on a couple of occasions

Mrs Despard was a vegetarian, a Theosophist and a supporter of the Labour party – or  at least she was so long as it was prepared to back women’s suffrage. Thus after 1912, when the Labour party passed a resolution to include women’s suffrage in its programme, the Women’s Freedom League backed Labour party candidates in by-elections.

And so it was that in December 1918 Charlotte Despard was selected as the Labour party candidate for the North Battersea constituency, an area in which she had lived since 1890 and where she ran youth clubs, a welfare clinic, and a soup kitchen. Her election agent was John Archer, who had been the first person of colour to have been elected a mayor in London (for more about him see https://wp.me/p2AEiO-1kg).

Mrs Despard’s Election Address made the following points:

  1. Equal political rights for men and women 
  2. Equal pay for equal work
  3. The child as a most important factor in the State
  4. Children to have first consideration in all food schemes
  5. Boys and girls should go to work at a later age
  6. Rigorous inspection of shops and factories where boys and girls work
  7. Adequate provision for disabled men and women
  8. Abolition of Defence of the Realm Act, especially 40D
  9. Free speech, free press, and liberty of individual action
  10. A League of Free Nations

In the NUWSS paper, Common Cause, Mrs Despard wrote:

As a woman Parliamentary candidate, standing for the cause that is nearest to my heart – the cause of the people, I send a word of greeting and recognition to our fellow-workers of the National Union [of Women’s Suffrage Societies] and the ‘Common Cause’. 

You, my sisters, have for many years through good and ill report, stood for righteousness in public life and for those urgent reforms in our social system through which alone we can hope for social salvation; and your reward has come in these marvellous, unprecedented changes that have come to pass.

Now that the door of opportunity stands open for women, as well as men, it is good to feel that, in organisations such as yours, the training requisite to success in service has been given. I hope the new Parliament will have women amongst its members; and I firmly believe that their influence and help will be of special use to the nation now. On the ruins of the old world of privilege and convention we are building a new world – just, strong, free. Unity if the only firm basis of such a world. Therefore women must be there.

Mrs Despard polled 5634 votes. The Liberal candidate, her only rival, polled 11,231, winning by a comfortable majority. She never stood again for Parliament, subsequently devoting her remarkable energies to the cause of Irish freedom and Irish socialism.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Violet Markham

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the fourth:

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR VIOLET MARKHAM (WWC D15) Assistant Director Violet Markham CH, National Service Department. Copyright: © IWM (WWC D15)

Mrs Carruthers (Miss Violet Markham), who stood as an Independent Liberal candidate for Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. She married in 1915 but continued to use her maiden name for her public work.

Violet Markham (1872-1959), daughter of an industrialist and grand-daughter of Sir Joseph Paxton, was an independently wealthy social reformer who, in the years before the First World War, was a leader of the anti-women’s suffrage campaign. However, her views modified during the War and in 1918 she stood as an Asquithian Liberal in Mansfield, where her brother, Sir Arthur Markham, had before his death in 1916, been the MP.  It was ironic that Mansfield, which had had a very active suffrage society since the 1890s, should have been contested by a woman candidate who, until very recently, had been so vehemently anti-suffrage.

In her election manifesto Violet Markham declared:

  1. I am proud to feel that the Mansfield Liberals are willing in this contest to give me the same measure of political independence as they accorded to my dear brother. My Radical and Democratic convictions have only been strengthened by the experience of the war. The war has proved in the end a splendid vindication of democracy. I have come forward, therefore, as an Independent Liberal, giving a general support to the Coalition Government in carrying out the Peace on the basis of President Wilson’s fourteen points; but not bound by pledges, and with a free hand to deal with the issues of Reconstruction as they arise on any other matters of Government policy. I am a warm supporter of the ideal of the League of Nations.
  2. I remain a convinced Free Trader, but recognise that the abnormal situation created by the war calls for certain modifications in its practice. I am prepared to consider the question of the protection of Key Industries, which ought to be viewed as part of the nation’s system of defence. Industries to which this protection is accorded should, however, be controlled by the State and their profits devoted to national purposes, not to private gain. Cases of dumping would, I think, be a suitable subject for investigation by one of the Standing Committees of Enquiry, which I hope to see set up by the League of Nations.
  3. As Liberals, we deeply deplore that the war has added yet another chapter entailing much mutual bitterness to the fatal record of misunderstanding between England and Ireland. I have always been a Home Ruler, and am prepared to support a Home Rule Bill or any measure on which the Irish would themselves agree; but I am not prepared after the experience of the war to coerce N.E. Ulster, for which separate arrangements must be made.
  4. Measures concerned with Housing, Health, Wages, Land, will, if adequate, receive my warm support. Such measures must deal fearlessly with the vested interests involved, or they will prove of no account.
  5. In industry we must work for the establishment of a new social order based, not as in the past,, on profit-making and strife, but on the principle of a public service to which all contribute and in which all share.

Violet Markham took third place in the election contest, polling 4000 votes. The Labour candidate took the seat with 8957 votes. The Coalition ‘coupon’ went to a National Democratic candidate who came second. An Independent trailed in fourth place with 878 votes.

Violet Markham never again stood as a parliamentary candidate, but was one of the first women to be appointed a justice of the peace, and in 1924 was elected a town councillor in Chesterfield, her home town, becoming mayor in 1927. By 1937 she was deputy chairman of the Unemployment Assistance Board and in 1945 was the co-author of a report on the Postwar Organisation of Private Domestic Employment.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Winifred Carney

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the third:

Winifred Carney

Miss Winifred Carney, who stood as a Sínn Féin candidate for the Victoria constituency in Belfast.

Winifred Carney (1887-1943), a Catholic brought up in the Falls Road area of Belfast, was by 1912 in charge of the Women’s Section of the Irish Textile Workers’ Union, before becoming secretary to James Connolly, founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party. In 1914 she joined Cumann na mBan, the women’s auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers and was present at its first meeting.

Winifred Carney took part in the 1916 Easter Rising and was with Connolly in the Dublin GPO as he was wounded. She was arrested and was eventually moved to England, to Aylesbury Jail, finally released at the end of 1916.

At the 1918 election Winifred Carney polled 539 votes and was heavily defeated, coming last of the three candidates, her defeat due more to politics than to gender, for the Victoria constituency in East Belfast covered the dock area and was traditionally Unionist. It was unsurprising that Winifred Carney lost to a Labour Unionist candidate, even though in other constituencies Sínn Féin were very successful. winning 73 out of the 105 seats they contested.

It is to be noted that, other than including Winifred Carney in the list of women standing for election, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies did not give any space in their paper, Common Cause, to her manifesto – or give any details of her campaign.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Mary Macarthur

Today, 21 November 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

The first is:

Mary Macarthur (courtesy of Working Class Movement Library)

Mrs W.C. Anderson (Miss Mary Macarthur) who was standing for the Stourbridge (Worcestershire) constituency as a Labour candidate. With the enabling bill passed so close to the election most political parties had already selected their candidates. However Stourbridge Labour party was one of the few organisations that had taken the chance that women would become eligible to stand for election and had already selected Mary Macarthur as their candidate. She was a heroine in that area, having in 1910 led the women chainmakers of Cradley Heath in their battle for better pay. She was, of course, much better known as Mary Macarthur, but it was her married name that appeared on the ballot paper, doubtless leading to confusion among some voters.

Scots-born Mary Macarthur (1880-1921) had been secretary of the Women’s Trade Union League from 1903 and during the pre-war suffrage years had supported the cause of universal adult suffrage rather than the limited women’s suffrage advocated by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the Women’s Social and Political Union.

In her 1918 Election Address Mary Macarthur promised:

  1. I will fight for Free Speech – a Free Press – Free Trial – for Social Economic and Political Freedom.
  2. A Man’s Pay for a Man’s Work. It should be illegal to employ a woman on the same work as a man for less pay. The stand of life must not be lowered by unfair competition.
  3. A Fair System of Taxation.  We shall have a war debt of £7000 million. Those who can best afford it must pay. I am against all taxes on food. The Income Tax limit should be raid and further relief given in respect of family responsibilities. Super Taxes and Death Duties should be increased. I am in favour of a Capital Levy exemption possessions under £100 and pressing lightly on possessions under £5000.
  4. Public Good Before Public Profit. Land, Railways, Canals, Coal and Iron Mines, Life Assurance, Banking, Electricity, and similar monopolies should be made public property, run for public good and not for private profit. Equitable compensation should be given to existing owners and shareholders.

Although defeated, as were all but one of the women candidates – and, indeed, many leading male Labour politicians, Mary Macarthur polled a very creditable 7835 votes at Stourbridge.

In the remainder of her short life, Mary Macarthur continued to work for the Women’s Trade Union League and campaigned to set up the International Labour Organisation.

A memorial to Mary Macarthur in the form of  three holiday homes where ‘tired working women’ could go for a rest, was launched in 1922 and still operates today – now as the Mary Macarthur Holiday Trust. 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: ‘Woman And Her Sphere’ At Buckingham Palace

 

Yesterday was surreal – as I found myself at Buckingham Palace to receive an OBE for ‘Services to Education – in particular for promoting knowledge of the women’s suffrage movement’. This was an event so far removed from my expectations from life that to mention ‘wildest dreams’ would be to give it too firm a reality.


However it was a most interesting occasion – wonderfully orchestrated – ceremonial and yet convivial – and I was delighted that the history of the women’s movement should be honoured in this way..

After bidding farewell to the gilt, crystal, and red velvet, to the Beefeaters, the Gurkhas, and the Guards, to numerous paintings of the royal family through the ages, and, noted in passing, to a Jan Steen, a de Hooch, and a Vermeer, I and my family party of 12 enjoyed a merry, afternoon-long lunch.

11 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Mrs Pankhurst’s Statue – UPDATE 22 October 2018

This statue of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, erected by her admiring and loving followers, will remain THE memorial to her at Westminster.

I reported on 15 September the very welcome news that, as a result of a vigorous public protest, Sir Neil Thorne and the Emmeline Pankhurst Trust had withdrawn the planning applications they had made to Westminster Council to remove the existing statue of Emmeline Pankhurst and resite it in Regent’s Park.

They had made these applications in order to make way for a new statue of Mrs Pankhurst that they had commissioned, for reasons that are not entirely clear, and intended to place on Canning Green to the west of Parliament Square.

The planning application came up for consideration at a meeting held on 2 October 2018, the minutes of which were issued on 15 October 2018. Perhaps unsurprisingly the decision was:

That the application be refused on the grounds that it is contrary to the Council’s Saturation policy for the reasons set out on page 18 of the agenda and due to the presence of a second statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in the vicinity.

You can read the minuted report here – https://tinyurl.com/yahasea2.

I won’t begin to wonder how much money and time has been spent on this project – or why. You may each have your own views.

The result seems to be a victory for both historical – and common – sense.

 

 

3 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Save Mrs Pankhurst’s Statue: UPDATED 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

A planning application has been made to Westminster Council to dismantle this statue of Mrs Pankhurst – which stands as close as possible to the Houses of Parliament.

The plan is to banish this statue to the grounds of Regent’s University, a private university, in Regent’s Park. See the planning application here.

The group behind the application calls itself ‘The Emmeline Pankhurst Trust’ but has no connection with the other Pankhurst Trust that is working to restore the Pankhursts’ home in Nelson Street, Manchester. Nor does it have any connection with the Pankhurst family. Rather, it is a mysterious group led by a former Conservative MP (for Ilford South), Sir Neil Thorne, whose wife, according to a newspaper report, was walking her dog through Victoria Tower Gardens when she encountered Mrs Pankhurst’s statue and, knowing nothing of its history, thought it might be better placed elsewhere.

This statue was funded by the Pankhurst Memorial Fund set up following Emmeline’s death in 1928 and championed by fellow suffragettes Kitty Marshall and Rosamund Massey. Flora Drummond was the chair of the group and Lady Rhondda the treasurer. A fund of £2500 was raised, the statue commissioned, and in 1930 it was unveiled by the prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, with Dame Ethel Smyth conducting the band. See Pathe newsreel of the occasion here.

In the 1950s works in Victoria Tower Gardens endangered the statue but, thanks to the dedication of her surviving friends, it was moved even closer to the Houses of Parliament, to the present site. Ever since 1930 it has been the scene of commemoration, not only by former suffrage campaigners, but by hundreds of thousands of members of the public who have invested their memories in this site. Here is a 1955 newsreel item of former suffragettes meeting by the statue (then in its original position in Victoria Tower Gardens) in celebration.

Sir Neil Thorne and his group propose to create a new statue of Mrs Pankhurst and site it on Canning Green, which is a rather forgotten stretch of grass separated from Parliament Square by a very busy road. Those campaigning for the statue to Millicent Fawcett were at least able to claim for her a site in Parliament Square itself. This proposed new statue to Mrs Pankhurst would be way in the background – separated from Parliament by two main roads and the whole of Parliament Square. What is the sense in that when at the moment she is closer than any figure (other than Oliver Cromwell!) and when photographs of the statue (and the memorial to Christabel Pankhurst at the base) also capture the Mother of Parliaments? If Sir Neil Thorne’s group had their way she would be very lonely, stranded with George Canning on a meaningless piece of grass and all the history invested in the original statue forgotten

Because, unsurprisingly, Westminster Council won’t countenance two statues to Mrs Pankhurst within a short distance of each other, Sir Neil Thorne’s group has had to find a way of removing the original statue, which at the moment is Grade 2 Listed.

There was an attempt to try and move it to her grave in Brompton Cemetery, but that came to nothing. So now their idea is to remove it to the grounds of Regent’s University in far off Regent’s Park, with which Mrs Pankhurst has no association whatsoever. Sir Neil Thorne, however, does – in that he is a member of the Steering Group Committee for the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage project, a collaboration between the Ming-Ai (London) Institute and Regent’s University. Presumably this association is not unconnected to the offer by Regent’s University to remove the problem of the original statue. Who do you think will see it in the shrubberies of Regent’s Park?

Here is the planning application for the erection of the statue in the grounds of Regent’s University. It contains a spurious attempt to link the fact that the buildings now occupied by Regent’s University were erected by Bedford College – once a woman-only college – and that, therefore, this is a suitable home for Mrs Pankhurst’s statue. This is nonsense – as Mrs Pankhurst was never involved in any campaign to advance women’s education. Such a meretricious elision of historical truth.

Finally, you can read the planning application for the new statue here. You will note that when it was first presented in 2017 it received a number of comments in support. On reading them I think you will get the sense that those supporting the new statue don’t seem to know anything of suffrage history, far less the fact that Emmeline Pankhurst already has a statue.

Of course, if this ‘Pankhurst Trust’ had wanted to erect a new statue to Mrs Pankhurst that did not involve casting the original aside as though it was of no consequence, I would have no objection. But I feel very strongly that we should honour the intention and actions of those who committed their time and money to setting Mrs Pankhurst in such an excellent position next to Parliament. If the group behind these planning applications would like to honour the memory of Mrs Pankhurst they would do better to support the original ‘Pankhurst Trust’ , which is attempting to create a museum in the Pankhursts’ former Manchester home, rather than wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on an unnecessary piece of statuary and in the process destroying a valuable site of suffrage history.

Time is running out. If you do not agree with these three plans:

  1. to dismantle the existing statue of Mrs Pankhurst from its existing site  – OBJECT 
  2. to re-erect  the original statue in the forecourt of Regent’s University – OBJECT
  3. erect a new statue of Mrs Pankhurst on Canning Green – OBJECT

Updates: 22 August 2018

1. A couple of online petitions have been started – and one, hosted by 38 Degrees – see here – has attracted thousands of signatures. This is pleasingly popularist but, if you live in the UK, is NO SUBSTITUTE  for making comments on the 3 planning applications that are being put to Westminster Council. It is imperative in planning matters to go through the proper channels. I have asked the originator of the petition to include links to the planning applications, but nothing has yet been done. UPDATE:  A LINK HAS NOW BEEN INCLUDED

The Westminster officer in charge of the case has a responsibility to read all comments made and take notice of them when writing his/her report to the Planning Committee. Even if he/she knows of a petition there is no obligation to take any notice of it.

I am worried that those who only sign the petition will feel they have ‘done their bit’ but will actually have wasted a very real opportunity of making their views known to the Planning Committee. 

There is no difficulty in registering objections to the planning applications – hundreds have already done so. No suffragette would have been deterred!

2) The Curator’s Office at the Palace of Westminster has commissioned a very thorough report into the plan to remove Mrs Pankhurst’s statue from Victoria Tower Gardens – published today (22 Aug 2018). Read it here. It makes extremely interesting reading but, to cut to the chase, the verdict is definite.  ‘The proposal to move the memorial, therefore, should not be granted planning permission or listed building consent.’ (Page 37)

UPDATE 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

The proposals to remove Mrs Pankhurst’s statue and re-erect it in the grounds of Regent’s University have just been WITHDRAWN.

The planning application to erect a new statue of her on Canning Green is still ‘Pending’.

Hoowever, we would be wise not to be too complacent…this may be some kind of tactical move. Be vigilant.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

23 Comments

Suffrage Stories: The Hodgson Sisters And Their Suffrage Souvenirs

My new catalogue – No 198 – will contain a large collection of suffrage ephemera kept all their lives by three sisters, Edith Lizzie (1881-1958), Florence Emily (1882-1967), and Grace Margaret (1887-1966) Hodgson.

Women of the Hodgson family. With mother, Jemima, in the centre it is thought that Grace is on her right, with Mabel back left, next to Florence and with Edith on the right (Photo courtesy of Mabel’s descendants)

They were the daughters of Edward Hodgson (1857-1919) who was, successively, a linen draper, by 1901 a dairy manager and in 1911 was a ‘dairyman, unemployed’. The 1901 census found Florence, who is described as a ‘telegraphist’ (she worked for the Post Office), staying as a boarder, with a fourth sister, Mabel, at the Sunday School Union Home of Rest in Wykeham Road, Hastings. This would suggest that these sisters, at least, had possibly been teachers at Sunday School. Edith and Grace were back home with their parents, living at 31 Lawford Road, Kentish Town – Grace was a schoolgirl and Edith was working as a pupil teacher.

When the next census was taken, in 1911, Grace, who is now a teacher working for the LCC, and Mabel, a telegraphist, were at home with their parents at 39 Estelle Road, Gospel Oak, Hampstead – but there is no trace of Edith and Florence. There are two ‘Census Resistance’ badges in the collection – perhaps once owned by Edith and Florence. By now they, together with Grace, had been active for some time in the Women’s Freedom League and, as they can be found nowhere else on the census, it is to be presumed that they were following the call to boycott. For by this time all the sisters, except Mabel (who married in 1914), were active members of the Women’s Freedom League. It is likely – because there are items of WSPU ephemera in the collection – that they had originally joined the WSPU, but had then moved over to the WFL.

The collection also contains two very rare badges referring to the right of the subject to petition the King. These are associated with the WFL picket of the House of Commons organised by the WFL between July and October 1909. A postcard to ‘Miss Hodgson’ from Mrs Bettina Borrmann Wells, who organised the picket, makes clear that Edith, at least, took part in the picket.

The collection contains many other badges, as well as sashes worn by the sisters, ribbons that may have been worn as neckties, a miniature WFL pennant representing Holloway Prison, and a home-made ‘dolly bag’ – a green drawstring bag with gold carrying straps, on the front of which is sewn a WFL cloth shield badge. It is very unusual to find items of suffrage dress that have a clear provenance. The sisters’ intense interest in suffrage personalities is demonstrated in the large number of real photographic portrait postcards that they bought – and kept. These include members of the WSPU as well as of the WFL.

The sisters continued supporting the WFL with financial donations until at least 1932.  They continued to live together for the rest of their lives – latterly at 39 Laurier Road, Dartmouth Park, NW5. Family memory has it that the sisters had one each of the house’s three floors.

The sisters were obviously keen to see something of the world – and in 1930 all three travelled to Tangier and two years later Edith and Grace visited Japan. They probably had other adventures – but these are the only ones that survive in the records.

As with the Stevenson Sisters, about whom I wrote last week, no family memory remained of the involvement of Edith, Florence and Grace in the suffrage movement – nor, indeed, anything else of their lives – the fate, as I’ve mentioned before, of the maiden aunt. It is only since one of Mabel’s descendants took the Collection to an auction house that something of their story  has slowly been revealed.

If you would like to receive a copy of the catalogue containing the Hodgson Collection, email me elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Ella And Geraldine Stevenson, Suffragette Sisters

Place is important to me and sometimes my attention is caught by an incident occurring somewhere I’ve known well. And so it was that four years ago I noticed that a suffragette ‘outrage’ had taken place at the Richmond Post Office. Ella Stevenson, a WSPU member, was charged with placing a packet containing two tubes of phosphorous in the post box attached to the main Richmond Post Office. In my youth I knew this Post Office very well – it is a rather fine building – 70 George Street – but was long ago abandoned by the PO and is currently a branch of Anthropologie. Quite coincidentally, very soon after I had become aware of this incident and had pictured it in my mind, I was asked to value two hunger-strike medals – one awarded to Ella Stevenson and the other to her sister, Geraldine. Other matters have intervened, but now, four years later, here is something of their story.

Ella and Geraldine Stevenson were two daughters in the large family (12 children, I think) of Leader (1826-1907) and Louisa Stevenson (1828-1913). Leader Stevenson, who was an ‘Australia merchant’, was born in London of non-conformist parents, his wife in Tasmania. In the first decade of the 20th century the family was living at 10 Cumberland Road, Kew.

Both Ella [Ellen] (c. 1860-1934] and Geraldine Stevenson (1866-1949) were financial supporters, in a smallish way, of Mrs Pankhurst’s militant suffrage organisation, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and until October 1910 Ella was Literary Secretary of the Richmond and Kew WSPU.

Ella’s first militant action seems to have taken place on 4 December 1909 when, as ‘Ethel Slade’, she was arrested in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, after breaking windows in the local Liberal Club. She had gone north to protest at a meeting held by a government minister, Lewis Harcourt, but had been barred from the theatre where it was being held. She refused to pay a fine and was sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment.  It doesn’t appear that the police had yet discovered her real identity.

The following year, in November 1910, as ‘Ethel Slade’, Ella Stevenson was sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment after taking part in demonstrations surrounding the ‘Black Friday’ riot in Parliament Square.

Neither Ella nor Geraldine Stevenson was at home on census night in April 1911 and we may presume they were following the WSPU boycott call. Later in the year, again as ‘Ethel Slade’ Ella was charged with breaking windows in Parliament Street on 21 November – as part of an organised WSPU demonstration (because the government was proposing to bring in a Manhood Suffrage Bill – excluding women). ‘Ethel Slade’ was sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment.

Now, although I know that Geraldine Stevenson earned a hunger-strike medal, I can find no trace of her among suffragettes arrested by the police nor does her name appear in any news reports. However, when she was breaking windows in Parliament Street ‘Ethel Slade’ was accompanied by a ‘Grace Stuart’, who was, in fact, Geraldine Stevenson, using a pseudonym, but keeping her own initials.

 Both ‘Ethel Slade’ and ‘Grace Stuart’ were released from prison on 12 February 1912. At the ‘Welcome Breakfast’ ‘Ethel Slade’ said it was a great honour for women to go to prison and mentioned that she was going to volunteer for the next deputation.

A few months later, in March 1912, Grace Stuart was sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment after taking part in an organised WSPU window-smashing campaign – and I suspect it was during this term in Holloway that she earned her hunger-strike medal.

On 5 November 1912, as ‘Ethel Slade’, Ella, with another women, broke 9 plate-glass windows in New Bond Street – and was sentenced to 4 months’ imprisonment. They were protesting against the fact that an amendment to the Irish Home Rule bill that would have allowed for a measure of female suffrage was lost. She went on hunger strike, was forcibly fed, and was released after two weeks.

The former Richmond Post Office

On 5 March 1913  Ella Stevenson was sentenced at the Old Bailey to 9 months’ imprisonment for placing a packet containing two glass tubes of phosphorous in the post box attached to the main Richmond Post Office. It had burst into flames. It is more than likely that she had been given the phosphorous by Edwy Clayton, an analytical chemist of ‘Glengariff’, Kew Road, Kew, whose wife was honorary secretary of the Richmond and Kew WSPU. Around the time of Ella’s sentence, Clayton was charged with conspiracy to commit damage (supplying bomb-making information and materials) and sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment. He went on hunger strike, was released under the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act and eluded re-arrest.

When sentencing Ella Stevenson the Recorder said that it was impossible for people to be allowed to go about defying the law because they require some change made in it. Such a condition of affairs would lead to a state of barbarism. Defendant replied that she would go to prison to carry on the fight as she had carried it on outside’.

No women were allowed in court during her trial and Ella specifically asked for a ‘lady reporter’ to be allowed in court and had also asked for her sister [Geraldine?] to be present. But the Recorder was adamant – ‘No women’. There was something of an outcry about the exclusion of women, and the Commissioners of the Central Criminal Court quickly decided that this would not happen in future.

Ella Stevenson went on hunger strike as soon as she got to Holloway and was forcibly fed. Extraordinary vitality is a splendid thing to have outside prison, it is tiresome inside. I am not downhearted she is reported as saying. A report in Votes for Women, 11 April 1913, described how her nostrils were severely injured by forcible feeding and one of her teeth had been knocked out when members of the prison staff were trying to force her mouth open. The Governor reported: ‘the task has been very difficult and disagreeable one owing to her violent resistance; but the medical officer reports that though she exhausts herself by her resistance, there are no serious ill-effects. As to her teeth, the facts are that on one occasion she bit the rubber shield over the doctor’s finger and broke a tooth which was a mere shell owing to decay .Her lip has been sore from an attack of herpes but is now better. These details are distressing and I should be glad to advise a remission of sentence if it were not almost certain that she would on her release commit further offences. I need not say that a strict watch is kept over her condition and every care taken to prevent her injuring herself.’ It is clear, from a letter written to the Home Office by Geraldine Stevenson, that it was one of Ella’s front teeth that was broken – a rather distressing thing to happen to a middle-aged woman in Edwardian Britain

A 17 April 1913 report from Holloway Prison shows that she was given 2.5 pints of  ‘Horlicks, Brand’s Essence, Allenbury’s Milk and egg – fed twice by oesophageal  tube. Violently resistive the whole time.’

Ella was eventually released from prison on 28 April under the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act – the Temporary Discharge of Prisoners Act, one of the first four prisoners released under the Act. She did not return to Holloway on 12 May as required – but was re-arrested on 7 August 1913, while selling The Suffragette in Richmond, and was taken back to Holloway to continue her sentence. Her mother had died at home in Kew just over two weeks earlier – on 19 July 1913.

Ella again went on hunger strike and was released on 14 August under the terms of the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act. While in prison she broke windows and her conduct was deemed ‘Bad’. A Report from the prison’s medical officer (13 August) Medical Officer mentioned that she ‘has forsaken sleep owing to constantly recurring dreams that she has swallowed a drop of water by mistake. Feels extreme satisfaction on finding it is only a dream.’

A ‘Wanted’ Notice for Ella Stevenson appeared in the Supplement to the Police Gazette 2 January 1914. ‘Wanted – for failing to return to Holloway Prison on 22 Aug 1913, as required by the conditions of her discharge under the Prisoners’ Temporary Discharged Act (1913), Ella Stevenson, alias Ethel Slade CRO No S/165568, age refused (about 45), height 5ft 6in; complexion sallow; hair light brown turning grey, and eyes  grey.’

Perhaps as a result of this publicity, on 23 January 1914 Ella Stevenson was re-arrested,  was once again taken to Holloway, where once again she adopted a hunger-and-thirst strike and was released a few days later (under the ‘Cat and Mouse’). She was arrested again on 17 March, released on 19 March, and re-arrested 23 June, and released 27 June. She described this last occasion: I was arrested in Richmond very early on Tuesday morning, June 23. I attempted to strike the man who arrested me, but was taken to Richmond Police Station where I was held until 2 oclock and then taken through the streets of Richmond firmly grasped by two men in uniform. Finding the procession was to be of this very public nature, I decided to make the most of the opportunity to get the people to understand, if possible, what was happening. I resisted the whole way telling the people that I was resisting an iniquitous Act on principle. I gave them as much information as I could in the time, and at the railway station and afterwards in the carriage, when several people got in with us, I was able to appeal to them and reason with them without interruption.The Suffragette, 10 July 1914. Once back in Holloway she again went on a hunger-and-thirst strike, was released on 27 June and does not appear to have been re-arrested before the outbreak of war on 4 August brought the WSPU campaign to an end.

Picturing Ella Stevenson’s activity in George Street and, eventually, that enforced march through Richmond certainly enlivened my rather tedious wait at the bus stop opposite the station as I was on my to the National Archives last week. And, once there, I met her again in files describing her treatment in Holloway and her resistance to it. No real knowledge of the part she and her sister played in the fight for the vote – or, indeed, anything else at all of their lives – has survived within her family. Such is the fate, noted time and time again, of the maiden aunt.

P.S. For a Museum of London surveillance photograph of Ella Stevenson, probably taken when she was in Holloway – see here.  

And, quite coincidentally, the Museum of London was earlier this year given the illuminated scroll awarded to Ella Stevenson by the WSPU after one of her imprisonments. All the pieces of the Stevenson jigsaw are falling into place.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

, , , , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Women’s History Review – Women’s Suffrage Centennial Article Collection

If you are one of my readers interested in the history of the women’s suffrage movement, you will be pleased to know that, in this centennial year, Women’s History Review is allowing free access to a number of past-published articles dealing with all aspects of the campaign. Here is the link to the collection. This should be particularly useful to Early Stage Researchers specialising in suffrage history who may be finding it difficult to grasp of the scope of previously published work in the field.

Grace Roe walking out of Lincoln’s Inn House – under arrest – May 1914. She was held in prison from 23 May, on hunger strike and forcibly fed, until finally released on 10 August, under the government amnesty

I’m particularly pleased that an article I wrote that was published in 2008 – Police, Prisons and Prisoners: the view from the Home Office – is now easily accessible. It is based on Home Office papers held in the National Archives, viewing suffragette militancy through the eyes of the authorities rather, than as been more usual, through the writings of the suffragettes. The article concludes by demonstrating how, in the weeks before the outbreak of war in August 1914, the authorities were tightening their grip on the WSPU. The final paragraph of the article reads:

As a final thought, rather than asking the usual question “Did militancy achieve votes for women?”, I would like to pose the question “Could the government have been successful in suppressing the WSPU?” By the summer of 1914 it certainly appeared to have every intention of doing so. The impression has remained, fostered very effectively in their lifetimes by the members of the Suffragette Fellowship, women who, of course, never saw the files that the state had compiled on them, that the WSPU was set on a winning trajectory and that only their patriotism brought the campaign to a conclusion. But is this a true picture of the battle between the Home Office and the suffragettes when the shutter snapped in August 1914? I would suggest that the position of the WSPU as seen from the Home Office was altogether more precarious.’

This is not a conclusion from which, in the ten years since the article was published, I’ve had any reason to differ.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Ethel Moorhead, Militancy, and Modernism

Ethel Moorhead

Ethel Moorhead is one of my favourite militant suffragettes. Not on account of the reality of her campaign of damage and arson,which was extensive, but because of the way she later wrote about it.

Ethel Moorhead’s militant suffrage career is well known – or, at least, well known to those who take the trouble to read about it in The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide or in Leah Leneman’s entry on her in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – for she was one of the most turbulent of the Scottish suffragettes. In 1913 Ethel was a ‘Mouse’ – on the run from the police, let out of prison after hunger striking.  Over a period of months, until she was rearrested, caught redhanded about to create further mayhem, she left a trail of destruction as she roamed Perthshire and Renfrewshire, setting fire to buildings. Her close companion on this jaunt was Fanny Parker (about whom you can also read in The Reference Guide).

Fanny Parker

So far, so not an entirely unusual way of life for a militant suffragette. But it is the life that she lived after the war that is so intriguing. She and Fanny remained close until the latter’s death in 1924 – in Bordeaux. She was living there with Ethel and Ernest Walsh, a young American poet and Ethel’s protege.  With money left to her by Fanny, Ethel and Ernest then launched This Quarter, the most Modernist of little magazines, publishing in the first issue work by Ezra Pound and in the second work by James Joyce and Djuna Barnes.

This Quarter, Vol 1: 2 – the ‘Incendaries’ issue (courtesy of University of South Carolina Libraries)

No editorial modesty prevented Ethel from including in the first issue four of her paintings (oh, yes, she had had a thorough art training in ‘Greydoom’ as, in a Modernist way, she referenced Edinburgh) and, in the second issue, Incendaries (Work in Progress) a moving, autobiographical account of her early life and suffragette activities. Incidentally, ‘Work in Progress’ was a phrase attached to the title of work by at least one other contributor to This Quarter  – suggesting that the writer is still grappling with his/her material – is still thinking it through. – in an acceptably Modernist stream-of-consciousness manner.  Alas, however, Ethel did not produce any further installments of Incendaries. She and Ernest Walsh co-edited those first two issues and after his death in 1926 she continued as sole editor for two more delightfully idiosyncratic issues, until spring 1929. The magazine continued until 1932, but Ethel had bowed out.

I don’t feel able to pontificate on the relationship between Ethel and Ernest Walsh. Her Wikipedia entry says that they were married, which they were certainly not. Another website states that she had a child by him, which she did not. Walsh did have a daughter with Kay Boyle, an American novelist, who made clear that she replaced Ethel in Ernest’s affections.

Incidentally, Kay Boyle left a description of Ethel –‘ short bobbed hair, with only a little grey in it, and the pince-nez she wore gave her an air of authority; but there was at the same time something like shyness, or wariness in her small uneasy brown eyes and her tense mouth.’ This was slightly more flattering than that issued by the Criminal Record OFfice in 1914 – ‘aged 44, 5’6″ tall, with brown eyes (‘wears pinze-nez’), oblong face, receding chin, slim build, stooping shoulders’. Kay was, of course, a far more glamorous creature.

But back in 1913 there is no doubt of the affection Ethel and Fanny (‘Fan’) Parker felt for each other. As Ethel wrote in Incendaries – ‘They snatched friendship as they rushed past on mad quests’. And in Incendaries she describes one particular ‘mad quest’ – the burning of a church.

‘Fan had on a jaunty dress, a coloured sweater and a knitted cap to match and was gracefully padded with the necessities of the job. The Mouse was wearing the blue dress Fan had borrowed from the Glasgow doctor’s wife and which she was always clamouring for, – she was uncomfortably padded with the necessities of the job, they filled out the blue suit and made it fit better. She had on the Rufus wig [it was red], and blue earrings, and a red hat and veil. They looked queer and men ogled them. They both carried harmless looking housewife bags, but which were heavy with paraffin and there were even small lumps of coal in the bottom. They were on a journey, – when it got dark there were eight miles to walk. They were not gay and jaunty.

About midnight they got to the outskirts of the village. All was dark and quiet. They went into a field to wait until all was quieter. They put down their packs and were afraid of falling asleep..The day before they had scouted the pagan temple, – all had been memorized, they wouldn’t have to think now. They were cold as black granite, their minds were black granite..They reached the old churchyard as the bells rang out twice. They made their way through the tombstones to the church. On a tombstone with pedestals, under a small window, they put down their stuff. They took it off their persons and laid it down carefully.

The window was a small ventilating window like a skylight. The Mouse could reach it by standing on Fan’s shoulders. It was held open by a fixed iron bar. The iron bar did not give. She had to squeeze through the narrow space between one side of the iron bar and the wall. She squeezed through and let go and fell amongst pews. She got up and made her way to a little Gothic doorway. She knew where to find it. It was on the same side as the window. She found it easily, – she ran her hands over the oak door feeling for the key, she hoped the key would be in the lock – she pulled something with a spring and the door opened..Then Fan (who was in a frenzy to get in by the skylight window, and nearly got in) came in the Gothic doorway.

They carried in the stuff from the tombstone, they carried in the oil, the candles, the wadding, into the pagan temple for the last rites. They shut the oak door behind them. They knew where to go. They piled a heap of firelighters and on the top they put small lumps of coal and broken candles. At a little distance off they placed two candles for lighting, they connected them with the firelighters by long strips of wadding, they soaked the wadding with paraffin, they poured paraffin on the firelighters, they poured paraffin on the woodwork, they emptied a tube of inflammable stuff, they lit the candles, they walked out by the Gothic doorway.’

This is as dramatic a retelling as any of an episode of suffragette militancy. There is no doubt that Ethel was the Mouse and that, therefore, the arson attack was likely to have been made while she was on the run between October 1913 and February 1914 – or between her release from prison later in February 1914 and the outbreak of war. But which church was it that they fired? So far I’ve been unable to identify it. UPDATE. While researching something else I believe I’ve found the answer. The church was Carmichael Parish Church (now Cairngryffe Parish Church) in Lanarkshire. An arson attempt was made on it at the beginning of July 1914.

