The initial research into any family can be akin to collecting stamps, sourcing the ancestor and then lovingly entering them into your family tree, but as time goes on the desire goes beyond merely collecting names to wondering who they really were. Context is what makes family research a never ending quest: are there career similarities; have your paths crossed over the divide of centuries?
Often, census returns for England will give a street name and number. A quick hunt on google maps and instantly you are walking the same street, looking at the very doorstep on which your ancestors stood. Even the street name alone or one nearly will gives you a sense of the past. This obviously works better in urban areas although this can mean the street has been demolished or bombed and the landscape no longer looks like it did in the past.
What is more difficult to research is houses out of the urban area. The surrounding area may reveal agricultural roots but does not give context to families not connected to the land. The French family, a family from my own personal research, moved from urban London to the rural calm of Kent in the early nineteenth century. The house remained in the family for at least three generations which gave an indication that the family was financially well circumstanced but when did it leave the family and why? What was the history of the family and this house?
Wills can be a good source of information relating to houses. The will of the first family member to own the house, Fleming, did not mention the house and in fact his financial affairs were not wound up, probated, for a staggering twenty years. His son John did not appear to have lived at the house but no sale notice could be found in newspaper archives. Census return searches showed occupants that were not family members but over thirty years later the 1851 census return records Fleming’s grandson living in the house.
This case serves to demonstrate one of the methods by which land could be held. All land is either held freehold or by lease. The former means the land is owned outright by the person named on the title deeds; the latter means that the person holding the lease can occupy the land but has no right of sale for they do not have the freehold. Freehold land can be held in fee simple, fee tail or for life. Fee simple is the most straightforward and it is how most people in England own their houses in other words they are free to dispose of it as they wish. Freehold land for life is exactly what it states the person owns their interest for the duration of their life and can in their lifetime “dispose” of it, but the new holder only holds it for the duration of the life of the giver.
A grants to B land for B’s lifetime
B grants to C the same land but this right ceases on B’s death
The land then reverts to A who during all this time is deemed to have a fee simple in reversion that is he is the ultimate holder of the freehold which he can do as he wishes with once it has reverted to him.
The final type, fee tail, is how Fleming and his successors were holding the family house. Fleming settled the land on his son, John and his heirs. This meant that whatever happened the house was protected to be passed on from generation to generation. Therefore Fleming did not need to mention it in his will as it was already settled on his son. This kind of omission from a will can be a clue that this type of settlement exists. It meant John could lease out the house which explains why occupants were not relatives but he could not dispose of the house. This turned out to be sound move on Fleming’s part as further research revealed that John was not particularly adept with money. A court case regarding his debts recording that he was “living in Bruges in embarrassed circumstances”. The settlement of the land protected the house from John’s creditors as it was legally destined for his son, William, Fleming’s grandson who was indeed living there in 1851.
Such dispositions are where the law of land and trusts in England cross over as it is the law of trusts that protects these land transactions, a trust would be created where in this case Fleming would have the right to live in the house until his death then his son John for life and then his son William who would be known as the tenant in tail. Usually what happened was that as soon as the tenant in tail became of age at twenty one his father would request that the land be resettled again ensuring that the land would be held and passed onto a great grandson of the original settlor. Thus starting the protection process all over again.
John was in financial difficulties and it would have been perfectly possible for him to apply to bar the entail himself thus placing the freehold in his hands and the disposal of the house would presumably have resolved his financial difficulties. To do this he would have needed the consent of the trustees and ideally his son, William. John’s will makes it clear in a codicil that people who are sadly unnamed had made his life difficult. It seems that someone was resistant to this course of action perhaps believing that John would only have run himself into more financial difficulties.
It is clear by William’s residence in 1851 that the entail was not barred. He did not take up occupation until nearly twenty years after his father’s death benefitting instead from the rental income. This is in part explained by a naval career and his settling in Scotland following his marriage to a girl from Glasgow. When a tenant left in the 1840s he tried to sell the house but without success. The advertisements for its sale and ones in later years found in newspaper archives. Comparison of newspaper articles and subsequent attempts to sell the house in the later 1850s reveals that he moved south to Kent with the intention of developing the land surrounding the house as the acreage diminishes overtime. As he did not either barr the entail or resettle, on his death in 1855 the house was sold bringing to a close over fifty years in the same ownership.
