Posts Tagged WSPU

Collecting Suffrage: The ‘Census Resisted’ Badge

 

NO VOTE – NO CENSUS – CENSUS RESISTED BADGE

Metal badge worn by suffragettes who boycotted the April 1911 census. Around the outside of the badge is ‘No Vote – No Census – Census Resisted and in the centre ‘A census for Gt Britain shall be taken in the year 1911 & the census day shall be Sunday the 2nd day of April in that year’.

The census boycott was an important act of civil disobedience and you can find many posts on this website about the suffragette resisters. Just key ‘census’ into the Search Box.

The round black and grey badge still carries on its reverse the maker’s paper ‘Merchants Portrait Co.’. This badge is extremely scarce and is in fine condition £1100 + VAT in the UK and the EU.

If interested in buying, email me elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

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Collecting Suffrage: Portrait Postcard Of Christabel Pankhurst, c. 1908

Head and shoulders photographic portrait of Christabel Pankhurst, probably dating from c. 1908.

She is  wearing a rather attractive loose, square-necked dress, with her hair up in her characteristic knot. When Kate Frye attended a meeting of the Actresses’ Franchise League addressed by Christabel in February 1910 she commented, ‘Her hair was very untidy and I think would suit her so much better done low than on top in an ugly little knob.’ But I always think the hint of dishevelment is rather endearing.

The postcard is captioned ‘Miss Christabel Pankhurst. The National Women’s Social and Political Union. 4 Clement’s Inn, WC’, indicating that it was issued after some members, led by Mrs Charlotte Despard, broke away to form the Women’s Freedom League in the autumn of 1907. For a time they hoped to keep the ‘WSPU’ name, which led the Pankhursts to rename their faction ‘The National WSPU’.

The card was published by Sandle Bros. and would have been for sale in WSPU shops. This copy came from a collection put together by three suffragette sisters.  Fine – unposted – £40 + VAT in UK and EU. Email me if interested in purchasing. elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

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Collecting Suffrage: Photograph Of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst c 1907

This photograph of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst probably dates from c 1907, taken at her desk in Clement’s Inn, headquarters of the Women’s Social and Political Union.

The photograph comes from the collection of Isabel Seymour, who was an early WSPU supporter working in the WSPU office.

The photograph is mounted and is 15 x 20 cm (6″ x 8″) and is in good condition for its age. SOLD

Do email me if interested in buying. elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

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Collecting Suffrage: 1907 Programme For ‘Votes for Women’, Play By Elizabeth Robins

 

4-page programme for one of the 8 matinée performances of this so-popular play, staged in April and May 1907 at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, under the joint management of John Vedrenne and Harley Granville Barker.

The programme includes the cast list, of course, and a notice that ‘At these Matinées, Ladies are earnestly requested to remove Hats, Bonnets, or any kind of head dress. This rule is framed for the benefit of the audience…’

Kate Frye (suffrage diarist) saw the play on 16 April and wrote a long entry that night in her diary where, including, amongst other comments,  ‘I loved the piece – it is quite fine – most cleverly written and the characters are so well drawn. Needless to say the acting was perfection as it generally is at the Court Theatre and the second act – the meeting in Trafalgar Square – ought to draw the whole of London. I was besides myself with excitement over it ‘

This programme belonged to Isabel Seymour, an early worker in the WSPU Clement’s Inn office, She folded the programme into her pocket or handbag and then kept it for the rest of her life.

In good condition – extremely scarce £500

Email me if interested in buying – elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

 

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Collecting Suffrage: The WSPU Holloway Prison Brooch

The Holloway Prison brooch was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst and awarded to members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) who had been imprisoned. It was first mentioned in the WSPU paper, ‘Votes for Women’, on 16 April 1909 and was described as ‘the Victoria Cross of the Union’. [It pre-dated the Hunger-Strike medal]. The design of the brooch is of the portcullis symbol of the House of Commons, the gate and hanging chains are in silver, and the superimposed broad arrow (the convict symbol) is in purple, white and green enamel. The piece is marked ‘silver’ and carries the maker’s name – Toye & Co, London, who were also responsible for the hunger strike medals. This brooch is for sale. Such treasures of the suffrage movement are now very scarce. It is in fine condition.

£5000 + VAT (in UK and EU)

Email me if you are interesting in buying. elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

 

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Collecting Suffrage: ‘Punch’ Cartoon, 17 January 1906

 

Punch cartoon from the issue for 17 January 1906. ‘The Shrieking Sister’. The Sensible Woman (with her fur stole around her neck) addresses the dishevelled ‘suffragette’ (with a ‘Female Suffrage’ flag tied to her umbrella) – ‘You – help our cause? Why, you’re its worst enemy!’ They are standing outside a hall that advertises ‘Great Liberal Meeting’.

Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union had recently appeared on the national scene. Just over two months previously Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney had been imprisoned after interrupting a Liberal party meeting – and this is how the WSPU is now personified. The General Election, which resulted in a Liberal landslide, was in full swing when the cartoon was published.

A full-page Bernard Partridge cartoon. SOLD

If interested in buying, do email me elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

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Collecting Suffrage: Women’s Social And Political Union Brooch

A silver and enamel Women’s Social and Political Union brooch. It was Sold to raise funds for the WSPU and was made by Toye and Co of Clerkenwell Road, London, the firm that made the WSPU’s hunger-strike medal. There is so much spurious material sold as ‘suffragette jewellery’; this is the Real Thing.

The brooch dates from between 1908 and 1914 and is in fine condition. It’s very scarce – and ready to wear.

For sale: £900 + VAT (in Uk and EU).

Email me if interested: Elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook.com

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Collecting Suffrage: ‘Punch’ Cartoon, 21 October 1908

Punch cartoon, 21 October, 1908. Two burglars on their way to ‘suburban night-work’ watch a line of policemen marching the opposite way, into Town, to deal with the Votes for Women demonstration advertised on the poster.

The burglars agree that the ‘sufferajits’ are a good thing, keeping the police occupied as they do. This was the time of the ‘Rush the House of Commons’ demo.

FOR SALE – Full page cartoon by Bernard Partridge. Fine condition £12 SOLD

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Lock-Down Research: The Case Of The Mysterious Suffrage Banner

I find it so satisfying when I am able to bring a photograph such as this to life. I acquired it two years ago but have not yet catalogued it because I could identify neither the banner nor the occasion. However, a little tenacity, a few idle lock-down hours and – EUREKA – I have found the answer.

The card came, with many others, in the collection of suffrage postcards compiled by the Hodgson Sisters . From this context I assumed the card had a suffrage connection, but I had never seen or heard of the banner. The photographer, as you will see from the imprint, was A. Dron of Brondesbury – so, as the Hodgsons were living in West Hampstead, I assumed the occasion pictured occurred in the area.

Even with a magnifying glass I couldn’t make out much more detail and it was only when I scanned the card and blew up the image that I found at the bottom right of the banner what seemed to be the artist’s monogram and a date – W E G S 1910.  I felt I was making progress, but I’d never come across those initials when compiling my Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists  –  and so was not much further forward.

I had tried searching for variations of ‘The Old Order Changeth’ in the British Newspaper Archive, but nothing relating to a banner had emerged. It was only when I searched for ‘banner’ in what I thought might be the local paper for Brondesbury in 1910, that the answer emerged. And it all seems so easy now.

The newspaper report in the Kilburn Times, 17 June 1910, revealed that the banner, a present to the North West London Union of the Women’s Social and Political Union, had been unfurled by Mrs Saul Solomon and was to be carried in the WSPU ‘Prison to Citizenship’ procession on Saturday 18 June. The artist was William Ewart Glasdstone Solomon [WEGS] (1880-1965), Mrs Solomon’s son.

Mrs Georgiana Solomon (1844-1933) was the widow of the governor-general of Cape Colony and had for many years been active in social reform and suffrage movements. By 1910 she was living in West Hampstead and had already been arrested once. Five months after the photograph was taken she was assaulted in the course of the notorious ‘Black Friday’ debacle in Parliament Square and in March 1912 was imprisoned after taking part in the WSPU window-smashing campaign. Her daughter, Daisy, who was also an active WSPU member, featured in one of their publicity stunts, sent in 1909 as a ‘human letter to 10 Downing Street. She also served a prison term and by 1912 was organizing secretary of the Hampstead branch of the WSPU.

Given the family association, it is not surprising that Mrs Solomon’s son, who had been a student at the Royal Academy Schools, should have put his art to the service of the Cause. He later became director of the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay (Mumbai) before eventually returning to South Africa, the land of his birth. He is classed as a ‘South African artist’ but we can now appreciate that one of his earlier works was in support of the British women’s suffrage movement.

The newspaper article includes the information that the banner depicts ‘two life-size figures, a man and a woman, and the idea which the artist apparently means to convey is the dawn of a new era of political sex equality. The lettering ‘Political equality’ and ‘The old order changeth, giving place to new’ is conspicuous on the canvas’. I haven’t been able to spot the words ‘Political equality’, but perhaps they are on the reverse.

The Kilburn Times report tells us that the unfurling of the ‘Old Order Changeth’ banner took place at ‘Plympton House’, 154 Willesden Lane, which was the home of Mr and Mrs A.A. Jones, and that speeches were made by Helen Ogston and Flora Drummond. Mrs Eleanor Penn Gaskell was also present. Alas, I cannot identify the two young women holding the banner. Possible candidates that spring to mind are Daisy Solomon and Helen Ogston, but neither look quite like the women in the photograph. Nor are they, I think, any of the Hodgson Sisters.

I now see that the report for the WSPU N.W. London branch carried in the issue of Votes for Women for17 June 1910 declares ‘Let no local women miss the chance of walking in the great Procession under Mr W. E. Gladstone Solomon’s most beautiful banner’.

And there I rest my case…so pleased to have retrieved the story behind this most intriguing of photographs.

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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: 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.

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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 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

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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: 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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Buckingham Palace, 21 May 1914

A hundred years ago today, on 21 May 1914, having failed to influence the government, Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, decided to appeal directly to the King. Kate Frye, although not a militant suffragette, was there – outside Buckingham Palace – to witness the scene. This is the copy of the Daily Sketch that she bought that day and kept all her life. 

 

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The following is Kate’s diary entry:

‘Thursday May 21st 1914

To Office.Then in the afternoon I went to Buckingham Palace to see the Women’s deputation – led by Mrs Pankhurst which went to try and see the King. It was simply awful – oh! those poor pathetic women – dresses half torn off – hair down, hats off, covered with mud and paint and some dragged along looking in the greatest agony. But the wonderful courage of it all. One man led along – collar torn off – face streaming with blood – he had gone to protect them. Fancy not arresting them until they got into that state. It is the most wicked and futile persecution because they know we have got to have ‘Votes’ – and to think they have got us to this state – some women thinking it necessary and right to do the most awful burnings etc in order to bring the question forward. Oh what a pass to come to in a so-called civilised country. I shall never forget those poor dear women.

The attitude of the crowd was detestable – cheering the police and only out to see the sport. Just groups of women here and there sympathising, as I was. I saw Mrs Merivale Mayer, Miss Bessie Hatton and a good many women I knew by sight. I stayed until there was nothing more to be seen. The crowds were kept moving principally by the aid of a homely water cart. It was very awful. Mrs Pankhurst herself was arrested at the gates of the Palace. I did not see her but she must have passed quite close to me.

At the Buckingham Palace railings, 21 May 1914

At the Buckingham Palace railings, 21 May 1914

I went to Victoria and had some tea and tried to get cool, but I felt very sick. The King could have done something to prevent it all being so horrible – he isn’t much of a man. Back by bus [to the office of the New Constitutional Society where she was working]. They [Alexandra and Gladys Wright, friends and colleagues ] wanted to hear about it, but they don’t take quite the same view of it that I do. They seem so ‘material’ in all their deductions – it’s all so tremendously more than that.’

For much more about Kate Frye and her diary – published as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary – click here

Kate Frye cover

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Suffrage Stories: Anti-Suffrage Sneaks And Their Stealthy Stickering

Below is an item that I found in a postcard album compiled by Mrs Louisa Thomson Price, one of the leaders of the Women’s Freedom League.

Anti SuffrageMrs Thomson Price acquired this sticker at a ‘Anti-Suffrage campaign’ demonstration held on 16 July 1910 in Trafalgar Square  – during which men mingled with the crowd and stickered ‘well-known women suffragists’ with ‘Votes for Women Never’ slogans.  The Daily Telegraph, in describing the demonstration, particularly remarked on ‘the large number of suffragists and supporters of “votes for women” who were in attendance’,  commenting that ‘the militant Suffragists utilized the occasion as a great opportunity for doing propaganda work among the enemy.’

While Mrs Thomson Price declared that this stealthy stickering was ‘typical of the methods of the ‘Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage’, The Daily Telegraph reveals that ‘a most effective ending to the afternoon was the march past of the WSPU Drum and Fife Band playing ‘The Marseilles’. Well, that was certainly a more open spoiler.

This anti-suffrage demonstration was held a few days after the suffrage Conciliation Bill had passed its second reading in the House of Commons and  a week before the WSPU’s massive 23 July rally in Hyde Park.  The suffrage campaigners’ hopes were high -and the anti-suffragists were presumably just a little nervous. They need not have worried – for on the very day of the Hyde Park spectacular the prime minister, Asquith, informed Lord Lytton, chairman of the Conciliation Committee that the Conciliation Bill would progress no further than parliamentary session. It was yet another example of how difficult it was to get the political machine to change gear if those in the engine room were not minded to operate the levers.

Mrs Louisa Thomson Price (1864 -1926) was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. In 1888 she married John Sansom, a member of the executive of the NSS.From c 1886  she worked as a journalist – as a political writer, then a very unusual area for women, and drew cartoons for a radical journal, ‘Political World’. She was a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband, in 1907 she married George Thomson Price.

Louisa Thomson Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League, became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote, and was a director of Minerva Publishing, publisher of the paper.  She took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favour of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL. and £1000 to endow a Louisa Thomson Price bed at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: 1911 Census: Vanishing For The Vote

TO BE PUBLISHED ON 6 MARCH 2014

Vanishing for the Vote 1 001

As readers of this blog will know, since 2009 I have been involved in research on the suffrage boycott of the 1911 census. With Dr Jill Liddington, I worked to uncover the women who followed the call to boycott the census. We studied the circumstances of those who did – and those who did not – refuse to complete the census form and produced, first, a paper for the Women’s History Network Conference, held in Oxford in September 2009, and then an article ,‘Women do not count, neither shall they be counted’: Suffrage, Citizenship and the Battle for the 1911 Census‘ published in the History Workshop Journal in 2011.

It was intended to develop this research into a book, but I decided to pursue other projects  – such as the setting up of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery and writing Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary as well, of course, as running my bookselling business,’ Woman and Her Sphere’ –  while Jill turned the census research into Vanishing for the Vote. 

I continued, however, to be very interested in uncovering 1911 census boycotters – and wondering about their lives –  and, at odd moments, wrote up my discoveries for the Woman and Her Sphere blog – and gave a paper, ‘No Vote No Census’ ,at the National Archives Conference on the 1911 census, held in the autumn of 2011. You can listen to it here.

Jill later asked me to help compile the extensive  Gazetteer of Suffragettes/Suffragists that constitutes the end section of Vanishing for the Vote.  This is  based on the original research we carried out, supplemented by details of many additional boycotters that prolonged acquaintance with the digitized census has now uncovered.

I am sure that all who are interested in the Edwardian suffrage campaign will be delighted to read Vanishing for the Vote – which takes us right into the lives of the women – and their families – who were prepared to defy the census enumerator in order to highlight their lack of citizenship.

Vanishing for the vote recounts what happened on one night, Sunday 2 April, 1911, when the Liberal government demanded every household comply with its census requirements. Suffragette organisations urged women, all still voteless, to boycott this census.

Many did. Some wrote ‘Votes for Women’ boldly across their schedules. Others hid in darkened houses or, in the case of Emily Wilding Davison, in a cupboard within the Houses of Parliament.

Yet many did not. Even some suffragettes who might be expected to boycott decided to comply – and completed a perfectly accurate schedule. Why?

Vanishing for the vote explores the ‘battle for the census’ arguments that raged across Edwardian England in spring 1911. It investigates why some committed campaigners decided against civil disobedience tactics, instead opting to provide the government with accurate data for its health and welfare reforms.

This book plunges the reader into the turbulent world of Edwardian politics, so vividly recorded on census night 1911. Based on a wealth of brand-new documentary evidence, it offers compelling reading for history scholars and general readers alike.

Sumptuously produced, with 50 illustrations and an invaluable Gazetteer of suffrage campaigners.

To be published by Manchester University Press:

Hardback £65

Paperback: £16.99

37 Lavender Gardens, Battersea -home of John Burns, minister in charge of the Census

37 Lavender Gardens, Battersea -home of John Burns, minister in charge of the Census

Burns' house is remarkably similar in style to that of Henry Nevinson and his wife, Margaret, at 4 Downside Crescent, Hampstead. However, although sharing a similar attitude to architecture, Burns and the Nevinsons were poles apart as regards the Census. While Henry Nevinson was in the thick of the Census parties in central London, Margaret spent the night in this house with a group of women, all of whom refused to give details to the enumerator.

Burns’ house is remarkably similar in style to that of Henry Nevinson and his wife, Margaret, at 4 Downside Crescent, Hampstead. However, although sharing a similar attitude to architecture, Burns and the Nevinsons were poles apart as regards the Census. While Henry Nevinson was in the thick of the Census Night fun in central London, Margaret spent the night in this house with a group of women, all of whom refused to give details to the enumerator. It was not a happy marriage.

32 Well Walk, Hampstead. 'Vanishing for the Vote' reveals something of the domestic argument that went on behind this front door on Census night between Jane Brailsford and her husband, Henry.