The following is from the Church’s website:

‘ In 1914 a group of women suffragettes broke into the Church and attempted to set it on fire.  Beyond some scorching of the gallery carving no structural damage was done however and the Church is believed to have been saved by its hard oak furnishings.  The Kirk Session entry recording this event reads as follows :-

 “8th July 1914.  The Kirk Session offer to Almighty God their heartfelt thanks for the preservation of their dear and beautiful Church from destruction by fire on a night between Sunday28th June and 1st July, 1914.  Some person or persons unknown entered the Church by breaking the vestry window and piled chairs, bibles etc on the pews underneath the Carmichael gallery and, after sprinkling these with inflammable material, set fire to them.  The damage was trifling considering what might have been done if the flames had taken hold of Carmichael gallery.  The Kirk Session are grieved that any person could have allowed such sacrilegious intentions to enter into his or her heart.”

Fanny Parker was arrested a few days later on 8 July, while she and Ethel were attempting to place two bombs at Burns’ cottage at Alloway – about 45 miles from Carmichael. Ethel escaped and was not recaptured by the time war was declared on 4 August.

Ethel Moorhead has most definitely not been forgotten. Apart from all that has been written about her – and she was even the subject of a short film –  ‘Ethel Moorhead Place’ forms a little suffragette enclave (close to ‘Frances Gordon Road’ – she was another militant) in a new development on the outskirts of Perth. I wonder what she would have made of this as a memorial?

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

, , , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Kate Frye On BBC Three Counties Radio

BBC Three Counties Radio have broadcast an hour-long programme about the suffrage campaign – suffragist and suffragette – in the area that they cover. Kate Frye, who lived at Bourne End, was selected as Buckinghamshire’s representative – and the programme includes several quotations from her diaries.

You can listen to the programme here

And read all about Kate –

See here for details –

See here for details

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘The Lost World Of The Suffragettes’ – New Documentary Now Available On Radio iPlayer

An alert to all those interested in suffrage history.

Now available on iPlayer – a brand-new, hour-long programme based around the invaluable recordings made in the 1970s by Professor Sir Brian Harrison of former suffragists and suffragettes.

Called ‘The Lost World of the Suffragettes’, the programme is presented by Jane Garvey and, alongside the many strong and evocative voices of the suffrage protagonists,  features the voice of Professor Sir Brian Harrison, interviews with Jad Adams, Diane Atkinson, Helen Pankhurst and myself – and music making by Naomi Paxton and Clare Mooney. The programme covers a wide range of subjects – from the political situation, violent militancy, prison and forcible feeding, to the comic representations of suffragettes by their contemporaries.

The programme is a Made-in-Manchester production for which I acted as co-producer with Ashley Byrne.

 

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The Royal Mail’s Special ‘Votes for Women’ Stamp Issue

For those of you who might be interested in stamp collecting – I’ll just mention that I was commissioned to write the material that accompanies the Royal Mail’s Special ‘Votes for Women’ Stamps – issued on 16 February. My intention was to convey to an audience that probably knows little of the subject a fair slice of suffrage history, giving due prominence to both the suffragists and the suffragettes. I wasn’t involved in selecting the images used on the stamps, but do think they look good, giving a balanced view of the movement.

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘Silk, Satin and Suffrage’ And Digital Drama’s ‘100 Banners’ Project

To commemorate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, 100 Banners are being created by communities across London to feature in various events in the capital to mark the anniversary of women first getting the vote. The brainchild of Digital Drama – you can discover more about the project here.

I acted as a historical consultant to ‘100 Banners’ and speak about suffrage banners and their makers in ‘ Silk, Satin and Suffrage’ – the film made by Digital Drama to give context to the project.

You can also discover more about the artists behind the banners and the processions in which they were carried in my new book –Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists.

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Celebrating The Centenary Of The Representation Of The People Act, 6 February 2018

Well, 6 February 2018 was well and truly celebrated. I’m not sure if I ever remember the media getting behind another political anniversary with such verve  – the coverage was akin to that of a royal wedding. All the talking heads that could talk, talked.

You can catch me talking about the suffrage campaign on Woman’s Hour

And talking about my new book, Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists  on the Robert Elms Show on Radio London (starting at c. 2hrs 37 mins)

Kate Frye, whose diaries I edited as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Frye’s suffrage diary and whose biography I wrote as Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette, had a starring role on BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme (from c 23mins) – preceded by an excellent exposition of the Representation of the People Act 1918 by Dr Mari Takayanagi (from c 18.40 mins)

Kate Frye also featured in yesterday’s special suffrage edition of StylistShe would have been amazed and thrilled to think of her daily round being immortalised in this way.

I also gave interviews to Radio Stoke, Radio Northampton, Radio Bristol, Radio Sheffield, Radio Lincolnshire, and Radio Derby – talking about suffrage activists in their areas.

Clare Balding’s programme Secrets of a Suffragette – about Emily Wilding Davison – in which I make an appearance – was shown again last night on Channel 4 and is available for 29 days on catch-up.

And, in my dealing capacity, I put together this list of the Top Twenty Collectable Suffrage Antiques for an antiques website.

What a day!

1 Comment

The Garretts And Their Circle: More Radio/TV Exposure for Elizabeth Garrett Anderson And Millicent Fawcett

 

This weekend – 6-8 October 2017, Aldeburgh has been commemorating the life of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.

For the occasion I recorded a radio interview that you can listen to here

 

and a clip from a filmed interview with me about Millicent Fawcett can be seen here . The EGA/MGF package begins at 46.45 mins. Aldeburgh looks lovely – but please do overlook the fact that while the voiceover discusses EGA and her hospital the BBC showed footage of the massive columned and pedimented University College…with the implication that this was the hospital. Nothing to do with me!

And, of course, if you want to discover much, much more about the sisters and their energetic friends and acquaintances do read Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle 

Enterprising Women

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories: The Fabian Stained Glass Panel And Its Suffrage Connections

Fabian stained glass panel, by Caroline Townsend, 1911

When I gave a keynote talk  -‘ Surrounded by Suffrage: Situating Shaw, Wells and the LSE in Suffrage Sites’ – at the joint H.G. Wells Society/Shaw Society’/ LSE Language Centre conference at LSE on 23 September 2017 the constraints of time meant that I was unable to include all that I would have liked to have said about this stained glass panel. I am, therefore, taking the opportunity my blog affords of relaying a little more of my research into this most interesting artefact.

The panel may be construed as a political allegory on the early years of the Fabian Society. Its artist was Caroline Townshend (1878-1944).

Received opinion has it that it was Bernard Shaw who designed the panel and I can find no original evidence one way or the other to back or disprove the claim. Received opinion – such as the article about the window on the LSE website – also has it that Caroline Townshend was commissioned to make it by GBS. However, I have discovered an item in the London Daily News, 8 November 1911, that explicitly states ‘The political allegory in stained glass which Miss Caroline Townshend, the well-known artist, has just completed for Mrs G.B. Shaw, conveys a good deal of humour and not a little kindly satire’.

It would hardly be surprising if it were Mrs Charlotte Shaw who had commissioned the work. The artist, Caroline Townshend, was not only a fellow Fabian but her own first cousin. Charlotte’s father, Horace Payne-Townshend, was half-brother to Caroline’s father, Chambrey Corker Townshend. Horace, as the first born, had inherited the greater part of the Townshend estate – allowing his daughters to be brought up in considerable comfort – while the family of Chambrey Townshend were very much less financially secure.

Both these fathers seem to have been rather ineffectual characters, married to very much more assertive wives. However, while Horace’s wife, Charlotte’s mother, was a frivolous termagant, Caroline’s mother, Emily Townshend, was much- admired, intellectually curious, and socially conscious. As Emily Gibson she had been one of the Girton Pioneers – one of the five first students at the college at Hitchen that later became Girton. One of her fellow Pioneers was Isabella Townshend, whose brother, Chambrey,  Emily married in 1873. She had left Hitchin the year before without completing her degree course.

My researches (see here) indicate that Isabella Townshend had left Hitchen at the same time and then set up as an interior decorator with a Mrs Hartley Brown (whom I’ve so far been unable to identify). Emily Faithfull, when discussing new trade opportunities that were opening for women, mentioned in Three Visits to America (1884) that ‘Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend, soon after entering into partnership, were appropriately employed in decorating Merton College, and devised with much success some new stuffs for the chairs and sofas for the use of Cambridge girl graduates.’ (‘Merton College’ was an early manifestation of what became Newnham.)

Another of Chambrey Townshend’s sisters, Anne, was involved from 1888, when she was its first secretary, until 1910 with the Ladies’ Residential Chambers Company (the founders of which included Agnes Garrett and Millicent Fawcett – for more on the LRC see here). She had trained as a nurse, been a matron at the Hospital for Hip Disease in Childhood  before by 1882 moving into philanthropic administration as secretary of the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants (MABYs).

These interesting women were  cousins to Charlotte Payne-Townshend, the future Mrs GBS, although  there is nothing about them in her biography by Janet Dunbar or, as far as I can discover, in any of the many biographies of Bernard Shaw.  Charlotte fervently lamented the sterility of her early life and one wonders if she knew anything of the enterprises undertaken by her cousins. If she had, one imagines she would have rather envied them.

In the 1870s Isabella and Chambrey Townshend moved in artistic socialist circles, as close friends of Walter and Lucy Crane. Chambrey was an architect of whom his wife later wrote  ‘Chambrey Townshend had little push and no business ability to back up his remarkable artistic abilities.’ He worked as an assistant for George Edmund Street but never set up his own practice. Emily eventually decided that the family could live cheaper abroad and this they did – in France and Switzerland – from 1886 until 1893.

Caroline  was born in 1878, the fourth of Emily and Chambrey’s five children. After the family’s return from Europe she was for a time a pupil at Wycombe Abbey School before, by 1901, becoming a pupil to the leading stained-glass artist, Christopher Whall.

Caroline Townshend (courtesy of LSE Archives)

Charlotte Shaw was twenty years older than Caroline Townshend and had been brought up in very much more financially secure circumstances – yet she, Caroline, and Emily came to share the same social and political philosophy. Whether or not there had been earlier contact it is certain that in the early years of the 20th century their paths most certainly did cross – all being early members of the Fabian Society. Even so, the names of Emily and Caroline Townshend do not occur in Shaw’s published letters, although the LSE archives holds a few photographs showing Caroline’s sister, Rachel, on holiday in Wales with Charlotte Shaw (see, for instance, here).

So, if the Shaws were thinking of commissioning a stained glass panel, they knew they had an artist in the family who could accomplish it. Or, could it have been the other way round? Perhaps having a stained-glass artist in the family was too good an opportunity to miss. Perhaps Charlotte Shaw thought she must put her cousin’s talent to use. Did she discuss with GBS how this might be achieved? And did he then sketch out that political allegory? There are so many mysteries surrounding the panel. What was the purpose behind the commission? Where had they intended to place it? In their London apartment at 10 Adelphi Terrace –or at their country home Ayot St Lawrence – or in the Fabian Office? Whatever the intention, the panel was still in Caroline Townshend’s possession at the time of her death in 1944.  It seems very odd that it should have been discussed in the press in 1911 – and yet wasn’t claimed by one or other of the Shaws. Was Caroline paid for it?

Caroline also retained the original design for the panel – the cartoon – which in 1954 was given by Joan Howson, her artistic and life partner (they traded as Townshend and Howson) to Wimbledon’s William Morris House in memory of Emily and Caroline Townshend.  Emily Townshend had lived in Wimbledon and, with Caroline, was a shareholder in Wimbledon Labour Halls Co-operative Society Limited – also known as William Morris House.

Information on the William Morris House website (see here) states that the Fabian Society panel was made at the William Morris Works at Merton. I think this is probably mistaken. Emily and Caroline Townshend had in 1931 given WMH two Burne-Jones windows. These had been given by Burne-Jones to Chambrey Townshend and would have been made at the William Morris Works, but Caroline Townshend’s panel was almost certainly made at the Glass House, Lettice Street, Fulham, where she had a studio from c 1910 until the 1920s.

The Glass House had been set up in 1906 by a stained glass craftswoman, Mary Lowndes, to provide facilities for other stained glass artists and had proved most successful in attracting young women to the craft. Mary Lowndes was one of the founders of the Artists’ Suffrage League but I’ve found no clear evidence that Caroline Townshend was a member. The ASL records (held in the Women’s Library@LSE) are scanty but, as Mary Lowndes’ involvement with preparations for suffrage events was at times overwhelming, Caroline Townshend must have been only too well aware of all that activity and it would seem likely that, even if she were not a formal member, she would have lent a hand on occasion. Anyway, if she wasn’t an active suffrage supporter, her mother and sister certainly were. In 1907, Emily Townshend, then aged 57, spent two weeks in Holloway after being involved in a suffragette protest and in 1909 was followed by Rachel, who spent two months in prison. Caroline was living at home during this time and could not but help be swept up in the drama. So, by the time Caroline Townshend received the Fabian commission in 1910, she was surrounded by suffrage talk and activity at home and at work.

Of the kneeling female figures that on the far right is Caroline Townshend and two of the other figures demonstrate a strong connection between Fabianism and suffrage. The figure third from the right is Mary Hankinson, who was a very active suffragette – and from 1905 until 1948 a member of the Fabian Society. A teacher of physical education, she was hired in 1907 to give instruction in Swedish drill and country dancing at the first Fabian Summer School – funded by Charlotte Shaw – and from then until 1938 she was general manager of all Fabian summer schools. She was also a member of the Women’s Freedom League, one of the militant suffrage societies, and was president of the Gymnastic Teachers’ Suffrage Society. Her brother was Unitarian chaplain to Holloway prison and was used by Christabel Pankhurst as a conduit of information to and from suffragette prisoners. The suffrage collection he amassed includes a copy of Saint Joan presented to Mary Hankinson by Shaw, who wrote in it a very Shavian inscription ‘To Mary Hankinson, the only woman I know who does not believe she was a model for Joan, but also the only woman who actually was.’

On the stained glass panel between Mary Hankinson and Charlotte Townshend is the figure of Mabel Atkinson, who was a postgraduate student at LSE, a member of the executive committee of the Fabian Society from 1909 until 1915 and chairman of the Suffrage Section of the Fabian Women’s Group when it was formed in 1911. She was involved with Mary Hankinson in the development of the Summer School and was also a donor to and speaker for the WSPU.

In passing it’s worth noting a little remarked fact – that Charlotte Shaw was one of the WSPU’s most generous benefactors: for instance in March 1908 she gave them £100 and on 21 June took part in a spectacular WSPU procession – walking with the Fabians under the Society’s banner, which was carried by Maud Pember Reeves. Shaw watched from the pavement as she passed.

You can read more here about the iconography of the Fabian stained glass panel  and of its rather idiosyncratic history between 1944 and 2006, when it finally came to rest in the care of LSE. There it has most appropriately been installed in the Shaw Library, a room that commemorates not GBS, but Charlotte Shaw, who was a most generous benefactor to the LSE.

Charlotte Shaw was a very interesting woman – who evaded the limelight. At the Shaw/Wells/LSE conference we were treated to an excerpt from ‘Mrs Shaw Herself’ – a one-woman show – with musical accompaniment- about her. I thoroughly enjoyed this and thought I must let you all know that there will be a full perfomance next Saturday (30 Sept 2017) in St Lawrence Church in Ayot St Lawrence, the village where she and GBS made their home.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Manchester’s Banner Comes Home

Manchester WSPU Banner, c. 1908

A couple of months ago I was astounded to spot the appearance of this banner in the catalogue of a Leeds auction house. It seemed impossible that such an important item of suffrage memorabilia should suddenly surface in this way.

Having been in the business of dealing in books and ephemera for well over 30 years I have a deeply-rooted suspicion of anything that looks too good to be true. It probably is. It seemed unlikely that anyone would go to the lengths of faking this banner..but one never knows. But if it was ‘right’, what a fantastic survival.

Everything did look ‘right’ – see the wonderfully period lettering – and the banner is documented. The Manchester Courier, Monday, 22 June 1908, describes its first unfurling – on the previous Saturday in Stevenson Square, Manchester. The report describes the banner as having the words ‘”The Women’s Social and Political Union” printed in a white border flanking a purple centre where the motto is “Manchester First in the Fight” and “Founded by Mrs Pankhurst’. Although by 1908 WSPU headquarters was centred in London, here was Manchester claiming its rightful place as ‘First in the Fight’. For it was at a meeting at Mrs Pankhurst’s house at 62 Nelson Street, Manchester, that the idea for the new society had emerged on 10 October 1903.

The banner was unfurled to the skirl of bagpipes and received eulogia from Rona Robinson and Mary Gawthorpe. The woman who was given the honour of unfurling the banner is noted merely as ‘Mrs Scott’. I think this must be the Mrs Rachel Scott who had been present at the first meeting of the WSPU – and subsequently was appointed secretary – rather than Mrs Rachel Scott, wife of C.P. Scott, editor of The Manchester Guardian…..but more investigation is needed here. And then, to add a final flourish to the occasion, Victor Grayson MP made a speech, declaring that ‘he was prepared to sacrifice himself on the altar of woman’s ideal’.

Of course I toyed with the idea of bidding for the banner. Such an item is incredibly scarce – the last one I know to have been for sale on the open market was auctioned in the early 1980s. It went to a very knowledgeable American collector and is now in the collection of a US university . But it was obvious that the perfect home for Manchester’s WSPU banner would be the People’s History Museum in Manchester. Surely it was really much more sensible, even if not the most smart business decision, to alert them to its existence in the hope that they would be able to bid for it themselves?

The People’s History Museum had known nothing of the forthcoming auction and were thrilled at the prospect of the possibility of acquiring the banner. Thus, on the day of the auction, representatives from the Museum went over to Leeds and, when viewing the banner, discovered, not only did it look and feel ‘right’, but that it still had attached the label of the maker, Thomas Brown, a well-known Manchester banner maker of the period.

The story that slowly emerged about the recent history of the banner is the stuff of dreams.

It had been given to  a small independent charity shop in Leeds about ten years ago and had been in a cupboard ever since. The charity looks after elderly people in the local area and apparently it had been left to them, along with the other contents of his house, by an old man with no family. His mother had come  to Leeds from Manchester in the 1930s. Her name was believed to be ‘Edna White’, but it isn’t known how she came to have the banner.

I watched the auction on-line and was horribly disappointed when it became clear that the PHM had reached their upper bidding limit and that the banner had been bought by another party for £13,600 (plus all the auctioneer’s premiums, VAT etc).

However, all was not lost and that ‘other party’ was prepared to sell the banner to the PHM for a sum that gave him a not entirely unreasonable profit. The museum was awarded funds from various bodies to cover a substantial part of this sum, and Crowdfunded to raise a further £5000 to complete the purchase.

The money was raised within a few days – and the ‘First in the Fight’ banner is now in the care of the People’s History Museum, where it will take pride of place in an exhibition next year to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act.

Update June 2018: The Manchester WSPU banner, full conserved, now takes pride of place in the People’s History Museum new exhibition ‘Represent: Voices 100 Years On!’

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

9 Comments

Suffrage Stories: ‘Bring Manchester’s Suffragette Banner Home’

Manchester WSPU Banner, c. 1908

A couple of months ago I was astounded to spot the appearance of this banner in the catalogue of a Leeds auction house. It seemed impossible that such an important item of suffrage memorabilia should suddenly surface in this way.

Having been in the business of dealing in books and ephemera for well over 30 years I have a deeply-rooted suspicion of anything that looks too good to be true. It probably is. It seemed unlikely that anyone would go to the lengths of faking this banner..but one never knows. But if it was ‘right’, what a fantastic survival.

Everything did look ‘right’ – see the wonderfully period lettering – and the banner is documented. The Manchester Courier, Monday, 22 June 1908, describes its first unfurling – on the previous Saturday in Stevenson Square, Manchester. The report describes the banner as having the words ‘”The Women’s Social and Political Union” printed in a white border flanking a purple centre where the motto is “Manchester First in the Fight” and “Founded by Mrs Pankhurst’. Although by 1908 WSPU headquarters was centred in London, here was Manchester claiming its rightful place as ‘First in the Fight’. For it was at a meeting at Mrs Pankhurst’s house at 62 Nelson Street, Manchester, that the idea for the new society had emerged on 10 October 1903.

The banner was unfurled to the skirl of bagpipes and received eulogia from Rona Robinson and Mary Gawthorpe. The woman who was given the honour of unfurling the banner is noted merely as ‘Mrs Scott’. I think this must be the Mrs Rachel Scott who had been present at the first meeting of the WSPU – and subsequently was appointed secretary – rather than Mrs Rachel Scott, wife of C.P. Scott, editor of The Manchester Guardian…..but more investigation is needed here. And then, to add a final flourish to the occasion, Victor Grayson MP made a speech, declaring that ‘he was prepared to sacrifice himself on the altar of woman’s ideal’.

Of course I toyed with the idea of bidding for the banner. Such an item is incredibly scarce – the last one I know to have been for sale on the open market was auctioned in the early 1980s. It went to a very knowledgeable American collector and is now in the collection of a US university . But it was obvious that the perfect home for Manchester’s WSPU banner would be the People’s History Museum in Manchester. Surely it was really much more sensible, even if not the most smart business decision, to alert them to its existence in the hope that they would be able to bid for it themselves?

The People’s History Museum had known nothing of the forthcoming auction and were thrilled at the prospect of the possibility of acquiring the banner. Thus, on the day of the auction, representatives from the Museum went over to Leeds and, when viewing the banner, discovered, not only did it look and feel ‘right’, but that it still had attached the label of the maker, Thomas Brown, a well-known Manchester banner maker of the period.

The story that slowly emerged about the recent history of the banner is the stuff of dreams.

It had been given to  a small independent charity shop in Leeds about ten years ago and had been in a cupboard ever since. The charity looks after elderly people in the local area and apparently it had been left to them, along with the other contents of his house, by an old man with no family. His mother had come  to Leeds from Manchester in the 1930s. Her name was believed to be ‘Edna White’, but it isn’t known how she came to have the banner.

I followed the auction on-line and was horribly disappointed when it became clear that the PHM had reached their upper bidding limit and that the banner had been bought by another party for £13,600 (plus all the auctioneer’s premiums, VAT etc).

However, all is not lost and that ‘other party’ is prepared to sell the banner to the PHM for a sum that gives him a not entirely unreasonable profit. The museum has been awarded funds from various bodies to cover a substantial part of this sum, but needs to raise a further £5000 to be able to complete the purchase.

As a result The People’s History Museum is Crowdfunding to ‘Bring Manchester’s Suffragette Banner Home’ – see here for details. I’ve made a contribution. Will you?

 

, , , ,

6 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Black And Minority Ethnic Women: Is There A ‘Hidden History’?

Sarah Parker Remond c. 1865 (Courtesy Peabody Essex Museum Collection)

When the film ‘The Suffragette’ was released in 2015 there was a minor furore over the fact that no black and minority ethnic women were represented in the story. As one of the consultants on the film, I was asked to comment on this and, indeed, at the event held at LSE at which the director and one of the producers talked about the film, the first question from the floor was on this point. For a podcast of this event click here. 

My message then was that the film was indeed a true representation of the ethnic demographic of the British women’s suffrage movement, which overwhelmimgly was comprised of white women. However, finding the subject so interesting, over the last couple of years I’ve done more research on the subject and, although I have nothing startlingly new to report, thought it might be interesting to set out my findings.

There’s no doubt that the birth of the women’s suffrage campaign is closely linked with the anti-slavery campaign, and hence with race. The first spark that ignited the American suffrage campaign, which pre-dated the British one, was actually struck in London, in the entrance hall of the British Museum. For more information on this aspect of the campaign, do read an article I wrote for the BBC website – From Abolition to the Vote. For my extended article on the subject see here.

When the British suffrage campaign was launched in 1866, as far as we know only one woman of colour signed the first suffrage petition. She was Sarah Remond, an African-American who lectured on anti-slavery and women’s rights. There is, however, little evidence of the subsequent involvement of black and minority ethnic women in the suffrage campaign. This is really not surprising since, although people of colour had long settled in Britain, they constituted a very small percentage of the population until after the end of the Second World War. Moreover during the period of the suffrage campaign men were disproportionately represented in this community, by, in particular, Chinese, West Indian, and African seamen who settled in London and other port cities and were then absorbed into British society. Women of their families tended not to travel with them.

It may be that black and minority ethnic men and women did support the women’s suffrage campaign but, because it is difficult to discover an individual’s ethnic origin, they are now ‘hidden from history’. At the time of the suffrage campaign census records only documented a person’s place of birth and this is no guide to ethnic origin because so many white British men and women were born in Africa, India, or the West Indies. It is necessary to search for other clues, such as the form of a person’s name. However no suffrage campaigner with, say, an obviously African or Chinese name has been noted and research is complicated because migrants from the Caribbean had, for reasons associated with the unhappy history of the islands, acquired surnames that made them indistinguishable from white British men and women. Only in newspaper reports might an individual’s ethnic origin be mentioned and, although the suffrage campaign occupied so much newsprint over the years, no such comments have been uncovered.

The only individuals of (part) Caribbean heritage whom one could say were to some degree supportive of the suffrage campaign were two men, Donald Adolphus Knight and John Richard Archer. Both were born in England to black sailor fathers and white British mothers.

In 1906 Knight stood by his wife, Adelaide, when she went to prison for demonstrating outside a politician’s house. Adelaide was white British and a member of the Canning Town branch of the WSPU. See here for a photograph of Donald and Adelaide Knight.

John R. Archer, mayor of Battersea

Twelve years later Archer, elected mayor of Battersea in 1913, the first black person to hold such a position in London, acted as election agent for Charlotte Despard, the leader of the WFL, when she stood as the Labour candidate for North Battersea in the 1918 general election. Actually I’m pretty certain that his support was more for Mrs Despard as a Labour party member than for her as a suffrage campaigner. I can find no evidence of Archer or his wife, Bertha (who was a Canadian of African descent) attending any suffrage meeting in Battersea nor is Archer mentioned in either of Mrs Despard’s biographies. It may be, however, that close scrutiny of local papers around Battersea just might uncover some direct connection between Archer and the suffrage campaign. I understand that a researcher, commissioned relatively recently  to comb through Despard’s diaries by an author interested in Archer, found no mention of him. What a pity.

It is likely that Archer did come into contact with another suffragette – Mrs Beatrice Sanders, the WSPU’s financial secretary. She lived with her husband at 18 Brynmaer Road, Battersea; Archer at no 55. Beatrice’s husband, William Sanders, was a LCC radical alderman and would surely have known Archer, with whom he worked closely in the Battersea Labour party many years later.

Historians have searched for visual evidence of the presence of black or minority ethnic men and women in the many hundreds of photographs that chronicle the suffrage campaign. Of these only a handful, featuring a few Indian women, demonstrate such an involvement. Of the women whose names we know all were of high social status. One, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, was an active member of the WSPU, and is now the subject of a biography. The others, who were probably members of the WFL, include Mrs P.L. Roy (Lolita Roy), the wife of Piera Lal Roy, the director of public prosecutions in Calcutta, and her daughter, Mrs Leila Mukerjea.

The India section of the 1911 ‘Coronation Procession’. It is likely that of the women in the photograph are members of the Roy family – Mrs Roy, Mrs Leilavati Mukerjea, and her younger sisters, Miravati (aged 21) and Hiravati (aged 15).

Mrs Roy had come to London with her six children in 1901, apparently for the sake of their education, and lived at 77 Brook Green, Hammersmith, close to St Paul’s School, where her sons were pupils. Her eldest daughter, Leilavati, married Satya W. Mukerjea in 1910.  Both women, along with Mrs Bhagwati Bhola Nauth, are definitely known to have taken part in the Indian section of the 1911 ‘Coronation Procession’. Indeed Mrs Roy was one of its organisers. It is likely that the other two young women in the photograph are Mrs Roy’s younger daughters, Miravati (aged 21) and Hiravati (aged 15).

In 1910 Mrs Roy was president of the London Indian Union Society (an Indian Nationalist organisation) and ‘Mrs Mukerjea’, presumably Leilavati, succeeded her in 1911. Mrs Jane Cobden Unwin, who was a co-organiser with Mrs Roy of the Indian section of the ‘Coronation Procession, also attended Indian Union Society functions.

At the end of the 19th century another Indian, Dadabhai Naoroji, elected in 1892 as Britain’s first ethnic minority MP, had been wholly supportive of women’s suffrage and was a member of the council of the Women’s Franchise League. Conversely, many British suffrage campaigners, like Jane Cobden Unwin, supported the nationalist movements in India and Africa.

Apart from this photograph and those in which Princess Sophia Duleep Singh appears I have seen no evidence of the presence of BAME women in attendance at any suffrage event – either as protagonists or as onlookers. However, I hope that, as the spotlight is shone more intensely on local histories of the suffrage campaign, something more of the involvement of BAME women and men will be revealed. Do let me know of anything you uncover.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , , , ,

2 Comments

‘Hunger Striking For The Vote’: An Afterword to ‘There Are Five Ways Out Of This Room’ by Michelle Green

PROTEST: STORIES OF RESISTANCE

PUBLISHED TODAY – 6 JULY 2017 

A few months ago I was pleased to be asked by Comma Press to provide an Afterword to a short story by Michelle Green to be published in this most interesting collection of short stories. The premise behind the book is that each story highlights an episode of protest in Britain’s history and that each story is then, in an Afterword, set in its historical context. The result is a most satisfying volume – fuelling the imagination while also throwing light on the circumstances that led the characters, both real and fictional, to act in the way that they did.

For instance, Michelle Green’s story, There Are Five Ways Out of this Room, has as its central character a hunger-striking suffragette based, to a degree, on the figure of Annie Kenney. Michelle’s lyrical prose enters so perceptively the suffragette’s mind, capturing the surreal atmosphere produced by starving incarceration. I was bowled over by it. My task was merely to provide the historical backdrop – setting out the sequence of events that led such women to undergo such terrible suffering.

The historians include Prof Sally Alexande, on ‘Women’s Liberation in the 1970s’, an Afterword to Maggie Gee’s story on ‘May Hobbs’, leader of the Night Cleaners’ Strike; Lyn Barlow on Greenham Common, an Afterword to Joanna Quinn’s Story The Stars are in the Sky; Prof David Waddington on The Battle of Orgreave, an Afterword to Withen by Martyn Bedford; Dr Gordon Pentland on The Scottish Insurrection, April 1820, as an Afterword to Laura Hiind’s story Spun; Dr Katrina Navickas on The Pentrich Rising, 1871, an Afterword to Trying Lydia by Andy Hedgecock; Dr Ariel Hessayon on Venner’s Rising, 1817, as an Afterword to A Fiery Flag Unfurled on Coleman Street by Frank Cottrell-Boyce; Russ Hickman on The Grosvenor Square Demo, 1968, an Afterword to Banner Bright, by Alexei Sayle; Dr John Drury on The Poll Tax Riot, 1990 as an Afterword to That Right to Be There by Courtia Newland, and Prof Laleh Khalili on The Anti-Iraq War Demo, 2003 as an Afterword to The Turd Tree by Kate Clanchy.

All the stories are memorably engaging and the Afterwords free of academic jargon.

Published by Comma Press – for full details see here

Comma Press were last week declared Northern Publisher of the Year at the Northern Soul awards and in the same week were awarded funding by Arts Council England.

 

3 Comments

Suffrage Stories: ‘Everywhere in Chains’: Why And Where?

A suffragette, a chain, railings. What does it mean?

Having had occasion recently to study this photograph, I felt compelled to attempt to deconstruct its meaning. Why should a young woman, chained to a row of railings, be photographed in an otherwise empty street?

I know, of course, that suffragettes, chains, and railings are a well-known trope – although that ploy was actually rarely used during the Edwardian suffragette campaign.  But why was this woman photographed in this particular place? If she was actively protesting one might expect her to be surrounded by policemen or, at the least, crowds of onlookers.

I believe that this is, in fact, a staged event, re-enacting an earlier chaining that took place when there was no photographer to capture the scene. An artist did, however, reconstruct the protest.

Muriel Matters chained to the grille in the Ladies’ Gallery. (Image from the ‘Illustrated London News’, courtesy of the House of Commons Library)

Some time ago someone – and I can’t remember who – mentioned to me that they thought the woman was Helen Fox, a member of the Women’s Freedom League, who, with the intrepid Muriel Matters, chained herself to the grille in the Ladies’ Gallery in the House of Commons on 28 October 1908. You can read about the incident here.

Moreover, my informant suggested that the photograph may have been taken very close to the Women’s Freedom League office at 1 Robert Street, just south of the Strand. I had a hazy memory that the person who might have told me this was Naomi Paxton, whose research centres on the Actresses’ Franchise League, which had its office at 2 Robert Street. When I put my query to Naomi she replied that she doubted that she was the source of my information but most kindly suggested that, as she was working in the Strand, she’d take a detour to Robert Street. And this is the result.

Railings at the corner of Robert Street and John Adam Street (photo courtesy of Naomi Paxton)

I think that there is no doubt that it was at this street corner that Helen Fox stood in order to have her photograph taken. Photographs, interior shots, also exist of her sitting with the chains wrapped round her waist; presumably the purpose of this street photograph was to demonstrate more clearly what could be done with a length of chain and a padlock. As well as, by association, immortalising Helen Fox’s action in the House of Commons. I imagine that, as the site was adjacent to their office, the Women’s Freedom League had arranged for this photograph to be taken as fuel for their propaganda campaign.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , ,

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories: House Decorating and Suffrage: Annie Atherton, Kate Thornbury, And The Society of Artists

In Suffrage Stories: ‘Home Art Decorator’ To The Queen – And The ‘Human Letter’ – I told the story of Charlotte Robinson, her sister, Epsey McClelland, and her niece, Elspeth McClelland. I have now been alerted to the existence of another of Charlotte’s sisters, Mrs Anne Atherton, who also worked in the art world – as the co-founder of the Society of Artists. In my rummaging around I had come across mention of this ‘Society’, which operated from premises in New Bond Street, London, but had not made the connection to Charlotte Robinson and Epsey McClelland.

Anne Elizabeth Robinson was born in Settle, Yorkshire, in 1849. Known as ‘Annie’, she was the fourth child of Henry Robinson and his wife, Elspet, two years younger than Epsey and nearly ten years older than Charlotte. I can discover nothing of her life before her marriage in 1870 to Francis Henry Atherton. The son of a solicitor, he had been born in Wiltshire in 1840 and was, therefore, about ten years her elder. I presume that until her marriage Anne had lived at home in Yorkshire, but after their marriage the couple disappear. I cannot find them on the 1871 census and have only caught up again with Annie Atherton in 1881 when she was living at 103 Warwick Road, Paddington, with her sister Epsey McClelland, her brother-in-law (John McClelland, an accountant) and a visitor, Kate Thornbury. Epsey and Anne are each described as ‘Artist (Painter)’ and Kate Thornbury is ‘Secretary’. In fact Kate Thornbury was secretary to the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage from 1877-c. April 1881.

I don’t know when the Atherton marriage broke down. From later evidence I know that Francis Atherton was a mining prospector and it may be that he and Anne were living abroad in 1871, hence their absence from the census. But at some point Annie Atherton returned to England (if she had indeed been away) and entered into a close friendship with Kate Thornbury that was to last the rest of their lives.

According to Annie Atherton’s obituary (The Suffragette, 28 November 1913), she and Kate Thornbury had founded the Society of Artists thirty-two years earlier –that is, in 1881 – perhaps around the time that Kate left her position as secretary to the suffrage society. However in 1887 (in a letter published in the Pall Mall Gazette – see below) Kate dated the formation of the Society to 1883 and it would, perhaps, be sensible to accept this as the correct date. The couple took premises for the business at a very good Mayfair address – 53 New Bond Street – and remained there – and then at no. 52  -until 1914. No. 53 is now occupied by Dolce and Gabbana – and, from the look of it, the façade of the building may well be much the same now as it was in the 1880s. In 1886 Kate Thornbury was also working as secretary to the Froebel Society from no. 53.

It is difficult to discover the exact nature of the Society of Artists. It doesn’t appear to have been a Society in the sense of having members, rather it offered premises in which artists could exhibit. All the reports of exhibitions that I can find are of work by women. Moreover the ‘work’ was usually of a ‘craft’ nature, not fine art. It would also appear that the Society of Artists operated, at some level, as a house decorating business, competing in the same field as Annie’s sisters, Charlotte Robinson and Epsey McClelland.