Sadly many land documents have been lost either binned or the bundles broken up and sold. Those that do remain can be a mine of useful information listing names, family relationships. These used alongside family wills can prove a fascinating insight and shed light on the family context.
This is the next tranche of suffragettes. The first name below completes the first page of the arrest record. Even this small sample demonstrates the breadth of the geographical location and backgrounds of the women who stepped forward to fight for women’s right to vote.
The next two names on the list are both well known and researched:
Mary S Allen was arrested on February 25th 1909, July 12th 1909 both in London and November 13th 1909 in Bristol and Louisa Garrett Anderson arrested on March 5th 1912. Nina Boyd has written a biography The Many Lives of Mary Sophia Allen published in 2013. Both have detailed and fascinating entries on Wikipedia.
The next name on the list sheds light on the relationships between the campaigners and the threads that continued to entwine them for the rest of their lives.
Constance Andrews was arrested on June 7th 1913 and March 31st 1914. The daughter of Oliver, an architect and surveyor and Mary Andrews Constance was born in 1864 in Stowmarket, Suffolk; her full name being Emily Constance. The local papers record her musical prowess as a teenager often giving recitals either on her own or with one of her sisters. Her father died in 1885 and a few years later in 1891 Constance is recorded on the census return living in Gloucester working as a school teacher probably of music. By 1894 Constance had moved back to Stowmarket and was taking in her own music pupils as well as giving piano recitals. She was by this point an Associate of the London College of Music. Two years later she was instrumental in the setting up of the Ladies Section of the Stowmarket Cycling Club being appointed its first captain. Unusually for the time Constance and two other female members along with a William Bury were in partnership in a building firm based in Stowmarket. By 1901 the partnership had been dissolved and Constance had moved to Ipswich continuing to teach music.
In 1907 Constance was involved in the campaign for women’s suffrage founding the Ipswich branch of the Women’s Freedom League in 1909. An endeavour in which she was joined by her sister, Lilla. In 1911 Constance like many women organised an event in Ipswich to ensure they were not at home for the taking of the census. Among those present was her sister and Isobel Tippett, the mother of Michael Tippett the composer. A few weeks later she appeared before the Magistrates Court in Woodbridge for her failure to have a dog licence. Refusing to pay the fine she was imprisoned in Ipswich Gaol for a week. On her release she was collected from the prison gates by several suffragists including Charlotte Despard.
Isobel Tippett was a cousin of Charlotte Despard. This possibly explains Charlotte’s presence in Ipswich on Constance’s release and her accompanying Constance and others touring Suffolk during the summer of 1912 in a caravan with the aim of spreading their message across the rural and coastal villages. As was the case in other parts of the country they were frequently heckled but continued despite such lukewarm receptions.
During the early months of 1913 she addressed various meetings of the Women’s Freedom League in the North East, the Sunderland Daily Echo reporting that perhaps unusually she had no difficulty in getting her message across and was warmly treated by all. Although in May she successfully defied the ban of public speaking in Hyde Park on the subject of votes for women she was not so lucky a month later when she was charged with obstructing the police when trying to speak outside St James’s Palace. When the matter came to court all three of the women charged requested time to call witnesses which was denied. They were ordered to pay 20 shillings or go to prison for fourteen days. Charlotte Despard who attended the hearing shouted “There is no justice for women in England.” Refusing to pay the fine Constance was imprisoned. According to the arrest record Constance was arrested again on March 31st 1914 but the reason has not been found.
Constance was a member of the Church of the New Age in Manchester. Similar in its views to Theosophy believing in tolerance and service to humanity members were often vegetarians as were the followers of Theosophy. Members of the Church were Countess Markievicz and Esther Roper. Constance held a licence to perform marriages and supported clergyman in services for women of the church. She believed in equality of men and women regardless of religion or sex and their equal right to be ministers.
Constance died in 1947, Sale, Cheshire. The executor of her will was Ada Hines who founded the Manchester branch of the Women’s Freedom League.
For anybody interested in the suffrage movement in Suffolk, Ipswich in particular Joy Bounds has written a book called a Song of Their Own.
This is my fourth blog on the faces behind the suffragette arrest record recently released by the National Archives. Including the names below that is nineteen researched but not all successfully. Some despite trying numerous avenues remain anonymous other than the reason for their arrest others have a much higher profile and have a name that is instantly linked to the movement. Even with such a small number the middle class women London centric portrayal is dismissed: Scotland, Preston, Huddersfield, Lewes, working class, male.
