These five suffragettes are interesting for their diverse backgrounds from dressmaker to Lady, united in their cause, one working one funding the campaign.
Lilian Ball was arrested on March 5th 1912 and charged with breaking a window, with a hammer, worth three shillings at the Royal United Services Institution, Whitehall. It was remarked upon in court that the amount of damage was immaterial it was the fact that she had maliciously intended to do damage that mattered and she was therefore sentenced to two months imprisonment. Lilian was not arrested again until February 11th 1913 when she was charged with obstruction in Whitehall. Seven suffragettes were organised into three separate groups each addressing the crowd whilst one member of each group rang a bell to attract attention. The police ordered them to move on, their refusal resulting in their arrest. In court they stated that they were protesting at the absence from the King’s Speech of franchise for women. Lilian was jailed for four days.
She was arrested again on March 26th 1914 but no report relating to this has been found. Her final arrest was on July 16th 1914 where all the defendants gave their surnames as Smith or Smyth. Their offence was chaining themselves to the door of a police court in Francis Street in the West End of London. During the lunch interval the women had left the court and chained themselves to the court doors by first chaining all five of them together and then to the doors. The only way the police could secure their release was to wrench off the door handle. They were then conveyed to a police station still chained together, only on arrival was it possible to disconnect the five women.
They were all charged with obstruction arriving in court for their hearing dressed in white bearing the colours of the Women’s Freedom League. Lilian was sentenced to five days imprisonment. Sadly no information is included in any reports that assists in determining any personal information about Lilian.
Gertrude Ballam was arrested on March 27th 1914. She was charged with obstruction alongside Elsie Cummin for protesting outside the Director of Public Prosecution’s offices wearing sandwich boards and handing out hand bills. The reason for their protest was that although two police officers had stated they were aware of “activity” between another officer and a fourteen year old girl no action had been taken. They were sentenced to fourteen days in the absence of payment of an alternative fine.
Gertrude was born Louisa Gertrude in 1871 to Ambrose, a bootmaker and Emma. She had two younger brothers: Arthur and Alfred. Ambrose died in 1883. Struggling Gertrude and Arthur were admitted to the Harrow Road Workhouse the following year and from there were sent to Ashford Residential School. By the 1891 census the family were reunited, whilst Alfred was still at school Emma was employed as a cook, Gertrude as a dressmaker and Arthur in an ironmongers. In time Gertrude started to employ people in her business. In 1908 she wrote a letter which was published in the Vote. The government was keen to ascertain how many married women were employed and asked employers to complete a return recording the number of unmarried women, married and widowed they employed. Gertrude set out her intended response which example she hoped others would follow “I shall certainly not volunteer such particulars, but state instead, “When women are directly represented, so that they can give expression to their opinions and wishes regarding curtailment of employment, & etc, I will give voluntary particulars, but consider it beside my duty to do so now.”
Gertrude’s mother died in 1909 and like many Gertrude appears to avoided the 1911 census. She died in 1951.
Nora Balls was arrested on November 19th 1910. Born Norah Elizabeth in 1883 in Tynemouth she was the daughter of William and Elizabeth. Her father was a mariner spending most of his time at sea, he is not recorded at home on any census return from 1891 to 1911. Norah had a younger brother William Daniel, known as Daniel who was six years younger. Norah joined the WSPU and was primarily active in the North East. She was at one time Secretary of the Tynemouth Branch of the Local Government Association. She travelled south to take part in a raid on the House of Commons charged with obstruction the charges against her were dropped when Winston Churchill decided that to continue would make the women martyrs.
Norah continued to campaign until the outbreak of the First World War, like so many she is not recorded on the 1911 census. She ran a canteen for soldiers during the war and afterwards helped to establish the Girl Guides in Northumberland. Her interest in politics did not wane and she served as a Town Councillor standing as an Independent candidate. She was also appointed as a Justice of the Peace. Her desire to help others in any way possible continued up until her death in 1980.
Harry Bark was arrested on July 29th 1913. He was charged with obstruction along with two other men following the attempts to prevent the police conveying away Annie Kenney at the London Pavilion. This was the same incident for which William Ball, see the previous blog, was arrested. It was made clear in court that Harry was believed to be the instigator who had incited others to act. He was fined twenty shillings or fourteen days imprisonment. His occupation was given as traveller. It is not clear to what extent he was a supporter of the movement or was caught up in the moment. In either event no further trace of him has been found.
Grace Barber was arrested on the same day as Norah, just like Norah she was charged with obstruction but the charges were dropped.
