Myra Eleanor Sadd-Brown, who was arrested twice: November 1911 and March the following year. In 1911 Myra was one of around two hundred suffragettes arrested. Charged with obstruction, she was sentenced to a 5-shilling fine or five days in prison. She elected to go to prison.
Myra Eleanor Sadd was born in 1872 in Maldon, Essex to John, a timber merchant, and Mary Anne. The second youngest of ten children, five girls and five boys, Myra grew up in Maldon, where her family were members of the Congregational Church. Besides his business interests, her father was Mayor four times of Maldon, a visiting justice to the Essex County Lunatic Asylum and a Harbour Commissioner. A Liberal John instilled in his children the importance of hard work and service to the community. Myra married Ernest Brown, a hardware merchant, in September 1896. She followed other liberal-minded couples and from her marriage was known as Sadd Brown.
The couple lived at 34 Woodberry Down, just off Green Lanes at the northern tip of Finsbury Park. They had four children: Myra Sadd, 1899; Ernest Sadd, 1904; Emily Price, 1906 and Jean Frances, 1908. Ernest and his brothers established Brown Brothers Limited, based in Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, with branches across the country and representatives in Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and South America. The business retailed bicycles, motorbikes and, at one point, cars plus any parts required.
Ernest was a member of the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers. An entity whose application form presumed a male applicant. All four children followed in his footsteps. On the girls' forms, son is crossed out, and daughter substituted, but the rest of the form remains unannotated 'because he is legitimate, and was born after the admission of his father'. Jean's form was completed in 1929.
Myra was elected a poor law guardian serving on the Hackney Board for six years. On Edward VII's coronation, Myra donated sufficient strawberries and sugar to feed around eight hundred elderly and infirm residents in the Hackney Workhouse. A donation she repeated in following years, providing over four hundred pounds of fruit each time. A member of the Women's Liberal Federation, Myra attended a conference in Birmingham in May 1901. One woman called the assembled company' political dummies' if they supported any candidate who disagreed with women's suffrage. Another pointed out that without the vote, women were classed 'with paupers, lunatics, criminals and children,' Despite these pleas, the motion to only support candidates who were pro-suffrage was defeated. Another significant issue was the Boer War with the proposed resolution that the encounter was 'all wrong from beginning to end.' With several others, Myra countered the proposal with 'considerable vigour,' observing why 'our Army and ourselves' were being painted 'as black as possible and the other side as white and as pure as the driven snow?' This statement was met with widespread approval.
In January 1903, Myra addressed a meeting of the Romford Women's Liberal Association entitled The Ideals of Liberalism stressing, the importance of women taking their place in politics. Women needed to be organised in their campaigning 'without which they were like a rudderless ship' undertaking 'to do their share of the fighting for the freedom and privileges of Liberalism which … would again be the might movement it had been in its best day.'
Myra's mother, Mary Ann, was President of the Maldon branch of the Association. At the family home, Mary Ann hosted a gathering at which Myra spoke about women's suffrage. At the annual conference in Halifax, Myra moved a resolution condemning the proposed London Education Bill, which, if passed, would see women unable to stand for election to education authorities, an arena in which they had previously made significant contributions. The resolution easily passed. At the evening reception Earl Beauchamp, a Liberal peer, added his support, voicing his opinion that the Bill was 'a failure.' In April 1904, Myra ceased to be a guardian. At her final meeting, it was observed that Myra 'had the mind and courage of a lady combined with the inferior power of a man.'
©Museum of London Commercial picture postcard published by the Rotary Photographic Company. The comic postcard is printed with two studio photographs of a young female child representing the Suffragette both 'at home' - reading a newspaper and 'at work' - standing on a chair delivering a speech. The postmark is dated 15 August 1909 and includes a message possibly sent to the Suffragette Myra Sadd Brown. It notes the sender is going to the White City Exhibition the following day.
By July 1907, Myra was secretary of the North Hackney Women's Liberal Association, part of the Federation, which she set about re-organising. In the same year, she donated £5 to the WSPU's £20000 fund. At a meeting of the Federation at Caxton Hal,l it was proposed, as it had been in Birmingham, that support should only be extended to candidates who supported women's suffrage. Myra sought to extend the proposition to refusing to assist in any electoral activity unless 'a measure for [women's] enfranchisement' was brought in. It appears that Myra's proposal was not accepted.
The Women's Franchise, the WFL newspaper, announced in October 1908 that Myra was to be one of the speakers at Caxton Hall. Despite this allegiance, she and Ernest donated £5 each to the WSPU £50000 fund. Myra joined the Hackney branch of the WFL chairing in December 1908, a two-day gathering in the Stoke Newington Library Gallery. Speeches by Charlotte Despard, Teresa Billington-Greig, were followed by performances from the South Palace Orchestra and the gallery was filled with stalls offering needlework, dolls or pictures for sale. From 1909 onwards, Myra addressed WFL meetings regularly. At an At Home held at Caxton Hall, Myra explained why she had abandoned the Women's Liberal Federation which, had become 'hide-bound' by putting 'the cloak of party right round them.' Myra spoke at a meeting of the New Constitutional Society for Women's Suffrage, an organisation formed in 1910 after the General Election to lobby the Liberal Members of Parliament on the subject of women's suffrage.