32 Well Walk, Hampstead. ‘Vanishing for the Vote’ reveals something of the domestic argument that went on behind this front door on Census night between Jane Brailsford and her husband, Henry. The Census had a knack of highlighting domestic disharmony.

118 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, home of WSPU activist, Maud Joachim. The enumerator was handed out through this door a census form returned with 'Informaiton Refused'.

118 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, home of WSPU activist, Maud Joachim. The census enumerator stood at this door and was refused all information

Clemence Housman resisted the Census as well as Tax. Her Census story is well told in 'Vanishing for the Vote'.

Clemence Housman resisted the Census as well as Tax. Her Census story is well told in ‘Vanishing for the Vote’.

2 Campden Hill Square, home of the Brackenbury family, later became known as 'Mouse Castle' when escaping suffragettes found shelter under its roof. On Census Night it was home to an estimate 25 women and one man.

2 Campden Hill Square, home of the Brackenbury family, later became known as ‘Mouse Castle’ when escaping suffragettes found shelter under its roof. On Census Night it was home to an estimated 25 women and one man.

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Suffrage Stories: The British Museum’s Hunger-Strike Medal And The 1911 Census Boycott

Rather belatedly you might think, I’ve just realised that the British Museum holds a hunger-strike medal.  It, together with a Holloway brooch (which rather oddly is the main image used to illustrate the item online), was awarded to ‘Joan Cather’. Her’s was not a name I recognised from previous suffrage research, so I immediately set about finding out something about her.

The first trace I came across for a woman of that name were a few entries on the London Electoral Register in the 1920s and ’30s. Thus, I discovered that a Joan Cather had been living in London, at 23 Upper Montagu Street, sharing the house with John Leonard Cather. Rather oddly, apart from her death in 1967, this Joan Cather hadn’t left any other trace.

So I turned to John Leonard Cather – looking first at his entry on the 1911 census. And, lo and behold, on his census form he had written ‘Conscientious scruples prevent me from rendering a return of the female occupants of this house for the purpose of assisting statistical tables which will be used as the basis for further vexatious legislation affecting women, & in which they have no voice. Should the Conciliation Committee bill be passed into law this session the additional details will be forthcoming.’

A note has been added ‘Two Females inserted in Summary Books by the Registrar being the probable number.’ One of these would doubtless have been his wife, Joan, and the other a female servant.

Clearly I had the right Cathers.

At this time they were living at ‘Red Cottage, Cavendish Road, Redhill’ and John Cather gave his occupation as ‘Motor Body Builder. Lieut Royal Navy (Retired)’. He had married Joan Waller (1882-1967) in 1908 and was clearly fully supportive of her involvement in the suffrage cause. Indeed, when the militant ‘Men’s Society for Women’s Rights’  was formed in 1912,’ Lieutenant Cather’, as he clearly liked to be known, was its honorary secretary. Ge was also by 1914 (and probably earlier) chairman of the Finance Committee of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage.

Joan Cather’s Hunger-strike Medal gives the date of the imprisonment that related to her hunger-strike as 4 March 1912 – which would indicate that she had taken part in that month’s WSPU window-smashing campaign. However, despite trawling through the relevant issues of Votes for Women, I haven’t yet managed to find a report of the damage she caused to merit this custodial sentence. Nor does her name appear on the Roll of Honour compiled by Suffragette Fellowship c 1960. It is possible that she was using an alias when she was sentenced. It would seem that the British Museum acquired the medal and brooch in 1975, seven years after the death of Joan Cather, but I’m not sure if it was given to the Museum by a family member or whether it was purchased. Perhaps I shall find out!

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: A Liverpool Boycott – Or John Burns Meets His Waterloo

As I have explained in previous posts, the militant suffrage societies, the Women’s Freedom League and the Women’s Social and Political Union, laid plans to boycott the 1911 census. They urged individual supporters to either refuse to complete their census form or to evade the enumerator by absenting themselves from home on census night. In order to provide shelter for such evaders some women offered ‘open house’ for Census Night.

One such woman was a Liverpool woman, Mrs Florence Hall, who, as Votes for Women reported in its 31 March 1911 issue, ‘would be opening her house – Glenamour, The Park, Waterloo, to Census Resisters’.

Scene of the Waterloo 1911 census boycott (courtesy of Rightmove website)

Scene of the Waterloo 1911 census boycott (courtesy of Rightmove website)

And that is what she did. The head of the household, Joseph Albert Hall, was at home on Census Night  but took part in the boycott, giving no details of his family and leaving the form unsigned.

The census form for ‘Glenamour’ was completed by the Enumerator who noted those present that night as: Joseph Albert Hall, 50 and his wife Florence N Hall, 45, and a daughter, also Florence N. Hall, 14,  together with 2 anonymous men and 9 anonymous women.

Florence Hall had written across the Census Form:

No Vote No Census. House full of evading & resisting suffragettes & male supporters of whom I decline to make any return or give any particulars’

The house, which still carries the name ‘Glenamour’ (now 65 Park Road, Waterloo) was – and is – a large, semi-detached house . On the Form the Enumerator set the number of s rooms (for the purpose of the Census) at 10 (unsurpisingly, it is now divided into flats).

The boycott of the census was by no means the only active contribution that Joseph and Florence Hall made to the ‘Votes for Women’ campaign –  I think we can take it as read that they were members of the Tax Resistance League.

Tax Resistance League postcard

The Women’s Freedom League paper,  The Vote, reported in its 9 November 1912 issue, that:

‘The goods of Mr. J.A. Hall, of “Glenamour,” on October 31, Waterloo-park, Lancashire, were sold for the second time  the first time had been in 1911] against distraint consequent on his refusal to pay income-tax on house property belonging to his wife. The goods were bought in by a friend for the amount of the tax and expenses.

Mrs. Hall, who attended the sale in the unavoidable absence of her husband, explained — by the courtesy of the auctioneer — to the large company of sympathisers present that this action was taken as the most practical and emphatic protest possible against the stupid and unjust action of the Revenue authorities who, despite the fact of the Married Woman’s Property Act under which she herself is liable for her own debts, had forced the issue under the Income Tax Act of 1842. This Act, whilst making the husband liable for the payment of any tax on his wife’s own income, leaves him absolutely without any power to obtain from her any information with regard to her income if she declines to disclose it.

Mrs. Hall emphasised the absurdity and unfairness of such an enactment, and said it was a matter for considerable surprise that, quite apart from the merits of the woman’s question, men had not bestirred themselves to force the Government to remedy this utterly impossible state of things and make women, if they could, pay this or any other tax whilst withholding from them the Parliamentary vote.’

It hasn’t been easy to find out much more about the Halls. I think Florence’s maiden name was ‘Nightingale’ – it’s rather startling just how many female ‘Nightingale’ children around the time of her birth – 1868 – were still being named for the heroine of the Crimea. Joseph Hall was born in Liverpool, the son of a cooper, and seems to have worked in export sales. The couple had been over to the US for some time at the end of the 19th century, returning in 1898. By that time they had one daughter (who may have been the one given the name ‘Florence’ on the census form, but whose real name was ‘Marjorie’). In 1901 the Halls were living in Leytonstone, now with a new-born son, Harold, who may have been one of the anonymous males enumerated ten years later in ‘Glenamour’.

The Halls  returned to the US in October 1913, but must have returned to Britain because I next come across them in 1921, travelling over to Los Angeles with Harold, who is now an engineer. By 1927 the Halls have quit these shores for good and are permanent residents in the US, living in Glen Avenue, Port Chester, Westchester Co, New York – which Street View shows me looks rather agreeable.

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: The Leicester Suffragettes’ Mass Evasion

As I have explained in previous posts, the militant suffrage societies, the Women’s Freedom League and the Women’s Social and Political Union, laid plans to boycott the 1911 census. They urged individual supporters to either refuse to complete their census form or to evade the enumerator by absenting themselves from home on census night.

In order to provide shelter for would-be evaders some local branches of the societies organised  ‘events’ – either in houses taken specially for the occasion or in the branch office.

In  Votes for Women, 24 March 1911, under the heading: ‘Some Country Arrangements’, the Leicester WSPU branch revealed their plan. ‘An all-night party is being arranged. Apply for all arrangements to Miss Dorothy Pethick, 14 Bowling Green Street, Leicester.

Dorothy Pethick, then the WSPU organizer in Leicester, was the sister of Mrs Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, one of the WSPU leaders. Kate Frye was to encounter her two years later, while campaigning at the Reading by-election in  October 1913 and described her (see Campaigning for the Vote ) as ‘very like her sister, Mrs P Lawrence and is very nice. Most compassionate’ –  ‘She went off dressed up to the nines to sell Votes [for Women].

Leicester WSPU Shop (courtesy of alicesuffragette.co.uk)

Leicester WSPU Shop – scene of the all-night party on the night on 2 April 1911 (courtesy of alicesuffragette.co.uk)

Dorothy Pethick did, indeed, organise an all-night party and I’ve recently managed to uncover the census form that George Cooper,  the local Registrar, completed for: ’14 Bowling Green Street Leicester – Suffragettes Office.’

He described how:

‘Suffragettes – about 20 – varying in age from 17 to 50. Most of these were people of no occupation – a doctor’s wife and daughter were amongst them.’

He appears to have taken matters further than any other Registrar and had spent some time inspecting:

‘Women’s Suffrage Society Report and Balance Sheet dated Wed 15 March 1911’

to come to the conclusion that:

‘Number of members in Leicester and Leicestershire 264

Number residing in sub district of south Leicester 93

Number accounted for on schedules 72

estimated number not enumerated 21

of which 13 females spent the night at 14 Bowling Green Lane

There were 33 females in and out of this building during the night.’

That is the most thorough contemporary assessment by a Registrar of a local WSPU census boycott that I’ve yet seen. He appears to have taken the trouble to check the names of those listed in the WSPU Report against the names of those who had completed census forms.

The ‘doctor’s wife and daughter’ mentioned by the Registrar will be Mrs Alice Pemberton Peake, wife of William Pemberton Peake, ‘medical practitioner’, who lived at 21 Oxford Street, Leicester. On census night he was at home with his daughter, Lily (aged 19) and son, Charles (aged 14) and one servant. He described himself as ‘married’, but of his wife and second daughter, Helena (aged 17), there is no trace. On 21 March Mrs Pemberton Peake had taken the chair at a WSPU meeting in Leicester.

Alice Hawkins was another WSPU member absent from home on census night – she’d doubtless joined the party at 14 Bowling Green Lane. Another WSPU member, Evelyn Carryer, had written ‘No Vote No Census’ across her form and gave no other details – other than writing ‘unenfranchised’ in the Disability Column – but it isn’t clear from this whether she had actually absented herself as well as making this written protest. More research might, by a process of elimination, build up a picture of the others of the  13 census evaders who spent the night at 14 Bowling Green Street on the night of 2 April 1911. The picture will, however, always be hazy. One hundred  years later it is well nigh impossible to place an evader with total certainty in any particular place. Although the boycott had little effect on national statistics, it certainly was successful in hiding from history the determined evader.

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: The Bradford Boycotters

Mary Phillips

Mary Phillips

‘NO VOTE NO CENSUS Posterity will know how to judge the Government if it persists in bringing about the falsification of national statistics instead of acting on its own principles and making itself truly representational of the people.’ Mary Phillips

This is the statement that Mary Phillips, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) organizer, wrote across the census form issued for 68 Manningham Lane, Bradford – the WSPU’s office.

The Enumerator noted in his Census Summary Book that 68 Manningham Lane was ‘a Lock Up Shop no sleeping accommodation’. Nothwithstanding,  he recorded that Mary Phillips and 9 other females – suffragettes – had spent the night there – but that he was unable to obtain any information about them.

Mary Phillips had advertised in Votes for Women (31 March) the ‘At Home’ for Census Night – from 11pm on 2 April to noon on Monday 3 April – and I wonder if she was rather disappointed that she was supported by only 9 others. For what it is worth, there is no mention at all in the following week’s issue of the meeting planned for Wednesday 4 April in which members were to tell of ‘Where I spent Census Night’. Had Bradford, perhaps, not been that enthusiastic?

Manningham Lane, Bradford (image courtesy of Maggie Land Blanck)

Manningham Lane, Bradford (image courtesy
of Maggie Land Blanck)

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: The London Opera House, Kingsway

Ever since the decision was made for the Women’s Library to move to LSE (now open as the Women’s Library @ LSE) I have been writing posts that draw attention to the many locations associated with the women’s movement in the area around Aldwych and the Strand. My hope is that researchers in the Women’s Library, when taking a break from their labours, will welcome some information that will allow them to see the surrounding area with fresh eyes.

Today I would like to direct your attention to the site between Portugal Street and Sardinia Street that now houses the Peacock Theatre. Many readers will have been to that theatre, rather oddly sited in the basement of a modern office-type block – if only to take younger members of the family to the annual Christmas treat of ‘The Snowman’. Have you ever wondered why there is a theatre there – in what is now a rather untheatrical area? The answer is related to the wonderful building in the photograph below. 

London Opera House, Kingsway. (Image courtesy of arthurlloyd.co.uk)

London Opera House, Kingsway. (Image courtesy of arthurlloyd.co.uk)

The London Opera House, its rooftop adorned with figures representing Melody and Harmony, opened 102 years ago today – on 13 November 1911. It occupied an entire block of Kingsway, between Portugal Street and Sardinia Street, and was built for Oscar Hammerstein (Sr) , whose idea was that it should rival the Covent Garden Opera House. The building was opulent and enormous, capable of seating over 2600 people.

Its first season ran from its opening until March 1912, when there was then a hiatus. It was this lack of a follow-up season that, I think, accounts for the fact that on Friday 15 March it was available to be hired for a ‘Suffragists’ non-militant and non-party demonstration’ by the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. Kate Frye was its organizer and in Campaigning for the Vote  you can read of her efforts, which included mustering the banners of the various suffrage societies – she collected that of the WSPU from Mrs Garrud’s gym – in order to decorate the auditorium. Eva Moore and May Whitty of the Actresses’ Franchise League were amongst the suffragists on the platform, very fitting in such a theatrical venue.

It was not the first time in its short life that the Opera House had held a suffragette meeting. The previous week, the police, on the hunt for Christabel Pankhurst who had given them the slip from nearby Clement’s Inn, searched the Opera House, where she was reported to be hiding. However the New York Times reported that all they found was ‘Oscar Hammerstein sitting alone in state at a big table in the vestibule, with a printed notice behind him reading “Subscriptions department for the Grand Opera Summer Season”.’ The reporter described how ‘Outside the Opera House were posters announcing tomorrow’s meeting’  ‘So you are a sympathiser’, said the correspondent to Mr Hammerstein. ‘I don’t know anything about it,’ he replied, ‘except that I let the opera house to them before they started on their stunts, and can’t break the contract, or else they might break up the opera house’.

The London Opera House was so well-placed in the middle of suffrage society territory – and right beside the Tea Cup Inn, a favourite haunt – that it was to be the venue for various other suffrage meetings.

Hammerstein’s Summer Season was his last at the London Opera House and in July he gave up and returned to America. The theatre re-opened in December, staging variety shows and showing films, but not before it had once again, on 4 November, been hired by the suffrage societies who held a joint meeting protesting at the proposed reform bill.

Pankhurst The War 001It was at the London Opera House on 8 September 1914 that Christabel re-appeared when her exile came to an end, beginning her speech by saying ‘It is very good to be back in one’s own country again, amongst one’s own friends’ – and ending by promising ‘[The war] will sweep away, it must and shall sweep away, the superstition, the narrowness, the jealousy, the suicidal folly which have made of our country two opposing camps – the enfranchised men in one, and the voteless women in the other’.

From 1917 -1940 the building became a cinema – the Stoll Picture House – but from 1942 to 1957 reverted to live theatre – before being demolished in 1958. Planning permission for the replacement building required the incorporation of a theatre – hence The Peacock.

Virginia Woolf BuildingThe  office block has now, I see, been taken over by King’s College, which is marching up Kingsway into LSE territory. It is now known as the ‘Virginia Woolf Building’. Which allows my imagination another suffrage spin – to visualise Mary Datchet returning down Kingsway from her suffrage society office in Russell Square to her flat near the Strand. She glances at the poster outside the London Opera House advertising a suffrage meeting (perhaps her society, the PDS, would have been taking part but perhaps, as it probably supported adult, rather than women’s suffrage, not). Little did she suspect that her creator’s name would 100 years later adorn its – rather less – opulent – successor.

The copy of Christabel Pankurst’s 8 September 1914 speech, The War, referred to above will be for sale in my next catalogue.

For much more about the London Opera House and its successors click here.

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: The Gillingham Suffragettes’ Boycott

Jezreel's Tower in 1906. (Courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

Jezreel’s Tower in 1906. (Courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

It was in a hall associated with the crazy folly that was Jezreel’s Tower that a band of Gillingham suffragettes amused themselves on the night of 2 April 1911 as they sought to evade the census enumerator.

The protest was arranged by Laura Ainsworth (for whose biographical details see her entry in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide), who had a couple of months earlier taken up her post as WSPU organizer in North Kent, charged with starting a campaign to cover Maidstone, Chatham, Gravesend and Sittingbourne. For a photo of Laura Ainsworth click here

Not long after her arrival the WSPU revealed that it planned to call on its members to boycott the national census – the point being that for this census the government had constructed a new set of questions directly relating to women’s fertility, with the intention of using the resulting statistics as a basis for future legislation. Suffragettes argued that the government could hardly expect them to co-operate when, without a parliamentary vote, they would have no control over any new laws affecting their work and welfare.