I sense that the relationship between the two establishments, the Society of Artists and that of Charlotte Robinson, was, for a time at least, not entirely harmonious – for the 27 December 1887 issue of the Pall Mall Gazette carries a letter from Kate Thornbury in response to ‘Ladies as Shopkeepers’, the article by Emily Faithfull that had appeared in the previous week’s issue (for more on this article see Suffrage Stories: ‘Home Art Decorator’ To The Queen – And The ‘Human Letter‘). Kate Thornbury expresses her ’great astonishment [that she found in this article] no mention whatever of Miss Robinson’s elder sister Mrs Atherton, who, as Miss Faithfull is well aware, had started a large business under her own superintendence in New Bond Street, London, under the title of the Society of Artists, for the sale of all kinds of artistic work, house decoration &, in the year 1883. Mrs Atherton it was who first braved ‘that bugbear which terrifies most women – the loss of social status’ and the great success which attended (and still attends) her venue induced Miss Robinson twelve months afterwards to open a similar business in Manchester, under the same name. In Miss Faithfull’s zeal for the prestige of the younger sister with whose success she is identified , she has shown a strange forgetfulness of Mrs Atherton’s claim as the originator of the movement which finds such merit in Miss Faithfull’s eyes.’

Armed with the information that Charlotte Robinson’s business in Manchester traded, at least initially, under the name the ‘Society of Artists’, I have now found corroboration in the form of a report (Manchester Courier, 30 March 1886) which, when referring to the fact that Charlotte Robinson was setting up a type-writing office in the city, mentions that she was ‘well known in connection with the Society of Artists’. One would have thought that there must have been some agreement with Annie Atherton and Kate Thornbury that allowed Charlotte to use their business name, but, three years or so later, the letter betrays a distinct note of rancour, aimed perhaps more at Emily Faithfull than at Annie’s younger sister.

Descriptions of the actual work exhibited by the Society of Artists are rather scant. This, from The St James’ Gazette, 7 April 1898, is one of the more forthcoming, describing how poker-work photograph frames ‘in straight bands of vivid colours – red, yellow and green – set amidst the dark poker-work..and beaten pewter and copper frames make much pleasanter Easter gifts than the usual flimsy eccentricities sold for such. The society has also the most delightful green ware to match its green furniture. It’s very pleasant to house one’s frocks, one’s candles, one’s flowers and plants all in the same harmonious tone of green.’ Well, there’s not much to choose between this artless prose and that of today’s house magazines (which, incidentally, I love, while laughing at their writing style). A report of an exhibition organised by the Society of Artists in Aberdeen in 1888 described their wares as ‘decorative novelties’, which seems a fair summary.

I have found only two clear indications that the Society of Artists was involved in house decoration. In its issue of 19 December 1904 the Derby Daily Telegraph mentioned that Elspeth McClelland was, most unusually for a young woman, studying architecture at the Polytechnic in London and that ‘she has occupied a post as a designer at a large firm of decorators, known as the Society of Artists.’ So, any rancour that may have existed between the Robinson sisters in the 1880s had long since been forgotten and in the new century the Society of Artists had welcomed Annie Atherton’s niece, Elspeth, as a member of its team.

The second reference comes nine years later when the Pall Mall Gazette (10 November 1913) reported that ‘a well-known Princess who is fitting up a “lordly pleasure-house” for herself in the neighbourhood of the Bois de Boulogne, has given the internal decoration into the hands of the Society of Artists. The society has an excellent habit of collecting ancient beams and panelling, and the Princess’s Parisian mansion is being transformed into an old English manor-house, after the fashion of Haddon House. In the Princess’s house there are to be great open fireplaces, panelled walls, and an entirely new wooden staircase is being put in.’ The next paragraph refers to the work of a woman architect, Mrs Elspeth Spencer (née McClelland), this juxtaposition making me wonder if she could have been involved with the Parisian project. Annie Atherton had just died and Kate Thornbury was 65 years old – was the younger generation now directing the work of the Society of Artists?

For years Annie and Kate had a London address, 12 Horbury Crescent, Kensington, and for a time had a country cottage at Peaslake in Surrey – the 1891 census found them living there in the quaintly named ‘Jottel [??] Hutte’. Annie Atherton is ‘head of household, Kate is ‘Friend’ and they had a young local girl as a servant.  However by 1901 they had left arts-and-craftsy Peaslake  for a house in Shire Lane, Chorleywood. This house was, rather charmingly, named ‘Chums’, which might speak something of how they saw their relationship. In the 1901 census Anne is given as ‘head of household’ and Kate as ‘joint owner’, while they are both described as ‘artists’.  Their next-door-but- one neighbour on one side was Charles Voysey, who lived until 1906 in ‘The Orchard’, the arts-and-crafts house that he had built in 1899 for his family, while on their other side lived another architect, Charles Simmonds. At the very least Annie and Kate must have known Voysey on a social level but I wonder if their ‘decorative novelties’, while ‘craft’, would have appealed to his spare ‘Arts and Crafts’ sensibility.

In 1911 both Annie and Kate boycotted the census. The Registrar completed their form, recording their relationship as ‘sisters’ and knowing enough to describe Annie’s occupation as ‘Society of Artists’. Across the form is written ‘No Votes No Census. When women become citizens they will fulfill the duties of citizens.’

On the 1881 and 1891 censuses Annie Atherton gives her status as ‘married’ and by 1901 as ‘widowed’. However on her death in 1913 the Probate Register describes her as ‘wife of Frank Atherton’ – and that seems to have been her true status for there is no evidence that she was divorced. In fact Francis Henry Atherton appears on the 1911 census, aged 70, mining prospector, living with his ‘wife’ , Julia, and five of the seven children born to them, at Langhurst Manor, Witley, Surrey. [Incidentally, for more about the house, which Atherton presumably leased from the publisher Edward Arnold who had built it in 1908, see here.] The children, who had all been born in Queensland, Australia, ranged in age from 19 to 10 and Atherton stated on the form that he and Julia had been married for 25 years. In fact this was an untruth twice over. Not only was he, apparently, still married to Annie Atherton, but a marriage ceremony between him and Julia had taken place at St Pauls, Covent Garden as recently as 10 September 1907. It seems inconceivable that Annie Atherton did not know that her husband and his family were living in Surrey and that, as it appears, he had committed bigamy. One can read on-line the oath he swore that there was no legal impediment to this marriage and, incidentally, that his bride, Julia Walford, was a widow. This, again, was another untruth as ‘Walford’ was her maiden name; their Australian-born children were registered with Francis Atherton as their father and Julia Walford as their mother. Perhaps it was felt that back in England propriety demanded that the liaison  should appear more regular. Had he asked Annie Atherton for a divorce and been refused? I wonder if any reader of this post will know the answer.

When Annie died in 1913 the executor of her will was, naturally enough, Kate Thornbury. Kate died in 1920 (incidentally leaving £100 to the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship) having appointed Clara Garrett her executor. The latter was the wife of Samuel Garrett, brother of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Fawcett, and Agnes Garrett – and, guess what, I’ve just put two and two together and realised that Clara was Kate’s sister. Of course it’s a small world but I wonder if this overlap between the Robinson and Garrett family circles extended to an overlap in house decorating taste. Could Annie Atherton and Kate Thornbury have initially been inspired by the example set by the firm of R & A Garrett?  Clara Thornbury drew her sister into the Garrett Circle when she married Samuel in 1882. Could conversations with Agnes and Rhoda have given Kate and Annie the idea of launching the Society of Artists a year later? At the very least the two couples must have had many interests in common – suffrage and applied art being the most obvious. Were Annie and Kate entertained at 2 Gower Street by Rhoda and Agnes and, later, by Agnes and Millicent? Were their decorating tastes similar? Did they visit each other’s shops? Buy each other’s wares? Who knows.

It is a pity that for a post concerned with the visual I have no illustrations to use. I know of no likenesses of Annie Atherton or Kate Thornbury, have no images of rooms they decorated, or the goods they sold. Despite the longevity of their business they seem to have left a fainter mark on history than Charlotte Robinson, who had Emily Faithful as her promoter.

I am most grateful to Thamar McIver who is researching suffragettes in Pinner (where Elspeth McClelland lived) and first brought Anne Atherton to my attention. The rest is –  a sort – of history.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Sussex Violets And ‘Votes For Women’

violetsOne of the businesses that over a number of years advertised very regularly in Votes for Women, the newspaper of the Women’s Social and Political Union, was that of the Violet Nurseries run by ‘The Misses Allen-Brown, F.R.H.S.’ at Henfield in Sussex. I was intrigued by the idea of the intensive farming of violets – that most Edwardian of flowers – and the fact that the women apparently also manufactured violet-scented unguents and perfume and thought I’d do a little delving.

When skimreading through Votes for Women I had just assumed that the ‘Misses Allen-Brown’ were sisters but once I began researching I quickly discovered that they were, separately, a ‘Miss Allen’ and a ‘Miss Brown’.

Ada Eugenie Brown (1856-1915) was born in Liverpool, one of the six children of Aaron (1814-1883) and Lydia Brown. Her father was a ‘provision merchant’ – a ship’s store dealer and ship’s chandler -working from premises in Chapel Street, Liverpool. The family lived in ‘Hartfield’, a large Italianate house in Allerton that still stands, now incorporated into Calderstones School. By 1871 the family was sufficiently prosperous to be tended by at least five servants, including a butler and a footman, and probably also kept a coachman.  By the time he died in 1883 Aaron Brown had moved from Allerton to the very smart area of Princes Park. He left over £22,000 but I haven’t investigated his will and don’t know what share of this went to Ada. By 1899 she was living in ‘Holmgarth’ (now known as ‘Providence Cottage’) on Henfield Common North Road in Henfield, Sussex.

Decima Mary Katherine Allen (1869 – 1951) was born at Burnham in Somerset, one of the eleven children born to Elizabeth Allen. When the 1871 census was taken her mother was a recent widow and described herself as ‘a farmer’. As her name would suggest, Decima was the tenth child born of her parent’s marriage. However on her 1911 census form Elizabeth Allen states that she had given birth to eleven children (of whom seven were by then dead). Her 11th child, Sybil, would appear to have been born in London in 1873 and, if so, it seems impossible that her late husband, John Allen,  could have been the baby’s father. From birth onwards a cloak of mystery covers much of Sybil’s life. She became a writer, known as Sybil Campbell Lethbridge – you can read about her here.  In 1871, when Decima was still the youngest child, the Allen family lived on their farm at Charlinch in Somerset, together with five house servants plus a German governess and a farm bailiff. By 1901 Decima was living with Ada Brown at ‘Holmgarth’ – there is no information as to how they met.

Initially Ada and Decima ran a small general plant nursery but around 1905 sold this and, instead, began farming violets on an acre of land around their house. An April 1907 article in The Graphic headlined ‘A ladies’ violet farm’, reported that: ‘The two ladies who farm the Henfield acre will tell you that no manner of earning a living, or of adding to a slender income, is more delightful than theirs. They work all the year round, planting, transplanting, rearing, tending, weeding, picking, doing all the skilled labour themselves. A little hard digging, only a fortnight’s in the twelvemonth, is done by men…

Here at Henfield are no stream-margins, no banks whereon the violets grow to please themselves. They have to be made to grow to please others. Picking and sending to the English markets goes on from October to April ..All this means the two ladies have to spend long hours in the open air. They are up at five every summer morning, and at seven in the winter. The morning’s harvest is taken to the house for packing and despatch to all parts of the world. You can see violets from Henfield in Egypt and India. The demand for the beautiful long-stemmed Henfield violets is increasing, though all the old blue china pots in England might be filled from there already.’

Other reports make clear that, apart from the short-term hired male labour, Ada Brown and Decima Allen did not do all this work alone but that throughout the year they employed other women to whom they gave a training in horticulture. They even gave some thought as to the best outfit to be worn by these young women while working out-of-doors: ‘We think our students have accomplished the feat of clothing themselves both suitably and picturesquely. A short, straight skirt of some stout material, a green baize or brown leather apron with capacious pocket , a woollen jersey and waterproof Wellington boots; add to this a sou’-wester and a sailor’s mackintosh, and the worst winter weather may be defied.’

Readers will not be surprised to learn that there is no trace of Ada Brown and Decima Allen in the 1911 census. This would suggest that they were willing to support the Women’s Social and Political Union by committing an act of civil disobedience as well as by placing regular advertisements in Votes for Women. The women were friends with the actress and novelist Elizabeth Robins, to whom they dedicated their Violet Book. A prominent WSPU supporter and activist, she lived nearby at Backset (sometimes Backsett) Farm, Henfield. She, too, boycotted the census – it has been possible to track down the census form on which she refused to give information. However I have not yet found a form for ‘Holmgarth’. Elizabeth Robins’ 1923 novel, Time is Whispering features an estate that is devoted to the training of women horticulturalists, a theme that Angela Johns, Elizabeth’s biographer, suggests was inspired by the way of life led by the ‘Misses Allen-Brown’.

That way of life encompassed both visits from royalty, for Ada Brown and Decima Allen prided themselves on their royal patrons such as Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, and from the less exalted – such as Alfred Carpenter who wrote to his brother, Edward, from Henfield on 3 July 1916 that ‘It is interesting to learn that Kate & Lina were here on the Violet-farm working hard – Miss Allen is still going strong & has many happy pupils – many of them are worshippers of yours & hailed my arrival (before they met me!) with joy – Their carnations are certainly a wonder & they seem to have a great demand for them notwithstanding the War.’ It is good to have evidence that the workers amongst the violets and carnations were followers of Edward Carpenter, socialist poet, philosopher, and advocate of sexual freedom.

The violets were packed and soaps and perfumes were manufactured in Lavender Cottage, an ancient building adjacent to Homgarth, although I am no further forward as to how they actually made soap and perfume in these presumably somewhat primitive premises.

After Ada Brown died in 1915 Decima Allen went into partnership with Ellen Rachel Dyce Sharp. The Violet Nurseries expanded and around 1929 the women bought another 3.5 acres which lay a short distance away from the main plot. You can watch a short 1935 Pathé film about the Violet Nurseries here. It looks as though by then they were giving employment to more men.

The nursery was eventually sold to Allwood Brothers of Wivelsfield, a nursery that had long specialised in growing carnations. Ellen Sharp died in 1950 aged 64 and Decima Allen in 1951 aged 81.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

, , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Who Did The Flowers?: Material Culture And Emily Wilding Davison’s Funeral

Emily Wilding Davison Funeral Procession

Emily Wilding Davison Funeral Procession

I expect most of my readers will be familiar with pictures such as this, showing Emily Wilding Davison’s flower-laden hearse, accompanied by WSPU members carrying wreaths and lilies, that made its way through London, from Victoria Station to Kings Cross Station on 14 June 1913. I wonder, however, who else has ever wondered who supplied all those flowers and wreaths? This is the kind of prosaic question that appeals to me – so I thought I’d try and find out.

The answer is that some, if not all, were supplied by Robert Green Ltd, florists, of 28-29 Crawford Street, Marylebone. I know this because the firm capitalised on this commission by subsequently advertising its involvement in that most spectacular of funerals in The Suffragette, the WSPU paper. They also described their firm as ‘London’s Cheapest Florist’. Perhaps that was the reason they received the order – certainly a vast quantity of flowers were required.

ewd-funeral-copy

Robert Green Ltd was owned by Harry Ernest Green (1872-1940), who was born on the firm’s Crawford Street premises and eventually inherited the business from his father, the eponymous Robert Green. One might deduce that Harry Green was a modern businessman – his family’s 1911 census form is the only one I’ve come across that is typed. He had been married in 1898 and had a son, but his wife and died and in 1909 he had married for a second time – so that in 1911 he was living with his new wife and his nine-year-old son, together with one servant, at 28 Crawford Street.

Presumably they lived above the shop and workshop in which the Robert Green Ltd business was conducted. We know how this ground floor was arranged because it was described in some detail in a court case, Hoare v Robert Green Ltd. In fact it was as a result of this case that a ‘workshop’ under the terms of the Factory and Workshop Act (1901) was defined. The report in The Times , 29 April 1907, reveals that the firm was prosecuted for not displaying a relevant notice from the Factory and Workshop Act 1901. Their defence, that the room behind the shop was not a ‘workshop’ under the terms of the Act, necessitated a description of the room and the women who worked in it.

The firm employed ten young women (aged 17-23) as florist’s assistants, who were selected for their artistic taste, and eight girls (15-17) as beginners. The firm was at pains to point out that the women were paid throughout the year although it was only in May-July that there was sufficient work to occupy them fully. That, of course, was the period known as ‘The Season’ when business did, indeed, boom. And business could be good –  The Portsmouth Evening News, 18 January 1904, reporting that ‘Mr Harry Green, manager of Robert Green Ltd the well-known society florists, states that £1000 is quite an ordinary price for West End Society people to lay out for the embellishment of their rooms on the night of a ball.’

During the 1907 seminal court case it was explained that the assistants, and beginners attended retail customers in the shop,  went to private homes and hotels to arrange flowers, and were also engaged in the workroom’,  producing bouquets, wreaths and crosses and arranging floral decorations. The firm contended that such work was not ‘manual labour’ and that the room in which the women worked was not, therefore, a workshop.

The artistic assistants and the beginners must have been hard at work in the day or two before Emily Davison’s funeral, preparing the wreaths and the decorations that were draped over the hearse.

ewd-funeral-5

And perhaps the ‘Madonna Lily’ carried at Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral – and now held in the Women’s Library@ LSE collection ( 7EWD/M/28) – passed through that workshop, to be made ready for its appearance in the hand of one of those women in white escorting the coffin.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Portcullis House, Millicent Fawcett And The 19th-c Suffrage Movement

mgf-display-2

Those of you who might happen to be passing through the Atrium of Parliament’s Portcullis House between now and early November can view a compact display that I have curated there. The subject is Millicent Garrett Fawcett and the Early Women’s Suffrage Movement: 1867-1897.

There is also an online version of the exhibition – which you can view here.

mgf-display-1

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Kate Frye’s Diary: Farewell to Kate Parry Frye: Diarist, Suffragist, Actress, Playwright – And Friend

The entry in Kate's diary for 'Black Friday'

The entry in Kate’s diary for ‘Black Friday’ – the suffrage ‘battle’ in Parliament Square on 18 November 1910.

Today is the day that I part company with Kate Frye – at least in a physical sense.

Waiting collection in the hall are the 18 boxes that hold her extensive diary that runs from the late 1890s to 1958, her notebooks containing lists of all the plays she saw and concerts she attended (at least from the 1890s to 1914), the books in which, as a teenager, she wrote at length her critique of books read, her notebook listing the names of all her dolls – and there were very many – and who had given each one to her, her photographs – covering the 1880s to the 1950s – her family letters, flyers relating to her father’s parliamentary career, and the numerous plays she wrote.

After 7 years in my care Kate is finding a new – and, I hope, permanent – home in the Archive of Royal Holloway College. There her diaries and associated archive will be available to anyone who wants to understand what it was like to be a woman living through the last couple of decades of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. I am sure Kate would be delighted to rest in a seat of higher learning. One of her great regrets was that she did not receive a decent education:   ‘I do not understand why I was born if I wasn’t to be educated’ she wrote in her diary in 1914.

When I brought home a carload of dripping wet boxes packed with Kate’s life-long diary and laid them out on the kitchen floor to dry (for they had been stored in an extremely damp cellar) I had no idea that she would take over my life. From associated ephemera I could see that this diarist, Kate Parry Frye, had had some association with the suffrage campaign but it was only once I started reading that I realised what a unique view she gave. Unsullied by hindsight this was a contemporary account like no other of what it was like to work as an organiser for the constitutional suffrage campaign.

Kate Frye coverAnd out of this came a book Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary (see here for details).  It is a salutary corrective to a popularly-held idea that the suffrage campaign was all chaining oneself to railings, throwing stones, falling under horses, or being forcibly fed. Kate’s account is equally heroic in its way – travelling from town to town with no cheerful companion to share the adventure, having to find yet another set of digs and then fitting in with the peculiarities of each, braving the locals to find a chairman/woman for a meeting, organizing a printer, a bill poster, possibly the police if the meeting was likely to be rowdy. And then worrying if the speaker would turn up, would be heard if she did, if an audience would turn out, and worrying what to do  if the local youth disrupted the meeting. And so it went on, month after month. Kate relates it all, day by day. We can be there with her.

Obviously I read far more of the diary than the suffrage years in order to get the background to Kate’s campaigning years and was then delighted to be given the opportunity by ITV to write the story of Kate’s entire life. For Kate, played by Romola Garai (whose voice I now hear as I read Kate’s words), had played a small part in an ITV feature to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War – The Great War: The People’s Story.  The result was Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette (see here for details – you can read Kate’s life for a mere £1.19 – what good value!).  For, yes, in her ’20s Kate had fulfilled her ambition and taken to the stage.. ..another story to be told among so many others packed into one life…the cradle to grave story. Indeed I’ve stalked Kate’s life and seen the place where she was born, the the house where she grew up, the digs she stayed in, and have stood by her grave.

cover e-book

Way back in the 1960s, while I was at university studying history and politics,  there was no kind of book I liked better than an autobiography whose subject had had a Victorian or Edwardian upbringing. Books such as Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece,  or Emily Lutyens’ Blessed Girl, or Mary Clive, Christmas with the Savages,  or Molly Hughes, A London Child of the 1870s. It’s extraordinary to think that we are as far away – or as close – now to the 1960s as the 1960s were to the Edwardian period. For surely there is less difference between a 1960s and a 2010s childhood (apart from electronic gadgetry) than there was between 1910 and 1960?

Kate Frye photographed in 1896

Kate Frye photographed in 1896

Anyway, Kate’s diary gives a peephole into a late-Victorian childhood – in a family that was hoping to be upwardly socially mobile. Kate, even as a young girl, innocently comments on what we can see as gradations of the class system within her extended family. The Fryes finances proved to be desperately insecure – and so Kate experienced both what appears to be careless wealth and then grinding poverty – all the while having to keep up appearances. As the years go by, the lines harden. As an elderly woman she returns to All Saints Road in north Kensington and marvels that as a child she lived there, in a flat above her father’s shop.

And so it goes on ….I hope Kate’s life will provide a wealth of interest to some fortunate researchers. And, by the way, her published play, Cease Fire! – is set on the Western Front in the hour before the Armistice on 11 November 1918. Wouldn’t it be just the thing to include in a centenary commemoration?

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories: Fawcett Society Wreath-Laying Service for Millicent Garrett Fawcett, St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, 2 July 2016

Each year on 2 July the Fawcett Society holds a short service and lays a red, white, and green wreath in remembrance of Millicent Fawcett in St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey.

For it is in this small chapel, which now also holds the Coronation Chair, that the joint memorial to Henry and Millicent Fawcett is sited.

It was originally erected in 1887 in memory of Henry Fawcett, who had died in 1884, and was the work of the sculptor Alfred Gilbert. Ironically Gilbert’s daughter, Caprina Fahey, was later a very active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, rather than of Mrs Fawcett’s National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. For after Millicent Fawcett’s death a commemoration of her life and work was in 1932 added to her husband’s memorial – in the shape of two roundels, one of which contains the insignia of the NUWSS.

Fawcett Memorial in St George's Chapel, Westminster Abbey

Fawcett Memorial in St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey

This year I was honoured to have been asked to speak a few words about Millicent Fawcett during the Service – and below is the text of my address.

 

I imagine I’ve been asked to give the address today because over the last 20 years I’ve researched and written about the various enterprises and campaigns that Millicent Fawcett – and her immediate circle – conducted through the second half of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th. But I first made direct physical contact – as it were – with Millicent Fawcett some years before I began my research –back  in the mid-1980s – when, as a book dealer – because I sell books about women as well as write them, I braved the closing-down sale of a Bloomsbury bookshop. I say ‘braved’ because it was owned by an elderly irascible gentlemen who barked at any potential customer ‘what do you want’? Well the joy of such bookshops is that you don’t know what you want until you find it – so after one such encounter I’d never been back. But closing down was different and customers were given the run of the shop.

Down in the cellar I found the floor covered with a heap of books – splayed open, piled on top of each other – and – serendipity – when I picked out one I found it to be a short popular biography of Henry Fawcett –not, actually, very interesting in itself – but – and my heart leapt – with Millicent Fawcett’s bookplate pasted inside the front cover. I believe this book had lain in the bookshop ever since Philippa Fawcett finally gave up the family home at 2 Gower Street to move to a more manageable flat just before the Second World War. It is only too likely that books surplus to her requirements had been sent to this nearby bookseller. There seemed a very thin veil separating me from the past when I held that book in my hand.

MGF bookplate

So this bookplate is the first of four images I want to recreate for you this evening. It probably dates from the 1880s – it has very much the flavour of the Aesthetic movement. Millicent’s full name – Millicent Garrett Fawcett – takes centre place. To the right is a woman in a loose fitting gown, with bare feet, head turned towards the rising sun. To the left rises a lily, so much of its period, and beneath the name are scattered books and an inkwell and quill pen. The caption is ‘Truth is the Light’.

‘Light’ – the image of the rising sun, of hope, of the New Dawn – was one that permeated all the campaigns for women’s rights – not just for the vote – but for emancipation in all spheres of life. ‘Truth’ was the leitmotif running through Millicent Fawcett’s life. In an article her cousin Edmund Garrett, a boy she had helped bring up after the early death of his parents, wrote: ‘More even than by her writings or her speeches, she has helped the cause by her influence, her tone, her personality. The impression which she has made upon public men who have come in contact with her has been, perhaps, her most valuable service to it. The one thing that she cannot be doing with is doubleness. Anything the least ‘shady’ in quite small matters of money or of conduct damns a man at once.’ Edmund Garrett goes on to mention the Ibsen-esque quality of Millicent’s novel Janet Doncaster which, as well as giving a delightful portrait of a thinly-disguised Aldeburgh, does, I think, reveal more of her character than she disclosed in her autobiography. It is well worth a read.

So – Millicent Fawcett was guided by her principles. These at times, especially in attempts to effect an equal moral standard between men and women, could put her at odds with other campaigners, even members of her family. For instance, she and her sister Elizabeth held opposite views as to whether the Contagious Diseases Acts should be repealed – Millicent for and Elizabeth against.

Millicent Fawcett - woman of principle

Millicent Fawcett – woman of principle

But strong principles – an adherence to Truth –and being true to oneself – don’t necessarily make for any easy life. My second image recreates a scene that is not one you’ll find in either Millicent’s autobiography or in Ray Strachey’s fond biography – it is very trivial, but I think, revealing. One summer afternoon Millicent was taking tea in Lady Maude Parry’s garden in Rustington in Sussex. Lady Maude was the wife of Hubert Parry, whose music has, of course, echoed so often within this Abbey –and it was Hubert, rather than his wife, who was a close friend of Agnes Garrett and Millicent Fawcett. Indeed he’d built a house in Rustington to be close to one that Agnes Garrett had rented there for years.

Anyway, as they were taking tea Lady Maude was stung by a wasp and that evening confided to her diary that Millicent hadn’t been very sympathetic – penning the immortal phrase ‘There’s something hard about the Garretts’. Perhaps I’m perverse but I like that comment. I think it is true – the Garretts were hard – in that they had enjoyed a robust upbringing – encouraged to think for themselves and be self-reliant – Lady Maude was very much more conventional – and although Lady Maude may have meant the comment pejoratively – we shouldn’t take it as such.  In her biography Ray Strachey felt compelled to dispute the notion that Millicent was ‘compounded only of “thrift, industry and self-control without any of the gentler virtues”’, stressing that it was Millicent’s great ability for practical friendship that made her such a popular and effective leader. She didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, she didn’t waste time on emoting; she did things. I’m sure Millicent would have ensured that Maude was treated with a blue bag or whatever was the current remedy for a wasp sting, but wouldn’t have seen it as an occasion for high drama. As Edmund Garrettt wrote ‘She is, above everything, ‘sensible’. She never stickles for unessentials’.  The success of a principled, disciplined woman such as Millicent Fawcett was due to her ability to focus on what was important, dismissing the setbacks – the wasp stings –that punctuated all the various campaigns with which she was associated during a career of over 60 years.

Millicent Fawcett - NUWSS president

Millicent Fawcett – NUWSS president

Above all Millicent Fawcett was – in her conduct of the constitutional suffrage campaign – calm and diplomatic. As Ray Strachey wrote, ‘Her task was to provide convenient ladders down which opponents might climb, and to help them to save their faces while they changed their minds.’ It was this skill that finally allowed women over 30 to be given the vote in 1918. Although Millicent Fawcett recognised that this age discrimination was quite logically indefensible she knew that once they’d won this measure – full equality would follow. By letting anti-suffrage MPs appear to have retained some control, she had at last manoeuvred women onto the electoral register. As she said, ‘We should greatly prefer an imperfect scheme that can pass, to the most perfect scheme in the world that could not pass.

The third image takes us into Millicent’s home, 2 Gower Street. From standing in that Bloomsbury bookshop basement, holding a book that had once been on a shelf in the house, fast forward about 30 years to 2014 when I spent some happy hours with a colleague inside the house as we tried to work out how it was used when Millicent, her daughter Philippa, and her sister Agnes lived there. Agnes and her cousin Rhoda had taken on the lease in 1875 –running their pioneering interior design business from the house –Rhoda had died in 1882 and Millicent and Philippa had moved there after the death of Henry Fawcett in 1884. So Garretts had lived in 2 Gower Street for roughly 65 years. We know that Millicent conducted her campaigns from the first floor drawing room – which runs across the front overlooking Gower Street – sitting under a lovely ceiling, painted by Rhoda and Agnes – pale green, pink and yellow prettiness – featuring hummingbirds and swags and flowers, with portraits of four great artists in the corners. Do look up and give her a thought if you go past. The National Portrait Gallery holds a photograph of Millicent (see here) working at her desk in that room in 1910.

The desk, a tall bureau, is tucked into the alcove to the side of the fireplace and Millicent is sitting there working through a pile of letters, looking up for a moment to turn to the photographer. This domestic scene was the power house that fuelled the 20th-century constitutional suffrage campaign. In addition – from that desk Millicent Fawcett involved herself in a wide range of disparate, though interconnected campaigns – for instance, the international women’s suffrage campaign, the campaigns for opening up university education to women, for raising the age of consent, for opening up horticulture as an employment for women, for criminalising incest, for providing homes for middle-class working women,  and even for offering a new German ‘open-air treatment’ to men and women suffering from TB. This last was prompted by the fate of her cousin Edmund who had contracted the disease – but rather than wringing her hands Millicent, with her friend Dr Jane Walker, just went ahead and built a sanatorium in Suffolk where the new treatment might be carried out.

A corner of the former East Anglian Sanatorium

A corner of the former East Anglian Sanatorium

Sitting at that desk Millicent is neat in a tailored costume, but my last image is of her standing in the St John’s Wood studio of a very well-known photographer – Lena Connell – dressed for a more formal portrait. She is posing, but, as ever, conveys an air of subtle reticence. I think we can be pretty certain she didn’t make her appointment with Lena Connell because she wanted more photographs for her own album – but, rather, was prepared to endure the process for the sake of the Cause. For, thanks to a lucky discovery a few weeks ago – in a locked drawer in a Fawcett Society desk – we are now able to deconstruct that photograph and realise that she is presenting herself as the president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

MGF wearing pendantFor on her breast she is wearing a beautiful pendant given to her by the NUWSS in 1913. Presumably after Millicent’s death Philippa Fawcett had returned the pendant to the London Society for Women’s Service, the precursor of the Fawcett Society, and as time went by its existence and meaning had been forgotten.  But that photograph speaks to us now – for engraved on the reverse of the pendant are the words that sum up the values that her co-workers appreciated in Millicent Fawcett  – ‘Steadfastness and Courage’.

Brooch presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)

Pendant presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: ‘Endless Endeavours’ – Podcast Of Talks At LSE, 21 June 2016

Here  is the podcast of the ‘Endless Endeavours’ talks that Ann Dingsdale, Jane Grant and I gave at LSE on 21 June 2016

EndlessExhibitionWebsite15-0998-Poster-LR-page-001

Last year I was delighted when The Women’s Library@LSE asked if I would help to shape an exhibition planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the presentation of the first women’s suffrage petition on 7 June 1866. Ever since discovering a printed copy of that petition on a stall in the Portobello Road over 25 years ago I have been very fond of all it represented and of the treasury of names it contains, so it was a particular pleasure to be asked to suggest ways of highlighting its importance.

The LSE team (Indy Bhullar, Heather Dawson, Gillian Murphy and Eleanor Payne) and I had several very enjoyable and productive meetings  during which we selected items to include in the exhibition and brainstormed ideas for the moving background to the main showcase and for wallboards. It is a real pleasure to be able to show items of what we now know to call ‘material culture’ – such as Lydia Becker’s dress and Millicent Fawcett’s gladstone bag – alongside the very letters in which the idea for the petition developed. The personal adds particularity to the political.

This is the petition exhibited in 'Endless Endeavours'.

This is the petition exhibited in ‘Endless Endeavours’.

In addition, the descendants of the couple to whom I sold that printed copy of the petition have been kind enough to lend it to the exhibition. It is the only known copy other than that held in Girton Archives. The latter was Emily Davies’ own copy and it was she who had organised its printing. What became of the hundreds of others that Miss Davies arranged to be sent to all newspaper editiors, MPs and members of the House of Lords? Straight into the wastepaper basket I shouldn’t wonder.

Two sample pages from the Petition

Two sample pages from the Petition

The LSE designer has done an excellent job of translating our ideas for demonstrating the range both geographically and socially of the women who signed the petition and of giving a clear rendering of the complicated ‘family tree’ of suffrage societies that carried the campaign from 1866 to 1928 and then, in the shape of the Fawcett Society, on into 2016.

fawcett

For the ‘1866 petition’ part of the exhibition morphs into a celebration of the Fawcett Society, which traces its foundation back to 1866 and is, therefore, this year celebrating its 150th anniversary.  To mark the occasion Jane Grant has written a history of the Fawcett Society, In the Steps of Exceptional Women – for full details see here.

To accompany ‘Endless Endeavours’ The Women’s Library@LSE has launched a Flickr Album, which includes scans of many of the letters that flew backwards and forwards as the idea for the petition gathered momentum, as well as of the personalities attracted to the campaign and artefacts produced over the years.

Brooch presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)

Brooch presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)

One of the most beautiful of the latter is a brooch that recently surfaced in the Fawcett Society office. It was presented to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 and is rendered in the NUWSS colours of red, white and green. For a lively account of why, where and how the brooch was presented see here. This is a real piece of ‘suffrage jewellery’ – to put all the spurious examples so catalogued by auction houses, Ebay etc in the shade. [For my gripe about the mis-cataloguing of suffragette jewellery see here.]

For full details of the ‘Endless Endeavours’ exhibition see here.

STOP PRESS  7 June 2016 I have just discovered a studio photograph by the celebrated photograper Lena Connell that shows Millicent Fawcett wearing the Fawcett Society ‘brooch’ as a pendant. She was making her ass ociation with the NUWSS visible.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Woman’s Hour Discussion: Who Won The Vote For Women – Suffragists or Suffragettes?

Millicent Fawcett c 1912

Millicent Fawcett c 1912

In the week that marked the 150th anniversary of the presentation of the first women’s suffrage petition, Woman’s Hour invited June Purvis and me to ‘debate’ the issue of whether the vote was won by the constitutional Suffragist campaign or by that of the millitant Suffragettes.

I spoke for the Suffragists.

You can listen to the conversation here (at c 28 min).

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The Mystery of Nurse Pine’s Medal

While undertaking some research for a talk I gave a couple of weeks ago at the Royal College of Nursing I encountered an intriguing mystery. What happened to Nurse Pine’s ‘suffragette medal’.

Nurse Catherine Pine

Nurse Catherine Pine

Nurse Catherine Pine (1864-1941) was the Pankhurst family’s special nursing attendant – she had cared for Mrs Pankhurst’s son, Harry, who died in her nursing home in 1910. She ran the nursing home at 9 Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill, and it was here that many suffragettes were taken after release from prison after hunger striking.

Nurse Catherine Pine ran her nursing home in this large Kensington villa

Nurse Catherine Pine ran her nursing home in this large Kensington villa

Mrs Pankhurst was among the many who recovered from imprisonment in the care of Nurse Pine. Although the authorities never dared force feed Mrs Pankhurst, she was desperately weakened by successive hunger strikes. See here for a photograph of Nurse Pine tending Mrs Pankhurst.

In her will Nurse Pine left what she described as her ‘suffragette medal’ to ‘the History Section of the British College of Nursing.’. Now the term ‘suffragette medal’ is usually used to describe a medal given by the WSPU to those who went on hunger strike – and I knew that there was no evidence that Nurse Pine was ever imprisoned – so began to wonder ‘what did she mean by her “suffragette medal”?’

Delving a little further I came across a note in a March 1942 issue of the British Journal of Nursing that tells us that ‘A few months ago we announced that the late Sister Catherine Pine had bequeathed to the British College of Nurses the priceless historic Medal and Bars bestowed upon her by the late Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, for her devoted services to her when released from durance vile. As time goes on this gift we may hope will be valued at its true worth by women all over the world.’