The family had by now moved to 2 Chesterford Gardens, a substantial red brick house, in Hampstead while they often spent the summer months in Essex. At some point, the family purchased Crossways in Little Baddow, where Myra would host events. Ernest's business interests were flourishing, and Myra was supported in her domestic role by three maids and a children's nurse.
In March 1912, Myra was charged with breaking a window at the War Office. At her trial, Myra's lawyer, who also represented Catherine Richmond, pleaded that they 'got carried along by some people behind them.' The magistrate was unimpressed observing, he 'could understand a young girl being carried along, but these were middle-aged women,' before sentencing them to two months with hard labour.
The WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women, kept its readers appraised of how the prisoners were fairing. Myra went on a hunger strike. One prisoner, on her release, reported that attempts had been made to forcibly feed Myra by nasal tube, despite being made aware that she had previously broken her nose and had her throat operated on. The forcible feeding resulted in bleeding from her nose and throat. Following her release, Myra wrote to the Daily Herald detailing her experiences. She had decided to refuse food in protest that the privileges which could be accorded to prisoners should not be 'withheld according to the discretion of one man.' When it was decided to commence feeding by the nasal tube, no examination of Myra's nose was made despite the doctor being aware of her medical history. It took four attempts to pass the tube through one of her nostrils successfully. Myra informed the Governor of her previous medical history but, despite her plea, force-feeding was attempted again the following day. After four attempts, the procedure was abandoned.
Myra wrote, 'I do not wish to speak of my mental or physical sufferings; they are indescribable.' Keir Hardie asked questions in the House of Commons concerning Myra's treatment to which Ellis Ellis-Griffith, Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, responded that if she 'suffered any pain it was due entirely to the violent resistance she offered in the form of 'the unusual power she possessed of contracting the throat muscles, and expelling the tube.'
Ernest wrote to the Prison Governor, forwarding a copy to the Home Secretary (see below for a link where you can listen to the letters Myra and Ernest exchanged) the day after Myra's release on 29 April. He had learned of the force-feeding from the Press but had decided to refrain from writing until he had heard Myra's account. Ernest recounts the facts commenting that Myra's treatment had given her 'a severe shock.' He questions why, despite Myra informing the medical staff of her history, no examination was conducted. In his covering letter to the Home Secretary, Ernest demanded an enquiry. The doctor concerned wrote a report to the Prison Governor confirming that he had been made aware of Myra's medical history and had reassured her 'that if an obstruction did exist the soft rubber tube was the safest and most gentle instrument for ascertaining its presence.' No such obstruction was found; the issues were caused by Myra's ability to expel the tube. He had not observed any bleeding nor, he contended, had Myra informed him of any such occurrence. A different doctor had attempted the procedure the following day. The same issues occurred with the nasal tube, and therefore he decided to use the oesophageal one instead. Before this was attempted, the prisoners decided to take their food and, Myra joined them. In concluding, the doctor described Myra as 'violently resistive.'
While Myra continued to be a member of the WSPU, she was also a supporter of the Women's Tax Resistance League. In January 1913, she hosted an At Home at which Louisa Garrett Anderson spoke. Myra also supported the Church League for Women's Suffrage, whose founding aim was to secure the vote in Church and State as it was granted to men. At their Spring Fair, held at a Congregational Church Hall, Myra ran the refreshment stall. At the same time, Ernest donated £10 to their funds. In June 1913, Myra was elected to the executive of the Church League for Women's Suffrage.
By 1914 Myra appears to have aligned herself with the East London Federation of Suffragettes while continuing her work with the Church League for Women's Suffrage. Formerly the East London Federation, it was founded by Amy Bull and Sylvia Pankhurst in 1913 on democratic lines and allowed men to be members. Early in 1914, the group was expelled from the WSPU and altered its name. At the same time, the Federation launched the Women's Dreadnought newspaper. In an attempt to raise much-needed funds members, were encouraged to participate in a self-denial week. Myra and her family lived off nothing other than bread and cheese for a week donating the funds saved.