Isabella Alexander was arrested on June 22nd 1914. Isabella chained herself to the railings in front of statue of the Duke of Wellington outside the Royal Exchange in London. When she was brought before the court she became violent and abusive. In consequence she was remanded in custody pending a medical assessment. When she was brought before the court again she was ordered to pay £10 and be bound over to keep the peace for three months. Isabella’s response was to the point “You have not risen to the occasion, and we must put you in the category of white slavers. We women will not be bound over.” As she refused to pay the fine or give any undertaking in respect of her conduct she was imprisoned for 7 days.
Isabella gave her age as forty two and her residence as Campden Hill, Notting Hill. Sadly it has not been possible to identify her from this information.
Doreen Allen was arrested twice on March 12th 1912 and March 19th 1912 for taking part in the demonstrations that involved window smashing. She was imprisoned for four months and was force fed. Doreen was one of the suffragettes imprisoned with Mary Aldham and she signed the handkerchief. During her imprisonment some of the women performed a scene from the Merchant of Venice, Doreen played Narissa. Following her release Doreen continued her political activities. Late in 1913 Emmeline Pankhurst was arrested on the Majestic as she returned from America. A group of suffragettes including Doreen travelled to Plymouth to meet Emmeline only to see her arrested under the Cat and Mouse Act and taken to Exeter Gaol. Emmeline went on hunger strike and was released again. She spent the night following her release at the Great Western Hotel along with a close group of supporters and her nurse. Outside the press and two plain clothes policemen sent from London waited. Doreen informed those waiting that Emmeline would shortly leave and travel to London where Emmeline was to take part in a meeting.
There is no record of a Doreen Allen being born and of an age to take part in the suffragette campaign. This would indicate that Allen is her married name. There was only one marriage that fits all the criteria. Assuming that this is correct Doreen’s full name was Edith Doreen Allen nee Allchin born in 1879. She was the daughter of John James, a builder and Mary Ann Allchin. Doreen married Melville Hodsoll Allen who worked at the Stock Exchange in 1905. They do not appear to have had children. Melville died in 1932 and Doreen in 1963.
Janie Allan was arrested on March 4th 1912 and March 19th 1912 for her part in the window smashing campaign. Sentenced to four months imprisonment she went of hunger strike barricading herself into her cell. It apparently required the use of a crow bar to free her for force feeding. She was one of the women who signed the suffragette handkerchief.
Janie born in 1868 in Scotland was the daughter of a wealthy shipping owner who despite his wealth held strong socialist principals. She was active throughout the suffragette campaign and following its cessation on the onset of World War 1 she contributed to the establishment of medical facilities. She never married and died in 1968. An excellent article can be found here: catandmouse.org.uk/docs/Janie_Allan_op.pdf
Helen Allen was arrested on February 12th 1902 for her participation in the attempt to gain entry to the House of Commons. A member of the WSPU she gave the headquarters address as her own. At her trial she was bound over to keep the peace.
Margaret Allen was arrested on November 24th 1910 as part of the contingent who attempted to enter the House of Commons. She is not specifically named in the newspaper reports but the majority were sentenced to one or two months imprisonment. She was the daughter of Thomas Taylor Allen and Margaret nee Dowden of Cork, Ireland. Known as Greta she lived in Lewes, Sussex. A trained nurse she was involved in public health lecturing local authorities on their responsibilities. In 1908 her book Practical Hints for Health Visitors with an emphasis on child welfare was published. The Kent and Sussex Courier dated November 25th 1910 contains an announcement that Greta had been unable to provide the evening lecture on Home Nursing that week which is obviously explained by presence at the rally and subsequent arrest. Several years later Greta addressing a medical conference said that she rarely drank but her imprisonment made her yearn for alcohol and on her release she drank green Chartreuse.
Although Greta lived in Lewes she was the organiser of the Brighton and Hove WSPU as there had been considerable local debate on the establishment of a group supporting the call for women’s right to vote. The Lewes Women’s Suffrage Society was not founded until 1910 and only went so far in its resolution to support the right of women homeowners to vote and to further this aim using non-violent methods. Greta attended the Mayor’s Ball in Lewes which was after all her home town. The attire was fancy dress and Greta attended dressed in a convict’s outfit entitled Suffragette: Second Division, a reference to the suffragette’s categorisation in prison.