Laura Ainsworth called on the women of North Kent to join in this boycott, on 24 March announcing in Votes for Women that in order to provide a place for women to shelter so as to be absent from their own homes on the night of 2 April – and thereby not be counted by the enumerator there –  ‘A public hall has been taken and a social evening is being arranged. The hall will be open at 11.30 pm. Refreshments are being provided.’

The ‘public hall’ that was rented was the Dancing Academy run by 31-year-old Mrs Alice Ada Worrall in Jezreel Hall, Canterbury Street, Gillingham. Mrs Worrall and her husband, William, an engine fitter and nominal principal of the Dancing Academy, were safely at home (71 Duncan Road, Gillingham) with their three children on census night. Presumably they were not active WSPU supporters, merely happy to take an evening’s rent for their premises.

Jezreel's Hall, Canterbury Street. (Image courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

Jezreel’s Buildings, Canterbury Street, before their demolition in 2008. (Image courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

I’m sure a local Gillingham historian will be able to correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume that there was a hall – Jezreel’s Hall – within this block associated with the Tower and that was where the Dancing Academy was sited. I’ve come as near as I can to getting the information correct because (thanks to my new zippy computer and the complicated dance between two websites – Ancestry.com and Findmypast.com) I have at last uncovered the census form that was completed by the enumerator that night.

The address on the form is ‘Dancing Academy, Jezreel’s Hall, Canterbury Street. Gillingham’. The ‘Head of House’ is ‘Mr Worrall’.

The form is unsigned, presumably completed by the Registrar, who notes ‘Party of Suffragettes assembled in Dancing Academy – 40 in number 1 male and 39 females’.

The suffragettes may have intended for their boycott to escape totally the notice of the census authorities – even though we can be sure the latter were studying the pages of Votes for Women and would have known that something was planned in the area. However, as the Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham News reported on 8 April, the exuberance of the party caused so much noise that the police came to investigate. They then alerted the enumerator who was able to record the numbers present. It was the knowledge that such a form did exist that has been so tantalizing. Even though the Gillingham boycotters were not very successful in eluding the enumerator they have certainly foxed for a good long time this 1911 census detective.

You can read here a piece that BBC Kent put up on its website on the 100th anniversary of the census boycott back in 2011 and here a post written by a Chatham Grammar School for Girls pupil after a visit to the Medway Archives.  To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: The Suffrage Shop in Hythe High Street

Hythe Suffrage Shop

In mid-1912 this shop at 83 High Street, Hythe- now occupied by ‘Ideas’  – opened as the local Suffrage Shop and Club, run by Miss Georgina Cheffins and Miss Eva Lewis, who, although members of the WSPU, were Kate Frye’s most active supporters in the area as she went about her business of organizing meetings for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. I visited it myself in the summer of 2011 and found that the shop is quite large and, as Kate Frye describes, has a room at the back in which the Suffrage Club held its meetings.

Georgina Cheffins (1863-1932) was the daughter of a Portland cement manufacturer. and In the 1901 census, when she was living with Eva Lewis in the St James’s Mission, Temple Street, Sedgley, Cheshire, they are both described as ‘lay sisters’. Eva (Evangeline) Lewis (1863-1928) had been born in Ontario, Canada, the daughter of John Lewis, Lord Bishop of Ontario. She lived with Georgina Cheffins, who was very much the wealthier of the two, from some time before 1901 until her death.

Both women successfully evaded the 1911 census and in 1912 Miss Cheffins was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment after taking part in a WSPU window-smashing raid in London – breaking windows in Gorringes’ store. In court she declared she was a suffragist by conviction, having worked amongst the poor for 20 years.

When Kate first met them the two women lived at ‘Dunedin’, Seabrook Road, the long road connecting Hythe and Folkestone, but in early 1912 they moved to ‘Cravenhurst’, Napier Gardens, Hythe. When I visited Hythe in 2011 I did not know which house in Napier Gardens had been ‘Cravenhurst’ – and it is only today that I have found a piece of information that links the name of the house to a number – 24 – which is ,I think, opposite the house below – one of several in the street that I photographed at random. Anyway, I think no 24 was at the more secluded end of the cul-de-sac that is Napier Gardens .

Napier Gardens, Hythe

Napier Gardens, Hythe

In the summer of 1912 Votes for Women, the WSPU newspaper, reported that the Hythe Suffrage Shop had been visited by many WSPU members on holiday in the area – and that many volunteers had been out selling copies of the paper.

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary is full of details of the delights – and tribulations – of spreading the ‘Votes for Women’ message in Hythe.  Although Miss Cheffins and Miss Lewis could on occasion be prickly, Kate kept in touch with them well into the 1920s.

See here for much more about Campaigning for the Vote

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Suffrage Stories: Marjorie Hamilton: An Unknown Suffrage Artist

Procession-Pic-for-Clive2 I have long admired this image, created to advertise the 1911 ‘Women’s Coronation Procession’. This particular item was carefully laid by Kate Frye between the pages of her diary. She was proud to be marching that day in the Actresses’ Franchise League contingent.

However I have only just discovered the name of the artist of this appealing flyer was and have immediately set about trying to find out what I can about her.

The name was delivered to me by Ken Florey who, in his superb Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: an illustrated Historical Study, mentions the image, naming the artist as ‘Marjorie Hamilton’. The US suffrage society, the Women’s Political Union, had clearly recognised an appealing design when they saw it and used it to advertise a meeting held by Mrs Pankhurst in New York’s Carnegie Hall (see Votes for Women, 5 January 1912). Marjorie Hamilton’s name doesn’t appears in Lisa Tickner’s Spectacle of Women – and I must admit that I had not come across it in my own researches into women suffrage artists.

However, now that I have looked into the matter, I see that on 9 June 1911, in the issue that immediately preceded the Procession, the cartoon that appears the front page of  Votes for Women was drawn by Marjorie Hamilton. Moreover, I actually hold a copy of the front page of this issue in my bookseller’s stock – I just hadn’t looked sufficiently closely at the image to notice the signature.

Front page of 9 June 1911 issue of 'Votes for Women'

Front page of 9 June 1911 issue of ‘Votes for Women’

To have been given this position on the front page of Votes for Women was, indeed, something of an accolade – the paper’s usual artist, ‘A Patriot’ [Alfred Pease], had made way for her. Marjorie Hamilton’s ‘cartoon’ is, in fact, an advertisement for the Procession, with the lead character in her drawing dressed in the same way as the suffragette on the flyer. The latter, however, makes a very much bolder impression – the image greatly strengthened by the use of colour.  While the Votes for Women front-page picture is signed with her full name –  that is, ‘Marjorie Hamilton’ – the flyer carries only initials –  but these do appear to read ‘MH’. When describing the artist responsible for the image on the cover of the lavish Programme produced for the occasion of the Procession, Votes for Women  is rather coy – referring to her only as ‘an artist member of the WSPU’.  So who was Marjorie Hamilton?

My research indicates that she was born in Derbyshire in 1882. Her father, Arthur Hamilton, was a banker – a partner in S.Smith & Co’s Bank, Derby. Her mother, Georgina (nee Stokes) had been born in South Africa.  Marjorie had a slightly younger sister, Vera, and in 1891 the family lived, presumably in considerable comfort, with three servants and a live-in (young) governess, at The Mount, Duffield Road, Derby. Ten years later, in 1901, the family was living above the bank premises at 7 Market Head, Market Place, Derby, along with six domestic servants and a bank clerk. However, less than a year later Arthur Hamilton, now described as of ‘The Grange’, Ewell, Surrey, died, leaving £10,800. It was in 1902 that Smith’s Bank lost its individual identity when it merged with the Union Bank of London.

Georgina Hamilton, with her daughters, may have moved to Canada c 1906. Certainly Marjorie noted on a subsequent Canadian immigration form that she had lived in Canada from 1906-1908. Her sister, Vera, married in Vancouver in 1908 and in 1911, when the Canadian census was taken, was living there with her mother, her husband and two young children. Even though she was a member of the WSPU, Marjorie Hamilton, luckily for us, did not boycott the 1911 UK census and can be found, describing herself as an ‘art student’, as a boarder at 4 Mills Buildings, Knightsbridge, an 18th-century court on the north side of Knightsbridge High Road, close to the Barracks. At this time Mills Buildings was a rather raffish address, although her fellow boarders all appear very respectable.

The census was taken on 2 April 1911 and it must have been very soon after, while Marjorie Hamilton was living here, that she was given the rather important ‘Coronation Procession’ commission. Marion Wallace-Dunlop and Edith Downing were in charge of the artistic design of the Procession, which was being executed at 12 Smith Street, Chelsea. Perhaps  it was they who spotted her talent for graphic design. Incidentally on the night of the 1911 census those resident at this address were Miss Dean, a 27-year-old artist’s model, together with a young secretary and a shop assistant whose surroundings, with 8 rooms, between the three of them, were rather more spacious than those of their neighbours. I wonder if they let out one or two of those 8 rooms to the WSPU? It is clear from the reports in Votes for Women that there was a great deal of activity going on at 12 Smith Street in May and June 1911.

Alas, however, that is about all I can discover of Marjorie Hamilton’s career as an artist – except that in 1913 she was advertising that she would be happy to take order for water-colour sketches of country homes.

I next catch sight of her in February 1917 at Liverpool, embarking on the SS Carmania for New York. Her address is given as ‘Cranleigh, Surrey’ and her occupation is ‘artist’. So, in the six years that had elapsed she had presumably had – or at least had attempted to pursue – art as a career.

I did wonder why, in the midst of a war that made Atlantic travel so dangerous, she was making this journey. And then I realised that her final destination was not New York but Victoria, British Columbia and that she must have been going out to be with her mother – who died a month or so after her arrival.

Another seven years go by until in 1924 I found her again, once more about to enter Canada. However this time it is not as an artist but as the prospective matron of the Waifs and Strays Society Receiving Home at 661 Huron Street, Toronto.  This was Elizabeth Rye House – a home to where girls were sent from England to be trained for domestic service. On the immigration form Marjorie Hamilton gave her present occupation as ‘matron’, which may, or may not, indicate that she had found that art did not pay and that she had to find an other means of earning her living.

And there the trail for the moment ends. I know that the Toronto home closed in 1931 – but don’t know if Marjorie Hamilton was still there then. Did she return to England – or remain in Canada. I know that her sister died in Sussex in 1943 – but can find no further trace of Marjorie.

And all this is what comes of wondering who was the artist responsible for a delightful purple, white and green flyer produced something over 100 years ago.

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Suffrage Stories: ‘Laura Grey’: Suffragettes, Sex-Poison And Suicide

Lavendar Guthrie's Hunger Strike Medal and Votes for Women brooch, photo courtesy of Christie's

Lavendar Guthrie’s Hunger Strike Medal and Votes for Women brooch, photo courtesy of Christie’s.

On the morning of Monday 8 June 1914 – a year to the day after the death of Emily Wilding Davison – a young woman was found lying unconscious on the floor of her flat at 111 Jermyn Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. She was discovered by her charwoman, Mrs Spicer,who called the police. They in turn called a doctor, who spent some time attempting resuscitation. But the young woman could not be revived. She had taken an overdose of veronal, a barbiturate to which she had apparently become addicted. Around her were scattered seven empty veronal bottles and by the side of one of them were 23 loose tablets. She had left a suicide note, dated 5 June, addressed to her mother and signed with the initials ‘J.L.G.’, although the young woman was known to her landlord, charwoman and a circle of relatively recently acquired friends as ‘Laura Grey’.

The story revealed by the inquest was one that might be thought too contrived if one read it in a novel, or watched it unfold on stage or film. In it we find all the tropes that concerned British society at that most febrile of times in the summer of 1914.

Laura Grey’s death. caused a brief but spectacular newspaper sensation. In this case the ‘ruin’ of a well-brought-up young woman was associated not only with the familiar evils of drugs, the stage and night clubs but also with the exotic addition of the very topical phenomenon of window-smashing, imprisonment and hunger striking – all that denoted involvement in the militant suffragette movement. On the day that her death was first reported the newspapers were full of reports of police raids on suffragette hide-outs and of suffragette bombing, arson and a hatchet attack on a painting by Romney in the Birmingham Art Gallery.

‘Laura Grey”s real name was Joan Lavender Baillie Guthrie. She had been born in 1889 to a well-off young couple – her father doesn’t appear to have had employment as such, but was involved with the Volunteers, the territorial army of its day. He was Cambridge-educated but had been born in South Africa. During the Boer War he returned there as an officer in the Imperial Yeomanry, dying of enteric fever on 16 May 1900. His wife must have been alerted to his condition because she set sail for Cape Town on 5 May. I don’t know if she arrived before he died, but she returned to Southampton on 14 June having, presumably, seen him to this grave.

In December 1900 Mrs Baillie Guthrie with her two daughters (Lavender and Lilias, as they were known) set off for the Continent. I don’t know how long they spent abroad, but there is no trace of any of them in the 1901 UK census. Lavender apparently received a good education – she was reported to be a proficient student of Latin and Greek – but where and how this was acquired I don’t know.

Mrs Baillie Guthrie first appears on the London local electoral register in 1909 which may indicate that the family had only recently returned from living abroad. It was, anyway, about this time that Lavender Guthrie first joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. As her mother remarked at the inquest, ‘She was not quite a normal girl. She studied very hard, and had ideas of Socialism and of giving her life and her all to her more unfortunate sisters.’ A picture was being painted at the inquest of an unbalanced mind – that Lavender, when about 16 years old, had damaged her face with a chemical. Indeed, the doctor who tended to her when she was dying remarked on a scarring to her face. However, as set out in the inquest report, this episode is directly linked by her mother to Lavender’s desire to do good in the world.

Her mother also said that Lavender was an obedient daughter and, although a member of the WSPU from the age of 18, did not take part in any militant activity until 1911 when she was 21 and had reached the age of majority.

One other aspect of Lavender Guthrie’s character that was considered by her mother as not quite normal was that ‘she thought we were too luxurious in our life. All her life she had been a very good and spiritual-minded girl, and had not cared for any of the ordinary pleasures of life or enjoyments of life. All her ideal was to work, and work very hard.’ She said that Lavender had tried hard to find work to support herself but ‘she found that the wages of unskilled women labour would not support life.’ It was only when she was successful in getting employment on the stage that she was able to earn sufficient to enable her to leave home, apparently, at the end of 1912.

However, for some months in the early part of 1912 Lavender had had no need to seek work as she was  a prisoner in Holloway Gaol  She had taken part in the March 1912 WSPU-organised window-smashing campaign. and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for wilful damage. The window she had broken was that of Garrards, the famous jewellers, perhaps targeted it as a protest against the luxurious lifestyle that she abhorred.

In Holloway she went on hunger strike, was forcibly fed and was released after serving about four months. During this time Holloway was packed with suffragette prisoners – among them Emily Wilding Davison – and Lavender Guthrie would have known and been known to these most committed members of the WSPU.

While in Holloway Lavender Guthrie wrote the following poem that was subsequently published in Holloway Jingles, an anthology collected and published by the Glasgow branch of the WSPU. The dedicatee, ‘D.R.’ is thought to be Dorothea Rock. The poem has been singled out by literary critics as having more merit than most of the other ‘Jingles’. (Another poem in the anthology is by Emily Wilding Davison.)

To D.R.

Beyond the bars I see her move,

A mystery of blue and green,

As though across the prison yard

The spirit of the spring had been.

And as she lifts her hands to press

The happy sunshine of her hair,

From the grey ground the pigeons rise,

And rustle upwards in the air,

As though her two hands held a key

To set the imprisoned spirits free.

Listen here to an atmospheric setting by Eva Kendrick of this poem sung by the Northern Arizona University Women’s Choir. (I love it.)

To this suffragette’s autograph album Lavender Guthrie contributed a few lines from Robert Louis Stevenson – ‘The conditions of conquest are easy; we have only to hope a while, endure a while, believe always and never turn back’. Below her given name she added in brackets her stage and suffragette name – Laura Grey. It was the name she used when arrested. Like some other women – particularly of the middle class – she did not want her real name to appear in the papers in order not to embarrass her family. It is likely, therefore, that it was first as a suffragette soubriquet that Lavender adopted the name ‘Laura Grey’, which then gave her a ready-made stage name.

It seems that Lavender Guthrie suffered  from the after effects of forcible feeding and there is the suggestion that it was after her release that she discovered that veronal could ease the ‘neuralgia’ from which she now suffered. Her mother said that Lavender was ‘very ill’ after her release from prison.

Lyceum Theatre

Lyceum Theatre

Lavender’s first stage engagement was in the Lyceum Theatre’s Christmas 1912 pantomime – The Forty Thieves – doubtless an excellent vehicle for displaying the thinly-veiled flesh of the ‘pantomime girls’. At the time the Lyceum was renowned for staging the best pantomimes in London.

Now able to leave the comfort of her Kensington home,  ‘Laura Grey’ lived at first in rooms in Handel Mansions, Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury then had a rather louche reputation. However it was not long before she moved to the flat in Jermyn Street, close to the bright lights of Piccadilly. A couple of years earlier (when the 1911 census was taken) the tenant of the flat was a 24-year-old American ‘dancer (artistic) not in work’, who declared that she was married with one child. However neither husband or child was living with her and I feel that here, too, is a story of quiet desperation waiting to be uncovered.

There is no indication in the inquest report of the other shows in which Laura Grey was engaged (although there must have been at least one or two because the Lyceum was described as the first).  The coroner did not disguise the curl of his lip when he referred to her as a ‘pantomime girl’. As such she represented all that was meretricious and sleazy in the eyes of right-thinking people. Pantomime Girl, a novel by Annie Louise Daniells published in 1913 ,did not allow the central figure a happy ending – even if she was not actually forced, unlike poor Laura Grey, to suffer the ultimate wages of sin.