Could this have been a medal specially struck for Nurse Pine? Perhaps it was. If so, I wonder what the ‘Bars’ represented? Did they commemorate the number of times she admitted to Mrs Pankhurst to her nursing home? That really does seem very fanciful.

In terms of the suffragette campaign, the description ‘Medal and bars’  usually refers to a  ‘hunger strike medal’, with bars added for each subsequent hunger strike.

The only explanation I could think of was that it was Mrs Pankhurst’s own medal – given to Nurse Pine in thanks. Noting that the British College of Nurses (an organisation that was not the Royal College of Nursing) closed in 1956, I wondered what had happened to Nurse Pine’s bequest.

Now, in the same 1942 issue, the British Journal of Nursing recorded that:

Miss Mary Hilliard, a gentle, very valiant suffragette, has bestowed as a gift to the College the fine linen handkerchief, signed by and embroidered by all the gallant women who suffered imprisonment for conscience sake, in support of the enfranchisement of women in Holloway prison in March 1912. It displays 67 signatures embroidered in various colours, and all that remains is to offer a warm vote of thanks to Miss Mary Hilliard, R.B.N.A., and to await the time when this historic gift can he suitably framed and placed in the History Section of the British College of Nurses, where its unique value will be appreciated.’

In fact I know that that embroidered handkerchief is now housed in Priest House, the museum of the Sussex Archaeological Society in West Hoathly, Sussex, and so I emailed the Custodian to enquire how it had arrived with them. He was able to tell me that it had surfaced at a West Hoathly jumble sale around 1970 where, in fact, nobody had bought it and it was rescued off a bonfire at the last minute. I must say I can’t see such an artefact being a jumble sale wallflower nowadays. However, nobody knows by what means the handkerchief ended up in West Hoathly after the closure of the British College of Nurses.

The archive of the British College of Nurses is held by King’s College University of London and their archivist has kindly checked for me and nothing resembling Nurse Pine’s’ suffragette medal’ is held by them.

So were the contents of its ‘History Section’ scattered when the British College of Nurses closed? What happened to Nurse Pine’s medal? Is it, in fact, one of the two medals presented to Mrs Pankhurst that are now held in public collections – one in the Houses of Parliament and one in the Museum of London?

This also doesn’t seem to be the answer. Neither of the medals has added ‘bars’. The one held by the Museum of London was given to Mrs Pankhurst in recognition of her hunger strike in Holloway beginning on 1 March 1912 and Beverley Cook, the Museum’s curator, tells me that, although the provenance is a little unclear, it is likely to have arrived at the Museum in 1950 along with the rest of the Suffragette Fellowship archive.

The other medal awarded to Mrs Pankhurst is not a ‘hunger strike’ medal – it predates the employment of the hunger strike – but commemorates her imprisonment in Holloway in October 1908 after being convicted for inciting crowds to ‘Rush the House of Commons’. It is now held by the Parliamentary Art Collection in the House of Commons – see here.

Could there have been a third medal awarded by the WSPU to Mrs Pankhurst? She certainly went on more than one hunger strike and would have merited ‘bars’, which the Museum of London medal doesn’t have. Could she then have ‘bestowed’ this on Nurse Pine? Or did she, indeed, have a medal made specially for Nurse Pine? As I said, it’s all a bit of a mystery. If anyone knows the answer I shall be delighted to hear from them.

Whatever the truth, it is rather sad that the British College of Nurses does not seem, in the event, to have taken care of the gift that they hoped ‘will be valued at its true worth by women all over the world.’ However, Nurse Pine’s collection of photographs, now held in the Museum of London, most definitely is treasured.

You can read more about Nurse Pine in her entry in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide, Routledge.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Suffragette Statues: Or Why Does The Present Take No Interest In The Past?

Suff Fellowship statueYesterday I was intrigued to notice from Twitter that Caroline Criado-Perez has launched a petition to put a statue of a suffragette in Parliament Square.

Fair enough. Even though there are already campaigns to put Sylvia Pankhurst on College Green (see here) and Emily Davison inside the House of Commons (see here) there’s no harm in some more lobbying.

I could see, because she had gone to the trouble of having a photograph taken of Mrs Pankhurst’s statue, with herself on one side and the House of Lords looming on the other,  that Caroline Criado- Perez knew about that icon of commemoration. But did she, I wondered, know about the Suffragette Fellowship memorial on Victoria Street – the other side of Parliament Square from Mrs P’s statue in Victoria Gardens?

I asked in a tweet if she had visited that memorial and when she replied that she hadn’t I sent her a link to a piece on it that I had written for my website. See here for the history of the Suffragette Fellowship memorial, unveiled in Christchurch Gardens, Victoria Street, in 1970 to commemorate not any one Great Woman but the foot-soldiers of the suffrage campaign.

Incidentally it is interesting that in 1970 the Suffragette Fellowship commissioned an abstract, symbolic memorial rather than a representation of any one figure. The current petition doesn’t suggest who might be so honoured as to stand alongside the random collection of gentlemen, of various shapes and sizes, on the Parliament Square roundabout. It strikes me that Mrs Pankhurst is far more enviably placed, with Richard I and Oliver Cromwell, right alongside Parliament. In fact it was lobbying by former suffragettes that ensured that her statue was positioned as close as it could be to Parliament, not separated from it by a stream of traffic.

If I were to put my head above the parapet I would suggest that if anybody is to be honoured in 2018 it should be Millicent Garrett Fawcett. But I suspect that her style of steady, clever, wry, non-militant campaigning, culminating in the final behind-the-scenes wartime lobbying that finally gained some women the vote, has little contemporary popular appeal. But I shall be interested to see how this campaign progresses.

STOP PRESS: Excellent news. Millicent Garrett Fawcett has, indeed, been selected as the woman whom this campaign, backed by the Fawcett Society, will propose should stand in Parliament Square.

 

 

, , ,

8 Comments

Suffrage Stories: ‘Endless Endeavours’: From The 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition To The Fawcett Society

With Ann Dingsdale and Jane Grant I shall be talking suffrage at LSE today – entry free, unticketed – just come along – see here for details.

EndlessExhibitionWebsite15-0998-Poster-LR-page-001

Last year I was delighted when The Women’s Library@LSE asked if I would help to shape an exhibition planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the presentation of the first women’s suffrage petition on 7 June 1866. Ever since discovering a printed copy of that petition on a stall in the Portobello Road over 25 years ago I have been very fond of all it represented and of the treasury of names it contains, so it was a particular pleasure to be asked to suggest ways of highlighting its importance.

The LSE team (Indy Bhullar, Heather Dawson, Gillian Murphy and Eleanor Payne) and I had several very enjoyable and productive meetings  during which we selected items to include in the exhibition and brainstormed ideas for the moving background to the main showcase and for wallboards. It is a real pleasure to be able to show items of what we now know to call ‘material culture’ – such as Lydia Becker’s dress and Millicent Fawcett’s gladstone bag – alongside the very letters in which the idea for the petition developed. The personal adds particularity to the political.

 

This is the petition exhibited in 'Endless Endeavours'.

This is the petition exhibited in ‘Endless Endeavours’.

In addition, the descendants of the couple to whom I sold that printed copy of the petition have been kind enough to lend it to the exhibition. It is the only known copy other than that held in Girton Archives. The latter was Emily Davies’ own copy and it was she who had organised its printing. What became of the hundreds of others that Miss Davies arranged to be sent to all newspaper editiors, MPs and members of the House of Lords? Straight into the wastepaper basket I shouldn’t wonder.

 

Two sample pages from the Petition

Two sample pages from the Petition

The LSE designer has done an excellent job of translating our ideas for demonstrating the range both geographically and socially of the women who signed the petition and of giving a clear rendering of the complicated ‘family tree’ of suffrage societies that carried the campaign from 1866 to 1928 and then, in the shape of the Fawcett Society, on into 2016.

fawcett

For the ‘1866 petition’ part of the exhibition morphs into a celebration of the Fawcett Society, which traces its foundation back to 1866 and is, therefore, this year celebrating its 150th anniversary.  To mark the occasion Jane Grant has written a history of the Fawcett Society, In the Steps of Exceptional Women – for full details see here.

To accompany ‘Endless Endeavours’ The Women’s Library@LSE has launched a Flickr Album, which includes scans of many of the letters that flew backwards and forwards as the idea for the petition gathered momentum, as well as of the personalities attracted to the campaign and artefacts produced over the years.

Brooch presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)

Brooch presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)

One of the most beautiful of the latter is a brooch that recently surfaced in the Fawcett Society office. It was presented to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 and is rendered in the NUWSS colours of red, white and green. For a lively account of why, where and how the brooch was presented see here. This is a real piece of ‘suffrage jewellery’ – to put all the spurious examples so catalogued by auction houses, Ebay etc in the shade. [For my gripe about the mis-cataloguing of suffragette jewellery see here.]

For full details of the ‘Endless Endeavours’ exhibition see here.

STOP PRESS  7 June 2016 I have just discovered a studio photograph by the celebrated photograper Lena Connell that shows Millicent Fawcett wearing the Fawcett Society ‘brooch’ as a pendant. She was making her ass ociation with the NUWSS visible.

 

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Hidden From History? – Mrs Augustine Watkins

On 4 April 2016 I gave a talk in the House of Commons at the Regional Suffrage Conference – one of the activities organised by Vote100 in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of (partial) women’s enfranchisement in 2018. I had been asked to speak on the methods that we can all use to recover something of the lives of hitherto unknown suffrage campaigners – the foot soldiers of the movement. I called the talk ‘Hidden from History?: using genealogical data to recover the lives of suffragettes’.

As a demonstration of what can be done – and the techniques used – I picked at random a few names from those who appeared in the Contributors’ List in Votes for Women, the newspaper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union, in the weeks of 7 and 14 April 1911. Over the next few days I will post their stories.

The first name I discussed was Sybil Campion and the second was Miss Susan Cunnington – who each donated 5 shillings to the Cause. The third was Yevonde Cumbers, who turned out to be less hidden from history than most, and the fourth was ‘Miss S.A. Turle’ whose sister, Caroline, was, I saw, also a generous donor. The fifth and sixth were twins, Florence and Beatrice Sotheran.

The final name that I picked at random from the 7 April issue of Votes for Women was that of Mrs Augustine Watkins who donated £1 2s 6d. Some digging through the late-19thc marriage index and censuses showed that in 1877, as a 22-year-old, she had married a man more than twice her age, (George) Herbert Watkins, a photographer.

Further digging revealed Augustine was Herbert Watkins’ second wife. He had opened a studio in Regent Street in the 1850s and took portraits of celebrities such as Dickens – in fact the National Portrait Gallery holds 260 of his photographs – for details see here. His first marriage had taken place in 1853 and the ever helpful Ancestry Hints threw up the fact that it had ended in divorce in 1877. Thanks to Ancestry I was able to read all the details of how Watkins sued for divorce on the grounds of his wife’s adultery. He and Augustine must have married as soon as the decree nisi was granted.

In 1891 he and Augustine and a young daughter  (Florence, born 1879) were living in King Street, Hammersmith.

Kensington Workhouse (courtesy RBKC Library)

Kensington Workhouse (courtesy RBKC Library)

But to my surprise I found that ten years later Herbert Watkins was an inmate of the Kensington Workhouse – while Augustine with their daughter lived in Rowan Road, a pretty street in Hammersmith. The Workhouse records – very helpfully available on Ancestry – seem to show that Watkins had been an inmate since 1898.

Looking at the record for 1912 his previous occupation was indeed given as ‘photographer’, that by way of ‘Religious Persuasion’ he was a Baptist, and that, tellingly, he was allocated a diet appropriate for ‘Feeble Men’.  He was also classed as ‘Aged and Infirm’.

So while the Workhouse authorities were filling out details of Herbert Watkins on their registers, Augustine was making her quite generous donation to the WSPU – and entering herself on the 1911 census as a widow. Of course you can’t necessarily believe everything you read on a census form – her husband is described as ‘married’ on his 1911 census form. Indeed he did not die  until 1916, presumably still in the Workhouse, having lived there for about 18 years. What a sad story.

In fact I can see from various websites that Herbert Watkins’ fate has eluded those interested in his photographic career so I hope these few facts about his later life will prove useful in providing information about his sad end. I’ll alert the National Portrait Gallery. And all this comes of wondering who was the Mrs Augustine Watkins who gave £1 2s 6d to the WSPU in April 1911.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

5 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Hidden From History? – Florence And Beatrice Sotheran

On 4 April 2016 I gave a talk in the House of Commons at the Regional Suffrage Conference – one of the activities organised by Vote100 in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of (partial) women’s enfranchisement in 2018. I had been asked to speak on the methods that we can all use to recover something of the lives of hitherto unknown suffrage campaigners – the foot soldiers of the movement. I called the talk ‘Hidden from History?: using genealogical data to recover the lives of suffragettes’.

As a demonstration of what can be done – and the techniques used – I picked at random a few names from those who appeared in the Contributors’ List in Votes for Women, the newspaper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union, in the weeks of 7 and 14 April 1911. Over the next few days I will post their stories.

The first name I discussed was Sybil Campion and the second was Miss Susan Cunnington – who each donated 5 shillings to the Cause. The third was Yevonde Cumbers, who turned out to be less hidden from history than most, and the fourth was ‘Miss S.A. Turle’ whose sister, Caroline, was, I saw, also a generous donor.

Two others, grouped together on the 7 April list, appeared to be sisters – Florence and Beatrice Sotheran. Being a bookseller the name ‘Sotheran’ means something to me – Henry Sotheran’s  is a very long-established bookshop in Sackville Street –  off Piccadilly. And sure enough when I checked I found they were the twin daughters – at least I assume they were twins as they were both born in 1866 – of Henry Sotheran.

At first I thought that they were missing from the 1911 census – but one does have to check – and I found them in the Welsh census – on holiday in Barmouth. A Google search revealed the fact that both sisters were included on the Suffragette Roll of Honour – a list of suffragette prisoners that was compiled in the 1950s by the Suffragette Fellowship.

Armed with that information I then turned to one of the newer sources of information that is now available on Ancestry – the National Archives file that contains police records of suffragettes arrested.

Entry for the Sotheran sisters in the 'England - Suffragettes Arrested 1906-1914' (courtesy of The National Archives and Ancestry.co.uk)

Entry for the Sotheran sisters in the ‘England – Suffragettes Arrested 1906-1914’ (courtesy of The National Archives and Ancestry.co.uk)

I used to study this on my visits to the National Archives and think how wonderfully useful it was. And now it is available to all of us. Well, five months or so before they gave their April 1911 donations both sisters had been arrested and appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court. The file gives the date – 19 November 1910– so I turned to look at the relevant copy of Votes for Women – and sure enough in the 25 November 1910 issue the WSPU had included brief biographies of all those arrested. That for the Sotherans tells us that ‘they are two constitutional suffragists who have been morally forced to take up militancy through the utter failure of quiet, Law-abiding methods of agitation’.

They had been arrested in the aftermath of Black Friday – when women went en masse to Downing Street. The Aberdeen Journal – found in the Findmypast collection of British Library newspapers – contains a vivid account of the scene and lists Beatrice and Florence Sotheran amongst those arrested.

So here, again, is an insight into the mindset of a couple of WSPU foot-soldiers. They were reasonably well-off, they neither needed to or – apparently – wanted to work for a living (although they may have devoted themselves to ‘good works’), but they were quite prepared to flout the law in pursuit of the parliamentary vote.

Sadly  I see that Florence died in September 1918 and would never have had the opportunity to exercise her parliamentary vote. Beatrice, however, lived for another 20 years and would have been able to vote on numerous occasions.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Hidden From History? – Miss S.A. Turle

On 4 April 2016 I gave a talk in the House of Commons at the Regional Suffrage Conference – one of the activities organised by Vote100 in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of (partial) women’s enfranchisement in 2018. I had been asked to speak on the methods that we can all use to recover something of the lives of hitherto unknown suffrage campaigners – the foot soldiers of the movement. I called the talk ‘Hidden from History?: using genealogical data to recover the lives of suffragettes’.

As a demonstration of what can be done – and the techniques used – I picked at random a few names from those who appeared in the Contributors’ List in Votes for Women, the newspaper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union, in the weeks of 7 and 14 April 1911. Over the next few days I will post their stories.

The first name I discussed was Sybil Campion and the second was Miss Susan Cunnington – who each donated 5 shillings to the Cause. The third was Yevonde Cumbers, who turned out to be less hidden from history than most, and when I put the fourth name, ‘Miss S.A. Turle’, into Google I managed straightaway to identify her as Miss Sophia Adelaide Turle, a literary editor and musician whose personal papers are now at Girton.

The Girton archive listing gives brief background information on Sophia and her family – her father was at one time organist at Westminster Abbey -and mentions that she was a supporter of a range of women’s educational institutions and of the suffrage movement. To quote from the archive listing ‘Miss Turle gave a small donation from her dress allowance to Girton in very early days. Though not rich, she was generous and gave money unasked and without ostentation to women’s causes.’

The Girton archive holds her diaries from 1877 to 1889 and the catalogue specifically mentions that Sophia attended numerous women’s suffrage meetings (both public meetings and smaller committee meetings), made regular payments of subscriptions to the Women’s Suffrage Society, and helped with the getting of names for petitions in favour of the franchise for women’.So here was the woman who is listed in the 7 April 1911 issue of Votes for Women as giving £4 3s 6d to the WSPU.

I then had a look at the 1911 census with no very great expectations of finding anything particularly interesting – Sophia was now 70 years old – and when Jill Liddington and I researched the census we did tend to find it was younger women who protested. But there in the listing was ‘S.A. Turle’ – it’s always a hopeful sign for the researcher of census boycotters to see initials rather than a full name. But there would have been no way of identifying her as a census resister without knowing her name to look up – she is what I called an ‘unknown unknown’

1911 census form for Miss Sophia Adelaide Turle (courtesy of The National Archives and Ancestry.co.uk)

1911 census form for Miss Sophia Adelaide Turle (courtesy of The National Archives and Ancestry.co.uk)

But when I clicked on the form I was gratified to find that she had written across it ‘As it has been legally pronounced, so far as the parliamentary vote is concerned, that a woman is not a ‘person’, I decline to fill in this census’. So here was a woman who had been involved with the suffrage campaign throughout the last quarter of the 19th century and was now taking militant action in the 20th.  Details for Sophia Turle and her maid had then been filled in by the enumerator.

In the same week her sister, Caroline, who had moved out of London to Dorset, gave £20 to the WSPU – and £2 the following week. She, too, is missing from the 1911 census – and died just over a month later (for short pieces about her see issues of Votes for Women for 2 and 30 June 1911). So behind those brief listings of donations, chosen at random, lies the story of a lifetime of support for women’s causes.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Hidden From History? – Yevonde Cumbers

On 4 April 2016 I gave a talk in the House of Commons at the Regional Suffrage Conference – one of the activities organised by Vote100 in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of (partial) women’s enfranchisement in 2018. I had been asked to speak on the methods that we can all use to recover something of the lives of hitherto unknown suffrage campaigners – the foot soldiers of the movement. I called the talk ‘Hidden from History?: using genealogical data to recover the lives of suffragettes’.

As a demonstration of what can be done – and the techniques used – I picked at random a few names from those who appeared in the Contributors’ List in Votes for Women, the newspaper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union, in the weeks of 7 and 14 April 1911. Over the next few days I will post their stories.

The first name I discussed was Sybil Campion and the second was Miss Susan Cunnington – who each donated 5 shillings to the Cause.

The next name on the list that I selected is one of the kind I like to come across – ‘Yevonde Cumbers’ –there can’t have been too many of women of that name around.

I looked for her on the 1911 census – nothing. I then looked on the 1901 census and there she was – born in 1893, living with her parents and younger sister, Verena, in Margate. He father was a manufacturer of printing ink. It’s interesting that she’s missing from the 1911 census. Did she evade? I found her mother and father on the 1911 census – by now they were living in a house with two servants in Bromley. But there is no trace anywhere in the country of Yevonde and Verena. At 18 and 16 they were quite young to be taking part in a census party – but I think we can probably add them to our list of census boycotters.

I discovered that Yevonde Cumbers married in 1920. From the Ancestry website I discovered that when she travelled back from the US after a visit in the mid-1930s the ship’s manifest revealed her occupation as that of ‘press photographer’ – and that is when the penny dropped.

Madame Yevonde - Self Portrait with image of Hecate

Madame Yevonde – Self Portrait with image of Hecate

I realised that she was none other than the one and only ‘Madame Yevonde’ – a starry portrait photographer whose autobiography, In Camera, published by the Woman’s Book Club in 1940, I once sold. I don’t know why I didn’t think of her as soon as I saw her name – but ‘Yevonde Cumbers’ really didn’t ring any bells.

Well ‘Madame Yevonde’ most certainly is not ‘hidden from history’ – here is a website all about her and her work. Sure enough it stresses that in her teens ‘Madame Yevonde’ had ‘discovered the suffragette movement and had devoted her efforts to the cause’. The article mentions that she was very strong and determined and was only 21 when she opened her own photographic studio.

The 1939 Register finds Yevonde Middleton, as she now is, in Frobisher House, Dolphin Square, a widow – and a ‘Portrait Photographer’. There are masses of references to Yevonde in the Findmypast newspaper search facility.

But here in the 7 April 1911 issue of Votes for Women we have young Yevonde Cumbers –  freeze-framed, as it were – handing over money she had collected – 4s 9d – to the WSPU. She didn’t yet know how famous she would become, but she did know that ‘Votes for Women’ was in her interest.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Hidden From History? – Susan Cunnington

On 4 April 2016 I gave a talk in the House of Commons at the Regional Suffrage Conference – one of the activities organised by Vote100 in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of (partial) women’s enfranchisement in 2018. I had been asked to speak on the methods that we can all use to recover something of the lives of hitherto unknown suffrage campaigners – the foot soldiers of the movement. I called the talk ‘Hidden from History?: using genealogical data to recover the lives of suffragettes’.

As a demonstration of what can be done – and the techniques used – I picked at random a few names from those who appeared in the Contributors’ List in Votes for Women, the newspaper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union, in the weeks of 7 and 14 April 1911. Over the next few days I will post their stories.

The first name I discussed Sybil Campion – the next name on the contributors’ list is that of Miss Susan Cunnington, who also donated 5 shillings to the Cause.

Looking at that name I felt it might be difficult to identify the correct woman. But in fact on the 1911 census only three Susan Cunningtons showed up – one was married, so that counted her out –  and of the other two one was a dressmaker, living with her widowed father, a woodman in Lincolnshire. Looking at their form it didn’t strike me that she would have been able to spare 5 shillings. The third Miss Susan looked rather more of a fit as a financial supporter of the WSPU – although, from the very fact that I’d identified her it was clear that she was not so sufficiently militant as to boycott the census.

According to the census form she was born in 1858 – and was now in her 50s – and was the joint principal of a private girls’ day school – Wistons School, Dyke Road, Brighton. My belief that this Miss Susan Cunnington might well have been the WSPU contributor was given credence when I spotted that on 14 April list one of the contributors was Miss Millicent Lawrence, one of the sisters who had founded and ran Roedean school, not far from Brighton. Did these headmistresses discuss their support for the WSPU? Millicent Lawrence gave £6, while Miss Cunnington gave 5 shillings.

According to the 1891 census Susan Cunnington had been born in 1858 and in 1891 was mathematics mistress at a school in Worcester Park, Surrey. A little Googling uncovered that by 1894 she was the principal of a girls’ school at Waterloo, near Liverpool, and that in 1904 she was assistant mistress at Brighton and Hove High School. Between then and 1911 she had either founded or taken over the running of Wistons School.

You would think a headmistress whose school was in existence for many years would be easy to trace. But I’ve found it difficult to uncover her background. Susan Cunnington’s 1911 census form says she was born in the district of St George’s Hanover Square – but I can find no birth there for a Susan Cunnington around 1858. I tried approaching her from the end of her life and found a likely probate entry for a Susan Cunnington who died in Aldeburgh in 1950. Sure enough Ancestry provided a useful hint in the shape of a cutting from a local Suffolk newspaper – a notification of her death, revealing that this Susan Cunnington was 94 years old – well that’s a reasonable approximation to a birth circa 1858. Moreover the cutting revealed that she was ‘MA (Cantab)’. A quick look at Google nailed it. There is a wonderful website – Mathematical Women in the British Isles compiled by Dr A.E.L. Davis –  listing all women mathematical graduates between 1878 and 1940 – that instantly told me that Susan Cunnington had been a student at Newnham and had graduated in 1885 with a third class degree in mathematics.

In fact I do have on my shelf a copy of the Newnham College Register and so was now able to look her up. Her entry tells me that she was born on 10 February 1859, was educated by ‘private tuition’, matriculated in 1882, taught at King Edward VI School, Birmingham, 1885-6, at [as we’ve seen] Worcester Park School Surrey 1886-94, [she refrains from mentioning the Waterloo school – an unpleasant experience, perhaps?], vice- principal Norwich Diocesan Training College, 1895-6, [again, as we’ve seen] assistant mistress Brighton and Hove High School, 1897-1906, vice-principal Edgehill Training College, Liverpool 1906-07, co-principal Wiston’s School, Brighton 1907-13, correspondence teacher and lecturer 1914-36. Examiner for Catholic Social Guild 1920-36 – and mentions publishing editions of Ruskin.

Another Google search uncovered a letter in the archives of Trinity College, Cambridge, dated 1902, from Susan Cunnington to Nora Sidgwick, principal of Newnham, in which she reveals that at that time of writing she had been ‘Maths Mistress in the Brighton and Hove High School’ for five years. She adds that she lives with one of her colleagues, who is a friend of hers and mentions that she had applied for most of the jobs that had become vacant in the ‘Company’s Schools’, but has had no success so far. [That refers to the Girls’ Public Day School Trust Schools, of which Brighton High was one.] Then, interestingly, she mentions that she will send Nora Sidgwick a copy of the ‘Arithmetic’ when it comes out and that she has asked the publisher George Allen to let her annotate Ruskin’s Queen of the Air.

I immediately turned to another stalwart source of information – the British Library catalogue – and sure enough found that Susan Cunnington had in 1904 published The Story of Arithmetic and, over the years, not only editions of Ruskin and a wide range of other books mainly aimed at youngish people, but, in 1910, Home and State: an introduction to the study of economics and civics. So here on that Contributors’ list we find a Cambridge graduate who has managed, probably with difficulty, to find the means to run her own girls’ school and who is also taking an active interest in way that society and the economy is ordered – so much so that she is writing textbooks on the subject. Obviously if this was more than an exercise for this one occasion I would be off to the British Library to study Susan Cunnington’s published work.

A little more Googling revealed an entry in the 1924 Catholic Year Book  giving her father’s name as John Cunnington. I then found, in Ancestry’s London Parish Registers file, that on 6 April 1856 a Susan Cunnington had been christened at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate. Her birth date in the register is given as 8 February – but I think we can accept that, with only two days difference, this is the right ‘Susan Cunnington’.  Her parents’ names were John and Susannah Cunnington. They lived at 2 Cleveland Mews – and her father’s occupation is given as ‘coachman’. Moreover, her brother, Arthur, who had been born in 1853 was christened at the same time. Could these be her parents? It doesn’t look very likely – but I can find no census entry for a suitable Susan Cunnington before 1891 – so for the time being her origins will have to remain shrouded in mystery….

At least that was how I left it when doing the research for my talk. But now as I came to the end of writing up this post I thought I’d have one last delve. 

During the initial research I hadn’t been able to find ‘our’ Susan Cunnington on the Findmypast 1939 Register. But now I decided to try once again. This time I omitted a first name, put ‘Cunnington’ into the search box and filtered the search to show only women. Eureka. Amongst all the other female Cunningtons was a most unlikely ‘Susdia’ born in 1856. Sure enough when I clicked on this I could see that this was a mistranscription for ‘Susan’ and that moreover she was ‘tutor and author retired’. At the time she was living in the house of a shipping clerk and his wife, presumably as a boarder, in Merilies Gardens, Westcliffe-on-Sea, Southend. The obituary notice had associated her in the past with Storrington (West Sussex) and Thorpe Bay, which isn’t far from Westcliffe – so I am sure she is ‘our’ Susan Cunnington.

The entry on the 1939 Register gives her exact birth date – 10 February 1856 – which ties up exactly with her being 94 when she died in 1950. The date in the Newnham Register is three years awry – but the specific day and month are indisputably ‘right’. Certainty is helped by the fact that no Susan Cunnington was born in 1859. So I am now certain that she is the daughter born to the coachman in the first quarter of 1856.

Thinking that Cleveland Mews was in Fitzrovia, south of the Euston Road, I was a little puzzled as to why she had been born in Kensington and christened at Lancaster Gate. But another Google search found a useful website which lists changes of names that have been made to London streets. On this I found that one ‘Cleveland Mews’ was now ‘Leinster Mews’, close to Lancaster Gate. Street View shows me it is still a mews, though the coachman’s horses have long gone. So we can picture baby Susan Cunnington being carried back from Christ Church to her mews home on an April Sunday in 1856 (and, yes, I know it was a Sunday, because another quick Google allows one to discover the day of the week of any date). But what happened to her after that?

Her mother may be the Susannah Cunnington, wife of John Cunnington of 180 Buckingham Palace Road, Pimlico, who died in 1886, leaving £78. If so, I found that she, too, worked at least some of the time in service – as a maid. So was ‘our’ Susan Cunnington the five-year-old of that name who was staying with her uncle, a blacksmith, at Babraham in Cambridgeshire, when the 1861 census was taken? The census form says that she was born in Paddington but whoever gave the information to the enumerator may not have been very well informed about the exact place of her birth but did know that she lived in the Paddington area, which I suppose Bayswater is. The Susannah Cunnington who died in 1886 had been born in Balsham, which is only a few miles from Babraham and could well have been a sister of either the blacksmith or his wife. It might be possible, with a great deal more delving, to prove this.

After spotting young Susan on the 1871 census there seems to be little trace of the family until Susanna Cunnington’s death in 1886 and Susan’s appearance on the 1891 census. Even young Arthur has vanished. I expect names have been mistranscribed and with a good deal more searching they might be winkled out.

But there is no getting away from the fact that a girl born to a Bayswater coachman did matriculate at Newnham in 1882 and did go on to hold a variety of teaching posts, run her own school, write a mathematical text book, edit Ruskin, and support the Women’s Social and Political Union. What is the story that lies behind this life?

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , ,

3 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Hidden From History? Sybil Campion

Yesterday (4 April 2016) in the House of Commons I gave a talk at the Regional Suffrage Conference – one of the activities organised by Vote100 in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of (partial) women’s enfranchisement in 2018. I had been asked to speak on the methods that we can all use to recover something of the lives of hitherto unknown suffrage campaigners – the foot soldiers of the movement. I called the talk ‘Hidden from History?: using genealogical data to recover the lives of suffragettes’.

As a demonstration of what can be done – and the techniques used – I picked at random a few names from those who appeared in the Contributors’ List in Votes for Women, the newspaper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union, in the weeks of 7 and 14 April 1911. Over the next few days I will post their stories.

Here is the first:

In the issue of 14 April 1911 the list is headed by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who gave £200. Well I don’t think we need to find out more about her – and there are many other names in the lists that will also be familiar to suffrage historians – many of them with entries in my Reference Guide. But what about the next on the list after Mrs Garrett Anderson. Who was Miss Sybil Campion who gave 5 shillings?

Looking at the 1911 census on the Ancestry.com website there is a young woman of that name who fits the bill. She is a shorthand typist who works for a metal merchant and is living in what was described as a Ladies Residential Club – Hopkinson House – in Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Hopkinson House - as it is today, little changed since 1911.

Hopkinson House – as it is today, little changed since 1911.

She was one of 96 boarders – parish workers, secretaries, students, photographers, teachers – mostly, but not all, in their twenties. What was Sybil’s background? I easily found her – thanks to the Ancestry Hints – on the 1891 and 1901 censuses. In both cases she was living with her mother and Caroline, her slightly older sister – but there was no trace of a father. Her mother is enumerated as married and living on private means. On the first occasion, that is in 1891, when Sybil was under 1 year old and her mother was 42, they were living in Belmont Street, Bognor Regis. Another search showed that Sybil had been born at nearby Felpham between April and June 1890. By 1901 mother and daughters were living in Hastings.

But I then took a look back at the mother – Eva Campion’s 1881 census form showed that far from being a relatively elderly mother of only two daughters – she was in fact the wife of an ex- army officer who was now an indigo planter – and by 1881 she already had two young sons.

After I had completed my initial Ancestry and Findmypast searching on the family I then put Sybil Campion’s name into Google and was directed to an Ancestry members’ board thread where a query had been made about the family. And this revealed that Sybil’s father was Thomas Arthur Campion, superintendent of a plantation in ‘east India’ – I think we can take that as meaning ‘the East Indies’. In fact I then substantiated this by accessing yet another Genealogical site – ‘Family Search’ run by the Mormons – the Latter Day Saints. Access to this is free, but it offers more limited sources of information. However it was here that I found the record of Sybil Campion’s christening at Felpham on 20 May 1890. This gives her full name – Sybil Constance Burney Campion – and the full names of both her parents – Thomas Arthur Campion and Evelina Ross Campion.

Noting that her mother’s name was ‘Evelina’ I momentarily mused about the inclusion of ‘Burney’ in Sybil’s name. Could there be a family connection to Fanny Burney, author of Evelina? Well, I did quickly establish that her mother had been born Evelina Ross Burney in 1848 and that her mother’s married name was Frances Burney – though let me stress that was her married name. Evelina’s father was a major in an East Indies regiment and she had clearly followed him out east – for in 1867 – aged 18 – she had married William Henry Adley at Barrackpore in Bengal. Back in England the following year she had given birth to a son and buried him a few days later. And then 3 years later in India she and Adley had had a daughter, Lilian Maud.

And now the story gets rather murky. For there is no doubt that this Evelina is the same Evelina who ten years later was living in Bognor with two young Campion sons. She had probably not been divorced from Adley, who, in his turn, when he appeared in the 1891 Welsh census as retired surgeon-general of the India army, described himself as a widower – although as we know Eva was very much still alive. Living with him then was 20-year-old Lilian. Had Evelina left her husband to live with Thomas Campion, and produce 4 further children, including Sybil? Had she lost contact with her first-born daughter?

Following up Thomas Arthur Campion in the Findmypast newspaper archive, I discovered that he had retired from the Army – the 5th Foot Regiment – as a lieutenant in 1876 and resigned his commission as a reserve officer in 1885. There is a suggestion that as a young lieutenant his role had been that of interpreter. An entry for ‘Sybil Campion’ in the same newspaper search engine yielded the fact that a girl of that name – and it must have been our Sybil Campion – was a pupil at Kenilworth College, a girls’ school in Hastings, passing the Preparatory class of the Royal Drawing Society in 1900 and taking part in a ‘pretty tambourine dance’ during a conversazione in 1902. Her sister, whom I can see was known as ‘Carrie’, is also mentioned as a pupil at the school. At this time the 1901 census shows that Sybil, her mother and sister lived in ‘Stewart Lodge’, Baldslow Road in Hastings. In 1901 all the houses in the road had names and not numbers and unfortunately house names such as this have now vanished from usage and without a good deal of local searching it is difficult to identify exactly which house ‘Stewart Lodge’ was in a long road of large houses – even if it is still standing – –Street View shows me that there has been some redevelopment. The Campions shared the house with the family of an artist – named Herbert Sparks..but I’ll resist getting sucked into his family’s rather interesting-looking history.

Another quick search showed that Evelina Campion, described as the wife of Thomas Campion, died in Bournemouth in 1908. However probate was not given to her husband but to one of her own relatives, Charles Burney. Her estate amounted to a rather pathetic £41.

But where was her putative husband – Thomas Arthur Campion? Following all leads, a Google search led me to another Ancestry forum members’ thread that suggested that the younger son, George, might have emigrated to Canada. So I turned to Ancestry’s selection of Canadian records and there in those of Canadian soldiers of the First World War I discovered the answer to Thomas Arthur’s whereabouts. For when he joined up in 1916 George gave his father’s address as ‘Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia’. A quick jump to Ancestry’s Australian records found the death of a Thomas A. Campion in Sydney in 1914. Rose Bay is a suburb of Sydney – is this the correct Thomas A Campion? In 1916 did George not know of his father’s death two years earlier? It seems to me quite probable – but obviously more hard evidence would be required.

The army records afford a good deal of information – for instance, in answering a question about previous military experience George cited membership of the Hurstpierpoint Cadet Corps. I knew of Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex, but interested in further details I read online that it had moved to its present site in 1853 thanks to its local benefactors – the Campion family. What is one to make of that? I see that the East Sussex Archives hold Campion family papers – mentioning connections to army service in India in the 19th century. More paths to follow? Well – not at the moment. Incidentally, on the army form George described himself as a farm labourer – not exactly the rank in society that might have been expected of one who had been educated at Hurstpierpoint.  A little more Ancestry searching led me to discover that Arthur, the elder of the Campions’ sons had joined a Royal Navy Training ship when he was a teenager.

