Archive for category Suffrage Stories

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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