Myra purchased copies of the Women's Dreadnought for distribution. By the end of 1914, Myra was involved again with the WFL supporting the Women's Suffrage National Aid Corp, founded to provide women and children with assistance who were financially suffering because of World War I. Much of this work centred around Charlotte Despard's premises in Currie Street where children could stay if their mothers were hospitalised, nutritious vegetarian meals were provided, or women remunerated for sewing clothes in a workshop. Myra hosted an At Home where Charlotte spoke of the support working-class women and children needed. Similarly, Myra hosted an At Home to raise funds for the East London Federation of Suffragettes. The Federation organised at Caxton Hall a two-day exhibition where various suffrage societies had stalls alongside a Women's Labour Exhibit which included a sweated labour section demonstrating the work of brush, matchbox and garment makers; an area displaying the products of the East London Toy Factory and a demonstration of the reality of price increases. Myra ran the refreshment stall.
In June 1915, the Hampstead Branch of the WFL hosted a gathering to celebrate Charlotte Despard's birthday. Myra's children performed a selection of French plays described as 'charming.' Both Ernest and Myra generously financially supported the Federation both on a monthly and ad hoc basis. At a Church League prayer meeting and tea table conference, the discussion centred around whether women should serve on War Tribunals established to decide whether or not a man should be sent to the Front. Several women felt strongly that as a man could not decide to send a woman into battle, it was wrong for a female to decide as the woman's movement stood for equality. Myra succinctly argued that the sex of the Tribunal was indifferent 'provided the spirit animating the deliberations was the same.'
©Museum of London Printed menu for a 'Victory" Dinner' held by the Women's Freedom League on 22 February 1918 to commemorate the passing of the Representation of the People's Act that gave certain women over 30 the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Headed with the logo of the Women's Freedom League the dinner, in keeping with others organised by the WFL, comprised a vegetarian menu in this case with a main course of Lentil cutlets and tomato sauce. The menu has been signed by many of those attending the event including Myra Sadd Brown and Maud Fisher.
Myra was a pacifist and, after the end of World War, I represented the Church League at a Peace Conference held in Manchester. In 1916 the League changed the name of its newspaper to The Coming Day, the new title suggesting 'that we lift our eyes from the black and turgid present to a future of a clear-shining morn.' By 1920 the aim of the newspaper was to provide a platform with 'high aims such as the League of World Friendship' or the Baptist Women's League. Myra was appointed the treasurer. Her financial support of the Federation and the WFL continued alongside her fundraising work for the Russian Relief Fund and her support for a Royal Commission's call to investigate cruelty in asylums. Myra also lent her continuing support to the WFL, often chairing discussions organised by the Hampstead Branch. Myra's eldest daughter, also named Myra, joined the WFL, representing those under thirty years of age giving a talk on the right of university women to share in political affairs; men had the vote at twenty-one, women at thirty. Mother and daughter were part of a deputation that presented the argument for equality of political rights at the House of Commons. Emily, Myra's second daughter, assisted at gatherings of the Hampstead Branch.
The British Commonwealth League was founded during the 1920s to promote equality of liberties, status, and opportunities between men and women and encourage mutual understanding throughout the Commonwealth.' Many of its members were campaigners for women's suffrage. Myra was the League's first treasurer and sat on the Women's Advisory Council of the League of Nations Union as a representative of the British Commonwealth League. In 1928, to raise funds and awareness, she organised an excursion to Crossways, the family home in Essex.
In 1919 the League of Nations was founded. Many women's groups sought to ensure that women had a role to play and, a year later, in 1920, the Council for the Representation of Women in the League of Nations was established with the aim of ensuring women formed part of any British delegation to the League. One of the groups affiliated to the Council was the WFL. The executive of the WFL nominated Myra to be a vice president.
©Museum of London A souvenir menu and programme issued for the Women's Freedom League Victory Breakfast held at the Hotel Cecil on Thursday 5 July 1928, to celebrate the passing of the Equal Franchise Act. On the reverse are signatures of many suffragette prisoners who attended the event including Teresa Bilington Greig, Edith How Martyn, Myra Sadd Brown and Mary Richardson. Included in the breakfast menu were porridge, kippers, fried plaice, eggs and bacon, omelette, boiled eggs, jam marmalade and toast.
On 12 July 1930, Ernest died. The Vote described Ernest as 'a generous friend of the Women's Freedom League (Nine Elms Settlement), and was particularly kind and sympathetic.' Myra continued with her work. Presiding over a WFL event in 1932, she said the League 'pursued a line of continuity and never forsook its ideals…[It] worked with a resolute persistence.' Words that could have been written about Myra herself. In 1933 Myra stood successfully for election to the National Executive Committee of the WFL. In that capacity, she was one of the delegates to the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship held in Istanbul in 1935.
In 1937, while abroad, Myra died. The International Women Suffrage News spoke of Myra's 'constant service to the women's movement' and her 'certain tranquil faith in the rightness of that cause which was an encouragement and inspiration.'