So I had now uncovered something of Sybil’s apparently rather unstable background. I had discovered where she had lived and where she was educated, and had established that by the age of 18 she was to all intents and purposes a penniless orphan. It was time now to forge on into her adult life.

Well, I couldn’t find any obvious death date or will for her but I did see that when her sister, Caroline, died in 1965 her birth date on the death register was given as 1885 rather than the correct date of 1889, which suggested to me that when she died she was not in the company of anybody who knew her full details. She didn’t leave a will.

Giving up on a death date for Sybil I looked at the London electoral register and I saw that between 1922 and 1925 she was living in shared premises at 18 Endsleigh Terrace – just off the Euston Road. There are more entries for ‘Sybil Campions’ on the local London electoral register but one has to beware of red herrings – a Sybil Campion who pops up in the late 1940s in Wandsworth is living with a James Campion, ie they are likely to be a married couple and not our Sybil. I had, of course checked Ancestry’s marriage records – but there was no evidence that our Sybil had married. I then looked at the 1939 Register on Findmypast but there was no trace of her there. I must explain that the 1939 Register is just that – a register taken in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. It is useful in giving the most basic data – such as an address – and also does give an exact date of birth and an occupation. However, for women – particularly women involved in the suffrage campaign who by 1939 were necessarily no longer young –this ‘occupation’ designation can be rather opaque – ‘Unpaid Household Duties’ being the most common. But occasionally the subject will be a little more forthcoming and allow themselves to be enumerated as ‘Artist’ or ‘Headmistress (Retired).

Anyway back to Sybil Campion. I then checked the Ancestry Travel files and lo and behold there she was – on 6 May 1927 Miss Sybil C. Burney Campion had embarked from Southampton to Auckland, New Zealand, sailing on the ‘Remuera’.  She was 37 years old and gave her occupation as ‘Household Duties’. The address she left behind didn’t give much away either – just care of the National Provincial Bank in London’s Victoria Street. And there we must take leave of her – I can’t find her death in New Zealand – probably because the available records only go up to 1964 and she may have been as long lived as her sister.

From all this we can get something of a picture of that young woman who sent off her 5 shillings to the WSPU in April 1911. She came from a family where the father was mostly absent – indeed where her parents may not have been formally married – where her two considerably older brothers from an early age made their own way in the world, where her mother coped alone with bringing up her two daughters, living in towns along the south coast of England. Did Sybil know of the existence of her half-sister, Lilian – who, incidentally, married the professor of civil engineering at Birmingham University. Sybil probably did not stay at her genteel girls’ day school past 16, then trained as a typist and found work in a London office, living for a time in a hostel and then in a series of shared flats.

She didn’t have an opportunity of boycotting the 1911 census –even if she had intended to – because the form for the hostel was filled in by the superintendent and not by the individual boarders. But now that we see the forces that shaped her life it was little wonder that she was a WSPU supporter. The 5 shillings she gave was likely to have been the equivalent of a day’s pay – working on the basis that a clerical wage was about £2 a week (for instance, that was the amount that suffrage organizers were paid). She could see that she would have to fend for herself through life. She could have had little faith in relying on men for support. In her late-30s Sybil shook the dust of old England off her feet and set sail for a new adventure – as had many of her ancestors. I wonder what became of her?

 

On 14 April the list is headed by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who gave £200. Well I don’t think we need to find out more about her – and there are many other names in the lists that will also be familiar to suffrage historians – many of them with entries in my Reference Guide. But what about the next on the list after Mrs Garrett Anderson. Who was Miss Sybil Campion who gave 5 shillings?  Looking at the 1911 census there is a young woman of that name who fits the bill. She is a shorthand typist who works for a metal merchant and is living in what was described as a Ladies Residential Club – Hopkinson House – in Vauxhall Bridge Road – not far from here. She was one of 96 boarders – parish workers, secretaries, students, photographers, teachers – mostly, but not all, in their twenties. What was Sybil’s background? I easily found her – thanks to the Ancestry hints – on the 1891 and 1901 censuses. In both cases she was living with her mother and Caroline, her slightly older sister – but there was no trace of a father. Her mother is enumerated as married and living on private means. On the first occasion, that is in 1891, when Sybil was under 1 year old and her mother was 42, they were living in Belmont Street, Bognor Regis. Another search showed that Sybil had been born at nearby Felpham between April and June 1890. By 1901 mother and daughters were living in Hastings. But I then took a look back at the mother – Eva Campion’s 1881 census form showed that far from being a relatively elderly mother of only two daughters – she was in fact the wife of an ex- army officer who was now an indigo planter – and by 1881 she already had two young sons.

After I had completed my initial Ancestry and Findmypast searching on the family I then put Sybil Campion’s name into Google and was directed to an Ancestry members’ board thread where a query had been made about the family. And this revealed that Sybil’s father was Thomas Arthur Campion, superintendent of a plantation in ‘east India’ – I think we can take that as meaning ‘the East Indies’. In fact I then substantiated this by accessing yet another Genealogical site – ‘Family Search’ run by the Mormons – the Latter Day Saints. Access to this is free, but it offers more limited sources of information. However it was here that I found the record of Sybil Campion’s christening at Felpham on 20 May 1890. This gives her full name – Sybil Constance Burney Campion – and the full names of both her parents – Thomas Arthur Campion and Evelina Ross Campion. Noting that her mother’s name was ‘Evelina’ I momentarily mused about the inclusion of ‘Burney’ in Sybil’s name. Could there be a family connection to Fanny Burney, author of Evelina? Well, I did quickly establish that her mother had been born Evelina Ross Burney in 1848 and that her mother’s married name was Frances Burney – though let me stress that was her married name. Evelina’s father was a major in an East Indies regiment and she had clearly followed him out east – for in 1867 – aged 18 – she had married William Henry Adley at Barrackpore in Bengal. Back in England the following year she had given birth to a son and buried him a few days later. And then 3 years later in India she and Adley had had a daughter, Lilian Maud.

And now the story gets rather murky. For there is no doubt that this Evelina is the same Evelina who ten years later was living in Bognor with two young Campion sons. She had probably not been divorced from Adley, who, in his turn, when he appeared in the 1891 Welsh census as retired surgeon-general of the India army, described himself as a widower – although as we know Eva was very much still alive. Living with him then was 20-year-old Lilian. Had Evelina left her husband to live with Thomas Campion, and produce 4 further children, including Sybil? Had she lost contact with her first-born daughter?

Following up Thomas Arthur Campion in the Findmypast newspaper archive, I discovered that he had retired from the Army – the 5th Foot Regiment – as a lieutenant in 1876 and resigned his commission as a reserve officer in 1885. There is a suggestion that as a young lieutenant his role had been that of interpreter. An entry for ‘Sybil Campion’ in the same newspaper search engine yielded the fact that a girl of that name – and it must have been our Sybil Campion – was a pupil at Kenilworth College, a girls’ school in Hastings, passing the Preparatory class of the Royal Drawing Society in 1900 and taking part in a ‘pretty tambourine dance’ during a conversazione in 1902. Her sister, whom I can see was known as ‘Carrie’, is also mentioned as a pupil at the school. At this time the 1901 census shows that Sybil, her mother and sister lived in ‘Stewart Lodge’, Baldslow Road in Hastings. In 1901 all the houses in the road had names and not numbers and unfortunately house names such as this have now vanished from usage and without a good deal of local searching it is difficult to identify exactly which house ‘Stewart Lodge’ was in a long road of large houses – even if it is still standing – –Street View shows me that there has been some redevelopment. The Campions shared the house with the family of an artist – named Herbert Sparks..but I’ll resist getting sucked into his family’s rather interesting-looking history. Another quick search showed that Evelina Campion, described as the wife of Thomas Campion, died in Bournemouth in 1908. However probate was not given to her husband but to one of her own relatives, Charles Burney. Her estate amounted to a rather pathetic £41.

But where was her putative husband – Thomas Arthur Campion? Following all leads, a Google search led me to another Ancestry forum members’ thread that suggested that the younger son, George, might have emigrated to Canada. So I turned to Ancestry’s selection of Canadian records and there in those of Canadian soldiers of the First World War I discovered the answer to Thomas Arthur’s whereabouts. For when he joined up in 1916 George gave his father’s address as ‘Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia’. A quick jump to Ancestry’s Australian records found the death of a Thomas A. Campion in Sydney in 1914. Rose Bay is a suburb of Sydney – is this the correct Thomas A Campion? In 1916 did George not know of his father’s death two years earlier? It seems to me quite probable – but obviously more hard evidence would be required.

The army records afford a good deal of information – for instance, in answering a question about previous military experience George cited membership of the Hurstpierpoint Cadet Corps. I knew of Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex, but interested in further details I read online that it had moved to its present site in 1853 thanks to its local benefactors – the Campion family. What is one to make of that? I see that the East Sussex Archives hold Campion family papers – mentioning connections to army service in India in the 19th century. More paths to follow? Well – not at the moment. ..Incidentally, on the army form George described himself as a farm labourer – not exactly the rank in society that might have been expected of one who had been educated at Hurstpierpoint.  A little more Ancestry searching led me to discover that Arthur, the elder of the Campions’ sons had joined a Royal Navy Training ship when he was a teenager.

So I had now uncovered something of Sybil’s apparently rather unstable background. I had discovered where she had lived and where she was educated, and had established that by the age of 18 she was to all intents and purposes a penniless orphan. It was time now to forge on into her adult life.

Well, I couldn’t find any obvious death date or will for her but I did see that when her sister, Caroline, died in 1965 her birth date on the death register was given as 1885 rather than the correct date of 1889, which suggested to me that when she died she was not in the company of anybody who knew her full details. She didn’t leave a will.

Giving up on a death date for Sybil I looked at the London electoral register and I saw that between 1922 and 1925 she was living in shared premises at 18 Endsleigh Terrace – just off the Euston Road. There are more entries for ‘Sybil Campions’ on the local London electoral register but one has to beware of red herrings – a Sybil Campion who pops up in the late 1940s in Wandsworth is living with a James Campion, ie they are likely to be a married couple and not our Sybil. I had, of course checked Ancestry’s marriage records – but there was no evidence that our Sybil had married. I then looked at the 1939 Register on Findmypast but there was no trace of her there. I must explain that the 1939 Register is just that – a register taken in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. It is useful in giving the most basic data – such as an address – and also does give an exact date of birth and an occupation. However, for women – particularly women involved in the suffrage campaign who by 1939 were necessarily no longer young –this ‘occupation’ designation can be rather opaque – ‘Unpaid Household Duties’ being the most common. But occasionally the subject will be a little more forthcoming and allow themselves to be enumerated as ‘Artist’ or ‘Headmistress (Retired).

Anyway back to Sybil Campion. I then checked the Ancestry Travel files and lo and behold there she was – on 6 May 1927 Miss Sybil C. Burney Campion had embarked from Southampton to Auckland, New Zealand, sailing on the ‘Remuera’.  She was 37 years old and gave her occupation as ‘Household Duties’. The address she left behind didn’t give much away either – just care of the National Provincial Bank in London’s Victoria Street. And there we must take leave of her – I can’t find her death in New Zealand – probably because the available records only go up to 1964 and she may have been as long lived as her sister. But from all this we can get something of a picture of that young woman who sent off her 5 shillings to the WSPU in April 1911. She came from a family where the father was mostly absent – indeed where her parents may not have been formally married – where her two considerably older brothers from an early age made their own way in the world, where her mother coped alone with bringing up her two daughters, living in towns along the south coast of England. Did Sybil know of the existence of her half-sister, Lilian – who, incidentally, married the professor of civil engineering at Birmingham University. Sybil probably did not stay at her genteel girls’ day school past 16, then trained as a typist and found work in a London office, living for a time in a hostel and then in a series of shared flats.

She didn’t have an opportunity of boycotting the 1911 census –even if she had intended to – because the form for the hostel was filled in by the superintendent and not by the individual boarders. But now that we see the forces that shaped her life it was little wonder that she was a WSPU supporter. The 5 shillings she gave was likely to have been the equivalent of a day’s pay – working on the basis that a clerical wage was about £2 a week (for instance, that was the amount that suffrage organizers were paid). She could see that she would have to fend for herself through life. She could have had little faith in relying on men for support. In her late-30s Sybil shook the dust of old England off her feet and set sail for a new adventure – as had many of her ancestors. I wonder what became of her? Perhaps someone reading this will know.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

2 Comments

The Garretts And Their Circle/Suffrage Stories: Millicent Fawcett And Salisbury

When we booked to stay for a few days at a Landmark Trust apartment (see here) at the top of a venerable building in The Close in Salisbury I was relishing a brief immersion in the world of Trollope and had entirely forgotten that even here I would be treading on the heels, as I do in London, of one of my heroines – Millicent Garrett Fawcett.

But I soon remembered that at the end of 2013 (a lot has happened in between) I had travelled down to Salisbury to give a talk on the Garretts to the Salisbury Local History Group. I had come and gone in the dark and had seen nothing of Salisbury. But now, in February 2016, armed with my research for that talk, I was able to follow a brief Garrett/Fawcett trail around the city.

27 The Close, Salisbury

27 The Close, Salisbury

For this is the house in which 23-year-old Millicent Fawcett was staying on the night of 2 April 1871. The census records her here, together with her husband, Henry, his sister, Sarah Maria, and her parents-in-law, William and Mary Fawcett. The household was supported by one 16-year-old housemaid. William Fawcett is described as ‘J.P. and Alderman’ and Henry as ‘Professor of Political Economy’; the women have no occupation. Millicent and Henry’s daughter, Philippa, who would have been nearly three years old, is not visiting her grandparents on this occasion. She had been left at home in London in the care of three servants.

Nor, ten years later, did she join her parents when, on 3 April 1881, Millicent and Henry are once again paying a visit to Salisbury and staying in this house with his parents. Philippa, now a 12-year-old schoolgirl, is back home at 51 The Lawn, Vauxhall. Henry is now ‘Postmaster General and MP’, Millicent is ‘Authoress’ and the elderly Fawcetts now have two servants.

Saisbury CathedralThese sightings on the census forms demonstrate that Millicent was no stranger to Salisbury and its Cathedral. The Close is a quiet world, dominated by the soaring building at its centre  – a building that would all too soon have a poignant association for her. For Henry did not live to feature in another census, dying in 1884.

Fawcett cathedral memorials

Here is the memorial tablet placed on the interior Cathedral wall, together with one to his sister, with whom Millicent was always on friendly terms.

William Fawcett

Henry’s parents did not long outlive him.

Fawcett statue

Besides his tablet inside the Cathedral Henry was given a very much more prominent memorial – a statue in Salisbury’s Market Place. It so happened that his back was at the centre of my view as I ate a celebratory meal at a restaurant in Ox Row overlooking the Market Place – clearly I am fated never to be far from the world of the Garretts. Rather oddly, however, Henry Fawcett is positioned on the edge of the large open space and appears to be addressing a crowd waiting at the bus stop outside Debenhams. One might have imagined that he could have been placed facing the other way, into the Market Place where crowds might have gathered to listen to him. But I did note that the elucidatory plaque at the foot of the statue (which is also written in Braille) does include mention of his wife, Millicent, as leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

HEnry Fawcett plaque

Another Garrett associate – the sculptor Ellen Rope – has a work in Salisbury Cathedral – although you’d be hard pressed to find it if you didn’t know it was there.

Moberley memorial

Here it is. Although they knew nothing of it by name, the Cathedral staff have access to a list of the building’s memorials and were very helpful in taking me to find it. The rectangular plaque is the work of Ellen Rope and is dedicated to the memory of Mrs Moberly, wife of George Moberly, bishop of Salisbury. As you see, it is hidden behind a cupboard (in the Vestry). I wonder if there are pieces by any other woman sculptor in the Cathedral? Is it just fate that it is a woman’s work that is hidden in this way?

You might also be interested in reading my book – Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle – for details see here.

Enterprising Women 1

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , , , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: British Liberalism on Radio 4: Millicent Fawcett And Votes For Women

You can listen here as Anne McElvoy and I recreate the NUWSS’s February 1907 ‘Mud March’ in an episode of the BBC Radio 4 series ‘British Liberalism: The Grand Tour’.

Mud March

 

From the BBC website:

Millicent Fawcett and Votes for Women

Anne McElvoy retraces a votes for women march, led by the non-violent Suffragist movement, to rediscover the story of its liberal leader, Millicent Fawcett.

With Elizabeth Crawford and Ben Griffin.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘Lloyd George’s War’ on BBC Wales

First World War Prime Minister David Lloyd George

Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow presents an examination of the role his great, great grandfather David Lloyd George played in the First World War in a 3 part series for the BBC produced by Made in Manchester in association with LJD Productions, Cardiff.

Dan Snow

David Lloyd George was the last Liberal to be Prime Minister and took Britain and its then Empire to victory over the Germans in 1918.

Lloyd George’s War charts how Dan’s great, great grandfather went from being ‘anti war’ to become Britain’s biggest recruiting sergeant – persuading millions of men to sign up to fight and rallying millions of women to work in the munitions factories. His sparkling oratory won over a generation and he gradually became the most important figure in the wartime Government. By December 1916 he was Prime Minister and by November 1918 he was being hailed a hero and ‘the man who won the war’ all over the world.

Producer Ashley Byrne says: ‘People think of Winston Churchill and the Second World War but rarely talk about Lloyd George and the First World War. Yet arguably he had a more difficult war. We’d never fought a war like it.

‘Lloyd George also had to deal with the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Russian revolution and trouble in the Middle East. The decisions he made 100 years ago – good or bad – are still being felt today. To tell the history of the modern world you really can’t do it properly without mentioning David Lloyd George,’ Ashley adds.’

The series also looks at Lloyd George’s influence on a young Winston Churchill, on his clash with the Generals and at how in his memoirs, published years later, he appeared to regret the conflict which killed so many people.

‘When LG died,’ says Ashley ‘Winston Churchill called him the Greatest Welshman since the Tudors.

As part of the programme Dan looks through his great, great grandfathers papers and letters and tries to assess why he made the decisions he did.

Dyfan Rees brings to life the voice of Lloyd George

The programme sees Pobol Y Cwm actor Dyfan Rees (who recently won a mental health award for his portrayal of someone with OCD) plays David Lloyd George and veteran character actor Christopher Strauli (Edward VII and Only When I Laugh) is Winston Churchill.

Actor Christopher Strauli

The first episode of Lloyd George’s War on BBC Radio Wales is available on the BBC iplayer – here with Episode 2 and 3 to be broadcast on the 9th and 16th December. It includes a special title theme composed by the musician Rebecca Applin.

, , , ,

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘Suffragette’ – The Making Of The Film: A Discussion Hosted by The Women’s Library@LSE

 

Suffragette LSE discussion

 

On 5 November I took part in a discussion with director, Sarah Gavron, and producer, Faye Ward, about the making of the film Suffragette.. The event was hosted by the Women’s Library@LSE – and addressed a packed audience.

You can now listen to a podcast of the event – Suffragette: the making of the film – here.

In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that I was only one of several historical consultants associated with the making of the film.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘Shooting Suffrage’: Films That Suffrage Activists Would Have Seen

This post is based on a talk I gave – under the title ‘Shooting Suffrage’-  at the Women’s Library on 13 October 2005 – the hundredth anniversary of the first militant act carried out by suffragettes. Now that suffragettes are once more on the big screen – with the general release this week of ‘Suffragette’ – I thought it might be timely to reprise my research on the films that suffrage activists themselves would have seen.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

‘It is 100 years to the day since Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney heckled Sir Edward Grey in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and were arrested and sentenced to a week’s imprisonment. It is remarkably appropriate that this new stage in the suffrage campaign– a campaign that had already been running for nearly 40 years – should be commemorated by a discussion of the part played by film in its development. We shall see how the new methods that the WSPU brought to the campaign were peculiarly suited to the camera – both moving and still.

We can divide films associated with the suffrage campaign into two types -newsreel/actuality films and feature films. I’ll begin by looking at the actuality films and by way of introduction let’s look at the earliest surviving suffrage newsreel film. It was shot in Newcastle, on the occasion of a visit to the city by Lloyd George on 8 October 1909, a year that saw the beginning of a cinema boom. By the end of the year Britain had between 600 and 1000 cinemas; by 1914 the number was closer to 4500. The newsreel, of which this film would have been one item amongst several, formed part of the cinema programme – usually a prelude to the feature film. Newsreels showed for 3 or 4 days at each cinema and each reel would then circulate for several weeks. ‘News’ was, thus, not hot news – for that there were newspapers. And newsreel was limited to the peculiarity of the medium. It could never be just a filmed version of a newspaper story; it had to have its own filmically interesting subject.

You can view many- but by no means all – of the incidents – from the suffragette campaign here – as presented by Pathé in a compilation. Alas, the company did not attempt to put their films in chronological order – a test for all of you interested in the suffragette campaign. To help you out, when I’ve used them in this piece I’ve given a rough timing on the video as reference. But for most of the films I have linked in to the BFIPlayer which allows us to view a wide range of ‘suffrage silents’.

Obviously the ability to show movement was the most significant advantage that the cinematograph had over the still photograph – thus parades were made for newsreel – encapsulating news, spectacle and movement.

In the  Newcastle film we can see that the procession includes not only women who supported the militant WSPU, seen wearing their ‘Votes for Women’ sashes, – even one man is prepared to proclaim his support –  but also many members of the NUWSS societies –who are carrying banners from, for instance, Darlington, Gateshead and Tyneside.. This is a visual record of the fact that at this stage of the campaign both suffragettes and suffragists were prepared to make common cause in their peaceful demonstrations.

This film was produced by the Warwick Trading Company, which had been founded at the very end of the 19th century by Charles Urban, an American who came to England and concentrated on making reality films. The company’s offices were in Warwick Court, Chancery Lane (close to the WSPU offices in Clements Inn) and its cameramen travelled all around the country.

Two years before the shooting of the Newcastle film Charles Urban had produced his manifesto, The Cinematograph in Science, Education, and Matters of State. In this he wrote of the importance of cinematograph film in the study of history, noting that ‘affairs of state, royal movements, naval and military demonstrations .. are all depicted as they are actually seen by the accurate and truthful eye of the camera, and the day has arrived when motion pictures of current events should be treasured as vital documents among the historical archives of our museums. Animated pictures of almost daily happenings, which possess no more than a passing interest now, will rank as matters of national importance to future students, and it behoves our public authorities.. to see that the institutions under their control become possessed of these important moving records of present events. Books, pamphlets, prints, and the like, are perforce kept for reference, but films depicting important movements with a detail verbally impossible are lost to the nation for want of a little forethought.’

Unfortunately for us, Charles Urban’s plea was not heeded and only a handful of the actuality films that were made of the suffrage campaign have survived – but I have included links to many of them in this post.

I am sure that the Newcastle demonstration was not the first suffrage event to be filmed. For instance the previous year – on 18 June 1908 – a representative of the Graphic Cinematographic Company of 154 Charing Cross Road wrote to Minnie Baldock, one of the London-based WSPU speakers, confirming arrangements to ‘cinematograph’ her meeting to be held the next day during the dinner hour outside Waterlows factory in Shoreditch.  Doubtless many more such informal scenes were filmed but, not being dramatic set pieces, have failed to survive.

The fact that the WSPU’s early organised militancy was made for the moving camera has clearly occurred to at least one pot-boiling novelist. John Jakes has a set piece at the beginning of his 1998 novel, American Dreams, in which one of his main characters, a US film cameraman working in London in early 1907, is one of three cinematographers filming a deputation led by Mrs Pankhurst to the Houses of Parliament. He describes how the cameraman sighted his camera and then cranked it ‘with a practiced, steady rhythm, one, two, three; one, two, three’ as Mrs Pankhurst ‘bore down on a cordon of policemen blocking the doors’.

In the period before the 1909 cinema boom it is likely that, rather than being intended for showing in picture palaces,  such early films as that of Mrs Baldock’s meeting, were used by the WSPU for propaganda purposes.  The WSPU was quick to adopt such new means of communication, for instance we know that in 1908 it projected cinematographic advertisements onto sheets displayed in its shop windows, inviting people to demonstrations and showing short scenes from the suffrage campaign. Later newsreels, such as those made by Pathé, were, of course, shown in public. They were seen not only by the casual cinema-goer, but by suffrage campaigners around the country, who could take the viewing as another opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the cause.

For instance, on 29 March 1914 Dr Alice Ker, a leading member of the Liverpool WSPU, recorded in her diary that she went with some other WSPU activists ‘to the Picture House to see Sylvia Pankhurst leading East End women to Westminster Abbey’. This was a film of a demonstration that had taken place on 22 March – ‘Mothering Sunday’ – an event that Sylvia Pankhurst later recorded was ‘greatly minimized by the press’. Thus, although we now have no record of it, we know that the film cameras were there. It is unlikely that Dr Ker went often to the Picture Palace – cinema-going still had infradig associations – a hangover from its early gestation in the fairground and music hall.

In the 19th century the suffrage campaign could not rely on such powerful visual images – either moving or still. The only contemporary memento of what we take as the starting point of the campaign – the presentation, in 1866, of the first petition to Parliament calling for the enfranchisement of women on the same terms as men – is a printed version of the petition itself.

Although the women taking part in this early stage of the campaign were merely ciphers – signers of petitions – it took only two years for women to emerge from the privacy of their homes onto the public platform. Once in the public domain it was possible for their images on occasion to be captured in line engravings by the illustrators working for the national press. However, for most of the 19th century, the campaign was depicted in words rather than by pictures. This paucity of visual image has resulted in a lack of public awareness of the existence of this early part of the campaign – both then and now.  We do, of course, have images of some the leading 19th -century campaigners – but these tend to be posed studio portraits unconnected to the promotion of the campaign itself.  Perhaps the surviving type of image that comes closest to indicating an involvement in public affairs is the caricature.

Cartoon (courtesy of Manchester Archives + Partnership Blov)

Cartoon (courtesy of Manchester Archives + Partnership Blov)

Here is Lydia Becker, the campaign’s prime mover for much of the 19th century, with Jacob Bright, the campaign’s most supportive MP. Similarly, none of the events staged by the 19th-century campaigners were recorded in photographs – and they did hold hundreds and hundreds of very large public meetings throughout the country .

Besides the millions of words contained in newspaper reports, the only images left to us from this period are the occasional printed survival –such as this –

Rhoda Garrett speaking at a suffrage meeting at the Hanover Rooms, London, 1870

Rhoda Garrett speaking at a suffrage meeting at the Hanover Rooms, London, 1870 – an illustration from The Graphic

However, after the turn of the century, as photography became to be used to illustrate such new popular papers as The Daily Mirror – which, coincidentally, was launched in November 1903, a mere three weeks after the founding of the WSPU – so the suffrage movement adapted in order to present itself in such a way that its message would reach the public – and parliament – by means of these pictures.

Feb 1906 Procession A newspaper photographer from the Daily Mirror was  first called out to record a suffrage demonstration in February 1906, on the occasion of the first WSPU march to Caxton Hall. And in the following months the Daily Mirror was there to record suffragettes, such as Dora Montefiore and Teresa Billington, doorstepping.the prime minister at 10 Downing Street and Asquith at his house in Cavendish Square. From then on we have a full record of the suffrage street theatre – the publicity- conscious processions and parades – that in the years before the First World War was performed not only in London but throughout the country. In the years between 1906 and 1914 hundreds of photographic images deriving from the women’s suffrage movement were published on postcards, outnumbering those relating to any other contemporary campaign.

How the law protects The history of this political campaign can also be viewed as a history of how women presented themselves – and were represented. The idealization of woman as an agent of social reform, in particular her responsibility for the welfare of children, runs as a theme throughout the campaign.

in the shadowIn 1906 the plight of women such as these – the so-called ‘Sweated Workers’, women working from home for a pittance, making matchboxes or sewing shirts, was, thanks to an exhibition sponsored by a newspaper, at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness at the time when the cry ‘votes for women’ really made itself heard in the nation’s capital. And middle-class suffrage campaigners explained that if they received the vote on the same terms as men they would use it to protect their disadvantaged sisters.

However with the beginning of WSPU militancy women were also to be seen as they had never been seen before.

WSL card published from 18 Buckingham Street

This was an image so contrary to what was to be expected of a well-brought up middle-class girl that it necessarily had a startling effect.

The women engaged in the suffrage campaign were not only aware of the necessity of themselves creating images that would influence their contemporaries, they also understood that images drawn from the past could shape perceptions of woman’s position in society and in political life. In 1910 Bertha Mason, a member of the executive committee of the NUWSS, converted into lantern slides numerous images of women from history and of the suffrage pioneers, adding others of ‘the present day workers’ and ‘election incidents’ to illustrate a ‘limelight lecture’ that she delivered to suffrage societies around the country.

WSPU lecturers, such as Rose Lamartine Yates and Florence Haig, also used photographs as the basis of their very popular lantern lectures. In a similar fashion, for display at their grand 1909 Knightsbridge Bazaar, members of the WSPU put together a ‘Photographic Exhibit’, depicting a history of the suffrage movement as seen through the eyes of press photographers.

The WSPU campaign moved to London in early 1906 and Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst were joined by Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, wealthy philanthropists who proved adept at all aspects of propaganda. It is Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence who is credited with organizing the extremely successful demonstration held by the WSPU in Hyde Park on 21 June 1908. Both the WSPU and the NUWSS had previously marched through London, but it was only on this occasion that co-ordinated spectacle really made its mark and that the colours purple, white and green became synonymous with the WSPU.

The Artists’ Suffrage League, under the direction of Mary Lowndes, produced for this occasion many of the banners that were to be such a strong feature of suffrage processions. Banners were made to laud eminent women of the arts, science and the feminist pioneers – showing what women could achieve and to advertise the contemporary suffrage societies.

In June 1910 another in the long succession of bills to enfranchise women was introduced into parliament. Prepared by a committee representing all parties, it became known as the Conciliation Bill. The WSPU was rather optimistic that the end of the struggle might be in sight and suspended hostilities. For by this time the militant campaign had escalated dramatically and hundreds of women had already been imprisoned, many going on hunger strike and being forcibly fed. On 18 June 1910, in co-operation with the Women’s Freedom League, the WSPU staged a major demonstration in support of the bill. You can watch elements of the procession here.

Of the occasion Annie Kenney wrote: ‘The procession was six miles long and took three hours to pass a given point. We had every imprisonment represented. Hundreds of ex-prisoners in prison dress carried broad arrows mounted on sticks covered with silver paper. Representatives came from all over the world, the saying in other countries being: “once British women have won, we also shall win.” We had almost a thousand women graduates. Women graduates always, I noticed, awed the public. A woman in cap and gown roused great admiration. Forty bands played triumphant music. Banners made the procession gay and bright..’

Amongst the women marching in cap and gown near the head of the graduates’ procession look out for one of the pioneers of the suffrage movement – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, now elderly, wearing a bonnet and carrying a stick. Also in the film look out for Mrs Pankhurst’s banner, carrying the date of the founding of the WSPU, 1903, and the ‘Prison to Citizenship’ banner, designed by Laurence Housman. Among other banners is that of the Wimbledon WSPU.

The leading section of the procession consisted of the WSPU fife and drum band, led by Mary Leigh. It had been formed the previous year.

As Annie described, we could see at the centre of the procession the contingent of 617 women, looking very dignified, dressed in white and carrying the long silver staves tipped with the broad arrow, representing all those who had been imprisoned.  Imprisonment in the suffrage cause was now rewarded by the presentation of brooches and badges – in the film one of the prisoners who passes close to the camera can be seen wearing her hunger strike medal. Imprisonment and the hunger strike had become symbolic of the martyrdom women were prepared to endure in the pursuit of their goal. The film shows that many of the marchers carried flowers; and the Daily Express noted that ‘the air was fragrant with the scent of iris and lily’

You can see that this spectacle was intended to present women as dignified martyrs. The final shots, filmed in a side street, are more feisty – showing Flora Drummond, who, as Votes for Women recorded was in ‘supreme command’, posing for the camera, together with an inseparable pair of horsewomen, Evelina Haverfield and Vera Holme, who had acted as marshals.

graduates and lunaticsAs Annie Kenney noted, the image of the woman as university graduate was one that was treasured by the suffrage societies, representing as it did the intellectual and – in a way – the moral heights that women could reach while still being unrepresented in parliament. The lot of the ‘sweet girl graduate’ was commonly contrasted with that of the convict or the ‘lunatic’, who suffered a similar disenfranchisement. One postcard issued by a suffrage society made the point that while such noble women as nurses, mayors, doctors and teachers didn’t have the vote, men, even if they were drunkards or physically unfit to serve their country – or even if they had in the past been convicted or classified as lunatics – could be directly represented in parliament.

Stressing its interest in using constitutional methods to achieve suffrage for women, the NUWSS was keen to influence the male electorate to join them in lobbying parliament. For a NUWSS demonstration held in Trafalgar Square on 9 July 1910, headquarters requested that banners should be made carrying the number of local electors who at the January 1910 general election had signed a petition organised by the NUWSS. Watch the demonstration here.

 

Men of Dundee In this short film we can glimpse the wording of these banners – such as that shown here to the camera by the women of the Dundee NUWSS.  Pathé  labels the film ‘Mass Meeting of Suffragettes’ – although this meeting was that of the suffragists. At the time the popular usage of the names was interchangeable. However, I do think the BBC TV programme ‘Suffragettes Forever’, which concentrated on the militant campaign, should not have included this clip, pretending it was the work of the WSPU rather than the NUWSS. Could it be that the makers of the TV series didn’t recognise the difference? Yet again the NUWSS campaign is eclipsed even when it has staged a popular demonstration – and has taken the trouble to ensure the cameras are there to film it.

However, despite the staging of many more rallies, both in London and in towns around the country, it became clear, at the beginning of the new parliamentary session in mid-November, that the government was not prepared to give time to the bill. In July Christabel Pankhurst had promised that if the government’s veto of the Conciliation Bill was not overturned at the opening of Parliament: ‘a great concourse of women will, immediately after Parliament reassembles in the Autumn, proceed to Westminster to demand of the Government that the Suffrage Bill be forthwith carried into law.’[Votes for Women 29 July 1910]

Thus, massed ranks of the WSPU met in Caxton Hall on 18 November, the day of the opening of parliament, only to hear that because of the battle for supremacy that was raging between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, parliament was in fact going to be dissolved to allow for another general election. There was, of course, no suggestion that women were to be enfranchised before then – and so Christabel’s promise was put into effect. Once this news had reached Caxton Hall a deputation of 300 women set out, in groups of ten, to walk the short distance to the House of Commons and met with vicious treatment from large crowds of police and bystanders. You can watch it happening here.

Sylvia Pankhurst, who with Annie Kenney, was riding around Parliament Square in a taxicab, described the scene: ’as we stood up we could see that a body of men were hustling and jostling the deputation so roughly that we feared that it would never be able to reach the House. Our taxi passed slowly right on the outside of the railings that enclose the Abbey & St Margaret’s and we stopped a little to the right of the Strangers’ entrance. As soon as we left the cab we were struck in the chest and pulled this way and that by the police and by a number of men who were evidently detectives in plain clothes’.

What is clear from the film is that, in what is captioned as ‘Suffragette Riots at Westminster’, men are in the overwhelming majority. The two placards that we see rising and falling in the midst of the crowd were presumably carried by women. They are clearly being mobbed. The day, known to the suffragettes as ‘Black Friday’, became notorious for the brutality with which women were treated, both by the police and by men who clearly thought that women demonstrators were fair game for physical molestation.

The Liberals were again returned to government after the general election at the end of 1910. The Conciliation Committee redrafted its bill, which in May 1911 passed its second reading in the House of Commons. In June the government promised that time would be made for further consideration of the bill in the next session of parliament. In a spirit of optimism and co-operation all 28 suffrage societies, militant and constitutional, combined to stage on 17 June 1911 a spectacular procession to mark the coronation of George V. This ‘Coronation Procession can be seen here.

The Historical Pageant, as described in the film’s caption, related to only one small part of the long procession. Its purpose was ‘to illustrate the great political power held by women in the past history of these Isles – beginning with Abbess Hilda and attendant nuns’.

Abbess HildaThese are the wimpled figures (looking rather like nurses) that we see in the first few seconds of the film.

The procession also included a Prisoners’ contingent here  we see them carrying their pennants, – a section representing musicians and actresses and an elaborate Empire pageant, in which women from around the world were represented.

The 'Empire Car' - Suffrage Coronation Procession, 1911

The ‘Empire Car’ – Suffrage Coronation Procession, 1911

The message at the meeting held in the Albert Hall at the culmination of the procession was that, although it was still necessary to be vigilant, victory was within grasp.