For not only did Laura Grey die, but she died pregnant. How much further could a young middle-class woman fall? The coroner had no trouble at all in revealing the cause  – her involvement with the suffragettes. He read in full the letter that accompanied the award of her hunger-strike medal, sent to Lavender Guthrie by Mrs Mabel Tuke of the WSPU,  and commented ‘Could anything be more calculated to upset the mind of a young girl than receiving this document and this travesty of a medal. The effect was quite clear. She leaves her home, her sister, her mother, for a garret in order to earn her own living and probably devote herself to this cause. She is next on the stage as a pantomime girl. Next we find her in the company of men frequenting night clubs and taking money from them. There is no more about the suffragist movement. The girl seems to have been absolutely degraded, and from then her whole history is one of drink, drugs, immorality, and death from her own hand.’

The jury duly returned a verdict of suicide during temporary insanity. However, this is just what Lavender Guthrie had anticipated. In the note she left for her mother she wrote ‘Of course the kindly Coroner will call it temporary insanity, but as a matter of fact I think this is about the sanest thing I have yet done. I am simply very, very tired of things in general.’ In fact her mother had been so worried about her that she had called in two women doctors – Dr Helen Boyle, who specialised in mental disorders, and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, who had actually been imprisoned in Holloway at the same time as Lavender – hoping that they would be able to certify her as insane. Their visit to Jermyn Street, accompanied by two nurses  -so certain were they, from what they had been told by Mrs Guthrie, that they would need to remove Lavender – had taken place on 26 May. The doctors, however, had not found Lavender suffering from any delusions that warranted restraint.

It is difficult to know exactly what Laura Grey’s  Jermyn Street life had been like. She left over £1000 in her will, although this money might not have been easily accessible. According to her mother, although she had initially refused to accept an allowance, by the time of her death she had agreed to receive an annual allowance of £100. Was she receiving money from men, as the Coroner suggested – or assumed? Who knows? Her mother noted at the inquest that she ‘lived in a very self-sacrificing manner, denying herself everything.’ However, it would appear that she must have spent at least some of her money on drink and drugs. When asked by the Coroner if she knew that her daughter ‘had taken to drink’, Mrs Guthrie gave the immortal reply, ‘I had heard of absinthe: I do not know whether that is drink’. Laura Grey’s regular consumption of veronal was evident from the bottles found in the flat. In the touching letter she left for her mother she wrote, ‘I have been taking veronal for the last six months practically every night. I only lied to you about it because I knew you would worry if I told you the truth’.

In this letter Laura Grey also writes, ‘During this last year I have met some very dear souls, both men and women. If you ever come across them and they speak to you of me give them a welcome for my sake, even though I may have met them in bad and immoral ways’. In July Mrs Guthrie wrote a short letter in the Daily Mail, in which she thanked those who had got in touch to sympathise at her loss – and there is a hint that among these may have been some of the ‘dear souls’ to whom Lavender refers. In which case it appears a rather generous letter.

The night clubs frequented by Laura Grey were named as the Astor Club (already defunct by 1914), the Mimosa, the Leicester and the Albert Rooms. They were all doubtless of a transient nature and have vanished leaving no discernible trace.  newspaper reported that ‘she generally wore evening dress at these resorts, but lately she appeared in costumes of the futurist fashion

Betty May (courtesy of Kirsty McKenzie Design Facebook Page)

Betty May (courtesy of Kirsty McKenzie Design Facebook Page)

Betty May, exotic dancer, good-time girl and another frequenter of Soho haunts, in her racy memoir – Tiger-Woman – published in 1929, places Laura Grey in the bohemian Cafe Royal, alongside many better known figures, such as the futurist painter C.R.W. Nevinson. ‘I knew her well’, Betty May writes, ‘and the night before she was found dead she came over to me in the Café and gave me a book she had promised to lend me. We had a long chat and she seemed quite cheerful. She was tall and slim, with a very fine forehead. At one time she had been a militant suffragette.’ Whether or not this charming scene actually did take place I don’t know. Betty May’s memoir doesn’t strike me as totally reliable, but the fact that she chooses to mention Laura Grey at all 15 years after her death is interesting. If Laura Grey was in the Cafe Royal the night before she died, that fact was not mentioned at the inquest. Indeed there was a suggestion in the press that she may have taken the veronal on the Friday night and lain undiscovered all weekend until Mrs Spicer arrived on Monday morning.

Cafe Royal, by Willian Orpen, 1912

Cafe Royal, by Willian Orpen, 1912

Betty May also mentions, as another of the bohemian haunters of the Cafe Royal, both William Orpen, the painter of the above picture, and the poet, Anna Wickham who’ always dressed very severely, and had a deep voice that used to frighten me a great deal’.

Anna Wickham

Anna Wickham

Whether or not Anna Wickham actually knew Laura Grey she was sufficiently moved by her fate to write a poem, Laura Grey, that was published in the Daily Herald (a left-wing newspaper) on 16 June 1914.

And Anna Wickham was not the only member of the literati to be inspired to poetry by Laura Grey’s death. On 14 June 1914 Gilbert Cannan, poet and essayist, wrote to Lady Ottoline Morrell,  ‘these last days I have been haunted and most passionately moved the story of the girl, Laura Grey. Her unassailable spirit thrust deliberately through the worst of life has shone splendidly for me and I wrote this poem which I send to you now..’His biographer, Diana Farr, commented ‘ Here was a girl that Gilbert would have loved to cherish and the poem he sent to Ottoline called simply Laura Grey was his response to a story which moved him deeply.’

But there were many others who were moved in a different direction. The novelist, E. W. Hornung, the author of Raffles, a brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle, and a Kensington friend of the Guthrie family, wrote a letter to The Times, published on 13 June as an Appreciation of ‘Laura Grey’. Referring to her throughout as Lavender Guthrie, he described her as ‘a beautiful and gentle creature: one both gracious and unaffected, indeed as great-hearted and noble-minded and sweet-tempered a girl as ever looked like a Greek goddess and carried herself like a queen.’

This paragon, this icon of young British womanhood, did however have one fault – ‘Erratic and wilful she no doubt had always been.’ It was this fault, ‘observable outside her family circle’, that had caused her to associate with the militant suffragettes, whose ‘methods and practices both inside and outside prison’ oozed ‘slow and subtle sex-poison.’ It was this that had robbed Lavender Guthrie of her ‘bloom’ – ‘the thirst for sensation had become a passion and the craze for revolt had become a disease’. For this he laid the blame firmly on the leaders of the WSPU.

All the newspapers were awash with letters about the case. A few were sympathetic to Laura Grey’s fate but most, like a correspondent to the Daily Express, saw her as the ‘Victim of the Furies’. And you will have no difficulty in guessing who these were.

For their part, the WSPU put its own particular spin on the sad story, declaring that Laura Grey had long left their ranks and it was because she was no longer a suffragette that she had fallen in with the wrong sort of people. Why were the names of the men which whom she had associated – particularly the father of the child she was expecting – not publicised? It was the Government and the attitudes of society that were responsible for Laura Grey’s death. In fact her ‘ruin’  ideally illustrated Christabel Pankhurst’s slogan of the last couple of years – ‘Votes for Women and Chastity for Men’.

It was certainly not a good moment for the WSPU to be associated with drug-taking, for at this very time – amongst all the other newspaper reports of suffragette mayhem – was the story – sensationalised in the popular press – that a solicitor’s clerk had been discovered attempting to smuggle a drug to Grace Roe, one of the WSPU leaders, now on hunger strike in Holloway. The drug was actually an emetic – enabling her to be sick after forcible feeding – not a barbiturate – but the man and, indeed, woman in the street, could now even more easily associate ‘drugs’ with ‘suffragettes’.

If only Laura Grey/Lavender Guthrie had been able to hold out for a couple more months might the war have made a difference to her situation? With the great change that British society was about to undergo, the birth of baby to yet another unmarried young woman might have felt of little less consequence in general, although doubtless still fraught in the particular. In her farewell letter to her mother she sent ‘My love to Lilias, and I hope she will be very happy and marry some decent man whose children you could be proud of’. This strikes me as the saddest sentence in a long, sad letter. Lilias never married. If Mrs Baillie Guthrie had wanted only grandchildren of which she could be proud, she was to be disappointed.

Nearly 100 years after the sad event, Lavender Guthrie’s suicide still has the power to shock. Although I had known of the case in a general way it was only a week ago, when going through cuttings accumulated by my diarist, Kate Parry Frye for all about Kate Frye’s diary click here), that I came across a copy of Hornung’s letter to The Times. Kate had clipped it and neatly folded it and I doubt anybody else had looked at it until I opened it out last week. I have checked and, although she was in London at the time, Kate makes no mention of the case of Laura Grey in her diary – but it had obviously not gone unremarked.

In another neat leap through the century, Lavender Guthrie’s hunger-strike medal that I illustrate at the head of this post is now held in the collection of Ken Florey, who illustrates it beautifully in his  Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study. So, the very hunger-strike medal that in 1914 was in the Jermyn Street room as poor Lavender Guthrie took her overdose of veronal, was taken away by the police and then held up to such contempt and ridicule by the Coroner, is, a century later, the prized and treasured possession of a dedicated collector of suffragette memorabilia.

 

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: The International Suffrage Shop

Another in my series documenting the places  that would once have been so familiar to both suffragettes and suffragists in the area surrounding the new home of the Women’s Library @ LSE. The main sites once occupied by the International Suffrage Shop have long since been swept away but, as a devotée of  books and bookselling,  I would like to ensure that this brave venture is commemorated.

In 1910 the International Suffrage Shop was  opened by the actress, Sime Seruya in a room on the third floor of 31 Bedford Street, Covent Garden,  lent to her by Edith Craig. In March 1911 the shop moved to spacious new premises – 15 Adam Street – on the south side of the Strand, not far from where Virago ran a bookshop, with which I was associated, in Southampton Street in the late 1980s. (Incidentally, the Virago Bookshop, along with the late-lamented Silver Moon and Sister Write’s in Islington – the latter’s premises now, ironically, a Cook Shop – represented a brief flowering of interest in women-oriented reading material of which the Persephone Bookshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street is now, I think,  the only surviving bricks and mortar representative – at least in London.)

The International Suffrage Shop was described as ‘The Only Feminist Bookshop’ and had on  sale all kinds of feminist as well as general literature, modern plays on social questions, art and children’s books, pictorial posters, badges and newspapers, photographs and postcards.

The shop also acted as a publisher for Cicely Hamilton’s Pageant of Great Women and Margaret Nevinson’s In the Workhouse and its logo is to be found on the (rare) photographs, published separately, of the leading characters – such as Ellen Terry – who took part in the original pageant.

The ISS had a large room – complete with ‘a picture lamp and sheet’ that could be let out for meetings and, positioned so centrally, was a useful place for assignations. For instance, Kate Parry Frye arranged to meet some friends there on the afternoon of 21 November 1911, before going, first, to have tea at the cafe in the Cecil Hotel and then on to a window-smashing demonstration in Parliament Square.

Kate Frye's copy of the flyer for the ISS Benefit Performance of 'The Coronation'

Kate Frye’s copy of the flyer for the ISS Benefit Performance of ‘The Coronation’

Alas it was as difficult then as it is now to make a living through book selling and the International Suffrage Shop was always in financial difficulties. Kate Frye played a leading, if silent, part in Christopher St John’s  banned play, The Coronation, published by the ISS and staged by Edith Craig in January 1912 as a Benefit Performance in aid of the shop. A long description of the occasion can be found in Campaigning for the Vote.

As the WSPU campaign became more physically militant the International Suffrage  Shop, which boasted two very large plate-glass windows, became a prime target for retaliation. Helena Swanwick described how when, one evening, she was attending a meeting at the shop medical students broke in and threw books about. The police, apparently, would do nothing to help. On at least one occasion one of the shop’s windows was broken.

When the Strand was widened in mid-1913 the shop had to move and certainly by the time it was forced to close in April 1918, threatened with bankruptcy, its address was 5 Duke Street, Adelphi (then off Villiers Street). In 1913 it would appear that the original founders had relinquished their connection and that it had been taken over by Miss Adeline West Trim, who had been in charge of the Book-Selling Department from the beginning and had managed to keep the shop open throughout the First World War and who, alas, died soon after, in 1920 aged barely 50.

For other posts in this series see:

Where and What Was the Aldwych Skating Rink ?

Where And What Was Clement’s Inn ?

The St Clement’s Press

Where And What Was the ‘Votes For Women Fellowhip?’

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

£14.99

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk, from all good bookshops – especially Foyle’s, London Review Bookshop, Persephone Bookshop, British Library Bookshop, Daunt Books, The National Archives Bookshop and Newham Bookshop. Also online – especially recommend very favourable price offered by Foyle’s Online (and they pay all taxes!)

 

Campaigning for the Vote cover‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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Suffrage Stories: Kitty Marion, Emily Wilding Davison And Hurst Park

Emily Wilding Davison died in Epsom Hospital during the afternoon of Sunday 8 June. However, by the previous evening a plan was already afoot to commemorate, if not yet her death, at least her action at the Derby.

Kitty Marion

Kitty Marion

In a previous post I explained that Kitty Marion, one-time music-hall artiste – by 1913 a full-time militant suffragette, wrote in her unpublished autobiography that Emily Davison, on the eve of the Derby had given her a purse containing a sovereign, ‘for munitions’. She went on to say that ‘the following Sunday, when unaware of her death, Betty Giveen and I made good use of the ‘munitions’ Emily had paid for.’ It transpired that  ‘some one living in the vicinity of Hurst Park race course [had] suggested to Clara [aka ‘Betty’] Giveen and me that the Grand Stand there would make a most appropriate beacon, not only as the usual protest but, in honour of our Comrade’s daring deed for which she paid with her life.’

Whether or not Kitty Marion’s story of Emily’s purse and the sovereign is true (I am horribly suspicious of post-event stories that place an autobiographer in the centre of a dramatic scene – cf Mary Richardson) there is no doubt that, on the evening of 8 June, Kitty Marion and Betty Giveen set out for the Hurst Park stadium at Molesey (near Hampton Court), apparently equipped with their ‘munitions’  – a gallon of oil and fire lighters -together with a piece of candle to ignite the oil-soaked material they was to be used as a wick. In the event the ‘fuse’ ignited far too quickly – an hour was supposed to elapse before the blaze started – and the women had to depart in haste. The stadium was gutted.

The women had difficulty, hampered by their skirts, but with the aid of a piece of old carpet they had brought along, in clambering over the fence that  surrounded the grounds and it interests me that in her autobiography (admittedly written many years later)  Kitty Marion specifically comments ‘We both regretted that there was no movie camera to immortalise the comedy of it.’  If the power of the ‘movie cameras’ was in their mind on 8 June, it makes Emily Davison’s positioning of herself at Epsom on 4 June all the more convincing. Movies were by 1913 firmly embedded in the contemporary mindset.

The mistake made over the setting of the fuse rather bears out my contention that  fires, once started, are not easy to control. Suffragette arsonists – as any other fireraiser, male or female – could never be certain that they would not cause injury to themselves or others. They were lucky.

Leaving the stadium ablaze, Kitty and Betty then walked from Molesey to Kew – to the home of Dr and Mrs Casey (and of their militantly WSPU daughter, Eileen) at 25 West Park Road, Kew. [The house is a typical Edwardian semi; I have often walked past it on my way from Kew Gardens station to the National Archives.]  Kitty writes that Mrs Casey,  after meeting her and Betty had invited them to stay at her house. Mrs Casey confirmed this meeting in her trial evidence, reporting that she had met Kitty, for the first time, at the WSPU Summer Fair on the evening of 7 June. Presumably in handing to them a latch key to the house so that they could enter during the night without waking the household, Mrs Casey was aware that they were likely to have committed some law-breaking act and had not, as the defence claimed, been attending a party.

During the course of the 7 June meeting Mrs Casey had told Kitty which room in her house would be free for them and in her evidence said that on the morning of Monday 9 June  ‘she saw Miss Marion with Miss Giveen asleep in a top room’. The report continues, ‘witness opened the door and said “It’s time to get up for breakfast.”‘

Apparently, however, the house was being watched by police and Kitty and Betty were soon arrested there. They had, in fact, encountered a policeman in the early hours of the morning close to Kew station as they were trying to work out the exact location of West Park Road. The newspaper evidence appears to indicate that the police were watching the Caseys’ house, which, if true, would seem to indicate that far more research needs to be done on the deployment of police surveillance against WSPU sympathisers.

On Tuesday 10 June Kitty and Betty were charged at Richmond court and released on bail of £2000 each on sureties partly offered by two wealthy WSPU supporters, Mrs Williams and Mrs Potts.

Although Betty Giveen, who was from Birmingham, had from 4 June been lodging at 7 Great Ormond Street in Holborn and Kitty had digs at 86 Kennington Road, Lambeth, in  court they both named 118 King Henry’s Road, Hampstead, the home of the WSPU Hampstead secretaries, the Misses Collier, as an address that would find them. That evening Kitty Marion returned once again to the Empress Rooms and the WSPU  Summer Fair, where a wreath dedicated to the memory of Emily Davison now rested against the statue of St Joan.

The trial of Kitty Marion and Betty Giveen was held at Guilford on 3 July. Both the newspaper reports and Kitty Marion’s autobiography  record, as Kitty put it, ‘great astonishment at the Freemasonary among suffragettes, for one to trust a mere acquaintance who had never previously been to her house, with a latch key and to bring another, an utter stranger. Neither court nor counsels could grasp the idea’. ‘She was a Suffragette’, said Mrs Casey, ‘that was quite good enough for us. We trust anyone who is a Suffragette.’

Kitty Marion was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude and immediately went on a hunger-and-thirst strike. For much more about Kitty Marion (and Eileen Casey) read their entries in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.  There is an interesting blog post about Eileen Casey and her mother, Mrs Isabella Casey, on the National Archives website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: June 2013

In case readers of Woman and Her Sphere haven’t had enough Emily Wilding Davison here is a piece I was commissioned to write for the OUP blog. Or, to be exact, this is the piece I chose to write, having been commissioned to write something about Emily Davison.