At suffragette dinner in 1939, Myra's daughter, Myra, recollected, as a thirteen-year-old girl, handing out pamphlets on the Commercial Road and visiting her mother in Holloway Prison. 'They did a great thing these women. I am grateful to them.'Two years ago, Myra's granddaughter, Diana, collaborated on a podcast called Your Loving Myra, in which some of the letters between Myra and Ernest are read written during her time in Holloway in 1912 are read. It is well worth a listen https://soundcloud.com/bethmoss/your-loving-myra. Their love and his support for Myra shines out. The LSE library holds poignant letters from Myra's children to her while she was in prison.
Marie Brown was charged with maliciously damaging five plate glass windows the property of the Postmaster General in the Edgeware Road, to the value of £25 during March 1912. She was found not guilty. Marie stated she was forty-two years old, married, from Brighton, Sussex. The following entry is Mary Brown arrested in May 1913. The amnesty record is annotated to reflect that this is an alias used by Edith Hudson, a nurse from Scotland.
At the suggestion of a follower of this blog I have decided to post each person listed as a separate blog. This should hopefully make it easier to locate an individual. If you have any thoughts or opinions do let me know. Any feedback good or bad is valued.
Mrs M Brown was arrested in November 1910 for her part in Black Friday when the charges were dropped. The following entry is Margaret Jane Brown, who is also known as Mary Jane Brown, Mary Jane Tagg, again there is no further identifying information save a file note: ‘Mrs Margaret Brown breaking window Daily Mail. Prosecution refused. Released. It is unclear if these are one and same person, but I have not been able to find out any more.
Ada Broughton is first recorded as involved in the suffrage movement in the Votes for Women newspaper, July 1908. She was arrested in April 1909 for her part in an attempt to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister at the House of Commons; the charge was obstruction. At the trial, it was reported that Ada had rushed at a policeman knocking off his helmet. Ada commented that the Women's Parliament had commissioned her to present a petition, and she intended to do it. She was sentenced to a £10 fine plus a £10 surety to keep the peace for three months or one month in prison. Ada and the other eight defendants avowed to go to prison, but it is not clear whether Ada ultimately did.
Ada was born in Liverpool in 1879, the fourth child of William and Alice. William was, at the time of her birth, a draper. Two more children followed Ada. Ten years later, her father is recorded working as a watch engraver. When she finished school, Ada worked as a municipal cashier.
By 1913 Ada had switched from the WSPU to the Women's Freedom League. She travelled to Paisley in Scotland and established a branch holding several open-air meetings to garner support. She spoke at Gourock in West Scotland and then became the organiser tasked with resurrecting the Dumfermline branch. Ada continued campaigning across Scotland until 1915, when she appears to have moved back to Liverpool, forming the Central Branch of the WFL there. Ada's particular area of expertise was outlining to women their legal and economic position. She was also a campaigner for the Temperance movement, claiming during one speech that where women had the vote, temperance was frequently supported.
By 1917 Ada had moved to Newcastle to support the Cadets of Temperance branch while still being active in the suffrage movement. The following year she moved to Bermondsey, London and became an active member of the local Independent Labour party. In November 1919, she was elected as a Labour member of the Borough Council in Bermondsey; alongside this role, she was also an organiser for the National Federation of Women Workers, a trade union founded in 1906 for women who could not join their own union or were employed in trades not supported by a union. In 1921 it merged with the GMB.
Ada kept her council seat until her death in 1934, when during a visit to Liverpool, she succumbed to scarlet fever. The member of Parliament for Bermondsey and the local Labour party leader both travelled to Liverpool for Ada's funeral.
Alice Ward Brown, or Alice Ward, was arrested on 28th July 1913. One of twenty-four men and women arrested, Alice was charged with obstruction. A meeting of the WSPU and the Men's Federation for Women's Suffrage was held in Trafalgar Square. Sylvia Pankhurst, released under the Cat and Mouse Act, attempted to address the meeting but was forced to flee when the police arrived to re-arrest her. The crowd surged after her, and that is when the arrests took place. Testifying, Alice stated she had been going to Downing Street. Although she did not know why she was going there, she had the right to do so. She was bound over to keep the peace for a year and fined £10. The Museum of London website states that Alice went to prison for five days, either on remand or due to her failure to pay the fine. While there, this surveillance photograph was taken of her:
No further information has been found save for a further entry in the arrest record stating Alice was arrested in November 1913 for failure to present a child for a medical examination.
Amelia Brown was arrested at the Guildhall in the city of London along with Alice Paul. The two had managed to evade the extra security in place ahead of a banquet to be attended by leading politicians by disguising themselves as charwomen. They remained hidden for twelve hours despite constant security sweeps of the building and at least one close shave when a policeman tossed his cape on their feet. They intended to smash a pane as the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, rose to speak; the broken pane would allow their shouts of votes for women to be heard in the banqueting hall. However, the Lord Mayor spoke and sat down. Believing Asquith would then follow, Amelia broke a pane with her shoe. However, it was not Asquith who rose to his feet but the Lord Mayor of London to propose a toast to the King. She said to the arresting officer 'a political protest,' their intention to confront the Prime Minister, with a stomach pump. Tales of daring-do were included in the press with guests, fireman, and police reported to scrabble over the Guildhall roof to capture the two women who remained standing by the broken pane shouting votes for women. Below, the orchestra struck up to drown them out. Other guests were reportedly showered in shards of glass.