It was the near certainty that the cause was about to be won that made an announcement from the prime minister on 7 November 1911 such a bitter blow. In this he revealed that, rather than considering the Conciliation Bill further, the government intended to introduce a bill to widen the franchise for men, and that this just might then be amended to include women.  As Millicent Fawcett put it ‘If it had been the Prime Minister’s intention to enrage every woman suffragist to the point of frenzy, he could not have acted with greater perspicacity’.

Despite a joint deputation from all the suffrage societies to Asquith and Lloyd George it became quite clear that the government was adamant. The WSPU’s response was swift  – Mrs Pankhurst declared ‘The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics ‘.  On 21 November, while Mrs Pethick-Lawrence led a deputation from Caxton Hall to the House of Commons, another body of women, armed with bags of stones, set about breaking the windows of government offices and business and shop premises. On 1 March 1912 150 members of the WSPU, armed with hammers, broke the windows of West End shops and offices.

Over the next few days 220 arrests were made and on 5 March Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, together with both Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, were charged with conspiracy to commit damage. Christabel evaded arrest and escaped to Paris, where she was to remain until the outbreak of the First World War. At a meeting held in the Albert Hall Emmeline Pankhurst now announced the new WSPU policy of destruction of property, declaring, ‘I incite this meeting to rebellion’.

At the same time as resuming militancy the WSPU, together with the NUWSS, continued to campaign at by-elections. Tactics at the short, sharp Bolton by-election in 1912 were typical. It was reported that a remarkable number of press photographers covered this by-election – among whom we can now see was a Pathé  cinematographer. You can watch his film here.

Both the Liberal candidate, Tom Taylor, and the Conservative, Arthur Brooks, gave their pledge, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, in favour of a limited extension of the parliamentary franchise to women. In a speech the Liberal contestant, Tom Taylor, was reported as saying that ‘During the last days the ladies had been like bees around him asking his views on the question. They had been at the mill, at the Liberal offices, at the Reform Club and sometimes some of them at two places at the same time (Laughter)’.

In the  run-up to polling day the Bolton NUWSS society ran a non-party campaign, concentrating on highlighting the suffrage cause. The WSPU also opened an office in the town – their tactics were, however, rather different. Under the leadership of Mary Phillips, one of the most experienced of their organizers, they campaigned to ‘Keep the Liberal Out’.

A reporter from one of the local newspapers made particular mention of the campaigning that took place in the dinner hour in the neighbourhood of Kay Street, a part of the town packed with mills and foundries, writing, ‘..on no occasion can it be recalled when the battle of orators was so keenly fought as during the present contest. Today hundreds of workers had dined and returned to this fighting field by one o’clock and they were at once offered the choice of Unionist, Tariff Reform, Liberal, Free Trade, Socialist and Suffragette speakers.’

A couple of days later mention was again made of this ‘cockpit of the electoral battle. Prominent amongst the propagandists were the ladies, who got together a fair crowd. They were of the non-militant methods, but the workers see no difference between the two. They tar all with the same brush. They thought of all the awkward questions, but generally speaking the plucky soul who was up against them quite held her own.’

It is, as we now realize, quite as likely that the women speaking to the crowd were in fact suffragists as suffragettes. They were as the reporter candidly admitted ‘All tarred with the same brush’.

Besides campaigning at by-elections, the NUWSS was involved in complicated lobbying in order to ensure the best possible outcome to amendments to the Franchise and Registration Bill – the government’s bill that was before parliament. Asquith had pledged that this bill would be drafted so as to be capable of amendment to include women. However on 27 January 1913 the Speaker ruled the women’s suffrage amendment out of order. Asquith said that the government had been taken by surprise, but thanked the Speaker for saving the House from a waste of valuable time. One can see why the WSPU nicknamed him ‘Two-faced Asquith’.

At the very moment when the government was extracting itself from its pledge, suffragist protesters paraded outside Parliament, their billboards calling MPs to ‘Put Honour First’.  Watch here. The man you see leaving the House of Commons, looking very dapper in his top hat, is Sir Edward Grey who, it was rumoured, had threatened to resign from the cabinet if the suffrage amendment was defeated. As it was, because the amendment had been ruled inadmissible, he was not put to the test.

The immediate effect was that all the suffrage societies united in demanding a government bill to give women the franchise, this being now regarded as the only possible solution. The WSPU had been on a truce while the suffrage amendments were being considered. However as soon as news of the Speaker’s ruling became known, Mrs Pankhurst made clear that this was at an end. ‘It is guerilla warfare that we declare this afternoon’.

Wargrave church badly damaged by suffragette arson

Wargrave church badly damaged by suffragette arson

And guerilla warfare was what followed. Besides the firing of pillar boxes and damage to such ‘masculine’ property as golfing greens and cricket pitches, individual members of the WSPU pursued a policy of arson. Parliament passed what was called the ‘Cat and Mouse Bill’. Under these new regulations prisoners on hunger strike, rather than being forcibly fed, could be temporarily released from prison, without any remission of their sentence and then recalled a little later when they had recovered their strength. Needless to say very few of the ‘mice’ were so obliging – and by enacting the Bill the government actually encouraged the most desperate –or adventurous – members of the WSPU to create a sub-culture of terrorism. As long as the ‘mice’ were not thought to be involved in further militant activity, the police made no serious attempts to recapture them. .

However, some very active ‘mice’ managed to evade capture, using their freedom to carry out what they called their ‘work’. You can see what here what happened to, Levetleigh, at St Leonards in Sussex, the home of the local MP, Arthur du Cros, which was set on fire on 13 April 1913.

Kitty Marion

Kitty Marion

The arsonist was ‘Kitty Marion’, a variety actress, or, as she was billed, ‘A Refined Vocal Comedienne’, who, although German born, had lived in England since 1886 and was a long-standing member of the WSPU and of the Actresses’ Franchise League.

Hurst Park pk cat 182She was only captured after committing her 5th arson raid. This last one was a spectacular. In June, two months after burning down Levetleigh, she and another suffragette destroyed the Grand Stand at Hurst Park race course, apparently as a tribute to Emily Wilding Davison, who had died earlier that month at nearby Epsom. In an unpublished memoir Kitty Marion gives a detailed description of the arson at Hurst Park, remarking ‘We both regretted that there was no movie camera to immortalise the comedy of it’.

For, on 4 June 1913 the suffragette movement had gained its first real martyr when Emily Wilding Davison stepped onto the Derby racecourse and attempted to hold the bridle of Anmer, the King’s horse.

The camera was, of course, set up to record the race – with no knowledge that such a dramatic event was to be enacted in front of it. Was it possible that Emily Davison chose to position herself at that point at Tattenham Corner so that the camera, which would have been obvious to her, set as it was at a level well raised above the crowd, could not fail to capture her action? You can watch the race here. There are other views of the incident to be found on Youtube.

As you see Emily Davison was thrown to the ground, suffering a serious head injury. She never regained consciousness, and died on 8 June. On 14 June she was accorded a martyr’s funeral. The long, impressive procession made its way through the streets of London to St George’s Church in Bloomsbury, where the service was conducted by the vicar, a supporter of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage. From there the coffin was taken to King’s Cross, and on by train to her home town, Morpeth in Northumberland. You can watch both funeral processions here.

EWD funeral (2)Here is a still of the cortege at St George’s Bloomsbury.  I pass the church several times a week – and often wait at the bus stop just beside it – picturing the scene as shown in the film – with the figure in white with her back to us saluting the coffin.

Shortly after the WSPU staged this display of mourning and spirituality, the NUWSS began their ‘Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage’. Their organization was by now so effective that it had taken only a couple of months to plan. The idea was to gain public support by launching a concerted nationwide demonstration. The NUWSS organized their members to walk to London from all parts of the country, along set routes, carrying banners and holding meetings as they went – in order to meet for a rally in Hyde Park on 26 July.

Pilgrimage Lands EndHere we see the start of the Pilgrimage from the south-west –walking, and bicycling, from Land’s End to London. The women were urged to wear a uniform for the occasion – a white, grey, black or navy- blue coat and skirt or dress. Hats were to be simple and in one of the main designated colours. For 3d headquarters supplied a compulsory raffia badge, a ‘cockle shell’, the traditional symbol of a pilgrimage, to be worn pinned to the hat. One of those taking part later recorded that she felt ‘very self conscious in sash and cockade’, NUWSS members were not so used to public parade as were those of the WSPU. Although the news camera was there in Hyde Park, if they did film anything of the pilgrims and platform speeches these have disappeared. All we see in this surviving film is the interest of chaps in seeing themselves on film.

A couple of weeks after this, the cameras were back to film another demonstration in London. On 10 August 1913 Sylvia Pankhurst appeared as a speaker at a rally in Trafalgar Square. By now she was out of sympathy with many aspects of WSPU policy, in particular she was not in favour of the arson campaign. Her idea was that pressure should be brought on the government by the working-class, in particular the women of the East End, where she was building her power base. Sylvia was at this time a ‘mouse’, on the run from the police.

She described how  ‘Eluding the police I drove to the Square and sprang from a taxi into the East End procession as it came swinging round from the Strand. The marchers hoisted me to the plinth, and a crowd of them jumped up beside me as a body-guard’.  She then led a crowd to Downing Street.

In spite of the ‘rushes’ made by the crowd to protect her, she was rearrested in Downing Street and returned to Holloway. You can watch the film of this scene on here.

Through the first few months of 1914 the damage escalated –  suffragettes attacked churches, mansions, grandstands, golflinks, and even paintings in the National Gallery and Royal Academy. But in contrast with all this violence the WSPU was still able to stage an attractive spectacle to pass through the streets of London. There is film of this May Day Pageant, which took place on 1st May 1914 and aimed to promote sales of the WSPU paper, the Suffragette. Although it was organized at very short notice and police permission had not been sought – because they knew it would be refused – the WSPU had obviously, however, had the foresight to alert the Pathé film crew

 

Mrs Pankhurst Buckingham PalaceA month later, on 21 May, Mrs Pankhurst was rearrested while leading a deputation to Buckingham Palace. She had hoped that the King would receive them. Needless to say the palace gates were kept firmly closed. You can watch the scene here.

This was no staged spectacle. Outside the palace women, armed with clubs, battled with the police. Scenes such as these – and those previous ones of Black Friday and of Sylvia Pankhurst being arrested in Trafalgar Square – must surely have seemed scandalous to the viewing public. The palace battle was headline news and the next day the police raided the WSPU headquarters and closed it down.

The battle at the Palace is the last extant reality film of the pre-war suffrage campaign. The days of spectacle and of organised demonstration were past. The WSPU now had no fixed headquarters and its organisers were harried by the police from office to office around London. The NUWSS, while still growing steadily, was devoting itself to political negotiations, a strategy that had little appeal for the camera. And with the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914 this stage of the suffrage campaign came to an end.

The WSPU suspended its activities in order to support the war effort and in 1915 organised, with Lloyd George, a ‘Right to Work’ rally – a demand that women should be allowed to undertake war work. You can watch the women marching here. Kate Frye (actually by now Mrs John Collins) was one of the company.

During the war leading members of the WSPU travelled extensively both in Britain and abroad as government emmisaries, explaining the Allies’ war policy. In the Pathé compilaton (at 11mins 46 secs), filmed on 8 November 1916, we see Mrs Pankhurst speaking in Trafalgar Square, telling her audience about the government’s policy in Greece and Rumania. She is the second of the speakers shown – the first is Norah Dacre Fox.

On 4 November 1917, by which time it could be seen that women’s enfranchisement was at last about to be realised, a cameraman was on hand to witness the launch of a new organization. See here  as the former leaders of the WSPU, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney and Flora Drummond, arrive at the Queen’s Hall, north of Oxford Street for the occasion.

However, after Christabel was unsuccessful when she stood as MP for Smethwick at the general election in 1918, the Women’s Party lost momentum. But even so the erstwhile members of the WSPU continued to be well aware of the power of publicity. They ensured that Emmeline Pankhurst was honoured with a statue. You can watch here as Stanley Baldwin unveils it in 1930.

That statue became the focus of a reunion held each year on 14 July – Mrs Pankhurst’s official birthday. Even in the years after the Second World War the increasingly elderly suffragettes – who had formed themselves into the Suffragette Fellowship – came to pay homage to their former leader. Watch a filmed suffragette reunion here.

The publicity given to their cause by the actuality films – whether enhancing their dignity as they marched in symbolic procession or broadcasting their ability to commit acts of terrorism – surely played its part in shifting the perception of what a woman could be and made more possible – at last – her involvement in the constitutional political life of the country.’

The second part of this talk will discuss the comic ‘Suffrage’ feature films.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

 

 

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘Make More Noise’: Suffrage Silents

Still from 'Make More Noise'

Still from ‘Make More Noise’

On Sunday I went along to the BFI to see Make More Noise: Suffragettes in Silent Film. This collection of short films – both newsreels and comic features – has been compiled and released to complement Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette, which is now on general release.

In fact many of the films were very familiar to me because some thirteen years ago I was commissioned by the BFI to produce a script for a DVD which would tell the history of the suffrage movement – 1866-1928 – through the use of images – both still and moving. The latter included many of the newsreels that you can now see in ‘Make More Noise’.

Alas, although I wrote the script and work had actually begun on recording the ‘voice over’, the DVD idea fell by the wayside as events (doubtless financial) took over.

‘Make More Noise’ includes:

newsreel of a 1909 suffrage procession in Newcastle

a mass meeting of National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Trafalgar Square in 1910

the amazing scenes in Parliament Square on ‘Black Friday’ in November 1910

the Bolton Election in 1910, with a brief glimpse of suffragettes speaking to a crowd

George Lansbury fighting his by-election on a ‘Votes for Women’ ticket in November 1912

scenes outside the House of Commons, 28 January 1913

a film of the 1913 Derby, from a viewpoint completely new to me, showing the build-up to the race and then the sight of Emily Wilding Davison struck down

Emily Wilding’s funeral – both in Bloomsbury and the next day at Morpeth, 1913

Trafalgar Square Riot, showing Sylvia Pankhurst arrested, August 1913

Palace Pandemonium – Mrs Pankhurst at Buckingham Palace, May 1914

The Women’s Right to Work March Through London, 21 July 1915

A Day in the Life of a Munition Worker, 1917

A Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit at work abroad during the First World War

Founding of the Women’s Party, 10 November 1917

Interspersed with these factual reports ‘Make More Noise’ includes short comic feature films, the earliest dating from 1899, demonstrating various ‘takes’ on the public perception of the position of women. The most well-known of these is ‘Milling the Militants’.

On the one hand these films include the tropes depicted in the comic postcards of the time – woman, especially ‘women righters’ as nag and virago – but there are others that revel in bringing to the Edwardian screen pretty young women only too happy to enjoy hoydenish larks while creating mayhem around them.

I heartily recommend a viewing of ‘Make More Noise’ to anyone interested in the women’s suffrage movement

You can find an entry on suffrage films under ‘Film’ in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide – pp 218-221.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

 

,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories: My Experience Of Watching The Filming of A Scene From ‘Suffragette’

Suffragette Film Poster 2

After all that counting down – the day has arrived when all in the UK can see ‘Suffragette’. See here to find where it is showing in a cinema near you.

I’m one of four people who appears at the end of the credits as an ‘historical consultant’ – there is also an ‘historical adviser’ – and very much enjoyed answering questions that were put to me during – and after – the making of the film. The production company also bought from me some ‘suffragette’ postcards – both commercial comic and real photographic ones – to give as presents to members of the cast.

The production team had kindly invited me to be an extra during the filming – but, for one reason or another – not least because I’d already once before been a ‘suffragette’ extra in a TV programme – I thought I’d prefer the alternative – which was an invitation to watch an evening’s shooting of a crucial scene in the film.

By complete coincidence the scene took place about two minutes’ walk from my house – and about two minutes the other way from the production company’s office. Thus, one rather chilly March evening in 2014, I set out after dinner to take my seat in a tent on the roadside in Myddleton Square, opposite the house where, the previous evening, Meryl Streep as Mrs Pankhurst had appeared on a balcony to address her devoted followers.

I wondered about inserting here a ‘Spoiler Alert’ – but decided against it as the scene I mention appears in the trailer.

This evening’s shooting was to recount the aftermath of that speech. The police are closing in, intending to arrest Mrs Pankhurst, who is ‘on the run’ after having been released from prison under the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act. A decoy – a woman dressed as Mrs Pankhurst – comes out of the front door and is set upon by the police. When they discover their mistake the chase resumes – featuring all the main female leads – Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham-Carter and, of course, Meryl Streep.(The other lead, Romola Garai, who played ‘my’ Kate Frye last year in ITV’s The Great War: The People’s Storydidn’t, I think, feature in this particular scene.)

I watched as the scene was shot over and over again – from different angles – all to be spliced together in one short, sharp vignette. ‘Maud Watts’, ‘Violet Miller’ and ‘Edith Ellyn’ ensure that ‘Mrs Pankhurst’ reaches the safety of her motor car and, as she climbs in, turns to tell ‘Maud Watts’ ‘Never surrender, never give up the fight.’

I was very struck by the kindness of the production team towards me, the director’s assistant taking particular care to explain to me what was happening.  In the tent at various stages of the evening were the film’s writer, Abi Morgan, one of its producers, Faye Ward, and Don Gummer, Meryl Streep’s husband. How very supportive of him, I thought.

In between these numerous takes, as the evening advanced and the cold seeped into bones there was one ultra-surreal moment as, to keep warm, the four actresses linked arms and did high kicks on the doorstep. So appealing.

I say that was ‘ultra-surreal’ only because the whole experience had a surreality of its own. I have researched the suffrage movement in depth – in all its variety – for the past 20 years and during the last 25 have walked on innumerable occasions past the very spot where now I was watching Mrs Pankhurst being brought back, fleetingly, to life.

When I eventually left, with the filming winding down, I walked out of the past into the present, turning the corner from Myddleton Square into Chadwell Street, leaving that ghostly parallel world behind.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

, , , , , , ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WSPU Car

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Emmeline Pankhurst, Emmeling Pethick-Lawrence and Annie Kenney photographed in the WSPU car

Emmeline Pankhurst, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Annie Kenney photographed with the WSPU car

Most of the previous items that I have described in the daily ‘Countdown to the Release of the Film “Suffragette”‘ posts over the past month have already been sold – but for this final week I shall describe items that are currently for sale.

All three women are wearing motor scarves to protect their hats. I think the car is ‘W.S. 95′ [ie Women’s Suffrage’], an Austin, painted and upholstered in the colours, with white wheels and a green body lined with a narrow purple stripe

This is the car that the WSPU presented to Mrs Pethick Lawrence on her release from prison in April 1909.The cloth-capped driver is Mr Rapley from Holmwood, Surrey, where the Pethick Lawrences had their country house.

The card was published by Sandle Bros and the type face used for the caption is the same as that for the ‘Rush the House of Commons’ postcards that date from October 1909 – so I would deduce that this card was published around the same time.

The card is for sale – £120. To buy email me: elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

Suffragette Film Poster 2Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’:’The Empire Car’ In The Suffrage Coronation Procession 1911

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

The 'Empire Car' - Suffrage Coronation Procession, 1911

The ‘Empire Car’ – Suffrage Coronation Procession, 1911

Most of the previous items that I have described in the daily ‘Countdown to the Release of the Film “Suffragette”‘ posts over the past month have already been sold – but for this final week I shall describe items that are currently for sale.

This is a stereoscope photograph of ‘The Empire Car’ – one of the elements of the ‘Pageant of Empire’ that was included in the procession staged by the suffrage societies on 17 June 1911 to mark the Coronation of George V.

To stage the procession the Women’s Social and Political Union, the Women’s Freedom League and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies worked together, alongside a wide range of smaller societies – bringing together militants and constitutionalists in one grand, consciousness-raising display.

This particular image is interesting, for with the imminent release of ‘Suffragette’ there has been a minor flurry on Twitter deprecating the lack of inclusion of women of colour in the film and particularly citing a couple of images, such as this, as evidence that supporters of the movement did include women from India.

That is true. However the handful of wealthy, aristocratic Indian ladies who were supporters lived lives far removed from that of Maud, the East End laundry worker whose story is central to the film, and there is no plausible reason why their paths should have overlapped.

Indeed, there are thousands of women – including all the members of the NUWSS – whose stories do not feature in the film. This in no way detracts from the engrossing story of Maud Watts, whose fictional life makes explicit to us just why it was that women did need the vote.

The card is for sale – £95. To buy email me: e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Selling ‘The Suffragette’ Paper

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Selling 'Votes for Women'

Selling ‘The Suffragette’

All the previous items that I have described in the daily ‘Countdown to the Release of the Film “Suffragette”‘ posts over the past month have already been sold – but for this final week I shall describe items that are currently for sale.

Thus I begin with this photographic postcard depicting a small, smart cart carrying an advertising hoarding for The Suffragette, the paper published by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and edited by Christabel Pankhurst.

The cart is stationary, the horse waiting patiently as his lady driver poses for a photograph, piles of the newspaper at her feet.

My observations leave me to think that the photograph was taken in Kingsway – close to the WSPU office in Lincoln’s Inn House – opposite the entrance to Wild Court. The building on the corner of that street (now a Belgo) has changed little since 1913 when this photograph would have been taken.

The postcard is in very good condition, despite having been posted, on 11 November 1913, to South Africa. It carried no message – proving that, as the hoarding proclaims, it appealed to ‘Suffragettes Everywhere’.

The card is for sale – £150. To buy email me: e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christabel Pankhurst In Her Office In Clement’s Inn

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Christabel Pankhurst photographed in her office in Clement's Inn

Christabel Pankhurst photographed in her office in Clement’s Inn

The postcard was published by H. Sergeant of Ladbroke Grove and the photograph would have been taken on the occasion of his visit to Clement’s Inn in 1910/1911 when he also photographed Mrs Pankhurst in her office.

Christabel’s room – or at least that section of it in shot – betrays little of the homeliness that her mother had added to hers – although there is a vase of flowers on the desk. Behind her is a bookcase filled with serious-looking books – as befits a lawyer – with a page from Votes for Women pinned to it.

While Christabel looks directly at the camera, her young secretary keeps working, bent over her notebook, pen in hand.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’:Mrs Pankhurst In Her Clement’s Inn Office

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and Mrs Mabel Tuke photographed in Mrs Pankhurst's office in Clements Inn

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and Mrs Mabel Tuke photographed in Mrs Pankhurst’s office in Clements Inn – probably in 1910/11.

Mrs Pankhurst and Mrs Tuke are sitting at a paper-laden desk. Mabel Tuke was honorary secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Very pretty – as we can see – her nickname was ‘Pansy’.

This photograph gives us an opportunity to deconstruct the surroundings. What pictures did Mrs P. have on the walls? Well there is a poster for a Suffrage Fair and above that a portrait sketch that looks very like that of Christabel Pankhurst by Richard Mathews that is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

There is at least one photograph and one sculptured bust of a child – probably by Desiderio da Settignano. And a small vase of flowers on the mantlepiece. A wonderful picture.

The publisher of the card was H. Sergeant, 159 Ladbroke Grove – who took many photographs for the WSPU.

 

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

, ,

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Dora Meeson Coates’ Poster

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Poster designed by Dora Meeson Coates and published by the Artists' Suffrage League

Poster designed by Dora Meeson Coates

In 1907, with this design, Dora Meeson Coates (c 1870-1955), an Australian artist living with her husband in Chelsea, won a competition organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the Artists’ Suffrage League.

The poster shows ‘Mrs John Bull’ holding an empty dish labelled ‘Votes for Women’ while six boys – ‘Primrose League’, Trade Unions’, ‘Liberal Federation’, ‘Women’s Liberal Association’, ‘S.D.F’ and ‘I.L.P’ – clamour for more soup from a large bowl labelled ‘Political Help’. She says: “Now you greedy boys I shall not give you any more until I have helped myself.”

It was one of three exceedingly rare posters that I bought at auction a few years ago,

Dora continued to work closely with leading members of the Artists’ Suffrage League, such as Mary Lowndes and C. Hedley Charlton as well as designing the ‘Commonwealth Australia’ banner that was carried in the 1911 suffrage ‘Coronation Procession’. That banner is now on display in Parliament House, Canberra.

You can read much more about Dora Meeson Coates’ association with the suffrage movement in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Flyer for WSPU Window-Smashing Demo on 21 Nov 1911

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

WSPU invitation to demonstrate outside the House of Commons on Tuesday 21 Nov 1911

WSPU invitation to demonstrate outside the House of Commons on Tuesday 21 Nov 1911

As Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence mentions in this leaflet, she – with Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Mabel Tuke, Lady Constance Lytton and Elizabeth Robins – had represented the WSPU in a joint deputation from all suffrage societies to Asquith and Lloyd George to protest against the government’s intention to introduce a manhood suffrage bill, which just might, if the House of Commons desired, be amended to include women. This had been a bitter blow to suffrage campaigners who had pinned their hopes on putting before Parliament a Conciliation  Bill – which would have enfranchised a proportion of women.

The deputation had received no comfort from Lloyd George and Asquith and this flyer was the WSPU’s response.

Kate Frye, whose diary I have edited as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary (click here for details), went along to Parliament Square that Tuesday evening. In fact it was she who laid this very flyer between the pages of her diary and thus preserved it. She was an organiser for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage [NCSWS] but rather sympathetic to the WSPU – and always liked to be on the scene of any dramatic action.

This is what she wrote of the evening in her diary:

‘I went in to Lyons and had coffee and a sandwich. Who should I happen to sit next but Miss Ada Moore [an actress and active member of the WSPU] and 2 ladies – ready for the fray. I wonder I wasn’t arrested as one – for I soon realised I was dressed for the part to the life. Long cloth ulster or coat, light hat and veil was the correct costume – no bag purse – umbrella or any extra. I only had enough money to get home with in my coat pocket – the rest I had put in the suit case – the latch key was slung round my neck. It was awfully exciting – one felt like a red revolutionist.

Miss Moore & party left at 7.30 – her work lay in Whitehall, she told me – but she looked very white and strained and we did not talk much. I began to feel pretty green with all the force of strife in the air – I felt I too should only be in my rightful place when officially performing.

I left Lyons at 7.45 and strolled about. At the stroke of eight there was smashing of glass at some government office – the War Office I took it for – and I saw several – 8 or 9 or more – ladies  led off – all very quietly done – no rough usage – no struggling. I followed them down Whitehall to Canon Row. More arrests – more broken glass – more crowds, a little jostling – people being moved on this way or that way – for the most part silent crowds – growing bigger and bigger – a rush to see another  arrest – a bigger crowd surging up the street following the policeman with the arrested women but oh! what a different scene from last year when the women were so brutally knocked about.

I suppose the crowd was worse over the other side of Parliament Square but I was too timid to wander far, and I met Mrs Hartley [a founder of the NCSWS], her daughter, 2 friends and Miss Green and we all kept together, and we shouted whenever a prisoner was led along – “Bravo” “Well Done”. People took it up – but for the most part stood and watched silently. As far as I could see there no ill feeling whatever from the crowd to the women – the men stared solemnly at the proceedings.

We met Mrs Chapman and Miss Forsyth. Mrs Chapman [president of the NCSWS] was anxious as her daughter, Mrs Mansel,  was ‘in’ it. We stood talking and got a crowd round us so had to “move on”.

We saw Mrs Pethick Lawrence led into Canon Row. There was a good deal of excitement then a huge crowd pushing along with her and other ladies. It was awfully cold and it was all very dreadful but I have never seen work better done – nearly every window in Whitehall with a large round hole right in the centre. Downing St was guarded. No one was allowed near.

Then people seemed drifting away so I made my way to Charing Cross – got my suitcase from the cloak room.’ 

This demonstration was the first to use mass window-smashing tactics – a later, similar, event is shown near the beginning of the film ‘Suffragette’. On 21 November 1911 220 women and 3 men were arrested and the next day around 150 of these were sentenced to period of between five days’ and two months’ imprisonment.

Kate Frye cover

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The ‘Woman’s Rights’ Kerchief

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

 

Woman's Rights Kerchief 1

‘Woman’s Rights 1861/1981 And What Came Of It’

This is a white cotton kerchief ,measuring 22.5″ x 24″. It dates – presumably – from 1861 (the Design Registration No is 364805) and the very stylish illustrations printed on it show what the world would be like 120 years into the future – ie in 1981 – when women had won their Rights.

Thus women appear as barristers and judges, as admirals, captains and sailors, as athletes, as telegraph girls, as astronomers, scientists and – and who can now restrain their laughter – as politicians. The men, meanwhile, mind the babies, do the tatting and are parlour maids and house maids.

The kerchief – designed four years before the presentation of the first suffrage petition – contains all the tropes – the embodiment of light-hearted, but deeply-rooted prejudice – that are now so familiar to us through the comic postcards that were produced in response to the suffragette campaign in the years before the First World War.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WSPU Flag

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – wfor which I was an historical consultanthich contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

 

A WSPU Flag

A WSPU Flag

The flag is 68.5cm ( 27 “) wide x 132cm (52”) long and comprises three linen sections, stitched together very neatly – one each of purple, white and green (from the top in that order).

This item would not, I have thought, been free flying – but rather pinned up at a WSPU meeting or in a shop or at a bazaar.

Pankhurst meeting flags

One can see such flags draped here behind the platform where Mrs Pankhurst, Christabel and Mrs Pethick-Lawrence are addressing a suffrage meeting (with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson sitting immediately to Mrs Pankhurst’s right).

Presumably after it had had its day, the flag was neatly folded up and consigned to an attic – to reappear 100 years later. This is the only example of a WSPU flag that – in over 30 years of dealing – I have ever had for sale and I’m pleased to report that it went to a very good home – the House of Commons.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘The Suffragette’ – A 1913 Feature Film

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

 

Today’s image:

Britannia Films still 1

Yesterday I was invited to the cast and crew screening of ‘Suffragette’ and had my second opportunity to see the film. It gets better each time. Travelling home on the bus I realised that today’s post just had to be about a 1913 film coincidentally – although perhaps not surprisingly – called ‘The Suffragette’.

Above is a still from the film – one of a sequence in a photograph album that I discovered.

On the front cover of the album was the remains of a printed label for ‘Britannia Films’. This film company was set up by Pathé at the end of 1911 to produce British feature films, while Pathé continued to produce newsreels.

At the end of 1913  ‘The Suffragette’ was one of the films released by Britannia Films. The description given of the film by the British Film Institute – which I faithfully recorded in the list of ‘suffragette films’ in The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide–  is of the vaguest – ‘A disowned schoolmistress’s uncle destroys her father’s amended will ‘ And yet this hokum plot can be followed through the first 17 film stills in this ‘Britannia Films’ album.

The scene shown above is set in a suffragette office, its walls lined with (real) newspaper posters – such as one recording the death of Emily Davison at the 1913 Derby. In another the heroine is setting light to a fuse leading inside a house – suffragette arson.

Another still shows two women lighting a fuse that trails back into a house. I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that there is a rather similar scene in ‘our’ ‘Suffragette’.

The International Movie Data Base (see here for details) names the actress playing the heroine as Agnes Glynne and a male lead as James Carew (who was, or had been, the very much younger husband of Ellen Terry).

As there is no extant copy of the film and the British Film Institute holds no archival stills – these images are the only known surviving record of this once topical film.  As so few records survive of the spate of films that featured suffragette themes this one, clearly filmed between June 1913 (because it features the Derby poster) and December 1913 (its release), is an important survivor.

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘The Suffragette Puzzle’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

The Suffragette Puzzle

The Suffragette Puzzle

Yet another game based on the difficulties encountered by suffrage campaigners.

‘The Suffragette Puzzle’ was produced by F.H. Ayres Ltd, 111 Aldersgate Street, London and was launched in 1908. It required considerable dexterity ‘To get the Women’s Suffrage Bill through the Houses of Parliament’ – although rather less than the real-life  effort demanded of the suffrage societies;

This game is extremely scarce – I’ve only had this one example for sale in over thirty years of dealing in suffrage ephemera.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

 

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/The Garretts And Their Circle: The ‘Ascent Of Woman’ and Millicent Fawcett

In four programmes shown on BBC 2 Dr Amanda Foreman has roamed the globe and travelled through the millenia to uncover stories of women who have made and changed human history from 10,000 BC to the present day.

You can – for a short time – view all four programmes on the BBC iPlayer – click here.

ifawcet001p1Episode 4 – ‘Revolution’ – includes a section in which I talk to Amanda about Millicent Fawcett – highlighting her work as a champion of women’s education.

The filming was done in my drawing room – and it was an interesting and enjoyable way to spend a morning – talking about such an agreeable subject with someone so passionate and knowledgeable. Especially so as barely a month previously I had been lying on an operating theatre table. It was good to get back to ‘work’.

For much more about Millicent Fawcett – and all the other Garretts – see Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Panko’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Panko

Panko

Panko was a card game, published by Messrs Peter Gurney Ltd. The cards were designed by E.T. Reed, a Punch cartoonist.

Panko was first advertised in the issue of Votes for Women for 10 December 1909, claiming ‘Not only is each picture in itself an interesting memento, but the game produces intense excitement without the slightest taint of bitterness’.Panko Rules - Copy

Mary Blathwayt – the ardent Bath suffragette – gave her mother a pack as her Christmas present and I’ve no doubt that Panko was in many another suffragette’s Christmas stocking that year.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Elusive Christabel’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Elusive Christabel

Elusive Christabel

‘Elusive Christabel’ is an optical toy produced by the Flashograph Co in 1912. It alludes to Christabel Pankhurst’s escape to France in March 1912 as the police closed in on Clement’s Inn and arrested the other leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union and charged them with conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

When – as commanded – you move the paper control ‘up and down gently’ the scene changes to this:

Elusive Christabel 1

The WSPU had a lot of fun at the expense of the police, publishing photographs of Christabel in Votes for Women and asking readers to guess where she might be. The Flashograph Co clearly had an eye for topicality.

Needless to say ‘Elusive Christabel’ lives up to its name and is exceptionally elusive nowadays. I’ve only ever had one pass through my hands in over thirty years of dealing in suffragette material.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Pank-A-Squith’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Pank-A-Squith

Pank-A-Squith

Pank-A-Squith was a board game, first advertised in Votes for Women, 22 October 1909.

The board is green and purple and the spiral track illustrates the difficulties encountered by Mrs Pankhurst and her supporters. It is played by throwing a die to move figures around the board – like Snakes and Ladders.
As issued the board was square but this particular board was altered at some point in order to set it within a circular wooden frame.

All too often the figures that were issued with the game – and were moved around the board – are missing.

In December 1909 Mary Blathwayt, a keen WSPU supporter from Bath, recorded in her diary that she had bought a game of Pank-A-Squith and in July 1910 that she and Annie Kenney played it together as they passed an anxious time while Annie’s sister, Jennie Kenney, was being operated on at Mary’s home, Eagle House, Batheaston.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WFL ‘Holloway’ Brooch

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Women's Freedom League 'Holloway' brooch

Women’s Freedom League ‘Holloway’ brooch

This is the award that was given by the Women’s Freedom League to its members who had been imprisoned. The brooch is in silver with the reverse engraved with the name of the prisoner and the date of arrest. The one in the picture was presented to Elsie Cummin upon her release from Holloway in July 1909.

Elsie Cummin had been born in 1877, one of the large family of Rev Joseph Cummin and his wife, Elizabeth. By 1901 the family had moved into Easebourne Vicarage, where Joseph Cummin was vicar. Mrs Cummin, who died in 1910, had been a suffrage supporter and gave the West Sussex branch of the Women’s Freedom League its velvet banner. Elsie Cummin was both honorary sec and honorary treasurer of the branch, which had been founded in 1908. She spoke at local WFL meetings and held WFL ‘At Homes’ at Easebourne Vicarage.

The Times, July 13, 1909

‘Four members of the Women’s Freedom League were charged on remand with obstruction. [Among] the defendants were ….Elsie Cummin, 32, Easebourne Vicarage, Midhurst….

Chief Inspector Rolfe said that on Friday afternoon he saw the defendants Hicks and Cummin standing by the doorway of the Prime Minister’s residence in Downing-street. They were carrying a roll of paper bearing the word ‘Petition’ and they said that they wished to present their petition personally to Mr Asquith. They were afterwards joined by the other two defendants. Meanwhile Miss Hicks had handed her petition personally to Mr Asquith when he alighted from a motor-car at his residence. At one time there were 300 people in Downing-street, and considerable obstruction was caused. After seeing Mr Asquith’s private secretary the witness told the defendants that Mr Asquith could tell them nothing further, but would send them an acknowledgment in due course. The defendants said that they wanted a date and time fixed for the reply; otherwise they would wait until they got it..

Police Constable 109A said that when Mr Asquith drove up one of the defendants said, ‘We have a petition, will you receive it?’. Mr Asquith asked her to hand it to his messenger, and Miss Hicks replied, ‘No, we want to hand it to you personally.’ Mr Asquith then said, ‘Very well, hand it to me,’ and he then received the petition from Miss Hicks.