OUP Blog Why is Emily Davison the first suffragette martyr?

Do readers have any views? Do you think I’m too cynical?

And here is a link to one programme in what sounds like an interesting series to be broadcast in the 1.45 slot (15-min programmes) for 2 weeks starting on Monday 10 June. The second programme, Tuesday 11 June, is devoted, I think, to the suffrage movement. I was interviewed at length, but have no idea how the material has been edited!

 

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Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison and Kate Frye – Derby Day 1913

The memorial brooch to Emily Davison that Mary Leigh kept all her life

The memorial brooch to Emily Davison that Mary Leigh kept all her life, I can’t explain the scribbles!

In yesterday’s post I explained that on the evening of 3 June 1913 Emily Davison went to Kensington, to the WSPU Summer Fair. I think it likely that the idea of doing ‘something’ next day at the Derby only crystallised during the course of that evening or night.

For, the next morning, Emily travelled into town from 133 Clapham Road, where we believe she was staying with her friend, Mrs Alice Green, in order to visit WSPU headquarters in Kingsway and acquire two WSPU flags. The journey she would have followed involved travelling on the City and South London Railway (now the Northern line) to Bank, changing there to the Central line and exiting at British Museum, a station long since incorporated into Holborn station. From there it was a short walk to WSPU headquarters at Lincoln’s Inn House.

A WSPU flag

A WSPU flag

If she had planned in advance to travel to Epsom that day, Emily would surely have picked up the flags earlier. It would have been much easier to travel from Clapham to Victoria, without making a detour into Holborn. As it was it would appear that she rolled up the flags, which are made from quite heavy woollen material, pinned them inside the back of her coat (according to the police report) and set off for Victoria.

Victoria Station

Victoria Station

As I have explained in an earlier post, at Victoria it is more than likely that the only ticket Emily could buy, whether she wanted it or not, was a special Derby Day  excursion return – at the not inconsiderable price of 8 shillings.  The one she travelled took her to Epsom Downs station, close to the Grandstand, but quite a distance from Tattenham Corner. She may have arrived around the middle of the day, possibly in time for the first race.

The Derby began at 3.01pm. As the horses approached Tattenham Corner a mere 4 seconds elapsed between Emily Davison ducking under the rails and being knocked flying by Anmer. The horse got to his feet and the crowd rushed forward to surround Emily Davison and Herbert Jones, the jockey.

The main witness, a policeman, Frank Bunn, who was standing near to the point where Emily went under the rail,  made clear at the inquest that there was no identification of  Emily until after she was admitted to Epsom Cottage Hospital. The identification may have come from the marking on a handkerchief in her pocket. Here is the complete inventory of Emily’s possessions, as noted by Frank Bunn.

  • ‘On her jacket being removed I found 2 Suffragette flags, 1½ yards long by ¾ yards wide, each consisting of green, white and purple stripes, folded up and pinned to the back of her jacket, on the inside.
  • On person, 1 purse containing 3/8¾d.,
  • 1 return half railway ticket from Epsom Race Course to Victoria No 0315,
  • 8 ½d stamps,
  • 1 helper’s pass for Suffragette Summer Festival, Empress Rooms, High Street, Kensington for 4th June 1913,
  • 1 race card,
  • some envelopes and writing paper,
  • 1 handkerchief Emily Davison Mrs. E.W.D 8 88.
  • 2 postal order counterfoils No. 790/435593 for 2/6, ‘crossed’ written in ink thereon, one 20H/924704 for 7/6 E.Gore 1/4/13 written in ink thereon,
  • one insurance ticket dated May 10th 1913 on G.E. railway to and from New Oxford Street,
  • 1 key,
  • 1 small memo book’

Some of these items survive in the collection of the Women’s Library @ LSE

As she lay on the racecourse, Emily Davison was tended by Mrs Catherine Warburg, a member of the wealthy banking family, a woman with, the inquest reported, some nursing experience. The Warburgs’ had an estate nearby in Surrey and,  quite incidentally, one of Mrs Warburg’s sons, Edmund, was to become an eminent botanist.

While Herbert Jones was carried into the racecourse ambulance, Emily had to rely  on the goodwill of a race goer and was taken to Epsom hospital in the car of Johann Faber, who lived at nearby Ewell and, among his other activities, was the Danish consul general in London.

The reverse of Mary Leigh's Emily WIlding Davison brooch, annotated, characteristically,  in Mary's handwriting

The reverse of Mary Leigh’s Emily WIlding Davison brooch, annotated, characteristically, in Mary’s handwriting

There is no contemporary evidence to suggest that Emily Davison was accompanied to Epsom by anybody else. Mary Richardson, another militant suffragette, claimed, both in her autobiography and in a BBC interview, to have been standing near Emily and to have seen her dash onto the race track. However, I do not believe this. She wrote the book- and recorded the interview – in 1953, forty years after that Derby Day. She was impoverished and to create some hype placed herself at the scene of every major suffragette drama. This is, I feel, a pity as the parts of the book which can be tied to historical fact do have power, but in 1953 (as, perhaps, now) the public only wanted drama from the suffragettes. If she had really been close at Epsom on 4 June 1913 she would surely have written about this – or it would have been reported – in The Suffragette, even if not called as a witness at the inquest. Moreover she rather gilds the lily by claiming to be at the Derby to sell copies of The Suffragette, a paper that, at this very time, the Home Office was not permitting to be sold. I cannot imagine that the masses of police manning the Derby would have allowed Mary Richardson to ply her wares. But such is the power of the media that careful reasoning is always trumped by the easy soundbite.

Kate Frye coverIf we do not know what Mary Richardson was really doing for the Cause on Derby Day, there is no doubt what Emily Davison was doing and, indeed, what Kate Frye, another stalwart campaigner, working at this time in Fakenham, Norfolk, as organizer for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, was up to.

Kate’s diary entry for 4 June 1913 tells us that she was unsuccessful in her search for a chairwoman for a meeting (the reason often given was that whichever local worthy she approached did not want in any way to be associated with the militant suffragettes, even though the NCS was, as its name suggests, a constitutional society) and spent some hours walking round the town, canvassing for members. A thankless task and, of course, hardly the stuff of drama.

She ends the day’s entry with ‘My good landlady talks more than I need but she seems to like me and as she has never had a lady lodger before I must make a good impression.’ So, in her own way, Kate was breaking boundaries on that day 100 years ago. I am sure we are all grateful that, as women, we are not barred as lodgers. Presumably in previous years that ‘kind landlady’ had turned women away, doubtless worrying that they would give her house a bad reputation. My point being that revolutions require a succession of infinitely small changes – as well as the grand gesture.

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Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison On The Eve Of The Derby 1913

On Tuesday  3 June 1913  Emily Davison was present at the Suffragette Summer Fair, held in the  Empress Rooms, on the north side of Kensington High Street, just  west of Kensington Palace.  

Advertising the 'All in a Summer Fair, June 1913

Advertising the ‘All in a Garden Fair’, June 1913

The WSPU’s fund-raising  ‘All In a Garden Fair’ saw the hired room transformed into  ‘a beautiful rose garden under an Italian sky’, lined with pergolas wreathed in pink rambling roses. In the centre of the hall was an illuminated fountain, which was  set in a grass lawn, surrounded by clipped box trees and garden seats. This verdant scene was surrounded by stalls  selling WSPU merchandise and all kinds of  goods donated by members. The Ladies’ Aeolian Orchestra and the Actresses’ Franchise League contributed live performances. A centrepiece of the Fair was a statue of Joan of Arc, who had come to prominence with her beatification in 1909 and by 1913 was very much a symbolic heroine to  suffragettes.

Emily Davison’s biographer, Gertrude Colmore, reported that Emily attended the Fair with her ‘Comrade’, Mary Leigh, and that ‘Saluting, she stood there, reading the words upon the pedestal,  “Fight on, and God will give victory”‘ These , reportedly Joan of Arc’s last words, were those that were to appear all too soon on banners draped on Emily Davison’s grave.

Kitty Marion

Kitty Marion

Another suffragette who places herself with Emily Davison at the Fair was Kitty Marion, music hall artiste and militant suffragette. In her unpublished autobiography she states that, with Emily Davison, she was among a group of friends who discussed the possibility of making a protest the next day at Epsom.  As she remembered it nothing was decided but. ‘Before we parted that night, Emily gave me a tiny green chamois purse containing a sovereign for “‘munitions I might need soon”‘.  We have only Kitty Marion’s word that Emily Davison made this cryptic comment to which, of course, she then gives her own interpretation; I shall publish a post in a few days time recounting What Kitty Did Next.  Did  Emily Davison, who we know was by no means well off and with no employment,  on the evening before the Derby really give away the large sum of a sovereign (£1 then, worth about £65 today). It doesn’t seem very likely, but, if she did, what could she have meant by it?

For, although Emily Davison is not known to have undertaken any militant acts since the end of 1912, Kitty Marion most certainly had.  While standing talking on 3 June at the ‘All in a Garden Fair’, it was with the knowledge that in the course of the previous few weeks she  she had been responsible for setting fire to at least three houses – the latest, from the evidence of her scrapbook, being a house in Folkestone on 17 May. One of these houses, severely damaged on 15 April, was ‘Levetleigh’, the Hastings home of an MP.  In addition she had set fire to a succession of stationary railway carriages  in places such as Teddington, around London’s outer suburbs.

So, as the women stood together ‘under the Italian sky’, at least one of them had, metaphorically and, probably, literally, traces of paraffin on her hands. It is difficult to believe that Emily Davison was not aware of the arsonists in her circle and that for all the the ‘beautiful rose garden’ that surrounded them and the girls in virginal white standing outside the Empress Rooms inviting passers-by to step in, the atmosphere within the group was not increasingly febrile. For reasons that I will put forward in tomorrow’s post, I think it was in the course of this evening – and not before – that Emily Davison made up her mind to take the train the next day to Epsom – and the Derby.

 

 

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Campaigning For The Vote: Kate Frye and ‘Black Friday’, November 1910

Kate Frye coverKate Frye was present on so many important suffrage occasions – including ‘Black Friday’ – 18 November 1910.  On this day the suffrage societies learned that the Conciliation Bill, on which they had pinned their hopes, would be abandoned as, with the two houses of Parliament locked in confrontation over Lloyd George’s budget, Parliament was to be dissolved. The police were out in force and employed brutal tactics to break up the women’s demonstration.

Only a short excerpt of Kate’s ‘Black Friday’ diary entry appears in Campaigning for the Vote because it occurred in the period before Kate began work as a paid organizer for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. There was, alas, just too much material in her diary to make a book out of her whole suffrage experience. So, for those who would like more, here are full details of Kate’s experience that momentous day. 

Kate's invitation from the WSPU to attend the protest, Friday November 1910

Kate’s invitation from the WSPU to attend the protest, Friday 18 November 1910. Just imagine how many of these fragile flyers lay torn and trampled on the ground at the end of ‘Black Friday’. Kate carefully preserved hers, took it home and laid it in her diary

Friday November 18th 1910

Up in good time. Brushed Mickie [her dog] then took him for a walk – then started at 10.30 for the Caxton Hall. Train from Notting Hill Gate to St James’ Park. I got there about 12 – and the hall was already full and the crowd hanging about were soon after turned out of the vestibule – so I stood some time on the steps. Then from there we were turned into the street and I waited there, chatting with different women, till about 12.40 when the 1st deputation left the Caxton Hall for Parliament Square.

They were soon swallowed up in a seething mob and I simply flew with many other women by short cuts to Parliament Square where I landed more or less by chance in the thick of it. One could hardly see the plan of it all amid the hurly burly excitement, shouts, laughter applause & rushes of the enormous crowd which grew every minute. I was almost struck dumb and I felt sick for hours. It was a most horrible experience. I have rarely been in anything more unpleasant – it was ghastly and the loud laughter & hideous remarks of the men – so called gentlemen – even of the correctly attired top-hatted kind – was truly awful. It made all the men and women seem mad together. And the poor women – the look of dogged suffering & strain on their faces.

Spread - with newspaper cuttings laid in -  from Kate's Black Friday' diary entry

Spread – with newspaper cuttings laid in – from Kate’s Black Friday’ diary entry

I first reached the wall of the moat [round the Houses of Parliament] at the angle so I could see the door plainly and Mrs Pankhurst and the elderly lady [Elizabeth Garrett Anderson] – over 70 years of age – with her. Then I saw policemen breaking up the little standards held by a group of women. I saw deputations pass along and ugly rushes and ever the crowd grew.

I stood some time but I had to give up my place by the wall people pushed so and I was awfully afraid of getting crushed. So I got out to the road and there watched the deputations come along and saw the horrible hustling by the crowds of roughs and overheard the hideous laughter and remarks of the men looking on. Half of them made the remark that it was the funniest thing they had ever seen in their lives – all had their mouths open in an insane grin. One or two were so horrible that I just gazed upon them till they noticed me and moved away, not liking I suppose to be overheard. Several spoke to me – many indignant: ‘What good do you suppose this will do?’ ‘What else would you suggest?’ said I. Then he began the usual – that the militant methods had disgusted all nicely feeling people etc. I turned his attention to my two badges – constitutional societies, as I told him – and asked ‘What help have you ever given us?’ He walked away. Not one man did I hear speak on the women’s side. There may have been some, but not near me.

I saw Captain Gonne led off & heard afterwards of his doings. Many women there were of the WSPU – and a few London Society [ie members of the constitutional NUWSS society] – all standing about perfectly wretched & green – cheering them on to battle and off to Cannon Row when arrested. One poor lady in her wheel chair [probably Rosa Billinghurst]– propelled by hand – followed in the wake of a deputation – generally 6 to a dozen people – she rang her bell violently and the crowd gave way before her – it was a funny but dreadfully tragic sight.

As the crowd grew and the crowd kept being pressed back – I moved away and once, seeing some fighting women & policemen on the pavement coming my way, I stood back to the railing expecting them to go by. But, oh no – a burly policemen, taking me for one of a deputation, caught hold of me with an ‘Out you come’ and for some minutes I was tossed about like a cork on an angry sea, turning round and round – sometimes bumped on to a policeman – sometimes on a hospital nurse, who was fighting for all she was worth – pale to the lips but determined (and I afterwards saw her led off arrested ) – until I was with the others pushed out of the danger zone.

The others went back but I sat down by the railing for a few minutes. I can’t say the man actually hurt me and I was too excited to realise quite what was happening and I was so thickly dressed as not to feel the bumps much – but it wasn’t nice. I don’t know I could have spoken if I had wished to – but I didn’t wish and I didn’t speak. What I felt was – I am not going to get out of the trouble by saying I am not one of them for I am in heart and anyway he will probably think I am trying to trick him and it will do no good and if these women can stand so much I can stand this little. And of course it was nothing really – only a new experience.

Two ladies – one quite elderly came out of their first battle determined not to go back into it. They were a pitiable spectacle – their nerve had gone. One felt so sorry – they were beside themselves and were not aware they had in fact turned ‘coward’. A little lady – evidently there to plead with the faint hearted – spoke quietly to them, urging them to go when they felt rested. ‘But we couldn’t’, they said, ‘we have been half killed’. ‘Oh, but you must – you must go back again and again and again’ and so on. And I spoke to them – thinking an outsider’s word might turn their attention. Their eyes were brimming. They told me that they were supposed to go on till their strength was exhausted – they thought theirs was – but it wasn’t. But poor souls – their fight – of course they had never realised the awfulness of the business and what they would have to endure until they should fall fainting or injured. I wonder if they went back. Perhaps courage did come back to them but who could blame them – they were very saddening.

On the next page of the diary entry Kate laid in the WSPU's pamphlet prepared as a result of 'Black Friday'

On the next page of the diary entry Kate laid in the WSPU’s pamphlet prepared as a result of ‘Black Friday’

I couldn’t seem to leave even when I had crossed to the station side. I stood and watched the arrested being led off – & gave them a send off – but soon after 2 I gave it up and, leaving the horrid spectacle, went in to Westminster Bridge station. They were beginning to clear the Square of people. Hundreds of policemen were arriving and one could less than ever see the plan of it all. A lot of Yankee sailors had been mystified but delighted and a lot of people were frankly puzzled by it all – and it was a sad business explaining to them. I got back cold to the bone – fetched my lunch on a tray – and was glad of hot soup.

After a visit to friend for tea on way home] grabbed up some evening papers then home. Couldn’t keep my mind off the morning’s experience and we talked of little else. 105 have been arrested. It was about the most bitterly cold night I have ever been out in.’

As a result of what she had witnessed on ‘Black Friday’ Kate Frye joined the WSPU

receipt 001

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

£14.99

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk, from all good bookshops – especially Foyle’s, London Review Bookshop, Persephone Bookshop, British Library Bookshop, The National Archives Bookshop and Newham Bookshop. Also online – especially recommend very favourable price offered by Foyle’s Online (and they pay all taxes!)

 Campaigning for the Vote cover

‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: The Raid On WSPU Headquarters, 30 April 1913

On 30 April 1913  WSPU headquarters at Lincoln’s Inn House in Kingsway were subjected to their first police raid.  See here for a photograph (Museum of London) showing a subsequent raid in progress. 

Lincoln's Inn House 2013, former headquarters of the WSPU

Lincoln’s Inn House 2013, former headquarters of the WSPU

The WSPU had moved into the imposing new office building during the summer of 1912 – vacating their previous quarters in Clements Inn which had been very much Pethick-Lawrence territory. The geographical separation heralded the political separation that occurred in October 1912 when the Pethick-Lawrences were dismissed from the WSPU.