At trial, the two women who were described as 'looking very cold and miserable', it was stated that when they had both been searched, Amelia was found to be in possession of a bottle of milk and Alice the stomach pump they had planned to show Asquith. When Amelia was asked if she had anything to say, she responded, 'I don't see how you can convict me, as I am not recognised by law as being alive.' The Magistrate described Amelia and Alice as 'hysterical creatures' before passing a sentence of a fine of £5 or one month in prison with hard labour.
Amelia was described on arrival at Holloway Prison as 'in good mental and physical health.' She changed into prison clothes without protest and submitted to a medical examination. However, Amelia refused any food. Four days after her admission, she was being subjected to force-feeding twice a day. According to the reports, Amelia participated in exercise and religious worship but refused either to eat or undertake any prison work. Given a spoon, she sharpened the end sufficiently to enable her to write on her cell walls and smashed the inspection glass in her door to allow her to communicate with Alice. On this particular day, she was force-fed twice using the stomach tube. The authorities noted, 'Her resistance was easily overcome. No vomiting after feeding.' Amelia persistently demanded to meet with Gladstone, the Home Secretary, and when the chaplain visited her, she insulted him, making 'irreverent jokes about sacred matters.' The chaplain was advised to curtail his visits.
One report observed that they were 'nice' ladies seeming 'to find methods of enlivening the dullness of prison life.' The authorities responded by withdrawing access to their letters. Amelia was examined by J Hopper Baker, a doctor, before her admission to Holloway Prison, who noted that in his opinion, Amelia's health was not sufficiently robust to survive ordinary prison life, let alone force-feeding. This opinion was damned in an internal memo; 'I cannot think that anyone but a venal and unscrupulous person could have written them.' The doctor's credentials who signed the statements were disputed, stating he had attended three medical schools and his entry in The Medical Directory was cursory. Despite the doctor's opinion, the force-feeding continued.
By 16th November, Amelia had lost two and a half pounds in weight, but 'as she is a stout woman, this is not of any material consequence.' Every day she attended chapel and exercised in the yard. Amelia continued to be disruptive: singing and shouting but conceded to eat normally on Sunday 21st November 'so as to give less trouble' presumably because it was a holy day. The following day Amelia again refused food, complained of a cold and spent part of the day in bed. The Prison Governor considered that there were 'no signs of any serious malady.' The following day, Amelia was again force-fed and when weighed, appeared to have gained weight, meaning that she had only lost one pound thus far. This routine continued without change until 26th November, when it was noted that Amelia drank some milk during the evening, so she was force-fed only in the morning. On and off over the next few days, Amelia took milk, and then a session of force-feeding was omitted. By the end of November, she was reported to have lost two and a half pounds.
A week later, the regime was taking its toll. Amelia was reported to be suffering from indigestion and 'slight sickness,' spending most of her day in bed. Amelia was due for release on 9th December. The day before, she was weighed and was found to have lost four pounds; the report concludes, 'I consider this satisfactory.' The following day Amelia and Alice were released.
Sadly, none of the press coverage gives any more clues to allow Amelia to be traced any further, but her legacy is the enormous amount of press coverage her actions garnered.
23rd November 1911 was the date of the arrest of Catherine Brown for window smashing, for which she was fined forty-five shillings or ten days in prison. The records note that Catherine was born in 1869. Nothing further has been located.
The next entry is Jeanie Brown, born in 1877, arrested on 9th March 1912 and charged with wilful damage, for which she was sentenced to one month with hard labour. The Times, 15th March 1912, explained the difference between hard labour for men and women prisoners. For the latter, it was not 'rigorous hard labour' but worked for between ten and six hours a day. The Times reports the trial for breaking a window at the Home Office of 'a young girl' called Jeanne Brown. At her trial, she said, 'if he [the magistrate] sentenced their leaders, the women would do worse and worse.' These words are credited in the Advertiser to Jennie Brown. The following entry is J C Brown arrested on 9th July 1909, and there the trail runs cold.
Kathleen Brown was arrested for the first time in October 1908. The suffragettes had gathered at Caxton Hall ahead of marching to the Houses of Parliament to deliver a resolution. The police were present in large numbers and managed to keep the women at bay. One, however, presented her card requesting an audience with an MP. When he appeared, she pushed past and entered the Houses of Parliament. Gaining access, she charged into the House of Commons chamber demanding votes for women. Only a few members were participating in the debate, which came to an abrupt halt. Escorted from the premises, the woman with enormous sang froid asked a policeman to hail her a cab which she climbed into and disappeared. Meanwhile, the crowds swelled, and the women were pushed back by mounted police, often coming close to being crushed.