Greta, in time, instigated the founding of a branch of the WSPU in Lewes although the suffrage movement in the town remained divided. In 1913 Lewes became the focus when Beatrice Sanders was imprisoned there. Sentenced as a Third Division prisoner whereas suffragettes were normally classed as Second Division meaning her time would be even harsher. She went on hunger strike and Greta held an open air meeting to drum up support for Beatrice. Heckled she eventually had to be led to safely by the police. Suffragettes then gathered at the prison walls singing suffragette songs and maintaining a vigil. Beatrice was released under the Cat and Mouse Act and it was Greta who arrived to collect her arranging for her admittance to a Lewes nursing home. Greta appears to have resigned from her post before the outbreak of World War 1 and what happened to her thereafter is not known.
 The Monmouth Guardian June 26th 1914 http://cymru1914.org/en/view/newspaper/4030564/6
Sophie Albert was arrested on November 27th 1911. Research of the BMD records does not locate a person by this name. Suffragettes often used pseudonyms to disguise their identity from family. The arrest related to the activities of the suffragettes on November 22nd 1911, the date of November 27th may well relate to the date of her trial. A member of the WSPU like others she gave her address as Clement’s Inn the headquarters of the WSPU and home of the Pethick Lawrences. The giving of this address helped keep their identity hidden.
Ann Alice Alder was arrested on February 12th 1908 along with Violet Addis, mentioned in my first blog on the suffragettes, following an attack on the House of Commons. Ann, according to the newspaper report, was thirty years old, married and had travelled south from Honley, Yorkshire to attend the demonstration. Although both the newspaper reports and the suffragette record state her surname is Alder it is in fact Older.
Born Ann Alice Sykes on August 12th 1876, Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, she was the daughter of Joseph, a shoemaker and Rebecca Sykes. She grew up with her brother and sisters, the 1891 census return records Ann, 13 years old, working as a cotton piecer in the local mill. Ann married Charles William Older on April 14th 1900, she has no recorded occupation, Charles was a stoker. After their marriage they settled in Honley. They had on daughter, Murial, born in 1915.
Ann was a member of the Huddersfield WSPU alongside her aunts Ellen Beever and Annie Sykes who had first demonstrated in London in 1907 Ann was sentenced to six weeks imprison.
Ann died on February 16th 1958, Charles having died two years earlier.
Grace Alderman was arrested at the same demonstration on February 12th 1908. Like Ann Grace had travelled south this time from Preston. Grace was born in 1885, Crewe, the daughter of a solicitor. She was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment. Later she moved south to Witham in Essex. She died in December 1968.
Mary Ann Aldham was arrested an impressive five times on November 22nd 1911, March 7th 1912, March 19th 1912, November 17th 1913 and May 4th 1914. Born Mary Ann Mitchell Wood, the daughter of Robert and Mary Ann Wood, on September 28th 1858, Greenwich, her mother died less than two months after her birth. On October 10th 1883 Mary married Arthur Robert Aldham, a commercial clerk. Mary and Robert had two daughters Mary and Gertrude. Mary Ann’s life took a tragic turn when Arthur died in 1905 and Gertrude four years later in 1909.
Mary was arrested just over two years later on November 22nd 1911 for window breaking, one of 223. She was the first defendant in the dock at the trial attended by Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst. Refusing to pay the imposed fine she was imprisoned for one month in Holloway. Mary often used her maiden name when she was arrested making it not a straight forward exercise to find her in newspaper reports. She was arrested twice in March 1912 and was imprisoned on the second occasion for six months. Mary went on hunger strike but was not force fed being released at the end of June. During her imprisonment she and her fellow inmates signed an handkerchief, a poignant memento. https://sussexpast.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Priest-House-suffragette-handkerchief.pdf
In November 1913 Mary along with three others protested at the Old Bailey during the trial of Rachel Peace who had been force fed whilst in prison awaiting trial. She was charged with breaking panes of glass in a screen at the back of the court worth 12 shillings. Asked her plea she replied “I did it.” She was sentenced to a month’s hard labour by then aged fifty five. Mary was released under the provisions of the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act 1913, the Cat and Mouse Act. This was enacted to allow the release of prisoners who were close to death through hunger strike. They were temporarily released to recover their health and reimprisoned when deemed fit often for the whole cycle to be repeated.