The elegant and imposing entrance hall of Lincoln’s Inn House -through which both suffragettes and police once purposefully made their way –  and its mezzanine floor – is now a ‘Bill’s Restaurant‘. I doubt that the bones of the space – the pillars, the stair case and the ironwork – have changed much in the last century and it is not difficult to imagine – as one sits eating one’s ice cream on a warm summer’s morning – the shades of our foremothers going about their business here.

Lincolns Inn House interior 2

Lincolns Inn House interior 3The police raid was one element in the increasing Home Office crackdown on the WSPU which had begun in February 1913 when, on the day after a house being built for Lloyd George had been damaged by a suffragette bomb,  Mrs Pankhurst declared,’For all that has been done in the past I accept full responsibility. I have advised, I have incited, I have conspired.’ The speech was seized on by the Home Office as the opportunity for which they had been waiting to arrest Mrs Pankhurst. She was charged with procuring or inciting women to commit offences contrary to the Malicious Injuries to Property Act and on 2 April was found guilty and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. She immediately went on hunger strike. See here for the article on this episode commissioned from me for the No 10 website.

WSPU poster protesting against the 'Cat and Mouse' Act

WSPU poster protesting against the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act

It was no coincidence that a day later the bill that was to become known as the ‘Catand Mouse Act’ received its Second Reading in Parliament. The passage of this Bill demonstrates how quickly Parliament could move when the Government was determined to act, for the Bill rapidly became an Act, receiving its Royal Assent on 25 April.

At the beginning of April both Annie Kenney and Flora Drummond were also arrested, the Home Office invoking obscure statutes to ensure that they would appear before the courts. A few days later managers of halls were encouraged by the Home Office no longer to let to the WSPU, who were also proscribed from holding meetings in public parks.

This is the context in which  the raid on Lincoln’s Inn House should be seen. The chief office organizers, Harriet Kerr, Beatrice Sanders, Rachel Barrett, Agnes Lake and Flora Drummond were arrested and were to spend most of May in front of the Bow Street magistrate, Mr Curtis Bennett. The police, under the command of Inspector Quinn of Scotland Yard, loaded a pantechnicon with WSPU papers seized from Lincoln’s Inn House, papers, incidentally, which were never returned. I must say I lament their loss as they would most certainly have shed more factual light on the workings of the WSPU  – Emmeline Pethick Lawrence had been a very business-like manager. In their absence the WSPU story has had to rely to a great extent on hindsight memories and the information culled from Votes for Women  and The Suffragette, sources biased in a way that business letter, receipts and account books are not.

As part of their campaign to cut off WSPU funding, the Home Office intended to trawl through the records seized in order to discover the names of WSPU subscribers and then prosecute them for supporting an organization that encouraged its members to damage property. This plan was never put into practice. The Home Office did, however, prosecute the printer of the WSPU paper, The Suffragette, driving the paper underground but never preventing its publication. On 2 May the Home Office asked the General Post Office to cut off all telephone communication with Lincoln’s Inn House; but the GPO replied that it was not entitled to do so.

These attempts at suppressing the WSPU  had, as might have been predicted, the effect of creating a void that was filled by even more extreme words and deeds. Between February and April there were over 30 arson attacks ascribed to the ‘work’ of suffragettes, as well as many lesser attacks – on golf courses, letter boxes etc.  Moreover, when combined with the publicity given to Mrs Pankhurst’s successive hunger strikes, it is unsurprising that matters reached a crisis point – at the Derby on 4 June 1913.

A year later the police again raided Lincoln’s Inn House, arresting Grace Roe. Christabel Pankhurst’s chief deputy, seen here being marched out of the building. Nearly a century later the rusticated stonework is still the same –  a’ Bill’s’ menu now substituted for The Suffragette  poster.

grace roe

 

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Campaigning For The Vote: Kate Wrestles With North Norfolk, 1912

Kate Frye cover In early summer 1912 Kate Frye was in Norfolk, based in East Dereham, organizing the ‘votes for women’ campaign for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Norfolk. In May the sitting MP for the Northwestern Division of Norfolk died and a by-election was called. Kate hurried to Hunstanton to organise the NCS campaign – rather at a disadvantage vis a vis the other suffrage societies, the WSPU and the NUWSS, both of which had many more organisers, money, and, above all, cars at their disposal to cover the constituency. But Kate did her best. For example:

On 28 May she hired a motor for 22/- from Johnson’s Garage in Hunstanton to take the Society’s speakers, Miss McGowan, Mrs Chapman (the Society’s president)  and Mr Lloyd (supposedly an Australian although she began to have her doubts) to Burnham Market. Tuesday May 28th 1912 [lodging in Hunstanton at Palace House, Westgate] Had a lot of writing to do in the morning and had to go out to make arrangements and then a great rush to get something to eat and off to Burnham Market at mid-day. I took the Literature to the Hotel, left it here and ordered tea – then I canvassed hard and walked all the way to Burnham Overy.

Hoste Arms, 2013

Hoste Arms, 2013

Came [back to Burnham Market] to Hoste Arms Hotel – found one of my Irish friends [these were Irish political organisers also in the area campaigning for the by-election]  still there- the younger married one- at least the other was married too – but I gathered he was separated from his wife. My friend greeted me quite tenderly – we met as old friends – there were two other Irishmen – Anti Home Rulers and two Liberals – a young coming-on Politician – quite nice looking – and an older man who, I was told afterwards, was Mr Ouithwaite – a candidate somewhere. We all had tea and eggs and Suffrage discussions – Mr Ouithwaite was quite violent – but I really had him every time – quite a roar went up at some some my answers – I enjoyed that tea party immensely. I think we all did – Mr Ouithwaite least of all, perhaps, but I felt I was scoring – and as only the two odd Irishmen were inclined for Votes for Women I had no help. No 1 Irish was not so rabid though.

Burnham Market, 1912

Burnham Market, 1912

I only got to the Schools just in time to have the doors open and let the crowd in – no policeman there so the boys had to go – it looked like a rowdy meeting from the first. The place was pretty full when the car arrived – Miss McGowan with Mrs Chapman and Mr Lloyd. Miss McGowan took the Chair – and they were fairly quiet while she spoke – but directly Mrs Chapman got up the trouble began. No one could hear her – she was feeling so dreadfully ill with a feverish cold – she must have had a miserable evening and I felt so sorry for her – and the people were so insolent. I went and stood right at the back amongst the rowdies and it was a lively evening – and so stuffy. Mr Lloyd (from Australia) stood on a Chair and bellowed – ‘Oh men of England’ over and over again – he tried his best and was cheery but not much of what he shouted could be heard. I took a collection – which was brave I think – but I felt I had to do something. I was so disappointed and we drove off amidst groans. A very Liberal place – but the boys were the mischief – once in they wouldn’t quiet. We motored back to Hunstanton – left Mrs Chapman at the ‘Golden Lion’ – then Mr Lloyd at the Temperance Hotel in our road – then home. The WSPU had been holding a meeting in the Town Hall and Miss Mansell had been down to help Steward – but only about 100 people turned up – some said 50 – so they had an open air afterwards as Mrs Massy and Mrs Haverfield were there. That was just over so we three tramped off to Roberts Room where Mr Hemmerde [the Liberal candidate] was speaking – a small room but well filled. He was just answering questions put to him by our lively friend Mr Lloyd – so when the people came out we gave away our handbills. ‘ Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford For a full description of the book click here Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive. ISBN 978 1903427 75 0 £14.99 Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk  or from all good bookshops.  

'Campaigning for the Vote' - Front and back cover of wrappers
‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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Suffrage Stories: Where Did Christabel Pankhurst Live In Paris?

In early March 1912, after members of the WSPU had launched a window-smashing campaign in the West End of London, the Home Office determined to hold their leaders accountable and immediately arrested Emmeline Pankhurst and Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence.  Christabel Pankhurst, however, nimbly escaped over the English Channel to the safety of Paris.

9 rue Roy

9 rue Roy

9 Rue Roy, now the Hotel Saint Augustin, is where she took refuge and where she lived for well over a year. It would appear that she rented an apartment in the building – perhaps not then functioning as an hotel.

Here we see Christabel photographed in her room, looking out of the window – perhaps one of those in my photograph. Not that there was much to see – Rue Roy is a narrow,  somewhat nondescript little street, a turning off the Boulevard Haussmann. But this district, still relatively recently developed, was a usefully central and anonymous location in which a fugitive might take up residence. Did Christabel avail herself of the nearby Metro station in Place Saint Augustin?

Christabel looking out of the window at 9 Rue Roy

Christabel looking out of the window at 9 Rue Roy

Place Saint Augustin

Place Saint Augustin

Christabel could not have taken  with her much in the way of personal possessions (though one imagines she perhaps did not regret being forced to acquire a suitably Parisian wardrobe) – but she did arrive well-armed with useful introductions. A mere four or five days after her arrival she was visiting the salon of Winaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac – an entrée arranged through the good offices of Ethel Smyth, the Princesse’s sometime lover.

Princesse de Polignac's music room (courtesy of The Blue Lantern blogspot)

Princesse de Polignac’s music room (courtesy of The Blue Lantern blogspot)

It was in these glamorous surroundings that Annie Kenney, on her first visit to Paris, was asked to meet Christabel.  One would love to know more – but in her posthumous memoir, Unshackled, Christabel is distinctly discreet as to how her time in Paris was spent. Or, indeed, how her prolonged sojourn there was financed; she did no work – in the conventional sense – during the two and a half years that she lived in Paris until the outbreak of war in August 1914 made it safe for her to return to England.

11 Avenue de la Grande Armee - on right

11 Avenue de la Grande Armee – on right

Indeed, after the French had refused to extradite her, by the autumn of 1913 Christabel had moved to a rather more central – and presumably more expensive – Parisian address -11 Avenue de la Grande Armeé, later -crossing the Avenue to live at a flat at no. 8. It was from here, in the very heart of Paris, that she conducted the last frenetic months of the WSPU campaign.

Number 8 Avenue de la Grande Armee

Number 8 Avenue de la Grande Armee – across the road from number 11

and a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe

and a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe

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/Suffragette Jewellery: Mary Leigh’s Emily Wilding Davison Brooch

EWD brooch frontThis circular brooch, containing a photograph of Emily Wilding Davison in academic dress, formerly belonged to her friend and champion, Mary Leigh. The photograph of Emily Wilding Davison (for the photographer/publisher of the postcard see here) is rather worn and has a little ink scribble on it – though what the intention – if any – of this is, I cannot say.

The photo is held in the brooch frame by a card showing  Sylvia Pankhurst’s WSPU design, in purple, white and green, of ‘the sower’. This may originally been a component in a WSPU badge.  Written on it in capital letters, in Mary Leigh’s idiosyncratic style, is ‘LIBERTY. NO SURRENDER. E.W.D.’.Reverse of EWD brooch

This is a piece that, unlike so much else on the market, clearly merits the description ‘suffragette jewellery’.  I do not think that this commemoration photo of Emily Wilding Davison was issued by the WSPU in this particular style of circular brooch, but suspect that Mary Leigh herself put the photo in it. The brooch is edged with alternating little pink and white stones. It is worth noting that Mary Leigh, even with her close acquaintance with WSPU imagery and branding, did not bother to select or commission a brooch with stones reflecting more closely the WSPU colours.

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Suffrage Stories: Mrs Evelina Haverfield And The Campaigning Raincoat

Advertisement from 'Votes for Women'

Advertisement from ‘Votes for Women’, 1912

In 1912 Mrs Evelina Haverfield gave her imprimatur to the ‘Omne Tempus’ Raincoat – ‘The Ideal Coat for Town, Country or Campaigning’.  As Kate Frye records in Campaigning for the Vote  (my forthcoming edition of her diary), the suffrage organiser was forced to contend with all weathers as she tramped from door to door, canvassing for support for her society. On a typical wind-lashed and rain-soaked day she then had the prospect of returning to dank digs, to a room that offered few facilities for drying a sodden, mud-splashed skirt. A coat – suitable for ‘all times’ –  guaranteed by the manufacturers to keep out the rain – was a very necessary requirement for the suffrage campaigner. Kate, in fact, favoured Aquascutum; Mrs Haverfield put her faith in Samuel Brothers.

Evelina Haverfield (1867-1920) was the younger daughter of 3rd Baron Abinger. An adept sportswoman, she married young and  had two sons. After his early death she remarried and for two years during the Boer War was with her second husband in South Africa, where she set up a retirement camp for horses left to die on the veldt. By 1908, with the second husband no longer on the scene, she was a suffragette, a member of – and generous benefactor to – the Women’s Social and Political Union. She was particularly keen on appearing on horseback – riding astride in suffragette processions – often with Vera Holme, with whom she formed a life-time partnership.

Mrs Haverfield’s collaboration with Samuel Brothers of Ludgate Hill was clearly very suitable. The manufacturers of the ‘Omne Tempus’ were – and are still – military tailors. During the First World War Mrs Haverfield,  was one of the founders of, first, the Women’s Emergency Corps and then the Women’s Volunteer Reserve, a militaristic organisation, the members of which sported khaki uniforms and felt hats. She was commandant of the WVR and the writer Christopher St John described her as looking ‘every inch a soldier in her khaki uniform, in spite of the short skirt which she had to wear over her well-cut riding breeches’. See here for Mrs Haverfield’s defence of the WVS uniform as ‘useful and sensible’ and her dismissal of much current fashion as ‘ridiculous and preposterous’.

WVS uniform - from Imperial War Museum Women's War Work Collection courtesy of Gale Learning

WVS uniform – from Imperial War Museum ‘Women’s War Work Collection’, courtesy of Gale Learning

I wonder if the WVS uniform  (for details see here) – modelled on male military attire and certainly made in London – was manufactured by Samuels Brothers? It did initially excite a great deal of controversy- see here, for instance – but as the war wore on lost the power to shock. Indeed, ‘civilian’ fashion was soon influenced with, as the Daily Graphic (7 June 1915) put it,  ‘military touches charmingly introduced’.

From 1915 Mrs Haverfield, with Vera Holme, promoted the Serbian cause, both in that country and in England. She was working in Serbia in 1920 when she contracted pneumonia and died.

For more information see the entries on Evelina Haverfield and Vera Holme in Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: Where And What Was ‘The Votes For Women Fellowship’?

Red Lion Court. The site (on the left) of the offices of the Votes for Women Fellowship

To mark the very welcome co-operation planned for the future between the Women’s Library and the London School of Economics the next few ‘Suffrage Stories’ will demonstrate the past importance to the women’s movement of streets and buildings in the vicinity of  Houghton Street.

In previous posts I described how the Women’s Social and Political Union came to have its offices in Clement’s Inn and to have its campaign publicised in the weekly paper owned and edited by Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence – Votes for Women – which was printed close by at the St Clement’s Press  In October 1912 the Pethick-Lawrences, who had been recuperating abroad after enduring a term of hunger-striking imprisonment, returned to England to be told by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst that they, as Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence herself put it, had ‘no further use for them’. In her autobiography Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence records that she never saw or heard from Emmeline Pankhurst again.

During the Pethick-Lawrences’ absence Mrs Pankhurst had moved the WSPU from Clement’s Inn to Lincoln’s Inn House on Kingsway (about which I will write in a later post). In fact I rather think, from studying the relevant rate book, that the WSPU may actually have been evicted from Clement’s Inn. After their expulsion from the WSPU the Pethick-Lawrences took back their paper, Votes for Women, and continued to publish it, on their own account, from a new office. Again, it may have been that after their imprisonment they were no longer welcome to the Clement’s Inn  management company.

For whatever reason, the Pethick-Lawrences moved a little to the east of Clement’s Inn and set up office in 4-7 Red Lion Court, one of the quaint passages off the north side of Fleet Street. Despite the redevelopment that has swept away their office, the narrow court is still atmospheric. The office was close to Votes for Women‘s new printer in Whitefriars Street, off the south side of Fleet Street. The first issue of Votes for Women published from this address was that of 25 October 1912.

In addition, in Red Lion Court, on 1 November 1912, the Pethick-Lawrences made their paper the centre of another suffrage society, the Votes for Women Fellowship. This group, made up of former members of the WSPU who were no longer in sympathy with the Pankhursts’ tactics, aimed to promote the paper and its policies rather than stand as a new militant organisation. In Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence’s words the Fellowship was ‘giving full expression to the awakened militant spirit of womanhood, that they should associated themselves in various plans for carrying the message far and wide, until in every town and village of this land women realise that they are a living part of a spiritually militant sisterhood that is at war under the triple banner of liberty, compassion, and purity against every form of evil dominance. (Votes for Women, 8 November 1912). The Fellowship’s emblem was of a lady with a lamp and its motto was ‘To spread the Light’.

Without the backing of the WSPU, Votes for Women had a greatly diminished circulation and in 1914 the Pethick-Lawrences gave the paper to the newly-founded United Suffragists. Although there was an overlap of membership, it would be a mistake to construe the United Suffragists as a direct descendant of the Votes for Women Fellowship. Despite being for most of the time in dire financial straits, Votes for Women continued to be published throughout the First World War only ceasing publication in February 1918 when the vote was (partially) won.

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Banner Bearer For The 13 June 1908 Procession

Asquith became prime minister in April 1908. In response to his claim that he needed proof that large numbers of women really wanted the vote, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies – and the WSPU – decided to mount a spectacular summer procession through London. The magnificent banners, such as that for North Kensington, carried some of the way by Kate, were the work of the Artists’ Suffrage League, in particular of Mary Lowndes.

Mary Lowndes’ design for the North Kensington banner – with swatches of suggested material (courtesy of the Women’s Library@LSE)

The design of the North Kensington banner, held in the Women’s Library, can be seen

Banners – 13 June 1908 (courtesy of Women’s Library@LSE)

 The banner itself was photographed during the course of the 13 June 1908 procession. ‘North Kensington’ is being held high; unfortunately the ‘Home Makers’ obscure the North Kensington banner bearers. Was one of them Kate?