About forty men and women were arrested and charged with assaulting or obstructing the police; Kathleen was among them. She was fined £10 and bound over to keep the peace for a year or, in the alternative, sentenced to twenty-one days in prison. A letter on the files notes that Kathleen's sentence was not a month because the Magistrate believed the 'defendant was quite a girl.' She, along with the sixteen others she was tried with, refused to be bound over and were taken to Holloway Prison. Kathleen was released on 11th November 1908 along with two other suffragettes whom Mr and Mrs Pethick Lawrence greeted.
Kathleen returned to Newcastle upon Tyne, her hometown, the following month. The local branch of the WSPU hosted an At Home where Kathleen was the guest of honour. She was presented with £21, which had been raised by donation, each £1 representing a day in prison. Kathleen handed it to the treasurer and commented that she wished she had been in prison for longer as more monies would have been raised.
In February the following year, Winston Churchill visited Newcastle, and in a carefully orchestrated plan, the suffragettes dogged his every move. Kathleen and Miss Davies entered the banqueting hall, where Churchill was dining, with a megaphone demanding the vote. Kathleen pointed out that men and women paid politician's wages even though they could not vote.
Kathleen was back in London in June and was arrested for her part in another attempt to deliver a petition at the House of Commons. When the women arrived for their court hearing, many carried portmanteaux in readiness for prison and baskets of strawberries to enjoy while they waited. Kathleen was charged with breaking a Privy Council window. Found guilty on 12th July, she was fined £5 and £5 damages or six weeks in prison. Again, she elected to go to prison. Kathleen went on hunger strike in protest at not being accorded a political prisoner's status and allocated to the First Division with privileges. A report on the file states that there were few, if any instances, of men being treated as political prisoners and sent to the First Division: 'It does not appear that … similar privilege has even been given to dynamiters … men who break shop windows in order to draw attention to the unemployed question … Even anti-vaccinationists who are put in Div I by statute … are treated exactly like other prisoners if in the course of their agitation they offend against the ordinary law by assaulting police.'
The Home Secretary, Herbert Gladstone, refused to overturn the Magistrate's decision that the women were not political prisoners. The majority of the women refused to abide by prison regulations. The prison governor described the women as 'mutinous since reception'; they sang, shouted, broke cell windows and waved their sashes through the glassless apertures. Some suffragettes had secured the use of a room in Crayford Road, which abuts the prison from where they addressed the prisoners through a megaphone. Fourteen of the prisoners, including Kathleen, were brought before the prison visiting committee charged with gross misconduct. According to the report, each was examined separately, and each, according to the report, 'admitted the charges and gloried in their offences.' Allegations are made in the report of one wardress being bitten and another being showered in hot cocoa during the proceedings. Throughout the hearing, the women not called loudly sang, banged on walls and rang bells. The report concludes that the committee 'had no difficulty deciding that the prisoners must all be punished and agreed easily as to the amount of punishment', which ranged from ten days to seven days in solitary confinement.
Eight of the women were placed in 'special' cells, one in a 'silent' cell and the rest in cells housed in a wing away from Crayford Road. While their possessions were removed from them, none of the women were searched or forced to wear prison clothing because it was felt it would lead to more confrontation and potential violence. One woman, on release, explained that the 'special cells' were a dank, damp, dungeon of a room with little ventilation with only a slither of light. The bed was a wooden board jutting out from the wall and only at night was a thin mattress provided. The Governor reported that a suffragette band played outside the prison despite the presence of several police officers.
Kathleen was released on 21st July and was reported to have spoken of her hunger strike as 'merely an episode-ended and forgotten.' Dr Ethel Bentham examined Kathleen. Ethel, a suffragist, had been a general practitioner in Newcastle and in 1909 moved to Holland Park, London. She wrote to the Home Secretary that for several days she had been very concerned for Kathleen's health, who was suffering from muscular rheumatism. In such a young person, this was surprising. Kathleen had explained that when she had been confined to a punishment cell, the water vessels had leaked. While the vessels were replaced and Kathleen cleared up the water with what materials came to hand, the area remained damp. Ethel also observed that Kathleen's hair was 'in a terrible state when she was released.' The supplied brush and comb had been totally inadequate, and either they or the bedding 'must have been very unclean, for the hair was in a verminous condition.' The prison staff pointed out that as Kathleen refused to be medically examined, declined medicine or food, 'it is scarcely possible for us to take responsibility regarding [her] health.' The brush, comb and mattress were new, and all other bedding had been freshly laundered. Examination of the cells did not reveal any vermin, which it was suggested may have been picked up at the police cells or court. Equally, no evidence was found of damp or any complaints as to the conditions of the cell. The findings were relayed to Edith, who responded: 'May I say that it is hardly a complete answer to mine.' The Home Office decided not to reply, but the file reveals were sufficiently concerned to commission a report from Arthur Newsholme, a prominent public health expert. Hampered by the lack of specificity as to the nature of the vermin, Arthur provided a detailed analysis of the life cycle of fleas, bugs and lice, commenting that so long as clean clothes and a bath were provided on admission and the cells thoroughly cleaned, it was 'highly improbable that … fleas or bugs' could be acquired. Head lice or body louse broadly followed the same pattern requiring either bodily contact or contaminated clothing.
