Posts Tagged Ascot 1913

Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison or Harold Hewitt?

Emily Davison at the Derby 4 June 1913 or Harold Hewitt at Ascot 20 June 1913

Emily Davison at the Derby 4 June 1913 or Harold Hewitt at Ascot 20 June 1913

For many years, since I acquired this photograph, I had thought it showed Emily Davison lying on the Derby racetrack on 4 June 1913, tended by policemen.

However, it has just been suggested to me that it in fact shows Harold Hewitt who, at Ascot just over two weeks later ran in front of the racing horses, with a ‘suffragist’ flag in one hand and a fully-loaded revolver in the other,  in what was deemed a ‘copycat’ action. For details of the event and Hewitt’s action see Lesley Gray’s blog.

Although I have no firm evidence one way or the other, I am minded to believe that the photograph is of Hewitt. There is little to go on but the narrow belt and slanting side pocket do indicate trousers rather than a skirt. Hewitt was, apparently, wearing a loose Norfolk-type jacket which may well be the one in the picture. The filmed images of Emily Davison with which we are now so well acquainted do indicate a rather fuller skirt – with petticoats.

In addition to the information given in Lesley’s blog, I can tell you that Harold Charles Hewitt, who had a Cambridge degree, came from a family with a large estate at Hope End in Herefordshire had lived for lengthy periods of time in Canada and Switzerland and in 1913  was, apparently, planning to go and farm in Africa.

The night before Ascot he had stayed at a hotel in Hart Street, Bloomsbury (perhaps the Kingsley Hotel, right next to St George’s where Emily Davison’s memorial service had been held on 14 June). He had, according to the report in The Times, been present at Emily Davison’s ‘funeral’ -although whether in the church or taking part in the procession is not made clear. The newspaper reports concentrate on his interest in anti-vivisection and apparent hatred of horse races rather than on any particular suffrage sympathies. Tenants at Hope End who knew Hewitt reported that ‘he had always been eccentric on religious matters’.

Harold Hewitt died in 1961 aged c 86, a comparatively wealthy man, the head injury he sustained at Ascot in 1911 having done little to shorten his long life.

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