Mary’s last arrest was for the protest for which she is possibly most widely remembered. The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy opened on May 4th 1914 attracting as always a high volume of visitor. During the early afternoon Mary attacked John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Henry James, breaking the glass and slashing the canvas with a meat cleaver. Imprisoned in Holloway pending her trail Mary was released under the Cat and Mouse Act and admitted to a nursing home.
By now her daughter Mary was married with children of her own. Mary returned to her family and her activities ceased with the outbreak of the First World War. Mary died in 1940. Her medals and other items from her time as a suffragette have recently been sold. http://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/lockdales/catalogue-id-lo10049/lot-6a4d7d24-8e8c-4e92-8a95-a4fb00a01ea2 .
Annie Ainsworth was arrested on February 25th 1909 [this arrest is recorded incorrectly as 1908] and November 22nd 1911, alongside Violet Aitken [see below]. The first arrest followed another attempt by the WSPU to enter the House of Commons. Following a meeting at Caxton Hall a deputation led by Mrs Pethwick Lawrence set of to the House of Commons. The police stood firm before the door, the women were shoved forwards towards them by the crowd that had gathered to watch and demanded in vain to be admitted. The police removed them from the area one by one but many endeavoured to return to the doorway ultimately being seen off by a large number of police congregated the other side of the doors. Some were arrested, others attempted to rally again or make speeches. Twenty seven women and one man were arrested among them Annie who was recorded as being twenty eight years old, she her address as 4 Clement’s Inn, the headquarters of the WSPU. When the matter came to court Annie refused to pay the £10 fine and was imprisoned for one month.
A photograph of Annie can be seen at the following link: http://www.allposters.co.uk/-sp/Annie-Ainsworth-Suffragette-and-Member-of-the-WSPU-Posters_i6844864_.htm. At the Great March held on June 8th 1910 Annie was in charge of leaflet distribution along the route. The second arrest was for breaking windows with Kathleen Broadhurst at the West Strand telegraph office. They were fined 15 shillings or one week’s imprisonment. The campaign, this episode was part of, is discussed in more detail below.
Laura Ainsworth was arrested on September 18th and November 26th 1909 both in Birmingham. Laura has been extensively written about. Imprisoned in Winson Green having been part of a demonstration when Asquith visited the city she was force fed. The aim of this blog is to write about the suffragettes with emphasis on the forgotten so I have not covered Laura in any great depth. More can be found out here: http://spartacus-educational.com/WainsworthL.htm.
Violet Aitken [full name Marion Violet Aitken] was arrested on November 28th 1911, March 7th 1912 and March 19th 1912. Her photograph can be seen here http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/Online/object.aspx?objectID=object-451231&start=254&rows=1.
Born in 1886 in Bedford the daughter of William and Eleanor Aitken, her father became Canon at Norwich Cathedral in 1900. Her grandfather, Robert Aitken, printed the first English Bible in America in 1782. William, an evangelist, first worked with William Pennefather, the founder of the Mildmay Conferences and the deaconess movement where women lived together to be trained to work where they were most needed supporting hospitals, education or poor relief. The Mildmay continues today as an Aids and HIV charity. William was appointed to Christ Church, Liverpool but when his wife’s health failed he moved his family to the fresh air of Derbyshire and he travelled the length and breadth of the country preaching. He made two preaching tours to America, the last in 1896.
Although the record states her date of arrest was November 28th 1911 it was actually November 22nd. A member of the WSPU she was one of two hundred and twenty three arrested including three men in Whitehall and Parliament Square. The demonstration took place in the evening intended to start at eight o’ clock the area was well policed many hours before hand. Some women attempted to force their way into the House of Commons whilst others began smashing windows at the Treasury and Scottish Education Office moving along Whitehall throwing stones at windows as they went. The stones were in contained small drawstring bags and they used the strings as a form of sling to give the stone momentum. Windows were smashed in the Strand and at Somerset House. The demonstrating continued after their arrests with some women using their elbows to smash windows at the police stations. It is not clear for what misdemeanour Violet was arrested but given her father’s diary entry for March the following year, discussed below, it seems likely it was not for window smashing. She gave her address like others as the WSPU headquarters. The outcome of the trial is not known.