When Kathleen returned to Newcastle, she was met at Central station by a large crowd of supporters and the Warner Colliery Band. After tea at the Turks Head Hotel, she addressed a crowd at the Haymarket. In March 2017, a plaque was erected on the building, formerly the Turks Head Hotel, in recognition of the suffrage campaign. In October 1909, Lloyd George travelled to Newcastle to speak at the Palace Theatre in the Haymarket; tickets to the event were printed with 'Not to be sold to a woman.' There was a massive police presence to prevent any suffragette demonstration. The Governor at Newcastle Prison subsequently reported that he believed the women had arrived in the town in force to get arrested and swamp the prison staff deliberately, the suffragettes appearing to be aware of the staffing levels. In his opinion, they failed in their objective, beyond getting arrested, but felt that it was a tactic likely to be repeated.
Among the eleven arrested were: Constance Lytton, Emily Davison, Winifred Jones, Jane Brailsford (see earlier blog), Dorothy Pethick, Miss Pitman, Kitty Marion and Kathleen, who was charged with wilful damage by breaking a window of the Post Office in Pink Lane. Bail was refused. While the women were awaiting jail, the Prison Governor assured the Home Office that they were 'allowed reasonable facilities for communicating with and interviewing their friends, and obtaining meals and bedding outside.' In court, Kathleen said: 'We demand the franchise.' Found guilty, Kathleen was sentenced to one month with hard labour.
On admission to prison, the women refused to eat. On 14th October, a visit was paid to ascertain whether or not forcible feeding was 'immediately necessary.' Kathleen's condition was described as 'fair, but she has a slight but marked murmur over the cardiac region', which was believed 'not to be indicative of organic disease' although this could not be said with certainty. In addition, both Kathleen, her friends and her medical adviser asserted she had a history of heart problems which led the report to recommend that force-feeding was not undertaken as any resistant to the process could risk her health. In consequence, release the following day was recommended. A telegram sent the same day as the report agreed to Kathleen's immediate release.
Kathleen was born in 1886 to Joseph, a clerk in the railway accounts department, and Margaret. At the time of her birth, the family lived in the village of Greenside to the west of Gateshead. Kathleen had two younger sisters, Nora, born in 1890 and Sydney, born in 1893. By the time of Sydney's birth, the family had moved to the village of Ovingham, to the east of Hexham. When the 1911 census was taken, the family lived at 88 Elswick Avenue, Newcastle upon Tyne. Kathleen, however, was staying in Dewsbury and is recorded as working as a registration officer at the local Labour Exchange.
In 1919 Kathleen married Donald Fraser. The couple lived abroad following their marriage, ultimately settling in Devon. They had four children. Kathleen died in 1973.
The next entry states Helen Briddle arrested on 14 February 1907, charged with obstruction and fined 10 shillings or one week in prison. It is noted that Helen came from Liscard, part of Wallasey town. There the trail goes cold. Other newspapers report a Mrs Ella Briddle rather than a 'Helen', but again no trace has been found.
The next entry is Annie Briggs, who, when arrested, stated she was born in 1864 in Rochdale and gave her occupation as a housekeeper. The arrest record states that Annie was arrested twice in 1911 and 1913. The official records also state that a Annie Briggs was arrested in 1907. However, it is possible that these are not the same people. Whatever the case, while the charge in 1907 remains unknown, the fine was 20 shillings or fourteen days in prison.
Four years later, Annie was charged with throwing a stone at Parliament Chambers in Great Smith Street. She was sentenced to twenty-one days in prison. The next arrest was during April 1913, when she was remanded for a week for malicious damage to thirteen paintings in the Manchester Art gallery. An account of the events and Annie's acquittal can be found at https://radicalmanchester.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/the-suffragette-attack-on-manchester-art-gallery-april-1913/. A picture of Annie can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterarchiveplus/6891425369. Nothing further about her life has been found.