[Defence counsel] submitted that the defendants did nothing but stand upon the pavement in a perfectly orderly manner.

The magistrate said that if the defendants would undertake that there should be no kind of disturbance of any description until the appeal in the somewhat similar case of Mrs Pankhurst had been decided he would adjourn the case sine die.

[Defence counsel] said that he could not give any undertaking on behalf of the defendants.

The defendants, on oath, denied that they caused any obstruction.

The magistrate imposed a fine of £3 in each case, with the alternative of three weeks’ imprisonment in the second division.’

Elsie Cummin and her three co-defendants refused to pay the fine and went to Holloway – and it was on her release that she was presented with the ‘Holloway’ brooch.

The reverse of Elsie Cummin's Holloway brooch

The reverse of Elsie Cummin’s Holloway brooch

Elsie continued her association with the WFL for at least two more years. On the night of the 1911 census she was at home with her father and one sister. However, the census enumerator recorded two other of the sisters, who were not present, as ‘Suffragettes wandering about all night’. Elsie Cummin reported that seven members of the branch had boycotted the census. Clearly the Cummin family took the question of women’s suffrage seriously.

The Women’s Freedom League had first presented these brooches as early as December 1908 when Muriel Matters and Mrs Emily Duval received theirs from Mrs Despard at a ceremony in St James’s Hall, Piccadilly. The Women’s Social and Political Union copied the idea and in April 1909 instituted a Sylvia Pankhurst-designed ‘Holloway’ brooch to reward their members who had been to prison. As so often, however, it is the WSPU’s insignia which has had the wider publicity.

Sarah Benett, sometime treasurer of the WFL, wearing her WFL 'Holloway' brooch

Sarah Benett, sometime treasurer of the WFL, photographed by Lena Connell wearing her WFL ‘Holloway’ brooch

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WSPU ‘Flag’ Brooch

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

WSPU flag badge

An enamelled WSPU brooch – in the shape of a purple, white and green flag.

Unusually, it’s possible to date this brooch pretty accurately. It is marked on the back with the maker’s name ‘Toye’, which was in usage between 1898 and 1909 when the passing of a new Companies’ Act meant that henceforward it was known as ‘Toye & Co. Toye produced much of the WSPU merchandise, including the hunger-strike medals. The company is still in business and re-produced the hunger-strike medals that you will able to see being worn in the film ‘Suffragette’.

The 31 December 1908 issue of Votes for Women lists all merchandise that the WSPU was selling at that time – and the flag design is not listed.

However we can see from the 14 May 1909 issue, dating from the time that the WSPU was about to launch its big fund-raising event – the Exhibition at Prince’s Skating Rink in Knightsbridge -, that the number of items the WSPU was selling had increased – and now included this brooch.

It is described as ‘Flag (words “Votes for Women”) 1/- each.’ I fear that over the last 108 years the brooch has rather risen in value. But I think we can be pretty certain that this design was manufactured no later than the Spring of 1909.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

,

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christina Broom Photographs The Putney and Fulham WSPU Shop

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

 

Today’s image:

Putney WSPU shop photos 001

My visit yesterday to the exhibition of photographs by Christina Broom at the Museum of London (which I highly recommend – for details see here) reminded me of an intriguing page of photographs that passed through my hands a little while ago.

The key that unlocks the story behind the photographs is the postcard of the Putney and Fulham WSPU shop, positioned in the bottom right-hand corner. This photograph, taken by Mrs Broom, is shown in the exhibition and is discussed in detail by Diane Atkinson in Joannou & Purvis (eds), Women’s Suffrage Movement: feminist perspectives.

The photograph shows a young mother holding her baby, standing outside the shop, which opened at 905 Fulham Road in February 1910. The baby looks to be about 9 or 10 months old. I have identified the copy of Votes for Women that is displayed in the window as the issue for 9 September 1910. The shop windows are packed with WSPU propaganda items – much of which, especially the postcards – such as ones of Christabel Pankhurst, Lady Constance Lytton, Charlotte Marsh and Mary Gawthorpe – are readily recognisable. A poster advertises a meeting to be held by Lady Constance in the Queen’s Hall on 3 October 1910 and there are items of merchandise, such as WSPU scarves and stationery, together with the more homely items, such as eggs and jam that the local branch reported it was pleased to accept to sell for the Cause.

You can see into the shop (the door is open) and there in the background is the banner ‘Taxation Without Representation.is Tyranny’, just as described in the 18 February 1910 Votes for Women issue.

Adjacent on the sheet to the photograph of the shop is a loving shot of the same mother with her baby  – annotated ‘5 months’ – photographed, I would think, in a bedroom. Above that is the same woman and baby, photographed, I think, outside and annotated ‘4 months’. The other three photos are of the baby alone, photographed at 3, 4 and 5 months. Although the photos are glued to the page I’ve peered into their backs and think they were sent to the baby’s grandfather.

The sheet is captioned ‘Joan Morris’ in the same hand as the annotations of the baby’s age, Or, at least, I think it is ‘Joan Morris’. The last two letters of the surname read more like ‘ei’ or ‘el’ than ‘is’ – but there was no ‘Joan ‘born in the baby’s timeframe with a name such as ‘Morrel’, which might be a reading.

There was, however, a Joan Morris born in Fulham on 6 January 1910. In April 1911 she was living with her parents at 19 Arundel Mansions, Fulham Road. If my identification is correct, they are an interesting couple.

The baby’s father was Geoffrey Bright Morris, son of William Bright Morris, the artist (not to be confused with the other William Morris) and his first wife, who was a grand-daughter of Leigh Hunt and who may well have died at his birth.

Baby Joan’s mother was Helen Kathleen Morris (née Macleod), who in the 1901 census, was an actress boarding with William Bright Morris and his family. She would have been about 31 years old in 1910, which, again, accords with the apparent age of the woman standing outside the WSPU shop. The couple had married in January 1909; they had clearly known each other for a long time for William Bright Morris’s second wife was Helen’s aunt. Helen McLeod’s father was a paymaster in the Royal Navy. William Bright Morris died in 1912 – so could have been the grandfather to whom the snaps were sent.

I wish I had been able to find a mention of Helen Morris in the reports for the Putney & Fulham branch of the WSPU – but I must admit that I cannot. She does seem just the kind of person to have taken an interest in suffrage – but, with a young baby to care for, may not in 1910-1911 have been able to devote much of her time to it. However, as Diane mentions in her discussion of the photo, the woman – without coat or hat – and the baby, dressed in a light frock, do seem to have come out from the shop specifically to have been photographed.

In ‘Votes for Women’ the co-organiser of the branch and the shop is given as ‘Mrs H. Roberts’, although no further information about her activities is, as far as I can see from reading through successive copies, ever given and I have been able to find out nothing about her.

So, all in all, an interesting story to be deduced from what might at first glance have appeared to have been an anonymous sheet of photographs. Mrs Broom’s photograph is, of course, the prize. Photographs of suffrage shops are always delightful and this image – taken on an early autumn day more or less exactly 105 years ago – is both artfully arranged and very crisp and clear.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , ,

3 Comments

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christina Broom Photographs The 1911 Suffrage Coronation Procession

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Coronation Procession - NCS Banner

A close-up photograph by Mrs Albert Broom of a section of the 1911 suffrage Coronation Procession showing the tail-end of the ‘Pageant of Queens’.  Immediately behind, as decreed in the plan for the day, is the banner of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, one of only two images of it that I have ever seen.

The queens are, mainly, dressed in medieval costume and the photograph allows a clear image of faces, dresses and jewellery. At the head of the New Constitutional contingent can be seen a couple of figures in graduate dress – and I wonder if they are Alexandra and Gladys Wright – for more of whom see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary.

I am going this very day to visit the Museum of London Docklands exhibition ‘Suffragettes and Soldiers: The Photography of Christina Broom’. See here for details.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: The 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition

Today – 7 June 2016 – marks the 150th anniversary of the first petition presented in Parliament in support of an attempt to gain for women the parliamentary vote.

I have just attended an event sponsored by the Fawcett Society to celebrate this anniversary – held in the Speaker’s House in Parliament. At this event it was announced that efforts would be made to erect a statue to Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. See also my post  published some time ago – Make Millicent Fawcett Visible – http://wp.me/p2AEiO-qD

Below is a short article I published earlier setting out the facts behind the petition.

 

 

First page of the 1866 women's suffrage petition

First page of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition

This is – I think – the most important document of the women’s suffrage campaign. It was the foundation for all that came after.

Back in the days when the world was young, there was no internet, and antiquarian booksellers – as well as the layman/woman book-buyer – had to search their quarry among the stacks of brick and mortar bookshops, my time, when not engaged in child care, was spent touring London and the market towns of southern England in search of the books and ephemera with which I and my customers might resurrect the women that were famously ‘hidden from history’.

These days have long passed away – now we need only sit at home and search internet book-selling sites,  trawling through the print-on-demand dross in the increasingly forlorn hope of finding the odd nugget of treasure. The corollary, of course, is that there are now precious few brick and mortar bookshops selling second-hand/antiquarian books.

In those olden days I even thought it occasionally worthwhile to take a tour down Portobello Road on a Saturday morning, not something I have  done  for a long time, now that Portobello’s landlords are handing the antiques arcades over to fashion chain stores. But that particular Saturday-morning visit was memorable because it was in a bookselling alcove in the warrens that stretch behind Portobello Road that I came across one of the most interesting finds of my bookselling career – a copy of the pamphlet edition of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.

The petition itself comprised  a long scroll onto which were pasted the signatures of the (circa) 1500 women who, in the spring of 1866,  were prepared to put their names to a request (it was certainly not yet a demand) that women who met the requisite  property qualifications , as set out in the Reform bill then under discussion, should be able to cast a parliamentary vote alongside men. The petition had been organised by a group of women who formed themselves into a small informal committee – among their number being Barbara Bodichon, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Elizabeth Garrett, and Emily Davies.  John Stuart Mill, for whom they had campaigned when he had contested – and won – the Westminster parliamentary seat the previous year, had agreed to present the petition.

Emily Davies was the businesswoman of the group and it was she who decided that the names of those who had signed the petition should be printed in pamphlet form and sent to  the weekly papers so that, as she wrote on 18 July 1866 to Helen Taylor (Mill’s step-daughter), ‘ in case they take any notice, they make know what they are commenting on.’  Copies of the petition pamphlet were also sent to members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The copy of ‘my’ 1866 petition pamphlet is, as you see, addressed to Earl Cathcart –  the 3rd Earl, Alan Frederick Cathcart. I suspect he was not overly interested in the rights of women.

I did sell the pamphlet almost as soon as I found it but, before parting with it, had the sense to take a photocopy. That sounds nothing extraordinary, but back in those days photocopiers were not the casual desk accessory that they are today and in order to process the petition’s 38 pages I had to visit the machine in the local library. How glad I am that I bothered to do so. For having easy access to those 1499 names allowed me not only to build up the pattern of political and friendship networks supporting the suffrage campaign that lies at the heart of The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guidebut also provided a starting-point for researching The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey, in which the part each region, county and town played in the campaign is detailed.

Petition p 20-21

You can see, if your mind works along the same way as mine, what pleasure can be had in attempting to identify all these women. For instance, on this page – chosen at random:

Mrs Kenrick of 9 Dorset Square in 1873 was a member of the executive committee of the Ladies’ Association for the Education of Women for the Medical Association.

Gertrude King of 18 Carlton Hill East, was a member of the Kensington Society (a group of women who met and corresponded in order to discuss the position and prospects for women) and by 1874 was secretary of the Society for the Employment of Women.

Fanny and Jane King, 9 Eden Grove, Holloway, were the wife and daughter of John King, a pianoforte maker, who was one of the oldest acquaintances of William Lovett, the Chartist leader (one of King’s sons had ‘Lovett’ as a middle name). King was a long-standing member of Lovett’s National Association for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People. Artisan radicals such as the Kings were one of the groups contacted by the organisers of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.

Notice that appeared in the Alexandria Magazine, May 1st, 1864. NB Isa Craig as member of the committee

Notice that appeared in the Alexandria Magazine, May 1st, 1864. NB Isa Craig as member of the committee

Isa Craig Knox of 14 Clyde Terrace, New Cross  – a close friend of Bessie Rayer Parkes – was assistant secretary of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, a founder of the Kensington Society and a leading member of the Society for the Employment of Women. For more on Isa Craig see her entry in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Fanny Aiken Kortright of  21 Eldon Road, Kensington, was a writer of sensational novels.  She must quite soon have regretted signing this petition, for in 1869 she printed for private circulation a pamphlet AGAINST the Woman’s Right movement, entitled Pro Aris et Focis, which won the approval of Queen Victoria and the sympathy of the then Prime Minister. Eliza and Harriet were her older sisters. Another, married, sister also signed the petition.

Miss Kunz (Miss Mina Kunz) of 19 Royal Circus, Edinburgh was in 1868 on the executive committee of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Educational Association and by 1874 was a member of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Debating Society.

Philippine Kyllman, Fallowfield, Manchester, was the wife of Max Kyllman, a wealthy young Manchester businessman interested in Co-operative matters.  Kyllmann provided capital for a mill established in Manchester by George Holyoake and Edward Owen Greening on a profit-sharing basis – though it quickly failed. For more about Philippine Kyllman see her entry in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

As for Sarah Kersey of Aldeburgh you can find a little more about her in an earlier post I published about Aldeburgh and the petition.

And for many of the others on these two pages – as on all the others that comprise the petition – something can be discovered about the lives of most of the women who were sufficiently bold as to sign it.

As far as I know the only printed copy of the Petition held in a public collection is that which resides in the  Emily Davies Papers in the Girton Archive.

The Parliamentary Archives have now digitised the petion – using my ancient photocopy – see http://www.parliament.uk/documents/parliamentary-archives/1866SuffragePetitionNamesWebJune16.pdf > Many happy hours can now be sent searching to see who the women were who were prepared to put their name to this revolutionay document.

 

STOP PRESS: THE COPY THAT I SOLD HAS BEEN LENT TO THE ‘ENDLESS ENDEAVOURS’ EXHIBITION SHOWING  AT LSE – http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/exhibitions/home.aspx.

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Edith Downing’s Hunger Strike Medal

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands in the very many years that I have been dealing in suffrage-related books and ephemera.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Edith Downing's Hunger Strike Medal

Edith Downing’s Hunger Strike Medal

Edith Downing was a sculptor, living in Tite Street, Chelsea, who joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1908. Earlier, certainly as early as 1903 – if not before – she had been a member of the London society associated with the non-militant National Union of Suffrage Societies.

Edith Downing in her studio

Edith Downing in her studio

She put her artistic talent to the suffrage cause and in June 1910 she was one of the organisers of the WSPU/WFL’s spectacular ‘Prison to Citizenship’ Procession. As well as the hunger strike medal I also once, quite coincidentally, acquired  a small statuette that she had sold at a suffrage bazaar held to raise money for the WSPU.

Edith Downing was, however, equally prepared to take militant action and in March 1912 took part in the WSPU’s West-End window-smashing raid. As a result she was imprisoned and while in Holloway took part in the hunger-strike and was forcibly fed.

She was awarded the WSPU’s hunger strike medal on her release. For more details of Edith Downing’s involvement with the suffrage cause see her entry in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Scenes of both the window-smashing raid and of forcible feeding are shown very effectively in the film ‘Suffragette’. And I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that a hunger strike medal plays a small part in the lead character’s conversion to the cause.

The hunger strike medal awarded to Edith’s sister, Caroline Lowder Downing, is now held in the Houses of Parliament collection –  see here. For details about the Suffragette Season of talks and tours (which will, I’m sure, include a chance to see Caroline Downing’s medal) that Parliament has launched to coincide with the release of ‘Suffragette’ see here.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/ Palmisting For The Cause At A Café Chantant – December 1909

December was always a good month for fund-raising suffrage parties.

Cafe Chantant NUWSS Dec 1909 - Copy

For the suffrage movement was not all about militancy and processions. Money had to be raised to pay for the campaigning and for the management of the rapidly-developing organisations – and much of it was done in the time-honoured way of bazaars and balls. Here is a flyer for a Café Chantant organised by the London Society for Women’s Suffrage in December 1909.

The flyer comes from the collection of Kate Parry Frye, where it lay between the pages of her diary in which she describes the event itself.

She was living at home in North Kensington and had already had some experience as a reader of palms at earlier suffrage fund-raising events. On 6 December 1909 Kate wrote:

‘Agnes [her sister] and Katie [Finch-Smith – neé Gilbey -her cousin] arrived about 12.30. I had lent Katie a white dress as she had not got one and she had brought up the regulation white cap and apron and I also supplied the colours. I wore my best. We started off just before 2.30. One bus to the Grove [that is, Westbourne Grove] and another to Kensington and to the Town Hall for the Café Chantant got up for the Funds of the London Society and National Union.

It began at 3 o’clock. Katie left her things in the cloak room and we all went upstairs together. Agnes had to pay her 3/- to go in and for tea but Katie and I went in free. I found Mrs Rowan Hamilton who had charge of the Palmists and she hadn’t got me a table and I would not begin till she had one brought. I had told her two chairs and a table would be required. I had a little spot close by screens – my name up – ‘Katharine Parry’ – spelt wrong of course. I was just beside the tea tables so I could be near Katie till the fun began. We introduced her to lots of people. I hoped she enjoyed it but I think she got very tired.

 Miss Lockyer [she had been housekeeper to the murdered storekeeper, William Whiteley] with a friend came very early and I am afraid did not enjoy herself much. I just spoke to her but could not leave my corner and she thought 2/6 too much to consult me – it was a lot. There was another Palmist ‘Ravario’ and my crystal gazer – Clare Crystal. Agnes and Katie consulted her and found her rather poor. The Wrights were there, of course. Alexandra only a simple ‘Tea Girl’ but she selected Agnes to have tea with her – such an honour for Agnes. Miss Carl Hentschel was a Tea Girl and her Mother helping everywhere and lots of people I know.

At first I could not get any clients – no-one knew me. The first was a man about 3.30 – a funny sort of thing – then a lady, who was so delighted she went out to boom me and she did – for, for the rest of the day, I was besieged. I could have gone on all night. It was hard work but I enjoyed it. I had such nice interesting people – a few made me feel miserable, they were so unhappy – but some were charming – two insisted upon having my address. One said she would try and get me some engagements – a Miss May Oakley. I kept on till 20 minutes to 6 when Agnes dragged me out to have some tea – and John [Collins, her fiancé] came upstairs – he had been taking tickets from 2.30.

So I had some tea and he had a second tea. We had it from Miss Doake’s table as Katie was away. I had promised to go back at 6 o’clock and there was already a client sitting in the retreat. I kept on till 6.30 when the affair was over for the afternoon and we all four went home feeling very tired. John had to be back before 8 o’clock and we were not back till after 7 – so had to rush about and he had a meal as quickly as it could be got and go off.

Leaving Agnes behind, Katie and I left again at 8 o’clock and went by bus to Kensington. It was all in full swing again. The entertainment going on as before and more theatrical and Ju Jitsu displays and heaps of people. John was taking tickets again as happy as a cricket. I had said I would be back 9 till 10 – but I was pounced upon straight away. I had a horrid few moments when I missed my muff but John found it for me.

We worked till I was nearly done and told about 14 or 16 – and 17 to 20 in the afternoon. I had to refuse more as it was 10.30 and I was so tired – though the people came and begged me to go on. Gladys herself honoured me – and she told me that people were giving up their tickets for the other Palmists to come to me. John seemed playing about all the evening and Katie was serving coffee and cakes. There was an auction of cakes – and I bought a lovely Fullers cake. All the cakes had been given and were simply lovely ones. It was pouring with rain and we had to have a cab to the flat. Got in about 11.30.’

Interesting to see that Edith Garrud was happy to give jujitsu displays for the non-militant society.

For more about Kate Frye and the suffrage movement see here:

Kate Frye cover

 

 

For more about the entirety of Kate Frye’s life see here

cover e-book

Kate was very sympathetic towards the Women’s Social and Political Union and was, briefly, a member. She was particularly concerned about improving the life of her poorer sisters and without a doubt would have loved the film ‘Suffragette’.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The Morrison Collection

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item – or, in the case of today, items – that have passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s images: The Morrison Suffrage Collection.

Evelyn Morrison's WSPU regalia

The Morrisons’ WSPU regalia

Evelyn Mary Fanny Matilda Murray was born in New South Wales, Australia, c 1850. She was the daughter of Sir Terence Murray, (President of the NSW Legislative Council) by his first wife. She was, therefore, half-sister to Sir Gilbert Murray, later to become Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, who was a son of the father’s second marriage. [Gilbert Murray’s wife was a daughter of Lady Carlisle and for many years president of the Oxford Women’s Liberal Association.]

By the mid-1870s Evelyn Murray was married to a Robert Morrison. They had a daughter, also named Evelyn Morrison, born c 1881. At some point Robert Morrison died and it was as a widow that Mrs Morrison, with her daughter, Evelyn, arrived in Britain sometime between 1891 and 1901. Mrs Morrison ‘worked’ for the Liberal Party before becoming involved with the WSPU.

Her daughter, Evelyn, was a university graduate (possibly of Bedford College, but I am not sure. Certainly she was not a graduate of an Oxford or Cambridge college because she was able to style herself ‘BA.’)

The younger Evelyn was a WSPU speaker and in February 1910 was elected joint honorary secretary of the Kensington WSPU.

DSC00005

Miss Evelyn Morrison was a ‘Group Captain’ in charge of Section One of the WSPU’s spectacular procession to Hyde Park on 21 June 1908.

DSC00028

It would be for this that she made the ‘Group Captain’ sash.

DSC00004 I am pretty sure that the ‘Votes for Women’ sash also belonged to her.

Evelyn Morrison

Here is Miss Evelyn Morrison wearing just such a sash – in a procession alongside Mrs Pankhurst.

Morrison 1910 deputation

This is the ticket issued to Mrs Morrison for a 22 November 1910 WSPU meeting in Caxton Hall. However, as we can see from the hand alterations to the ticket, the date was brought forward.  The collection included two telegrams to Mrs Morrison, dated 15 Nov 1910, rescheduling the date of deputation to Parliament in which she was to take part.

The new date of Friday 18 November became notorious in suffragette history as ‘Black Friday’ when Parliament Square became the scene of a near riot and many women were assaulted by the police. Mrs Morrison was there, wearing the ‘Deputation’ silk insignia that appears in the first photograph. Incidentally, the film’ Suffragette’ includes a scene of frantic suffragette protest immediately outside Parliament

Mrs Morrison was arrested and the collection included the order issued by the Metropolitan Police, ordering her the appear the next day at Bow Street Police Court. The charge was one of ‘wilfully obstructing Police whilst in the due execution of their duty’. The charge against her, as against all the other women arrested on Black Friday was dropped and Mrs Morrison was discharged.

Another telegram was included in the collection, sent from Mrs Morrison to her daughter from Southampton Street close to Bow Street court, dated 19 November, to say that she and all the others arrested with her the previous day had been discharged. The Home Office had decided it was not politic to charge so many women – 220 had been arrested on ‘Black Friday’.

Morrison gun licence

On 4 July 1912, in the genteel setting of Church Street, Kensington, Mrs Morrison was issued with a gun licence. Why should she require to carry a pistol? At this time WSPU militancy was reaching fever pitch – with Mrs Pankhurst being regularly arrested and then released after hunger striking. It is interesting that this particular piece of paper has survived alongside the other, solely suffrage, material. The inference is that the issuing of the licence was not unconnected with Mrs Morrison’s involvement in the suffrage movement.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Letter from Evelyn Sharp to Miss Morrison, dated 21 March 1909 thanking her for organising a WSPU meeting (at which Christabel Pankhurst had been the main speaker)
  • Cyclostyled letter from Christabel Pankhurst – probably to Mrs Morrison – it dates from November 1910 and refers to meetings being held at the beginning of the week after the deputation in which she took part.
  • Gun Licence issued to Mrs Morrison on 4 July 1912. This was at a time when WSPU militancy was reaching fever pitch – with Mrs Pankhurst being regularly arrested and then released after hunger striking. It is interesting that this particular piece of paper has survived alongside the suffrage material. The inference is that the issuing of the licence was not unconnected with Mrs Morrison’s involvement in the suffrage movement.

 

Framed items

 

1) Together in one frame – three telegrams

 

Two telegrams to Mrs Morrison, dated 15 Nov 1910, rescheduling date of deputation to Parliament in which she was to take part. This was to become notorious as ‘Black Friday’ when there was a near riot in Parliament Square and many women were assaulted by the police.

The third telegram (the one in the centre) is from Mrs Morrison to her daughter, sent from Southampton St close to Bow Street court, dated 19 November, to say that she and all the others arrested with her the previous day had been discharged. (The Home Office had decided it was not politic to charge so many women – 220 had been arrested on ‘Black Friday’.

 

  • In the second frame

 

The order issued by the Metropolitan Police when Mrs Morrison was arrested in the course of ‘Black Friday’, ordering her the appear the next day at Bow Street Police Court. The charge was one of ‘wilfully obstructing Police whilst in the due execution of their duty’. As we have seen the charge was dropped and Mrs Morrison was discharged. NB Inspector Crocker, who signed the charge sheet, was involved for many years in pursuing suffragettes.

, ,

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’:’Justice Demands The Vote’ Poster

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Justicee Demands the Vote 1

This image (courtesy of Schlesinger Library) is of an English poster. I was fortunate enough to buy one of the originals of this poster at auction some years ago. This was before the days of digital cameras, which is why I, alas, don’t have my own record of it.

The poster was issued by the Brighton and Hove Women’s Franchise Society c 1908. This society had been founded – or re-founded, because there had been an earlier suffrage society in the town in the late 19th century – in 1906.  The Brighton and Hove Women’s Franchise Soceity was a local committee of the non-militant London Society for Women’s Suffrage – that is, a member of Mrs Fawcett’s National Society for Women’s Suffrage.

The artist of the poster is not recorded – but there were no shortage of women artists living in and around Brighton. It was printed by Weiners Ltd of Acton, who also printed posters for the Artists’ Suffrage League.

The message that the poster conveys – that middle-class women were campaigning alongside and on behalf of their poorer sisters – is a theme developed in the film, ‘Suffragette’.

For more about suffrage in Brighton see my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey (Routledge, 2006)

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Annie’s Bracelet

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Christabel bracelet

A 9 ct gold bracelet, very pretty, the outer engraved on one side with decorative scrolls. But it is what is engraved inside that is the secret of the bracelet’s significance..

On one arc of the circle:

‘To dearest Annie with all my love & in recollection of our great day out’

Christabel bracelet 1

and, on the other,

Christabel bracelet 2

‘Christabel Pankhurst, Hyde Park June 21st 1908’.

Annie Kenney was Christabel’s most faithful follower, her love and admiration for Christabel – and Christabel’s acceptance and acknowledgment of this loyalty – made clear in letters and in Annie’s autobiography. But this bangle is, as far as I know, the only object that testifies to the peculiar bond between the two young women.
Annie, who had worked in a mill from the age of 10, had first come under Christabel’s spell in the spring of 1905 and a few months later, in October, spent a week in prison with her after they had heckled a Liberal meeting in Manchester. This imprisonment marks the beginning of the WSPU’s militant campaign.

Annie’s life was changed for ever. As she wrote, ‘My pleasure came from seeing Christabel’s face light up with a light that later in life I discovered meant victory. Her confidence in me gave me confidence in myself.’ And when they were together in prison – ‘I remember going to Church and sitting next to Christabel who looked very coy and pretty in her prison cap. She took my hand tenderly and just held it, as though I were a lost child.’

Nevertheless that ‘lost child’, backed by Christabel’s confidence, became one of the WSPU’s leading organisers. Indeed, after Christabel left for Paris, Annie acted as her deputy, putting into effect the absent leader’s commands.

But before that, for the ‘great day out’, ‘Women’s Sunday’, the first great WSPU rally, held in Hyde Park on 21 June 1908, Annie bought a hat from Liberty’s (£1/2/6) and led the procession that started at Paddington – being at the time WSPU organiser in the West of England. Once in the Park she was the principal speaker on Platform 3.

Christabel’s gift of the bracelet recognises the significance of the ‘great day out’, marking the WSPU’s entry into a world of polished performance and Annie as one of its stars.

As Annie wrote many years later in her memoir, ‘There is a cord between Christabel and me that nothing can break – the cord of love. Distance or absence makes no difference.’ Here is a tangible – and unique -emblem of that affection.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Mrs Albert Broom And The WFL

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Coronation Procession - WFL

A ‘close-up’ photograph by Mrs Albert Broom of women from the Women’s Freedom League section of the suffragette ‘Coronation Procession’ held on 17 June 1911. The image is very crisp and clear. Many of the women are wearing academic robes – one is carrying a satchel from which to sell WFL badges and postcards of the WFL leader, Mrs Despard. I think that the figures in the lead (to the left of the picture) are carrying a banner, doubtless that of the WFL, and other smaller banners are also there in the picture.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

For details of the exhibition ‘Soldiers and Suffragettes’ featuring the photography of Mrs Albert Broom see here.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

2 Comments

Suffrage Stories/Walks: Anne Cobden Sanderson And 15 Upper Mall, Hammersmith

One day last week, while thunder raged outside, I spent some time researching an archive at the William Morris Society premises in Upper Mall, Hammersmith. Just before I left I remembered that close by was the home of Thomas and Anne Cobden Sanderson – the former a renowned Arts and Crafts bookbinder and the latter a campaigner for women’s suffrage, constitutional in the 19th and militant in the 20th century.

Dove PressThe rain had stopped by the time I emerged from the William Morris basement, but the sky was lowering and the Thames was high and rushing fast the other side of the embankment wall as I walked towards the alley onto which the Cobden Sandersons’ house fronts. Passing the Dove – the pub which gave its name to the Doves Bindery and later the Doves Press – I came to 15 Upper Mall and the gate through which so many radical worthies have passed.

Dove Press 2

 

Anne Cobden Sanderson was born in 1853 into a leading Liberal family – her father was Richard Cobden, founder of the Anti-Corn Law League – but by the end of the 19th century she had joined the Independent Labour party.

She supported the women’s suffrage cause from an early age but, in 1906, after Annie Kenney and the Women’s Social and Political Union had arrived in London, she joined the militants. She received her first term of imprisonment – two months – in October 1906 after organising a protest meeting in the Lobby of the House of Commons. At her trial she declaimed that ‘I am a law breaker because I want to be a law maker’.

However in 1907, perhaps dismayed by Pankhurst autocracy, Anne joined Charlotte Despard in the breakaway Women’s Freedom League. In January 1909 she and her husband did, however, present Emmeline Pankhurst  with an address written on white vellum in purple and green ink and bound by the Doves Bindery to celebrate her release from prison.

Anne Cobden Sanderson proved to be one of the WFL’s most tireless campaigners, speaking at outdoor meetings and continuing to take part in militant protests.

Mrs Cobden Sanderson and Mrs Despard

She was arrested in August 1909 while picketing the door of No 10 Downing Street in order to present a petition to Asquith. During the ‘Black Friday’ demonstration in Parliament Square in November 1910 Winston Churchill, who knew Anne Cobden Sanderson well, encountering her during the fracas called a policeman and ordered, ‘Drive that woman away’!’. The structure of society must indeed have seemed perilously close to crumbling when such an action was deemed necessary against a friend of one’s family and erstwhile hostess.

Anne Cobden Sanderson continued to campaign for women’s causes for the rest of her life – and in the 1918 General Election supported Charlotte Despard when she stood as the Labour candidate for North Battersea. In 1926 she was present, a few days before she died, at a dinner given to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of Frederick and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Helen Watts And The Mystery Of The Unclaimed Trunk

In May I attended a very interesting seminar – ‘”I am a part of all who I have met”: Why Social Networks Mattered for Suffragette Militancy‘ – given at the Institute of Historical Research by Dr Gemma Edwards of Manchester University. In the course of this Gemma demonstrated how social network theory could be used to re-construct the networks that formed around individual suffragettes and how these networks could then be analysed to demonstrate the subject’s primary relationships and the influences likely to have been exerted on and by them. For an illuminating article by Gemma on the subject see here.

For her paper at the IHR Gemma concentrated on two known suffragettes – Mary Blathwayt and Helen Watts – and related that she had a particular connection with the latter because it was thanks to her own father that papers relating to Helen Watts’ suffragette activities are now held in Nottinghamshire Archives. I little realised when I sat there reading through the Watts’ papers in the late 1990s that they had such a romantic past (or at least romantic to an historical detective).

For, Gemma explained, in the 1980s her father, a Bristol history teacher, had set project work for his class and that one pupil had chosen as her subject the local women’s suffrage movement. She had then been sufficiently enterprising as to place an advertisement in a local paper asking for any new information. Rather amazingly a reply was received from a worker at Avonmouth Docks to say that a quantity of suffrage-related papers were held in a trunk that lay, apparently unclaimed, in a warehouse. The papers related to the suffrage activity of Nottingham-based Helen Kirkpatrick Watts. Gemma’s father was permitted to borrow and photocopy them, subsequently depositing the copies in the Nottinghamshire Archives.

Helen Watts photographed by Col Blathwayt (photo courtesy of Bath In Time website)

Helen Watts photographed by Col Blathwayt (photo courtesy of Bath In Time website)

Knowing nothing of this rather bizarre provenance I duly wrote an entry on Helen Watts for The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide, recounting her suffragette life. I discovered, from an issue of Calling All Women, the newsletter published by the Suffragette Fellowship, that Helen had emigrated to Canada – to Vancouver – in 1965, the wording suggesting that this was a permanent move. I did like to anchor my subjects’ earthly existence with firm birth and death dates but in those pre-internet days I assumed that was as far as I could follow her – having no way then of discovering dates of death in Canada.

However, after Gemma’s seminar I pondered on the mystery of how the trunk could have lain apparently abandoned at Avonmouth. Even though she had flown to Canada and organised for her belonging to have followed her by sea Helen Watts would surely have been on tenterhooks to ensure their safe arrival. Thus it seemed doubtful that the trunk could have failed to leave Avonmouth in 1965.

In the days of my Reference Guide research all tracking of births, marriages and deaths had to be done by working through the hefty volumes held in the Family Record Office and its predecessors. Now, however, I can sit at my computer and at a click find dates in a second. So it was that, after Gemma’s talk, I entered details for Helen Watts and discovered that she had not died in Canada but in England – in Chilcompton, Somerset, aged 91 – on 18 August 1972 . Her permanent address at the time was 36 York Avenue, Hove. Her ’emigration’ had clearly not been permanent. However, one of her sisters, Ethelinda, a teacher, does seem to have taken up permanent residence in Canada, and in 1965 it was presumably Helen’s intention to live with her. Ethelinda Watts died in Vancouver three months after Helen – in November 1972.

Helen Watts' suffragette memorabilia (courtesy of Christie's website)

Helen Watts’ suffragette memorabilia (courtesy of Christie’s website)

My suggestion is, therefore, that the trunk had actually completed its return journey from Canada when it lay forgotten at Avonmouth. Possibly by then Helen Watts was too infirm to keep track of her possessions – however treasured. It is not known what has happened to the trunk and the originals of the papers – perhaps Helen Watts’ wider family (Nevile Watts has numerous descendants) were eventually made aware of them. What must have been her most valuable suffragette mementoes – her hunger-strike medal and Holloway brooch – did resurface – for they were sold at auction in London in 1999. However it is more than likely that Helen Watts carried such an iconic item with her on her journey home rather than consigning it to the trunk.

A little more investigation revealed something more of Helen Watts’ life after her brief and dramatic involvement with the Women’s Social and Political Union than was available when I wrote her Reference Guide biography. By 1911 she had left Nottingham and was living with her brother, Nevile, in Chilcompton in Somerset. He had rebelled in his own way against his family’s Anglican tradition (Helen and Nevile’s father was vicar of Lenton, on the outskirts of Nottingham), was now a classics teacher at Downside College, a renowned Roman Catholic school, and later converted to Roman Catholicism.  You can read a short autobiographical article by Nevile Watts here.

Nevile Watts married, fathered five sons, published several books and continued to live in Chilcompton. Helen probably remained in the area for some years – possibly joined by her other sister, Alice. Certainly in the 1950s the ‘Misses Watts’ are listed in the phone book as living at Crosslands, Wells Road, Chilcompton.

The moral of this tale is that papers related to the suffrage movement can turn up in the most unexpected places. If you come across any do let me know…

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Two New Exhibitions

Last week I visited two small exhibitions – both centring on the theme of ‘Campaigning’.

The first was a temporary exhibition (alas, it ends tomorrow, Friday 22 May, so hurry to catch it) – Blackguards in Bonnets – at the impressive Jewish Museum in Camden Town. This tells the story of the involvement of Jewish women and men in the struggle for emancipation. It centres particularly on the 20th-century campaign for women’s suffrage in which many members of the Jewish community took leading roles.