The next entry is for Lady Barclay arrested on July 24th 1914 for causing obstruction when attempting to deliver a letter from Mrs Pankhurst to the King at Buckingham Palace along with Miss Fitzgerald. No evidence was presented and both were acquitted. She joined and was a major funder of the WSPU. She was President of the Anglo French Society intended to unite the women of France and the United Kingdom in their fight for suffrage. Born Marie Therese Teuscher born in Brazil, the 1911 census return states she was of German origin. She married Thomas Barclay, a Scottish barrister and Liberal politician. Knighted in 1904 he was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize on several occasions for his work on the Entente Cordiale between France and England before the First World War. The press hailed her arrest as one of a noblewomen and member of the aristocracy but this was clearly not the case. Clearly well connected and circumstanced the family were, however, not aristocratic. Whatever her husband’s view he did not support any attempt she may have made to exclude herself from the 1911 census. The advent of the war halted her campaigning.
With thanks to the Museum of London: http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/
This blog’s research has revealed another family; the Ball family. Working class, fallen on hard times with a drive to obtain equality for sons and daughters. This is my fifteenth blog and although the sample is small so far, all of the As and some of the Bs, and is therefore by no means representative it is fascinating how many are working class and how many of them clearly wanted to give their daughters better lives than they had had themselves. Helping one of my daughters to register to vote brings it home how far we have come in less than hundred years. As can be seen below the sheer determination to be heard to go back to campaign after the experience William had is memorable.
Ethelthreda Ball was arrested in November 1910 for throwing stones at the windows of the Home Office. According to the report in the Votes For Women dated December 2nd 1910 the reasoning for her actions was her anger at the sentence handed to her mother the day before. Her mother was Mrs Gennie Ball who decided to join the suffrage movement having worked in a tailoring firm for several years for low wages and hearing about the treatment of women at Winson Green prison. She was a founder member of the Suffragette Crusaders.
In the arrest record they are recorded as Ethelthreda Ball and Jennie Ball but next to the latter’s entry it states see Bell where under the entry of Jennie Bell her arrests are recorded. The Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners records Ethel and Gennie Ball. Next but one down on both records is William Ball. They are all from the same family: William, his wife Jennie and daughter Ethel. The Roll of Honour also includes Edith Warwick Bell research indicates that this is also Ethel who took to using her mother’s maiden name as a middle name. Some sources record that another prisoner Lilian Bell was also their daughter but I have not found any evidence to support this.
William was born in 1863 in Tamworth, Staffordshire. His father worked as a gardener in Tamworth with William working alongside him as an assistant. The family was large and all the children went out to work as soon as they could, the 1891 census records his twelve year old sister employed as a nursemaid. Jennie was in fact born Jane Mary Warwick in 1873, Tamworth. When her parents, Frederick and Henrietta married, Frederick was a widower. He was an innkeeper and left sufficient monies when he died in 1875, under £300, to be recorded in the probate records. Two years later her mother had died leaving Jennie an orphan. What happened to Jennie until the 1891 census return is not clear as no trace of her can be found.
By 1891 she was married to William and living with his parents, those of his siblings still living at home and her two year old son, William. Jennie was working as a tailoress where she clearly gleaned her first hand knowledge of low wages for women. William continued to work as a gardener. The couple appear to have lived in Tamworth and Birmingham. Their eldest son was born in Birmingham, their second Ethel in Tamworth. The 1901 census records four children: Ethel, Harold, May and Horace. The family appears to have been suffering financial hardship, another child Lionel born in 1895 had been adopted. Later reports written regarding William’s imprisonment and treatment suggest that he had been a master gardener and then a master tailor. The 1901 census records William as a salesman and Jennie was the tailoress both employing other workers. It seems more likely that Jennie was the skilled worker and William ran the business. In any event the business ran into financial difficulties.
For breaking a window Jennie was sentenced on in 1910 to a fine of £5 and the cost of the window or one month’s imprisonment. The following day Ethel was sentenced on one month’s imprisonment without the option of payment of a fine. Jennie was due for release on December 23rd 1910 and Ethel the following day.
The following year mother and daughter were arrested again, sentenced to fourteen days and twenty one days respectively to be released on December 11th and 18th 1911. Jennie had broken a window at 55, Parliament Street with the damage stated to be twenty five shillings. She stated that it was better to break a window than to go to Parliament Square to protest and be treated badly. Openly admitting she would do it again she refused to pay the damages or the fine of ten shillings. Ethel had broken three windows at the Colonial Office at cost of four pounds and fifteen shillings. During her evidence she stated that she had been moved to take direct action in protest at the sentence given to Emmeline Pankhurst of one month. The alternative to prison was a twenty shilling fine plus payment of the damages. The arrest record only records Ethel’s first offence not the second.