In 1912 the WSPU escalated the window smashing campaign. Violet was arrested on March 5th 1912 following which the police raided the WSPU headquarters in Clement’s Inn, rented by the Pethick Lawrence’s as both their home and the WSPU offices, with arrest warrants for the Pethick Lawrences and Christine Pankhurst. A barrister and former owner of the Echo newspaper Frederick Pethick Lawrence often attended the women’s trials and posted bail. He and his wife, Emmeline disagreed with Christine’s plans to escalate the window smashing activities. Whilst Christine fled to France they were both arrested and sentenced to nine months during which time they were force fed. Her father wrote in his diary dated March 5th 1912 “she has been again arrested and this time for breaking plate glass windows, I am overwhelmed with shame and distress to think that a daughter of mine should do anything so wicked’… ‘But my poor wife! It’s heart breaking to think of her being exposed in her old age to the horror….God help us!’
The Times Newspaper reported on June 26th 1912 that due to overcrowding at Holloway some women prisoners had been moved to Winson Green prison, Birmingham, where they had been force fed, Violet was one of those women. She was released due to her ill health following the treatment and was immediately admitted to a nursing home. For a time she worked for The Suffragette, the printed voice of the campaign for votes. She died in 1987 in Hertfordshire, aged 101.
If anyone has any further information I would be very grateful.
 http://norfolkwomeninhistory.com/1851-1899/marian-violet-aitken/: NRO, MC 2165/1/23, 976X4
The National Archives have digitized the records of the arrests of suffragettes: Amnesty 1914 The Index of Names of Persons Arrested 1906-1914. Following the outbreak of World War 1 most suffragette movements indicated their intent to suspend militant tactics for the duration of the war. The Government extended an amnesty and collated a list of all the persons to whom it was granted. Each record gives the name, the date and place of arrest of the first arrest, subsequent arrests are recorded underneath. This fascinating record which includes the names of men also arrested for suffrage misdemeanors is available on Ancestry.
As the record only states the name the ability to put the individual in context in terms of background, education or employment is limited. This blog is an attempt to ascertain the facts in respect of the individuals: what were they arrested for, were they imprisoned, force fed and where possible any background information. If anyone has any additional information I would love to hear from them.
The first name is Alfred Abbey arrested on March 1 1911, a member of the Men’s Association for the Promotion of Women’s Suffrage, alongside Henry Garrett. During a Cabinet Meeting at Downing Street several suffragette’s appeared acting as a decoy to distract the police from the actions of Alfred and Henry. Located on Horse Guard’s Parade they were trying to get over the wall into the Downing Street garden with the purpose, they stated, of delivering a letter regarding women’s suffrage. They were charged at Bow Street with disorderly conduct. The prosecution stated that if the men were “heartily ashamed” of their actions they could be bound over to keep the peace for three months. Henry accepted but Alfred refused stating he had been forced into take such an unusual step to get his letter delivered as all other attempts to be heard had failed. He was imprisoned for 21 days in the Second Division.
The previous year force feeding had been stopped for suffragettes but continued in respect of other prisoners who refused food whose crime involved moral turpitude. Not classed as a suffragette due to his gender when Alfred went on hunger strike he was force fed. Questions were asked in the House of Commons of Winston Churchill. He stated that moral turpitude included amongst other things serious violence which had occurred in this instance. Given that the other defendant had been bound over this interpretation of events was far from honest.
Angered by Churchill’s answers Hugh Franklin, another campaigner who detested Churchill, wrapped a letter and a feeding tube around a stone hurling it at Churchill’s windows. Imprisoned in Pentonville Prison he was also force fed. The Votes for Women dated March 17th 1911 carried the headline “Man Prisoner Force Fed.” For a short time he was headline news but what happened to him thereafter is not known.