Israel Zangwill with

Israel Zangwill at the WSPU’s June 1908 demonstration with, on the far left, Emmeline Pethick Lawrence and on his right Christabel Pankhurst

The writer, Israel Zangwill, a noted speaker on behalf of the movement, is represented by this image. In March 1912 Kate Frye attended a meeting addressed by him and wrote of it in her diary:

‘”I turned to Mrs Mansel, just before he finished, saying ‘Doesn’t he make one think of – and isn’t he like – Spring’” That word concluded his speech, and it was like the Spring in its freshness and gaiety, life and hope, and so deliciously witty. I have never heard a large audience laugh so quickly and as gladly as this audience, the response was almost before the spoken word, in fact there was not a dull flash of the eye all the evening.’

Also on display are a number of items that related to the involvement in the WSPU and Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage campaigns of the wealthy Lowy family. Henrietta Lowy and four of her daughters had joined the WSPU in 1908.

76 Holland Park - once the Lowys' home - and one from which they were all absent on Census Night, 1911

76 Holland Park – once the Lowys’ home – and one from which they were all absent on Census Night, 1911, following the WSPU boycott call

Here, too, you can see Gertrude Lowy’s hunger-strike medal. She was imprisoned after taking part in the March 1912 window-smashing raid.

Lowy hunger strikeBut it wasn’t only wealthy members of the established Jewish community whom suffrage campaigners were keen to convert to their cause. In the autumn of 1913 the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage took their message down to the sweatshops of Whitechapel.

Yiddish - query - leafletThis leaflet, printed in Yiddish, was saved by Kate Frye from the quantity she delivered and is on display, together with her diary open at the entry for 27 September 1913, in which she describes a tea party the NCS gave for the local woman and girls, writing:

‘I chatted and handed round. The girls were so nice – nearly all Jewesses. The pitiful tales they tell of the sweated work is awful – and they are so intelligent – and quite well dressed. The Jews are an example to the gentile in that way.’

Later in the week I went to the LSE Library to view their new exhibition space – and the first exhibition to be shown in it.

The theme is ‘Campaigning’ – covering the suffrage movement (a slight nod to male enfranchisement with the greater emphasis placed on the women’s campaign), Liberations – Gay and Female – and campaigns for Peace. One wall of the exhibition space allows for the display of images, moving on a loop – with space in front devoted to a static display of CND badges, a couple of 19th-century documents, an Artists’ Suffrage League poster and a ‘Votes for Women’ scarf. These advertise, as it were, the themes of the three types of campaign.

This poster - focussing on the plight of the unenfranchised woman graduate - should appeal to at least 50% of LSE students. For my post on the artist see here

This poster – focussing on the plight of the unenfranchised woman graduate – should appeal to at least 50% of LSE students. For my post on the artist see here

In the centre of the space is a single display case in which neatly chosen documents highlight the different ways in which the campaigns were organised – and, most importantly in my eyes, stresses the rifts and divisions that are a sine qua non, it would appear, of all pressure groups.

Although small, the exhibition makes its points very well. They stick in the mind. It’s presumably intended to catch the eye of LSE students as they pass in and out of the Library entrance and is not intended to deliver in-depth information. Small and simple is no bad thing.

But, oh dear, I did wish that some acknowledgement of Millicent Fawcett and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies had been included in the display. ‘Suffrage’ yet again was only represented by Mrs Pankhurst and the WSPU, whereas the Women’s Library@LSE contains a wealth of material inherited from the NUWSS. As I viewed ‘Campaigning’ it occurred to me that it would be rather a good idea if a future exhibition could, in the same simple manner, by making reference to the NUWSS and the Women’s Freedom League (and, perhaps, some of the smaller societies), demonstrate that the women’s suffrage campaign was more complicated and multifaceted than it is popularly presented.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The 1866 Petition: The Aldeburgh Connection

In a previous post I recorded something of how the 1866 women’s suffrage petition came into being. Comprising 1499 names, it was presented to John Stuart Mill, MP for Westminster, by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett.

Names on the printed form of the petition are listed in alphabetical order, usually accompanied by some form of geographical address. Reading through it one notes that, while some towns have mustered only one or two signatures, others have attracted many more.

That a clutch of signatories to the petition lived in Aldeburgh, a small coastal town (1991 inhabitants in 1871) in Suffolk, had everything to do with the fact that Elizabeth Garrett LSA was one of the principal organizers of the petition. Aldeburgh was home to her family, her father, Newson Garrett, a driving force in its development. 

Elizabeth Garrett c 1866 (courtesy of Wellcome Images)

Elizabeth Garrett c 1866 (courtesy of Wellcome Images)

Just a few months earlier Elizabeth Garrett had qualified as a doctor, the first woman to do so in Britain, and signed from her London home, 20 Upper Berkeley Street, the premises of her nascent practice and the headquarters of the petition committee. She ensured that the women of Aldeburgh, her home town, were canvassed.  It is likely that it was her younger sisters, Agnes and Millicent, both too young to sign, who took petition forms round to their neighbours.

Aldeburgh Town StepsI have extracted the Aldeburgh names from the petition and below give such details as can now be gleaned of these women, none of whom, as far as I can tell, ever again took part in any political protest.

BEGBIE, MRS HAMILTON

Anna Eliza Begbie (courtesy of Ancestry.co.uk website)

Anna Eliza Begbie (courtesy of Ancestry.co.uk website)

She was Anna Eliza Begbie, née Swiney (1839-1915). She married Mars Hamilton Begbie in Cheltenham in 1858; despite his warlike name he had been ordained. By 1866 they were living in Aldeburgh where, according to the Cambridge Alumni List he was headmaster from 1865 to 1869 of ‘Aldborough School’ – a grammar school. They lived at Crespigny House, a late-18th-century mansion.

Although Anna Eliza Begbie doesn’t appear to have taken any further part in the suffrage campaign, it was surely a subject of discussion among her extended family after her brother, John, married in 1871. His wife, [Rosa] Frances Swiney, who lived in Cheltenham, was an influential campaigner for suffrage – and for Theosophy – in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

CRESY, MRS THEODORE GRANT [or Cressy]

She was born Hannah Jane Spencer (1837 -1896) in Wrotham, Kent. She married Theodore Grant Cresy, a surgeon, in 1859 and by the time she signed the petition was the mother of 4 sons; another was born four months later. The family lived in Aldeburgh from 1860 – 1868. During their time in Aldeburgh (1860-1868) the family lived at The Uplands, the house that had been the Garretts’ first home after they returned from London when Elizabeth was a young girl.

Uplands House, which carries two blue plaques - one for Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the other for Millicent Fawcett. One plaque can just be glimpsed in the photo

Uplands House, which carries two blue plaques – one for Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the other for Millicent Fawcett. One plaque can just be glimpsed in the photo

Hannah Cresy’s mother-in-law, Eliza Cresy [or Cressy], who lived at Riverhead in Kent, and her sister-in-law, Mary Cresy, who lived in Norwood, also signed the petition, suggesting that the organizers had asked for names of family members likely to be sympathetic to the petition.

CULVER, MRS HENRY

Probably a misreading of ‘Mrs Henry Calver’. She was Mary Anne (1819-?). who lived with her husband, a plumber, painter and glazier master, in the High Street.

DANCE, MARGARET

Something of a mystery – I can’t find any trace of a Margaret Dance, whether in Aldeburgh or elsewhere. However the signature may have been that of Mary E Dance, daughter of James Dance, Aldeburgh’s parish clerk. It is entirely possible that her signature was mis-transcribed as ‘Margaret’ and she would have been just old enough to sign.

DOWLER, MRS H.T.

There is, however, no doubt about this signatory. She was Frances Harriett Emma Dowler (1812-1899), wife of Henry Turner Dowler, who for 35 years was Aldeburgh’s vicar.  The couple had married in 1838. In her autobiography Millicent Fawcett describes how Newson Garrett  frequently engaged in very public quarrels with Dowler who besides being vicar was also the town bailiff and a capital burgess. On these occasions Garrett would insist that his family attended church services at the dissenting chapel rather than at Dowler’s church. Relations with Mrs Dowler were unaffected by these rows.

In May 1867 the Rev Dowler performed the wedding service at marriage of Millicent Garrett and Henry Fawcett.

GARRARD, MRS WILLIAM

She was Mary Anne (née Knights) (1819-1870), wife of William Garrard, brewer, maltster and secretary to the Aldeburgh gas company – one of Newson Garrett’s pet projects. In the 1840s William Garrard had been known as ‘the Ipswich Chartist’ and was one of the founders of the Ipswich Working Men’s Association. In the 1860s the couple lived on Church Hill in Aldeburgh.

GARRETT, MRS NEWSON

Louisa and Newson Garrett in old age

Louisa and Newson Garrett in old age

She was Louisa Garrett (nee Dunnell) ( 1814-1903), wife to Newson Garrett and mother to Louisa (later Smith), Elizabeth (later Garrett Anderson), Newson, Edmund, Alice (later Cowell), Agnes, Millicent (later Fawcett), Samuel, Josephine (later Salmon), and George (another son died in infancy). Although Louisa Garrett was of a far more conservative temperament than her husband she was always supportive of her daughters’ enterprises. She had initially opposed Elizabeth’s desire to become a doctor but, having come round to the idea, was the weekly recipient of letters telling of, at first, the difficulties encountered and later of the success in the medical world achieved as her daughter developed her practice and set up her hospital. Louisa would have signed the petition in the family home, Alde House.

 GARRETT, MRS E.  Snape Bridge

She was Gertrude Mary Littlewood (c1840-1924) who had married Elizabeth Garrett’s brother, Edmund, in 1862. Unlike his brother, Samuel, Edmund Garrett was not supportive of women’s advancement. In fact he opposed the suggestion that his sister Alice might work in the family business’s counting house. Edmund Garrett and his wife were then living in a house built by Newson Garret next to his maltings at Snape. At the moment (May 2015) it’s for sale – see here for details.

 GARRETT, MRS N.D. Calcutta

She was Kate Bruff, who in 1860 had married Elizabeth’s brother, Newson. He was the black sheep of the Garrett family – at this time he was serving with the army in India – a man whose enterprises (unlike those of his sisters) always went awry.  Kate’s father, Peter Bruff, was a civil engineer who was involved in several of Newson Garrett (senior)’s plans for improving Aldeburgh. Newson (junior’s) sisters were always rather sorry for Kate.

Despite being so close to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Fawcett, none of this  clutch of Aldeburgh-based Garrett women took any further part in the suffrage campaign.

GREEN, HARRIET

She was probably Harriet Green (b 1824) a widow living at Beach Cottage.  She is listed in the 1869 Aldeburgh trade directory as being a lodging house keeper.

HAWKESWORTH, MRS WALTER

She was Florence, the daughter of the Rev Dowler, who in 1865 had married John Walter Hawkesworth.

HELE, MRS FENWICK

She was Harriet Shute (1838-1907) who had married Nicholas Fenwick Hele in 1859. She gave birth to her third daughter, Ida, a couple of months after signing the petition. Her husband was a surgeon and the author of Notes and Jottings About Aldeburgh,  In 1866 the family lived in Aldeburgh’s High Street. Harriet continued to live in the town after her husband’s death in 1892 – but died in 1907 at St Johns, Newfoundland.

HUNT, MRS

She could have been either Harriet Hunt (1806- 1884), wife of William Hunt, or Cecilia Hunt (1824- 1868), wife of Edward Hunt. Both men were boat builders. Perhaps the younger woman is the more likely candidate.

JAMES, MRS RHODES

She was Caroline James, a widow by the time she signed the petition. She lived with several servants in a large late-18th-century house in Victoria Road – Wyndham House. She was the grandmother of M.R. James, the author of many Suffolk-based ghost stories.

KERSEY, SARAH, ELIZABETH AND MARIA

Sarah Kersey (1811-1886) in 1865 had a lodging house in the High Street. Maria and Elizabeth were her younger sisters. All three were unmarried.

MANNALL, SARAH

Sarah Mannall (1797-1869) was the wife of John Mannall. He had run the Crown and Castle Hotel in Orford for many years before eventually handing it over to his daughter and son-in-law

MARTIN, MRS

Crag Path, Aldeburgh. Brudenell Terrace, the row of tall houses on left, were built by Newson Garrett . Their red-brick gloom has now been transformed by pastel paints

Crag Path, Aldeburgh. Brudenell Terrace, the row of tall houses on left, were built by Newson Garrett . Their red-brick gloom has now been transformed by pastel paints

She was probably Mrs Mary Anne Martin, who in 1865 ran a ladies’ school in a house in Brudenell Terrace.

THELLUSSON, MRS

She was Henrietta Vernon-Wentworth who in 1859 had married Arthur Bethell Thellusson. She died in 1873 – on the same day as one of her young daughters. She had seven children and by the time she signed the petition she had already lost two infant daughters and was to lose another three months before her own death. The family lived at Thellusson Lodge. I seem to remember that Millicent Fawcett described the Thellussons as the ‘aristocracy of Aldeburgh’; for the local canvassers for the petition it must have been something of a coup to have Henrietta Thellusson’s signature on the petition.

WOODWARD, SUSANNAH

Alas, I can find no clue at all  as to who this final Aldeburgh signatory to the petition could have been.

After having made this initial bid for emancipation it doesn’t appear that the women of Aldeburgh could be tempted to join the suffrage campaign that followed. During the remainder of the 19th century there is no record of a suffrage meeting being held in the town – described by one contemporary Suffolk author as lying in this ‘quiet, grave, sleepy, Conservative region’. 

You can read much more about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Fawcett in Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circlepublished by Francis Boutle.

Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey, published by Routledge, surveys the entire suffrage campaign in Suffolk – and in the rest of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The 1866 Petition: J.S. Mill And The South Hackney Connection

In a previous post that I wrote about the 1866 women’s suffrage petition I recorded something of how the petition came into being and investigated the connections that had led an erstwhile near neighbour of mine, Fanny Maughan of Goswell Road, to be a signatory. I deduced that Fanny – or I suppose more especially her husband – were members of a working-class circle supportive of John Stuart Mill who, as MP for Westminster, was to present the petition in Parliament.

Over the years I have researched many of the names on the petition – and thought I’d bring to your attention three other women who caught my eye simply because they lived in another place I know well – south Hackney.

For instance, why was Mrs John Plummer of 4 Homer Terrace, Hackney Wick a signatory to the petition? And who was she?

Mary Ann Jenkinson had been born in Kettering c 1839 and as a young woman earned her living as a milliner. In 1860 she married John Plummer, who worked in a staymaking factory in the town. He had been born in London, an illness in infancy rendering him deaf and lame. His family had been too poor to provide him with any education; he had educated himself. After moving with his family to Kettering he made a name locally as a labourr campaigner and versifier and in 1859 published his first book, Freedom of Labour.

By 1866 the Plummers had moved to London, to Homer Terrace in south Hackney, at the east end of Victoria Park, close to Hackney Wick. In the 1871 census John Plummer described himself as a ‘newspaper editor’; he worked on a wide range of magazines, almanacs, and trade journals and founded the London Figaro.

Political economy was John Plummer’s principal interest and for some years he had been in touch with John Stuart Mill, who in 1862 described him as one of the ‘most inspiring examples of mental cultivation and high principle in a self-instructed working man.’

Therefore it is not at all surprising that in June 1866 Mary Ann Plummer was approached by Mill’s step-daughter, Helen Taylor, and asked to add her signature to the petition – as well as any she could obtain from her friends. (See LSE Archive Mill/Taylor Papers/13 ff 242 for a letter from Mary Ann Plummer to Helen Taylor, 5 June 1866).

At this time – as well as involvement with the suffrage – John Plummer was leading a campaign, supported by Mill, to preserve and extend Victoria Park – in particular to prevent the erection of a large gas works at the Hackney Wick end.

Working alongside Plummer on the Victoria Park Preservation Committee was George Dornbusch, of 11 Grove Villas, South Hackney, whose wife and daughter also signed the suffrage petition.

George Dornbusch (photo courtesy of Ancestry website)

George Dornbusch (photo courtesy of Ancestry website)

George Dornbusch was a native of Trieste and had been described by George Holyoake as ‘a fugitive German communist’. He had arrived in England from Hamburg in 1845 and became a leading figure in the early vegetarian movement in London, naming his house in Malvern Road, Dalston – ‘Vegetarian Cottage’. He lived there with his first wife, Amalie, who was also involved with the vegetarian movement (see Gregory Of  Victorians and Vegetarians: The Victorian Movement in Victorian Britain).  Dornbusch, who was described by Richard Cobden as ‘a most unsafe and excitable person’ was also an activist in the anti-vaccination and the peace movements.

In 1863 Dornbusch was a member of the general committee of the Emancipation Society – along with John Stuart Mill, P.A. Taylor, Dr Richard Pankhurst and many others who were shortly to support the emancipation of women – as well as of slaves.

By 1866 Dornbusch had moved from Dalston to Grove Villas, Hackney Wick and by 1870 he was a vestryman in Homerton Ward.

The Mrs George Dornbusch who signed the 1866 petition was not Amalie but Emma, 20 years Dornbusch’s junior, who in 1861 had been his housekeeper. I presume that Amalie had died although I haven’t found a record of her death – nor can I find any trace of his marriage to Emma. Ada, who also signed the petition, was Dornbusch’s  daughter by Amalie.

Although there is no evidence that Emma or Ada Dornbusch continued to be active in the suffrage movement after 1866, George Dornbusch did give his support – as a member of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1867 and 1868 and of the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1871/72 shortly before his death in 1873.He is buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

In 1880 Emma Dornbusch remarried. Her new husband, George Tompsitt, was an Australian shipper ten years her junior and in 1881 they sailed to Australia, together with their young son, George, and Ernest and Conrad Dornbusch, the sons from Emma’s first marriage. Emma kept a delightful diary of the voyage which was published as a pamphlet in Melbourne on their arrival. She died in 1890, in Queanbeyan, New South Wales.

Ada Dornbusch married in 1878 and continued to live in south Hackney with her husband, William Beurle, a dealer in precious stones. She had three children and died in 1909.

There are two other women from Grove Villas whose names are on the petiton – Mrs C.A. Dawson and Mrs A. Young, who both give number 4 as their address. The latter was probably Mary, the wife of Alexander Young, a retired baker and confectioner, who the 1871 census shows living at number 7.

Mary Ann Plummer had taken Helen Taylor’s request seriously and had approached likely signatories amongst her friends in her immediate south Hackney neighbourhood. There were other Hackney women who also signed the petition – but the little group of working-class women, living at the east end of Victoria Park, are linked by their close association with John Stuart Mill.

In 1879 John and Mary Ann Plummer and their family emigrated to Australia, where he enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, continuing to support labour reform. He died in 1914, survived by Mary Ann.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

, , , ,

5 Comments

Suffrage Stories: Christabel, The Ballot Box And That Hat

Christabel ballot 1909

Pretend you are taking a GCSE paper. One of questions states that this picture shows Christabel Pankhurst casting her first parliamentary vote. You have to decide whether this statement is true or false.

What clues might you find to point you in the right direction?

Actually there is one so glaring that I am amazed that it can be overlooked. Have a look at her attire.

Q.When were women of Christabel’s age able to vote for the first time?

A. December 1918.

Q. Does that dress and hat look like an outfit suitable for going to the ballot in December of any year?

A. Hardly.

Q. Are the hat and dress of a style worn in 1918?

A. Most definitely not.

Q. So – if not 1918 when might that flowing gown and flower-bedecked bonnet have been in the mainstream of fashion?

A. Spring 1909.

Yes, that is the correct answer.

In fact the photograph shows Christabel casting a vote in a ballot box that was one of the main features of the WSPU Fair at the Prince’s Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, that ran between 13-26 May 1909. As Votes for Women, 23 April 1909, stated ‘A unique feature of the Exhibition.. will be the polling booth which will occupy one of the corners of the great hall. At this booth women as well as men will cast their votes upon many of the most interesting questions of the day.’ And that is what we see Christabel doing.

And as for that hat? It does strike one as a little incongruous. She isn’t usually seen in anything so maidenly frivolous. And so it is interesting to know that the hat was a gift to her from Frederick Pethick-Lawrence. Moreover when, in the late 1950s, after Christabel’s death, he came to prepare her autobiographical manuscript for publication (Unshackled:the story of how we won the vote)  it was a photograph of her wearing his hat that he used for the frontispiece.

I have been amazed how this photograph, described as Christabel casting her first parliamentary vote, has been tweeted and retweeted. It was even used in Amanda Vickery’s ‘Suffragettes Forever’ BBC 2 programme to accompany the voice over telling us that women first voted in December 1918. How this thoughtless use of an incorrect image (by no means the only one) jarred.

Click here to see what Christabel looked like as she campaigned in Smethwick in late 1918 – for she was, of course, both a candidate and a voter. She is centre left in the photo – and you’ll be relieved to see that she is sensibly dressed – complete with muff – to combat the winter chill.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

, ,

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories: ‘Home Art Decorator’ To The Queen – And The ‘Human Letter’

For some time I have been meaning to investigate Charlotte Robinson, ‘Home Art Decorator’ to Queen Victoria, mention of whom I came across years ago while researching the interior design career of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. Now that I have done so, I’ve discovered, as an added bonus, her family link with one of the WSPU’s more imaginative publicity stunts.

 

Charlotte RobinsonCharlotte Robinson was born c 1859 in Settle in Yorkshire, one of the younger children in the large family of a Yorkshire solicitor. He died in 1870, leaving an estate of c £20,000. A later biographical piece about Charlotte noted that she (as presumably were all the children) was left a share of his property and it was this that gave her the freedom to develop a career.

By 1871 Charlotte had been sent as a boarder to a small school in Bolton but was later moved to the rather more prestigious Queen’s College in London. Education complete she returned home for a time  – the 1881 census finds her living with her brother, William, a solicitor, in Keighley. She then spent some time travelling abroad.

Emily Faithfull Emily Faithfull

For some of that time, certainly in 1883, Charlotte was travelling in America with Emily Faithfull  –  described on the manifest of the ship on which they travelled to New York as ‘Secretary’. You can read a very interesting article about Emily Faithfull here. It would seem, from remarks recorded by Emily that she had met Charlotte when the latter was still a pupil at Queen’s College.

Emily Faithfull was, of course, a fierce advocate of work for middle-class women so it’s unsurprising that, when interviewed in the 1890s for Manchester Faces and Places,  Charlotte described how on her return from her travels ‘she resolved to invest her money in a business which she could control herself instead of returning to the usual round of gaieties, varied by intermittent charitable enterprises.’ The journalist then elaborated –  ‘Having always been interested in decorative art, friends who knew her marvellous deftness of touch and infallible sense of colour, strongly advised her to turn these special gifts to account.’

In an interview that appeared in the Women’s Penny Paper, 9 February 1889, Charlotte went into more detail. ‘The idea of house decoration as a profession came to me while travelling through America. I was much struck with the interiors of some of the magnificent houses to which I was invited in some of the principal cities between New York and San Francisco, and on my return to England began to supplement previous artistic study. My first professional business was in furnishing houses, now I decorate them through, as well as working in conjunction with my sister, Mrs McClelland, who presides over the studio from which come the beautiful friezes you have just been admiring.’ So that is how Charlotte Robinson came to become a ‘house decorator.

She was setting up in the house decoration business ten years after the trail had been blazed for women by Agnes and Rhoda Garrett and, like them, she stressed the necessity of undergoing a training. However, although we know that the Garretts were pupils of the architect John Brydon, I’ve been unable to discover where or with whom Charlotte Robinson trained. All that is revealed in the Manchester Faces  interview is that she ‘went through the necessary course of study and thoroughly qualified herself for the work.’ As Emily Faithfull put it in a later article Charlotte studied ‘house decoration from hearth tiles to frieze painting’.

According to Emily Faithfull, Charlotte Robinson  first went into business in London. This must, I think, have been immediately on their return from America – and was probably by way of dipping a toe in the water. But very soon – probably in late 1884/early 1885 – the two women moved to Manchester and, as Emily wrote, ‘regardless of that bugbear which terrifies most women – she [Charlotte] put up her own name over the door.’

That door gave entrance to 20 South King Street, in the central Manchester shopping district, the premises serving primarily as a shop. It would seem from other remarks that Charlotte’s design work was done at home – 10 Plymouth Grove – the house she shared with Emily Faithfull. By 1886 a part of 20 South King Street had been given over to a ‘Typewriting Office’, run by a Miss Giles. As the Manchester Courier remarked when reporting this ‘Doubtless the typewriter will soon become as popular here as in America’. One can imagine that this was a development of which Emily Faithfull was fully supportive.

It is clear from every description that Charlotte Robinson’s ideas of interior design were the antithesis of those of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. It is impossible to imagine the latter displaying mirrors such as one to be found in Charlotte Robinson’s establishment – for on it was painted ‘a pool fringed with rushes in which a wild duck and her brood were swimming, while the old mallard was taking wing to enjoy the pleasures of the world beyond – after his kind – leaving to the mother the care of the little fluffy yellow ducks, whose very feathers seemed to move with the passing wind’. (Manchester Courier, 6 February 1885).

Items such as this were produced not in Manchester but in London, in the studio of Charlotte’s sister, Mrs McClelland (33 Warwick Avenue, Paddington). Epsey McClelland was twelve years older than Charlotte – in the 1891 census she is described as a widow, a ‘decorative artist’, living with her daughter at the Warwick Avenue address. In an article on ‘Ladies as Shopkeepers’, reprinted in Pall Mall Gazette, (23 December 1887), Emily Faithfull extolled Charlotte’s taste –  ‘Her furniture designs are simple and unique; she has dainty and quaint arrangements for cosy nooks and odd corners, and has good reason to be proud of the work of the artists employed in in the studio over which her clever sister, Mrs McClelland is the presiding genius.’

In 1887 Charlotte Robinson took stands at two exhibitions. In Saltaire in June she showed  ‘..beautiful painted screens, brackets, plaques, a corner cabinet richly decorated with painted flowers and an excellently painted frieze.’ (Leeds Mercury 3 June 1887).

Of the Manchester Jubilee Exhibition, June/July 1887, the Cabinet Maker and Art Furnisher wrote:- ‘Miss Charlotte Robinson showed a frieze, corner sideboard, overmantel, draught screen, fire screens, Tuckaway tables, and other knickknacks, all, more or less decorated with the light and fanciful painting for which she had made a name.  It is in some aspects too “pretty” for our taste, but it is none the less skilful.  This lady is happy in the sprightly woodwork forming the  foundation of her paintings.  The corner sideboard is particularly pleasing.’

We can get a clearer picture of the ‘light and fanciful painting’ from a description given of Charlotte’s stand at the Glasgow Exhibition the following year. ‘Visitors to this stand ought to note the billet-doux writing table, a facsimile of that purchased by the Princess of Wales, and invented and patented by Miss Robinson. Beside this is the ‘Interloper’ chair purchased by the Countess of Rosebery. Both are painted with white French enamel, and decorated with blue tom tits. There are two friezes, specially designed for drawing rooms bearing groups of roses and chrysanthemums and one for a smoking room, with a design of wild ducks in flight.’ (Glasgow Herald 25 May 1888).

Blue tom tits for the ladies and wild ducks for the gentlemen – an aesthetic very different from that of the Garretts, whom Sir Hubert Parry commended – writing in his diary while staying in their house – ‘The quiet and soothing colour of the walls and decoration and the admirable taste of all things acts upon the mind in the most comforting manner. I was quite excised of the vulgar idea that everything ought to be light & gaudy & covered with gilt in London.

In late 1888 Charlotte received the accolade of being appointed ‘Home Art Decorator’ to Queen Victoria. Over 20 years earlier Emily Faithfull had been appointed publisher and printer in ordinary to the Queen, her brushes with scandal having apparently done nothing to dent her reputation in the eyes of the royal family.  On 9 October 1889 the Leeds Mercury reported that  ‘Miss Charlotte Robinson has had the honour of submitting to her Majesty some dessert d’oyleys painted on silk, from sketches taken near Palé as mementoes of Her Majesty’s visit to Wales’ and, as we have seen the Princess of Wales had already bought one of her writing tables’.

By October 1888 business was sufficiently prosperous for Charlotte to open a London showroom – in Mayfair – at 20 Brook Street – and in the same month was appointed as editor of ‘the decorative department’ on the magazine, The Queen, in succession to Mrs Talbot Coke. She was now in a position both to dictate taste and to supply the means of achieving it. She held her position on The Queen for the rest of her life. A small measure of this power was the fact that in an advertisement a Gloucester furnishing store, Messrs Matthews, regularly mentioned that their stock was approved by the leading Art Critics of the Day – such as Charlotte Robinson, Mrs Talbot Coke and Mrs Panton.

The interview given to the journalist from the Women’s Penny Paper took place in the Brook Street showroom, among the ‘cream coloured music racks, dainty billet doux tables, LouisSeize screens etc which provide an artistic public with useful as well as beautiful wedding and birthday gifts’. Charlotte commented that ‘I spend a great deal of time in Manchester, where I have a large business to control, and much is taken up in travelling “back and forth” as we say in the north, between the various houses I have to decorate and furnish in London and the country.Through The Queen I have to advise about houses in every part of the world.’

However for all the reports of how busy she was with her commissions –  ‘She can drape a room in less time than it takes most people to think of it’ – there is no information now available to tell us who her clients were or which were the houses she decorated. In the case of the Garretts I was able, from a variety of sources, to piece together a short list of their clients, but I can find no trace at all of Charlotte Robinson’s private clients. There is mention that in in June 1892 she was commissioned to decorate a hotel being erected in Manchester for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, that she did some work for Cunard, and that she was called upon to redecorate the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Manchester Town Hall.  The latter is a superbly Gothic creation and certainly no place for tom tits and wild ducks.

Emily Faithfull died in 1895, leaving all her property to Charlotte.  In her will, which had been written in 1893, she wrote that’ I feel sure that any loving members of my family, who may survive me, will appreciate my desire that the few possessions I have should be retained for the exclusive use, and as the absolute property, of my beloved friend Charlotte Robinson, as some little indication of my gratitude for the countless services for which I am indebted to her, as well as for the affectionate tenderness and care which made the last five years of my life the happiest I ever spent.’

After Emily’s death Charlotte Robinson continued to cut a dash in Manchester society. The local newspapers record her attendance at numerous balls and conversaziones – for instance, in July 1899 dressed in white brocaded silk and heliotrope velvet. On these occasions she is often in the company of Julia Dux, who lived close by in Plymouth Grove.

Charlotte Robinson’s career was brought to a premature end, however, by her death at home, in October 1901. She left £3100 – and the executors of her will were her sister, Epsey, and her niece Elspeth McClelland.

The latter, then aged 22, continued along the path that her aunt had, to a degree, forged and, with the changing times, was able to become more fully a professional and practise as an architect. You can read an account of her career here. and a 1905 article (issue 32, p, 114) about her in a Spanish architectural journal here She, like her aunt Charlotte, was clearly a woman of independent thinking and, not unsurprisingly, was swept into the Edwardian suffragette movement, achieving a certain notoriety in 1909 when she was one of the ‘Human Letters’ sent as a publicity stunt to 10 Downing Street. You can see a photograph here of Elspeth posing for the camera – with Daisy Solomon, her fellow ‘Letter’, on the left and Annie Kenney in support on the right. Under her married name – Mrs Elspeth Douglas Spencer – she has an entry in the Suffrage Annual and Woman’s Who’s Who.

Thus, by way of Charlotte Robinson’s ‘home art decoration’ , we can trace a line of endeavour that stretches from Emily Faithfull’s involvement in the 1860s with the Langham Place Group (middle-class women intent on improving work opportunities for their sisters) to a woman architect who, in  her short life, managed to design and build several houses – as well as giving birth to three children. It was, apparently, that third birth that in 1920 killed her – putting an end to another interesting career.

For more about the interior design work of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett see Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle, published by Francis Boutle.

Enterprising Women 1

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: The Mysterious Mrs Alice Green, Emily Wilding Davison And Kitty Marion

In the Introduction to my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide I wrote:

‘Although women may be “hidden from history” they are not, on the whole, hidden from the Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths nor from the Principal Registry of the Family Division (in England and Wales) or the General Register Office in Scotland.’ 

However there is no getting away from the fact that, despite one’s best efforts, there are some women who resist all attempts at discovery. One such is the rather mysterious ‘Mrs Alice Green’ who we come across in the intertwined stories of Emily Wilding Davison and Kitty Marion.

For instance, in The Life and Death of Emily Wilding Davison (p 131-32)  Liz Stanley and Ann Morley tell us that for some months in 1913 Emily Davison was staying with Mrs Green at 133 Clapham Road. We  assume that it was from here that on 4 June she set out for the WSPU office and then the Derby. They also note The Suffragette (13 June 1913) as mentioning that a Mrs Green was at Emily’s bedside in the Epsom Cottage Hospital. However, although Stanley and Morley do so much to reveal other branches of Emily’s friendship network they pass Mrs Green by without comment.

And I’m not surprised –  because ‘Mrs Alice Green’ is more resistant than most to the historian’s intrusive gaze. But, lifting the dusty Victorian curtain, the earliest sighting I have of her is at the Dover Register Office on 11 June 1898 where, as ‘Alice Kellie’, spinster, 26 years old, she married Edward Basil Green. The couple each gave their address as 4 Eastbrook Place, Dover.

But who was ‘Alice Kellie’? From searching through all the resources of Ancestry and FindmyPast I could find no suitable candidate and was sufficiently intrigued to order a copy of the marriage certificate in the hope it might offer a clue. Well, the only extra information it gave me about ‘Alice Kellie’ was that she was the daughter of ‘James Kellie (deceased), boot (or book?) dealer’. That actually didn’t get me any further because I couldn’t find a trace in any census of a suitable James Kellie. Who is to know if Registrars are given the true facts? I can find sufficient evidence in my own family history to know that they often are not.

On the other hand I had no difficulty in uncovering the background of the bridegroom. Edward Basil Green had been born in 1873 in Folkestone, the youngest son of Samuel Richard Green ( 1837-1882),  a mechanical engineer, and the grandson of Edward Green, a Yorkshire ironmaster and founder of E. Green and Son. At the time of the marriage he would have been 25 years old – yet the certificate has his age as 27. The bride’s age is given as 26. If the bridegroom felt compelled to add a couple of years could this mean that the bride was perhaps rather older. Who’s to know!

What the marriage certificate did tell me was that no member from either family was there to witness the marriage. The certificate is signed by the wife of the Registrar and by either the wife or the daughter (they both had the same name) of the tobacconist whose shop was next to the Register Office. This lack of family support may be explained by the next sighting I have of the happy couple – as they became parents of a son (Edward Basil Green) on 27 August 1898. It looks as though Alice Kellie was about seven months pregnant when she married Edward Green.

And that is the last I time I catch sight of Alice Green before she appears 15 years or so later as a friend and supporter of Emily Wilding Davison. I cannot see that either she or her husband were on the electoral roll as inhabitants of 133 Clapham Road and, indeed, cannot spot them in London until they appear on the 1921 electoral roll (with their son) living at Powis Terrace in north Kensington. From 1930 until 1939 Alice and Basil (as her husband was known) continued to  live in this area – now at 13 Colville Mansions.

In the meantime Mrs Green, as well as supporting Emily Davison, had also helped Kitty Marion, being one of three (Dr Violet Jones and Mary Leigh were the others) who took her to Paris on 31 May 1914 to show Christabel Pankhurst the result of the treatment that she had suffered in prison. As Kitty Marion was on the run at the time as a ‘mouse’, Alice Green was taking something of a risk in accompanying her.

In 1915 Mrs Alice Green was secretary of the Emily Davison Club that Mary Leigh had formed to perpetuate their friend’s memory. In October 1915 Mrs Green was one of those who contributed towards Kitty Marion’s fare to the US – the party to bid her farewell was held at the Emily Davison Club. Meetings of the Club were held in 144 High Holborn, which housed the offices of the Women’s Freedom League and the WFL’s Minerva Cafe.  Over a period of years, from the 1920s until at least 1938, the Greens were also, with others, such as Charlotte Despard, Elizabeth Knight, Octavia Lewin, leaseholders of 144 High Holborn.

From her involvement with the suffrage movement I get the impression that Mrs Green was reasonably well off, although I cannot discover how her husband was employed. The family does not appear in the 1911 census – presumably they followed the WFL/WSPU boycott. As a mechanical engineer did he, perhaps, work for the family firm?

Any difficulties there may have been over the shotgun wedding had long since been forgotten. In 1923 Edward Basil Green was left £10,000 in the will of his uncle, Sir Edward Green, and many years later his son was the executor of the will of one of his Green aunts.

It’s not only Alice Green’s birth that is obscure, but, very surprisingly, I cannot even discover when she died. Her husband was living at Minehead when he died in 1958 – but probate was granted to a solicitor (and not, rather surprisingly, to his son) and I haven’t gone so far as to investigate his will.