Only days after their release William was arrested for wilful damage of two windows at the Home Office with damages costing five pounds. At his trial he refused to give either his address or occupation. When questioned at the scene he told the police officer that the stones of which there were three made it clear why he was protesting. Wrapped around the three stones were bits of paper stating that the windows had been broken as a protest on the sentence passed on Mr McDougall of two months for assaulting Lloyd George and for the Manhood Suffrage Bill which had been introduced without any hope of it extending the vote to women. At his trial he stated he had sons and daughters and wished for them to be treated equally. He was sentenced to two months hard labour. Upon the announcement of the sentence a young woman shouted out “Shame!” Was this his daughter, Ethel?
William refused food in prison or to wear the prison uniform. Stripped he was force fed twice a day. After a month according to the prison officers he became confused wandering and ranting. William began to eat but only a few weeks later the authorities declared him insane transferring him to a mental asylum at Colney Hatch in North London admitting him as a pauper. Jennie had been writing to the authorities requesting information about her husband but had not received a reply. She was not informed of his transfer to the asylum. When she eventually established what had happened she secured his release for treatment privately.
Hugh Franklin, one of only a few men imprisoned for their fight for women’s suffrage, was well connected and was horrified by William’s treatment. Hugh Samuel the first Jew to be appointed to the Cabinet was a relative, at the time he was Postmaster General. Hugh wrote to him asking him to investigate the treatment of William. The case was referred to the Home Office who appointed George Savage, a psychiatrist, to investigate. His report was seen by many as a cover up citing his poor mental abilities and personal life as the reason for his falling into mental collapse. Thus distancing it from any relationship to the force feeding. It was alleged that William had been transferred only at the end of his sentence when no one came forward to collect him. This was clearly untrue as Jennie had made continuous attempts to obtain information from the prison.
Charles Mansell Moullin, a surgeon, supporter of women’s suffrage and campaigner against force feeding, examined William on his release from the asylum. His findings did not agree with those of the medics in George Savage’s report which he felt excluded evidence which would not support their claims regarding William’s physical state. It was also pointed out that William has undergone various tests to establish his mental abilities but these had centred around topics that in all likelihood it was known he would not have known the answers. William’s story became a platform from which both sides endeavoured to vindicate their own position.
His experiences did not put him off as he was arrested again in October 1913. Annie Kenney had been released under the Cat and Mouse Act. In breach of the terms of her release she was to speak at the London Pavilion. The police arrived to arrest anyone breaching their release under the Act. Initially Annie evaded them by arriving before the police. She was about to start speaking when the police climbed onto the stage. Annie tried to make a getaway but failed and was bundled out of the theatre with members of the audience trying to stop the police. Outside the trouble continued with people climbing onto the taxi in which Annie was being held by three officers. Eleven arrests were made, one of them was William. He was sentenced to twenty days in Pentonville Prison which does bring into question how much the authorities believed their own statements of less than two years before. An anonymous person paid his fine and he was released two days later.
Jennie’s activities with the Suffragette Crusaders appears to have started around 1915 using the colours purple and yellow. The group were part of the militant suffrage movement based in the South East of London. Any advertisement in the Vote For Women dated August 13th 1915 gives some indication of their specific activities. It seeks donations to enable them to carry on with their work providing “meals at less than cost price to the Sweated Women Workers of SE London.”
The government introduced compulsory registration of all men and women aged between fifteen and sixty five with the day for registration being August 15th 1915. Not only was it a means of ascertaining how many men had yet to sign up for active service it would record how many women were available to replace men in the work force. Many women’s groups protested arguing for equal pay, work conditions, guarantees of continued employment after the war. When registration was opened on August 15th the difference between the sexes was underlined by the use of different coloured cards for male and female.
Militant groups organised a protest for the first day of registration, the Suffragette Crusaders was one such group. The advertisement mentioned above also requested the loan of a car in the days leading up to the protest to carry banners. An announcement in the same edition set out details of the march from East to West across London. The two groups organising this aspect of the march were the Suffragette Crusaders and the East London Federation of the Suffragettes. Two separate processions were to unite at Queen’s Hall, Langham Place; one from south London and one from south east London. One slogan used was “A Woman who does a Man’s Work must have a Man’s Pay.” At the last minute the Queen’s Hall withdrew their permission for the use of the hall when they discovered the women were working class. Undeterred they persuaded the Portman Rooms to allow them to use their premises.
Charlotte Despard chaired the meeting for over three hours sitting alongside Sylvia Pankhurst. Various resolutions were passed in relation to working women’s conditions and the right of women to vote if they were doing a man’s work. After August 1915 no further press coverage has been found.
Ethel married Gylbert Kershaw, a civil engineer, in 1935 in Birmingham. William is not traceable after 1913. Jennie died in 1953 in Kent.
Frances Baker was arrested following the stone throwing protest of November 1911 and was sentenced to five days imprisonment. She is recorded as living in Harley Street, London. No further information has been found.