Saturday June 13th 1908 [Bourne End]

Kate’s ticket for the June 1908 Suffrage Procession

The great day dawned at last looking rather threatening – dull and very windy. I did not know quite what to wear but chanced the day wisely as it fell out and wore my best cream linen skirt and embroidery blouse and made myself look nice. I took a coat with me. Down to breakfast, had a chat to Agnes, who was very disappointed not to be going but really she was not up to it and it would have been no use attempting such an exacting and arduous day. It took it out of me. I was ‘going’ inside all day. Went up to London by the 9.53 train wearing my decorations – my ‘Votes for Women’ disk – my National Union Suffrage brooch and my red and white ribbon – the one that went through that exciting evening at the Paddington Baths. I wore them all day and it was most amusing to see the looks given to them. I went shopping in Whiteleys. Then a bus to Bond Street, walked through Burlington and along to the Strand – there I began to see some of my fellow marchers and the Lyons where I lunched was crowded with them – every one agog, of course, to see us.

Then I went to the A.A. [the Actors’ Association] tidied myself up and went upstairs. Quite an excitement there to see me and I found Eve Erskine wavering as to whether or not she should join the march. She rather aggravated me by some of the things she said about it. Then she is so tactless and really doesn’t know. It was from her I learned that there would be a contingent of Actresses headed by Gertrude Kingston, Lillah McCarthy and Mrs Pat [Campbell] and I must own I did feel deadly disappointed not to be going with them. I am sure Miss Gladys [Wright] kept it from me on purpose as she knew how eager I was to get the theatrical people to go and I said how I should like to march with them. So for that reason she did not send me a plan of the order of procession, I feel sure. Not quite straight because, any way, if she had said they really needed my help in Kensington I should have gone. But she and Alexandra went with the graduates and they wanted me responsible for N[orth] Kensington. There was really no-one else. Mrs Wright could not have carried the Banner or any of the small women if they could have it would not have looked right and comfortable. So I was offered up as a sacrifice. I think it was only right a Frye should be the Banner Bearer for North Kensington and I loved to do it and felt very proud but at first I must own to feeling a bit sick over it. I had a few words with Mr Halliwell Hobbs, who was crimson in the face with annoyance about it all. I said ‘will you shake hands though I am going to carry a banner.’ He simply could not bear himself – it so upset him to see my decorations. Eve walked or rather ran – we got so excited seeing the crowds – to the Embankment and there I lost her. I suppose she found her Block and marched with them for I saw her no more.

Kate preserved her programme

The crowds and the excitement was terrific and I really didn’t know how I should find my banner in it all. First I saw Miss Corbett who gave me a plan. Eve had one so I am sure Gladys ought to have sent her Banner Bearer one. And then I found I should be Block 8 – and a nice scamper I had right up Whitehall before I came to my place. Whitehall was quieter, but the crowds on the Embankment were terrific. At last I came to the Block for the London Society and found a messenger boy with the little White and Red Banners we had before. He gave it up to me on hearing my name and I was left alone. As I got there soon after 2 o’clock it was alright but I longed for some friendly face. I had had a glance at some of the Banners as I sped along – they were lovely. At last one or two women whose faces I knew turned up and then three girls with a huge and beautiful banner – one of the Artist League ones – the one Gladys meant me to carry and take the responsibility of. They were in too much of a hurry, the girls, to be off to tell me how to manage it and I had my flapping coat and the wind was terrific. I got one of the others to hold the little one till Mrs Wright and a lot of other people came. Then a tall girl carried the little one at the back of the Kensington Block. Some one very kindly carried my coat and I got the frog fixed round the banner more comfortably. Miss Madge Porter carried one cord, Miss Meyer the other.

We were immediately behind the Holborn section and Lady Grove’s pretty daughters carried that Banner – a huge one – but, lucky beggars, they had two poles to support it. Mine was fearfully heavy, especially in the wind – but I was given a gift with it I think. It was a beauty  nauge cloth – brown and yellow silk and cloth of gold. Mrs Percy Harris was just behind. She had to fall out early as she went very strange and there were lots of people I know by sight. We were quite a smart collection – all in our best summer attire. The stewards marshalled us six abreast behind the Banner which had to stand out. The whole thing was most wonderfully organised.

Programme details for the procession

Before we moved off John [her fiance] arrived on the scene with Mr Andrews [a friend] and was most proud to shake hands with me and I think the whole thing quite converted him. They went off to see the Banners, then took up their stand in Trafalgar Square and watched us go. John watched it over an hour. He saw me but I didn’t see him. He says I was laughing away and looked to be enjoying myself. Some of the remarks were enough to make one laugh. I saw Mr Dickenson [the M.P.] go past and G.B. Shaw while I was waiting and there were all sorts of weird and curious men – one dressed up like a Jack in the Box to represent Adam, I think – but I couldn’t make him out.

Before 2.30 we were off to the strains of a Band and marshalled in order and we reached one side of the Embankment. We were given 2.30 to assemble – so those who turned up then must have had a difficulty in finding us. It took some time – then there was half an hour’s wait in line – then we began to manoeuvre about – the police directed us. I don’t really know what we did but we turned back round the road while a stream passed us the other way then round me went again over to the side of the trams which made some of them nervous. The trams were packed with people to see us. Then a long wait again – 3.30 I should say before we moved off – and then a very slow procession up Northumberland Avenue – halts of five minutes at a time, it seemed. We were in the middle of two Bands so we were never dull and sometimes with the clamour of the two together it was terrific but the marches helped me along and we three kept step. Oh the crowds – packed like sardines the other side of Piccadilly – some of the roughest of the rough on the Embankment but for the most part quite friendly and polite. There seemed so few policemen in comparison that if the crowd had liked to be disagreeable it would have been awful. The clubs and hotel windows and steps were thronged. Most of the people seemed interested – some were laughing. We only had passage enough just to pass along till we got to the Square then our pace mended till it grew terrific and had almost to run to keep up and going up Waterloo Place was a great strain. From the bottom we could see the Banners winding up and up.

We were about 10,000 with 70 Artist League banners – lots of others and hundreds of Bannerettes shimmering in the wind. For the most part after Piccadilly the crowd was quite a different class and quiet and respectful – many men raised their hats to us and ladies clapped their hands – lots of children? were in the crowd and ‘Mother’ made one clap his hands at me. One nice old clergyman bared his silver locks to each Banner Bearer. Of course it was a very different thing from last year [ie the February ‘Mud March’] – gigantic in comparison and, as for the crowds, I had never seen anything like them except at Royal Weddings etc and a good long route we had. Up Northumberland Avenue, Lower Regent Street, Piccadilly, Knightsbridge, Exhibition Road to the Albert Hall. The first part of them must have been in the hall soon after we left the Embankment. I was in the last section  – No 8, the London Society – but I could not see our end and after us came all the motor cars and carriages. The Social and Political Union people had a four in hand and were up and down distributing notices of their great demonstration on Sunday week in Hyde Park. The Graduates and Doctors looked simply lovely – I am sure they must have got some cheering ‘Well’ I heard one man say, ‘what I like about them is there isn’t one with a bit of powder on’.

‘Lucky you have dropped your garter’ ‘Have you mended the socks’ Have you washed the baby’ and such remarks as those were rife and, of course, lots of comments on one’s personal appearance – rather painful some of them –‘Oh look at this nice girl’ ‘isn’t she a beauty’ etc but really most of the people were quite kind and sympathetic. I think it must have been rather a stirring sight – it seemed to me ‘magnificent’. I felt it was moving the people. I heard people say in awestruck tones ‘I don’t believe it will ever end’ Miss Meyer took the Banner from me in Piccadilly and carried it to the end – she hadn’t had all that tiring first part and the long waits and she was strong and capable. I must say I was getting a bit done with it but I would have liked it again later only she seemed quite happy and I did not like to take it from her. Gladys had written to say she would help me with it. She took it in the hall and sat with it also.

The approach to the [Albert] hall was very slow again – but the pace all along Piccadilly had been tremendous. I think we must have been catching the first lot up where it had been broken at Trafalgar Square for the traffic. I got in the hall about 5.10 and they started the meeting just as I sank down. I must own to feeling completely done when I left the Banner. I got cramp in both feet at once and felt 1,000 but I dashed into the hall found the seat in my box with the Wrights and Alexandra, like an angel, got me a cup of tea. She, Gladys and another girl looking most awfully charming in cap and gown. Mrs Stanbury was there and Mrs Lambert and several people I knew. I had to keep my eye on the clock but I heard Lady Henry Somerset, Dr Anna Shaw, Mrs Fawcett and [then] Miss Sterling present the Bouquet to Mrs Fawcett – then the procession of Bouquets till the platform looked like a garden. They were just singing ‘For she’s a jolly good fellow’ when I came out. I got a cab, still very lame, and drove to Paddington. There I met John and Mrs Harris and the train was looking out for me – so we travelled down together, talking all the way…

The Actors Association, a club to which both Kate and John belonged, was at 10 King Street, Covent. Garden.

Halliwell Hobbs, 30-year-old actor, was clearly a young fogey.

Margery Corbett (1882-1981- later Dame Margery Corbett-Ashby) was the daughter of a Liberal MP. At this time she was secretary of the NUWSS

Lady Henry Somerset (1851-1921) was a wealthy philanthropist and leader of the temperance movement.

Mrs Percy Harris, née Marguerite Frieda Bloxam, wife of Percy Harris (later Sir Percy Harris), who became a Liberal MP in 1916, lived in Bourne End.

Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) US physician, temperance reformer and, at this time, leader of the National American Woman  Suffrage Association.

Frances Sterling (1869-1943) joint honorary secretary of the NUWSS.  

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk  (£14.99 +UK postage £3. Please ask for international postage cost), or from all good bookshops. In stock at London Review of Books Bookshop, Foyles, National Archives Bookshop.

'Campaigning for the Vote' - Front and back cover of wrappers
‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

 

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: Where And What Was Clements Inn?

To mark the very welcome co-operation planned for the future between the Women’s Library and the London School of Economics the next few ‘Suffrage Stories’ will demonstrate the past importance to the women’s movement of streets and buildings in the vicinity of  Houghton Street.

In previous posts I have described the Tea Cup Inn, which was in Portugal Street in the building which, for the time being at least, houses the LSE Chaplaincy, and the Aldwych Skating Rink, in which the WSPU organized its grand 1911 census boycott meeting. In the latter post I remarked that, all but abutting onto the back of the Skating Rink, were the offices of the WSPU at 3 & 4 Clement’s Inn.

A commemorative plaque, placed on a building now occupied by LSE. marks the site.  See the LSE Library website for the  announcement of the LSE’s plans for the Women’s Library and for the brochure setting out details of its bid. The introduction to the latter includes a photograph of the plaque (left) and the words of Christabel Pankhurst:  ”Clement’s Inn, our headquarters, was a hive seething with activity… As department was added to department, Clement’s Inn seemed always to have one more room to offer.’ [9 February 1907]

But what was ‘Clements Inn’?

The history of the late-19th-century Clement’s Inn buildings are surprisingly sketchy – although I daresay that archival research would uncover more detail. In its original incarnation Clement’s Inn had been one of the original Inns of Chancery, but its purpose and its buildings were swept away sometime during the second half of the 19th century. The exact date of its removal is vague; Pevsner merely puts it between 1868 and 1891, presumably meaning that it was demolished in stages. Suffice it to say that towards the end of the 19th century – probably in the 1880s – large blocks designed for both office and residential use were built on the site of the old Inn.  They stretched in a line, just west of the Royal Courts of Justice – and on the west side of Clements Inn Passage –  north from the Strand up to Clare Market. These blocks were given the name ‘Clement’s Inn’ and  housed a medley of solicitors, architects, chartered accountants, surveyors, publishers and even, at 5 & 6 the Uruguayan Legation and Consulate. The southern-most blocks were numbered ‘1 & 2 Clement’s Inn’ and were still standing in 1977. By then the more northerly blocks  – 3 & 4 – had already been demolished.

Courtesy of the International Institute for Social History

Extraordinary as it seems, photographs of the exterior of 3 & 4 Clement’s Inn seem all but non-existent.  The photograph on the left shows, I think, one corner of the Clement’s Inn range; it was taken in 1912 while police trying to establish the whereabouts of Christabel Pankhurst, for whom they had an arrest warrant. Apart from this I have managed to track down, in the Westminster Archives, only three small photographs of 1 & 2 Clement’s Inn. They form part of a collection taken in 1977 of the Royal Courts of Justice. Very helpfully the photographer  turned his camera, from his position in the RCJ,  across Clement’s Inn Passage to take a distant view of the surviving Clement’s Inn buildings, and followed that with two close-up photographs of the  entrances to the buildings. The collection of photographs is accompanied by a hand-drawn map showing the precise position of each photograph so that there is now no doubt in my mind as to the layout of the Clement’s Inn blocks, now replaced by the LSE Towers.

The photographs show the Clement’s Inn buildings to have been rather imposing –  five storeys high, rising in places to seven. They were built of brick – presumably once red, doubtless very quickly blackened in the London atmosphere, with facings of stone around the windows and doors. Detailing was gothic, doubtless a nod to the adjacent  RCJ buildings. The ‘look’ was not unlike that of nearby Old Square, Lincolns Inn, where in later years Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, who are specifically noted on the WSPU plaque, had a flat.

Frederick Pethick Lawrence, photographed at a time when he was living and working in Clement’s Inn

For it was entirely due to the Pethick Lawrences that the WSPU office came to be sited at 3 & 4 Clement’s Inn. Frederick Pethick Lawrence first appears on the London electoral register at  3 & 4 Clement’s Inn in 1904. He and Emmeline – they had married in 1901 -were living in what is termed in the rate book as ‘a residential suite’ – to differentiate this type of apartment from the offices that were also available for rent. The apartments were serviced; the Clement’s Inn  building included a servants’ hall, servants’ dormitories and a kitchen in which meals were cooked for delivery to the tenants. This, I would imagine, was a style of living that entirely suited the Pethick Lawrences whose many interests surely precluded any time for domesticity.

The Pethick Lawrences had presumably chosen Clement’s Inn as their London address – they did also have a house in Surrey – because it was close to the office, at 19 St Bride Street,  of The Echo, a newspaper bought by Frederick Pethick Lawrence c 1902. It had been a Liberal paper – with a bias towards the Liberal Unionist section of the party- but, under Pethick Lawrence was re-directed towards the Labour movement, with Ramsay MacDonald among its contributors. However The Echo ran at a loss and in 1905 Pethick Lawrence closed it and  in May launched a new monthly publication, the Labour Record and Review. Pethick Lawrence was also the publisher of the Reformers’ Yearbook (called, before 1905, the Labour Annual and Reformers’ Yearbook). In the 1905 edition of the Yearbook, printed from information supplied in 1904, the ‘Directory of Useful Addresses’ lists the ‘Women’s Union’ , the secretary of which is Mrs Rachel Scott of Woodbine, Flixton, Manchester.  This was the recently formed Women’s Social and Political Union. Its founders, Mrs E. Pankhurst and Miss C Pankhurst, of  62 Nelson St, Manchester, are also listed as ‘Useful’.

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, courtesy of the International Institute for Social History

In her autobiography Emmeline Pethick Lawrence records that it was from her roof garden in Clement’s Inn that in January 1906 she saw the general election results ‘as they were thrown by a lantern-slide on the elevated-whitened board in the Strand’. This new technology was displaying a Liberal landslide. But it was, however, the success of Keir Hardie and the Labour Party that particularly pleased the Pethick Lawrences.  A month later Hardie introduced Emmeline Pethic -Lawrence to Emmeline Pankhurst as ‘a practical and useful colleague who could develop in London the new society she had founded in Manchester’ – the WSPU.

Later that year the embryonic London campaign, which had been spearheaded by Annie Kenney and which for several months had held its business meetings around kitchen tables in various hospitable London homes, was given office premises by Frederick Pethick Lawrence in 3 & 4 Clement’s Inn. In the relevant rate book the WSPU is shown as taking up its tenancy at Michaelmas (29 September) 1906 in rooms 68,69 and 70.

This apartment was separate from number 119 shared jointly by the Pethick Lawrences; Frederick had given Emmeline the luxury of ‘a room of her own’.

In Emmeline Pethick Lawrence’s apartment in Clement’s Inn. From the left, Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Nellie Martel, Mrs Pankhurst, Mrs Despard. Courtesy of the International Institute for Social History

When, in July 1906, Christabel Pankhurst came to London, after gaining her first-class law degree in Manchester, she lived with the Pethick Lawrences – perhaps in Emmeline’s separate apartment. The rate books show that over the years the Pethick Lawrences occupied several different sets of rooms, the quantities and configuration varying from year to year.

When, in October 1908, warrants were issued for the arrest of Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst after the WSPU had urged Londoners to ‘Rush the House of Commons’, the pair were photographed hiding from the police on Emmeline Pethick Lawrence’s roof terrace. See here to view the Women’s Library copy of the photograph.

After ensuring that their evasion had been captured on camera, they then went downstairs and were photographed in the course of being arrested by Inspector Jarvis.

Inspector Jarvis making his arrest. Photograph marked for a rather idiosyncratic cropping. Courtesy of the International Institute for Social History

Other WSPU offices were photographed on other occasions – the Women’s Library holds pictures, among others, of Mrs Pethick Lawrence’s secretary’s office, the General Office and of the WSPU Information Bureau at work. In the latter picture Emily Wilding Davison is the woman seated on the left and the young woman, with white collar and cuffs, standing at the back is Cicely Hale. All these photographs can be viewed on the Women’s Library Special Collections catalogue and from them one can glean an idea of the physical surroundings in which the campaign was orchestrated – the furniture, the fireplaces, the typewriters, the bowls of flowers, the posters and the maps on the walls.