One of the tactics of the WSPU from 1907 onwards was to hold a Women's Parliament at the beginning of each Parliamentary session. The King's Speech was on 12 February 1907, and the following day the women held their own session followed by a march to the Houses of Parliament to present a petition to the Prime Minister. After speeches, about four hundred women, led by Charlotte Despard, set off for Westminster, where they were greeted by flanks of police determined to halt their progress. The women were not for turning, and they resolutely attempted repeatedly to progress. About fourteen women made it to the Lobby, but all were immediately arrested. Another fifty women were arrested outside, including Florence Bright. In court, Florence, charged with disorderly conduct, questioned the police constable's evidence, which a second officer substantiated to her shock. Florence observed that such testimony was 'dreadful to the dock'. Bringing out the mounted police had been 'dreadful' but being used to horses, Florence testified that she had grabbed the bridle turning the horse from her, at which point she was arrested. She was sentenced to fourteen days in prison.
Several newspapers reported that Florence was the first authoress to go to prison. By the time of her sentence, she had written The Vision Splendid published in 1899 and co-written with Robert Machray, a fellow author and for a year the editor of the Daily Mail, the Girl Capitalist and One Pretty Pilgrim's Progress. In 1907 Florence followed her earlier success with the publication of An Outsider's View of the Women's Movement.
Ten years later, she gave her name to a promotional advertisement for Sanatogen, writing that a course of the medicine had cured her nervous debility.
Florence Katherine Bright was born in 1862; although her middle name was registered at birth as Catherine, she usually spelt it with a 'K'. Her parents were George and Jennie, and she had an elder sister, Eva, who was born in 1860. Their father had served in the Fifth Royal Irish Lancers, followed by a time as a war correspondent for the Times. Although when Eva was born, her baptism record records George's occupation as a merchant. Nine years later, the 1871 census notes his occupation as a public accountant. Florence was educated, at least in part, at boarding school. Her sister, Eva, was reported to have been one of the first women admitted to Newnham College, Cambridge. Both sisters pursued careers as authors and journalists.
In 1911 Eva emigrated to Perth, Australia. The sisters collaborated on a play, 'That Betty, ' staged in Australia. Their mother lived with Florence in later life; her obituary, February 1924, poignantly records that due to caring obligations, Florence had been able only to write little but intended to resume now. Florence also expressed the hope that 'That Betty' would be staged in London. By the following year, Florence, a vivisectionist, hosted an At Home at the Hall in Temple Fortune, North London, to raise funds for Animal Welfare week when she acted and recited a poem written for her by Eva.
Throughout the years, Florence remained in touch with the suffragette movement attending events of the Suffragette Fellowship alongside Edith How-Martyn, with whom it is believed she formed the Suffrage Club. She was amongst the mourners at the funeral of another suffragette, Dora Montefiore. Eva died in Perth in 1933, survived by four daughters, but her only son had been killed only weeks before the end of the First World War. Florence died in 1943.
John Angell James Brindley, named after a nonconformist clergyman and writer, was born in 1860 to Richard, an independent minister, and Mary. John was born in Bath, Somerset, but by the time James was eleven, the family, including two younger siblings Ruth and Thomas, had moved St Paul's Road, Islington, North London. Their father, Richard, had passed away, probably explaining the move. Ten years later, the family had moved again to Highbury Park, still in Islington. John, aged twenty-one, was employed as a ship owner's clerk, but by 1891 John had set himself up as a painter; the census specifically records an artist in black and white. He still lived with his mother and brother, but again they have moved this time to Baalbec Road in Islington.
John painted landscapes primarily and up until 1909 exhibited at numerous galleries and
exhibitions, including the Royal Academy
and the Goupil Gallery. He also in 1893 in part illustrated The Tragedy of the Norse Gods by Ruth J Pitt.
In 1899 John married Maud Mary Eadon. Maud, like John, campaigned for suffrage; he was arrested once in 1909, whereas she was arrested five times between 1908 and 1913.
Maud was born in 1860, the daughter of Frank and Anna Maria, while the family were living in Carlisle, Cumberland. By the census the following year, her father Frank, a captain in the militia, his wife and baby daughter were lodging with Anna's brother in the Parsonage in Snaith, East Yorkshire. By the 1871 census, the family numbers had swelled with the addition of three sons and a daughter. While Anna and her brood are living in the village of Heslington to the south-east of York, Frank was lodging in Cumbria in connection with his service as a captain of the militia. By 1881 Frank had retired. The family settled in the White House in the village of Fulford on the outskirts of York. After another decade, the family had moved back to Snaith, the village where both Frank and Anna had been born.
Following their marriage, Maud and John settled in Hampstead. On the census return for 1901, both are stated to be artists and painters. Maud's father had always left the occupation blank for his daughters, and, interestingly, marriage legitimised what her father possibly viewed as a genteel hobby, as a profession. Both Maud and John became members of the Hampstead Art Society and entered their pictures for exhibitions. In one, they both exhibited depictions of Corfe Castle. John's was described as painted 'in a fine decorative manner', and Maud's as 'good direct work.'