Jessie Baker was arrested on July 30th 1909 following a disturbance outside the Edinburgh Castle in Limehouse. Originally a gin palace the building had been acquired by Thomas Barnardo for conversion into a meeting place for the local community. Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressed a crowd of four thousand there to sell his People’s Budget intended to bring about social reform. A group of women gathered outside with the intention of drawing attention to the suffrage cause. Many were eager to hear Lloyd George and the hall was packed with people spilling out into the street. The women arrived in a wagonette but their progress was stopped by the police. In their attempts to break through the cordon a policeman’s hat was knocked off. In the ensuing melee thirteen women and one man were arrested. One of those women was Emily Davidson who later ran onto the race course at Epsom. Emily shouted “Votes for Women” whilst trying to penetrate the cordon. Refusing to move on the police arrested her. Jessie leapt forward crying “Let her go; do not take her.” She in turn was arrested and charged with an attempted rescue. In court she was imprisoned for fourteen days having refused to be bound over to keep the peace. No other details are given to enable Jessie to be traced any further.
Lizzie Baker was arrested in Dublin, Ireland on August 7th 1912. This name is another used by Jennie Baines [see the previous blog]. She had travelled to Ireland to join in protests connected with Asquith’s visit to the country. During which a hatchet was thrown at his carriage and a burning chair tossed over the balcony at the Theatre Royal. Arrested, a search of her lodgings revealed flammable liquid and gloves but no direct connection with the crimes could be made. The charge was reduced to damaging property to which she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven months hard labour. As before and after she went on hunger strike but was freed after only a few days when the doctors felt unable to force feed her without damaging her already precarious health.
Ethel Violet Baldock was born in 1893 in Gravesend, Kent to Samuel and Frances. When she was only six years old her mother and her elder sister who was next in age to her died within weeks of each other. By Christmas of that year her father had married again. The youngest of six daughters Ethel also had two younger brothers. By 1911 her eldest sister Florence had married and Ethel moved in with her sister and husband working at a hotel in Tunbridge Wells as a housemaid and waitress. Ethel was arrested in March 1912 alongside Violet Bland for breaking a window valued at £10 at the Commercial Cable Company’s premises in Northumberland Avenue. Her exact sentence has not be ascertained but she was imprisoned. Three years later she married Arthur Hodge and they went on to have one child. Ethel died in 1939.
The next two entries are for Lucy A Baldock and Minnie Baldock who are in fact one and the same person. Born Lucy Minnie Rogers in 1864 in Poplar, East London she was commonly known as Minnie. Her father worked as a cooper making barrels. In 1888 she married Henry Baldock and within two years they had their first child Henry Rogers. Her husband usually known as Harry was on the 1891 census return a general labourer in the East End. Their second son, John known as Jack, was born six years later. By the early 1890s the family had moved to West Ham and Harry became involved in local politics being elected a councillor for West Ham. The local member for Parliament was Keir Hardie, a Liberal Labour. Many started to lobby for the foundation of a Labour Party for the working class to ensure that they had true representation. In 1893 the Independent Labour Party was founded with Keir Hardie as its leader. The aim being “to secure the collective ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.”
Through Harry’s involvement Minnie forged friendships with Keir Hardie and Charlotte Despard. Along with Keir Hardie in 1903 she organised a meeting protesting at the low pay of women and she assisted in the administration of the West Ham Unemployed Fund. Two years later inspired by Charlotte Despard’s involvement with the Board of Guardians, founded to distribute aid to the poor and one of a few municipal organisations to which a woman could be elected, she stood for election to the board as an Independent Labour candidate. Like Charlotte she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union establishing a branch in Canning Town, East London in early 1906.
Minnie lobbied Asquith and Campbell-Bannerman at meetings and at their homes. In July 1906 a group of women protested outside Asquith’s home in Cavendish Square. Three were arrested. In court Minnie pointed out that the protest had been peaceful and ladylike. The magistrate was of the clear view that in any event their actions were agitation and ordered them to be bound over to keep the peace for twelve months. On their collective refusal to accept they were taken to Holloway Prison to serve six weeks.
On her release Minnie continued to be an active speaker on the question of suffrage. She was arrested again following a protest in the lobby of the House of Commons in February 1908 charged with behaviour which led to a breach of the peace. Refusing to be bound over she was imprisoned for four weeks. It was a movement of solidarity and other suffragettes ensured her young son, Jack, was cared for whilst she was in prison. Maud Arncliffe Sennett sent him toys.
In 1909 she took part in the campaign in the West Country alongside her continuing East End activities. Like many she does not appear on the 1911 census although the rest of her family are recorded, all three were employed in the shipping industry in the London docks. Her activities came to an end when she was taken seriously ill in 1911. She and Harry moved to Southampton where her mother’s family had originated from. She died in 1954.