This ‘seething hive of activity’ is pictured in at least one contemporary novel. For in Ann Veronica, published in 1909, H.G. Wells furnishes the offices of the Woman’s Bond of Freedom – the  suffrage society that sweeps his heroine off her feet and into prison – with  ‘notice boards bearing clusters of newspaper slips, three or four posters of monster meetings..and a series of announcements in purple copying ink, and in one corner …a pile of banners’. Wells had no need to rely on photographs for his information; during the years when the WSPU was working from Clement’s Inn, it was doing so in close physical proximity to the Fabian Society, of which Wells was a leading member and which had been responsible for the founding of the LSE.  Knowing from the rate book that the WSPU’s basement office was next door to that of the Fabian Society, it requires little stretch of the imagination to envisage Wells finding a reason to combine a visit to one with a brief sortie into the other, the result being good  ‘copy’ for his novel.

It would be surprising if there had not been some tension between the two offices – the one campaigning for votes for some, not all, women while the other backed the cause of adult suffrage. For although, when they agreed to support the WSPU, the Pethick Lawrences were still committed to the Labour cause,  as the women’s suffrage campaign developed its tactics changed and the association with Labour was considered by the Pankhursts no longer to be advantageous.  Despite this, there were many connections between the WSPU, the Labour Party and the Fabian Society. For instance, Beatrice Sanders, working from an office in Clement’s Inn as  financial secretary to the WSPU, was the wife of William Sanders, a Fabian Society lecturer, LCC alderman and Labour parliamentary candidate. Mrs Sanders was herself a member of the Fabian Women’s Group.  However, William Sanders was one of what Wells termed the  ‘Old Gang’ that ranged itself against him when he attempted to reform the Fabian Society and, in retaliation, probably took Sanders as his prototype for ‘Alderman Dunstable’ in Ann Veronica. Wells certainly found plenty to mock in the WSPU and its activities and, unsurprisingly, although Ann Veronica was listed among ‘Books Received’ in the WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women, it never received the accolade of a review.

A very powerful propaganda tool for the WSPU, Votes for Women was brought to life each week in a building even closer to Houghton Street than Clement’s Inn and will be the subject of the next of my ‘Suffrage Stories’.

     

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Book of the Week: Margaret Sanger, Woman And The New Race – Kitty Marion’s copy – rich with suffrage and Sanger associations

Margaret Sanger, Woman And The New Race, published by Brentano’s (NY), 1921 (3rd printing) – Kitty Marion’s copy

Inscription on free front endpaper of this copy of Woman and the New Race

Margaret Sanger spearheaded the birth-control campaign in the US.  In this book, first published in 1920, she writes: ‘The most far-reaching social development of modern times is the revolt of woman against sex servitude. The most important force in the remaking of the world is a free motherhood’. The Introduction to the book is by Havelock Ellis, one of several leading thinkers with whom she had an affair.

In October 1914 Margaret Sanger fled from the US to England while on bail for violating US postal obscenity laws – the charge was that of sending through the post copies of her radical feminist journal, The Woman Rebel, which advocated the use of contraception.  She remained in England until October 1915. Coincidentally it was in October 1915 that Kitty Marion, a former, German-born,  militant suffragette, set sail for the US. Once in New York she worked for many years for Margaret Sanger, her role being that of street seller of Sanger’s Birth Control Review. 

 In England in 1913 Kitty Marion had been  sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for her part in the burning of the grandstand at the Hurst Park racecourse (as retaliation for the death of Emily Wilding Davison)- although, after going on hunger and thirst strike,  she was released under the Cat and Mouse Act. It would  appear that, on the run, she was  one of the WSPU’s most active arsonists, although she evaded detection for much of the destruction she committed.  In New York, on 14 October 1918, she was again given a prison sentence – this time for distributing Birth Control Review.

This particular copy of this book brings together these various histories. The free front endpaper bears the ink inscription, in Margaret Sanger’s handwriting –  ‘Margaret Sanger, New York, Oct 14-1921. 

Underneath this is written ‘zum Andenken! Kitty Marion’ [translated from German: In Memory!].  This inscription obviously commemorates the 3rd anniversary of Kitty Marion’s imprisonment – of which Margaret Sanger had at the time written ‘We glory in her deed’. I think the second part of the endpaper inscription may be Kitty Marion’s hand. For although the ink looks much the same as the Sanger message, I think the writing is different.

Yet another layer of suffrage association is revealed by the ownership signature, written faintly in pencil in the top right corner of  the same page. It is that of Maud Fussell, another former member of the WSPU – and, again, one who suffered imprisonment.

My reconstruction of the history of the book is that it was signed by Margaret Sanger for  Kitty Marion and was subsequently given by Kitty Marion to Maud Fussell. It was sold to me along with other books that had been in Maud Fussell’s possession.

The book is in good condition and is  a particularly interesting association copy.    Price £165 plus postage.

To buy: please contact me at e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Spring 1908 – Suffrage Hope – WSPU in Albert Hall ‘a little too theatrical but very wonderful’

Another extract from Kate Frye’s manuscript diary. An edited edition of later entries (from 1911), recording her work as a suffrage organiser, is published as  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary.

H.Y. Stanger’s Bill, 1908

Kate’s MP, Henry Yorke Stanger, was the promoter of the current Enfranchisement Bill – the latest in the long line that stretched back through the latter half of the 19th century. Despite, as Kate describes, the bill passing its second reading, the government eventually refused to grant facilities to further the debate. However, that blow was yet to come as Kate records in these entries details of the suffrage meetings she attended in February and March 1908. She had the knack of always being present on the great occasions – and on 19 March was in the Albert Hall to witness the rousing – and profitable – reception given to Mrs Pankhurst on her release from prison. 

Dramatis personae:

Miss Harriet Cockle, was 37 years old, an Australian woman of independent means, lving at 34 de Vere gardens, Kensington.

Mrs Philip Snowden – Ethel Snowden (1880-1951) wife of the ILP politician, Philip Snowden.

Mrs Clara Rackham (1875-1966) was regarded as on the the NUWSS’s best speakers. In 1910 she became president of the NUWSS’s Eastern Federation, was founder of the Cambridge branch of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, and was sister-in-law to Arthur Rackham, the book illustrator.

Margery Corbett (1882-1981- later Dame Margery Corbett-Ashby) was the daughter of a Liberal MP. At this time she was secretary of the NUWSS.

Mrs Fanny Haddelsey,wife of a solicitor, lived at 30 St James’s Square, Holland Park.

Mrs Stanbury had been an organiser for NUWSS as far back as 1890s.

Tuesday February 25th 1908 [London-25 Arundel Gardens]

We got home at 5.15 and had tea. Then I did my hair and tidied myself and Agnes and I ate hot fish at 6.30 and left soon after in a downpour of rain for the Kensington Town Hall – we did get wet walking to the bus and afterwards. We got there at 7 o’clock to steward – the doors were opening at 7.30 and the meeting started at 8.15. I was stewarding in the hall downstairs and missed my bag – purse with 6/- and latch Key etc – very early in the evening which rather spoilt the evening for me as I felt sure it had been stolen. It was a South Kensington Committee of the London Society for Woman’s Suffrage and we were stewarding for Miss Cockle. It was a good meeting but not crowded but, then, what a night. Miss Bertha Mason in the Chair. The speech of the evening was Mrs Philip Snowdon, who was great, and Mrs Rackham, who spoke well. The men did not do after them and poor Mr Stanger seemed quite worn out and quoted so much poetry he made me laugh. Daddie had honoured us with his presence for a little time and had sat on the platform – so I feel he has quite committed himself now and will have no right to go back on us. We were not in till 12.20 and then sat some time over our supper.

Wednesday February 26th 1908

Before I was up in the morning Mother came up in my room with my bag and purse and all quite safe. It had been found and the Hall Door Keeper had brought it. I was glad because of the Latch Key. Daddie generously had paid me the 6/- which I was able to return.

Friday February 28th 1908

Mr Stanger’s Woman’s Suffrage Bill has passed the second reading. I had to wait to see the Standard before going to my [cooking] class. That is very exciting and wonderful – but of course we have got this far already in past history. Oh! I would have liked to have been there.

MargWednesday March 11th 1908

To 25 Victoria Street and went to the 1st Speakers Class of the N.[ational] S.[ociety] of W.[omen’s] S.[uffrage]. I was very late getting there and there was no one I knew so I did not take any part in the proceedings and felt very frightened. But Alexandra Wright came in at the end and I spoke to Miss Margery Corbett and our instructoress, Mrs Brownlow. And then I came home with Alexandra from St James’s Park station to Notting Hilll Gate.

Thursday March 12th 1908

Mother went to a Lecture for the NKWLA  [North Kensington Women’s Liberal Association] at the Club and Agnes and I started at 8 o’clock and walked to Mrs Haddesley [sic] for a drawing-room Suffrage Meeting at 8.30. Agnes and I stewarded and made ourselves generally useful. The Miss Porters were there and a girl who I saw at the Speakers’ Class on Wednesday. Alexandra was in the Chair and spoke beautifully – really she did. And Mrs Stanbury spoke. Mrs Corbett and Mrs George – all very good speakers. Mrs Stanbury was really great and there were a lot of questions and a lot of argument after, which made it exciting. It was a packed meeting but some of the people were stodgy. Miss Meade was there with a friend – her first appearance at anything of the kind she told us and she said it was all too much for her to take in all at once. The “class” girl walked with us to her home in HollandPark and we walked on home were not in till 11.45. I was awfully tired and glad of some supper and to get to bed.

Mrs Pankhurst had been arrested on 13 February as she led a deputation from the ‘Women’s Parliament’ in Caxton Hall to the House of Commons. She was released from her subsequent imprisonment on 19 March, going straight to the Albert Hall where the audience waiting to greet her donated £7000 to WSPU funds. Kate was there.

Thursday March 19th 1908

I had a letter in the morning from Miss Madge Porter offering me a seat at the Albert Hall for the evening and of course I was delighted….just before 7 o’clock I started for the Albert Hall. Walked to Notting Hill gate then took a bus. The meeting was not till 8 o’clock but Miss Porter had told me to be there by 7 o’clock. We had seats in the Balcony and it was a great strain to hear the speakers. It was a meeting of the National Women’s Social and Political Union – and Mrs Pankhurst, newly released from Prison with the other six was there, and she filled the chair that we had thought to see empty. It was an exciting meeting. The speakers were Miss Christabel Pankhurst, Mrs Pethick Lawrence, Miss Annie Kenney, Mrs Martel and the huge sums of money they collected. It was like magic the way it flowed in. It was all just a little too theatrical but very wonderful. Miss Annie Kenney interested me the most – she seems so “inspired” quite a second Joan of Arc. I was very pleased not to be missing so wonderful an evening and I think it very nice of Miss Porter to have thought of me. She is quite a nice girl of the modern but “girlie” sort – a Cheltenham girl and quite clever – but very like a lot of other girls. Coming out we met, strangely enough, Mrs Wright and Alexandra (Gladys was speaking at Peckham) and after saying good-bye to Miss Porter I walked home with them as far as Linden Gardens. Got in at 11.30 very tired indeed and glad of my supper. Mother was waiting up.

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk  (£14.99 +UK postage £3. Please ask for international postage cost), or from all good bookshops. In stock at London Review of Books Bookshop, Foyles, National Archives Bookshop.

'Campaigning for the Vote' - Front and back cover of wrappers
‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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Collecting Suffrage: The Game of ‘Suffragette’

I will shortly be issuing a new book and ephemera catalogue – number 175. It will comprise books and ephemera by and about women – with special sections on Women’s Suffrage and Women in the First World War. If you would like a copy of the printed or email version please let me know. A short time after these have been sent out, I shall post the catalogue on this website.

The Rules of the Game. ‘The Haunted House’ appears on the reverse of every card

Amongst several rare items that I shall be including in the ‘Women’s Suffrage’ section is ‘The Game of “Suffragette”‘.

This card game was  invented by the Kensington branch of the WSPU, probably in the late summer of 1907, and, as such, is, I think, the earliest of the games that were marketed as a tool of suffragette propaganda. It was described in the second issue of ‘Votes for Women’, November 1907.

The first issue of ‘Votes for Women’, October 1907, had on its cover the picture of the ‘Haunted House’ by David Wilson, which had first appeared in the ‘Daily Chronicle’ in April 1907. Depicting a seated woman brooding over the Houses of Parliament, a demand for ‘Votes for Women’ in her hand, this image appears on the reverse of every card in this game – and on the base of the box.  David Wilson (1873-1935)  was an Irish-born illustrator, soon to become chief cartoonist for ‘The Graphic’.

The game comprises 54 cards (all present) divided into 13 sets of 4 cards each – one of the odd ones being known as ‘The Bill’ – and the other a spare which has been used to record the score of a game played long ago by 6 people, designated by their initials. All the sets have names: eg. Prominent Supporters, Arguments, Freewomen, Voteless Women etc – and each card poses a series of questions. Some of the cards also carry photographs – of Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Mrs Fawcett, Elizabeth Robins, Israel Zangwill, and Mary Gawthorpe. 

Along with the cards – and the original box – is the original, all-important, set of rules. These describe in detail the various ways in which the game can be played – it seems very inventive.

 

This is an incredibly scarce item. Although I wrote of it in The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide, this is the first set I have ever seen.  An amazing survival.

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Collecting Suffrage: Punch cartoon: Ulysses and the Steam Sirens

ULYSSES AND THE STEAM SIRENS -full page from 8 July 1908 issue of Punch.

Asquith is tied to the Embankment as a tug bearing suffragettes with loudhailers and a ‘Votes for Women’ saild approaches. The reference is to the boat the WSPU used to announce to the House of Commons, from the river, their forthcoming Hyde Park demonstration.

Very good condition – £12 post free. NOW SOLD

To buy contact e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

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Suffrage Stories: What else is in Emily Wilding Davison’s grave?

A while ago I acquired a small collection of items that had once belonged to Mrs Mary Leigh, the leader of the WSPU fife and drum band and close friend and life-long supporter of Emily Wilding Davison. Among these was a copy of Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road, published by the Arden Press, Letchworth (1912), containing a lengthy inscription by Mary Leigh on the free front endpaper.

From studying the handwriting I deduced that her comments had been made at two different times – probably decades apart. At the top of the page is an ink inscription ‘From E.W.D. 1912’.- which, I think, was not a presentation inscription from Emily Wilding Davison, but a note by Mary Leigh to commemorate the gift to her. The Emily Wilding Davison archive held by the Women’s Library contains another volume of Whitman’s verse, given by ‘Comrade Davison to Comrade Leigh’. Whitman was clearly a favourite, a poet who spoke to the women – eulogising their bond of close comradeship – and in The Song of the Road Mary Leigh, as in the Whitman in the Women’s Library, has annotated particular verses with some vehemence. The little book itself had clearly been well used; laid in the title-page fold of this copy was a pressed flower.

However it is another piece of information that Mary Leigh added to her endpaper writings that particularly interested me. She wrote: ‘I placed one [i.e. a book] like this from L C. Lytton in E.W.D.’s hand. ‘ In biro, at a later date, as though giving a fuller explanation, she has amplified these details – so that the whole now reads: ‘1913 June 14 in her coffin at Epsom Mortuary I placed one like this (Walt Whitman) from L C. Lytton (Lady Constance Lytton) in E.W.D’s hand open at the page she loved so well. I also placed her Hunger Strike Medals and the 8 Bars of Forcible Feeding also the Medal of Jeanne D’Arc to Fight on God will give the Victory’.

‘Fight on God will give Victory’, Joan of Arc’s assurance, given at her trial, is the message emblazoned on the banner carried at Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral, both in London and then draping the grave in Morpeth.

Here is Emily Wilding Davison wearing her Hunger Strike Medal, with still, I think, four bars, each commemorating a hunger strike and consequent episode of forcible feeding. Further imprisonment lay in the future. It is interesting that Mary Leigh specifically writes of  ‘Medals’ in the plural. As well as the Hunger Strike Medal, with its 8 bars, she may have been referring to the ‘Holloway’ badge, received for an earlier imprisonment, that Emily is wearing in the photograph. In addition, I suspect, but cannot be sure, that she may also have, pinned on her other lapel, a WSPU ‘Boadicea’ brooch.

However I have not yet been able to deconstruct Mary Leigh’s mention of the ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ Medal’. As far as I know there was no WSPU medal directly associated with Joan of Arc – although, 1912 having been the 500th anniversary of her death, she loomed large in the popular – particularly suffragette – imagination, Elsie Howey rode as ‘Joan of Arc’ in Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral procession. It may have been that EWD particularly treasured a medal – there were many issued – acquired in the quincentenary year.

Mary Leigh remained Emily Wilding Davison’s champion for the remainder of her life. Out of a meagre income she arranged each year for a Morpeth florist to supply an expensive bouquet of flowers and travelled north every June- even well into old age –  to lay them at EWD’s grave in St Mary’s Churchyard. The rather pathetic correspondence concerning these arrangements may be read in the Mary Leigh Papers at the Women’s Library. The florist was a credit to her profession, entirely kind and helpful.

Little would Mary Leigh have expected – although she may well have approved (you can never be sure – she was a contrary character) – that into the 21st century EWD’s grave would have become a shrine – the plot now immaculately restored. So many myths have accrued to the memory of Emily Wilding Davison that it is something of a relief to be able to produce a piece of primary evidence, in the form of this copy of Song of the Road, that allows the visitor standing in front of the Morpeth obelisk to picture, with some assurance, the moment in the Epsom Mortuary as Mary Leigh laid in the open coffin Lady Constance Lytton’s copy of this small volume of verse, together with the hard-earned Hunger Strike Medal.

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