Dorothy Abraham was arrested on March 4th 1912. The daughter of Alfred Clay Abraham a prominent chemist in Liverpool and Lucy Ellison Clay herself an activist for women’s right to vote she was educated at boarding school and went on to study at Liverpool University and King’s College, London. An early member of the WSPU, whose early meetings her mother hosted in her drawing room, Dorothy was active in both London and Liverpool. In March 1912 the WSPU ceased giving prior warning to the authorities of their intended actions and launched a surprise attack. Over hundred women were given hammers and directed to designated sites, they reputedly hid the hammers in their muffs. At 5.45pm they started to smash windows in Oxford Street, Regent Street and other well known addresses. Amongst the shops targeted were Liberty’s Marshall & Snelgrove and Burberry and Harrods where Dorothy was arrested. Sent to Holloway Prison she was released due to insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
When war broke out Dorothy and her mother joined the Home Service Corp which succeeded the Liverpool WSPU. This was a group formed to enable women to put themselves forward for war work. Dorothy became involved in agriculture and ultimately owned her own farm where she married and raised four children.
Lilyarde Acherling was arrested on November 22nd 1911 and December 12th 1911. There are no records under this name but research indicates from a report in The Citizen dated December 12th 1911 that her name was Lelgarde Acheling aged 26 an actress. Perhaps unsurprisingly given her profession this name also appears to be pseudonym or stage name. On November 22nd 1911 over two hundred women were arrested for breaking windows. Her second offence in December was when she was charged alongside Frances Rowe and Violet Jones with damaging plate glass windows at the National Bank. The damage amounting to £50. The report does not record if the three women were imprisoned but this seems likely as women tried on the same day for a similar offence were.
Christine Adams was arrested on June 8th 1914, a surveillance photograph of her can be seen at http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk. She was charged with riotous behaviour at the Brompton Oratory where a group of women interrupted the service by chanting about Mrs Pankhurst. The priest escorted two of the women out and on his return Christine was standing in front of the pulpit screaming, her hat having been ripped off by the some of the congregation. She was fined £5 which she refused to pay and was therefore imprisoned for one month.
Martha Adams was arrested for the same episode of window breaking in March 1912 as Dorothy Abraham. Several including Mrs Pankhurst were found guilty and imprisoned at the first hearing but Martha’s offence was referred to a higher court as the damage exceeded £5. The outcome is unknown.
Kate Adamson was arrested on March 4th 1912 having taken part in the same window breaking as Dorothy Adams and Martha Adams. She was sentenced to fourteen days imprisonment.
Violet Ethel Addis was arrested on February 12th 1908. A member of the WSPU she was part of an attack on the House of Commons. The women split into two groups: some were concealed in a van which pulled up outside St Stephen’s Hall and the other group marched from Westminster Hall where the Women’s Parliament had been sitting to present a resolution of the meeting demanding the vote. Both groups failed in their attempt to enter the House of Commons and about fifty women were arrested. Violet was recorded as being thirty one years old, married and from Birmingham and appears to have gone to prison. Despite the age, location and full name it has not been possible to locate Violet any further in the records.
Audrey Aimler was arrested on March 12th 1912, again part of the window smashing protest. Either the name is misreported or she gave a false name as no trace can be found.
If anyone has any further information comment it would be much appreciated.
Katherine seated centre
Katherine Mary Harley nee French, sister of Sir John French, leader of the British army at the outbreak of World War 1 and Charlotte Despard was born on May 3rd 1855 less than three months after the death of her father. Her childhood was blighted by her mother’s ill health and by the age of ten she was an orphan. Katherine was sent to boarding school and then travelled to India to stay with her sister Maggie. There she met and married George Ernest Harley, a soldier. A little over a year later still in India she gave birth to her first child Florence.[i]
They returned to England where their son Julian was born followed by a daughter Edith. Katherine was a typical army wife and mother. Ultimately the family settled in Condover, near Shrewsbury. Following her husband’s death in 1907 Katherine’s approach to life changed radically.
In parallel with her sister Charlotte who changed direction following her husband’s death Katherine became politically active. By 1910 she was a Poor Law Guardian and leading member of the West Midland Federation of The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. Committed and active within three years she had become President of the Shropshire Society of the NUWSS and was also involved with The Church League for Women’s Suffrage.
Katherine was the originator of the 1913 Suffragist Pilgrimage, a march from seventeen cities across the country by women to Hyde Park in London. The idea was to promote their ideals and make it clear that they were non militant and peaceful in their campaign for votes for women. The Pilgrimage was considered to be a great success and early in 1914 Katherine was one of the founders of the Active Service League intended to build on the achievements of the march. As an extension of these activities Katherine organised a women’s camp.
With the outbreak of the First World War the League’s activities changed. Within seven days of Great Britain declaring war it became a relief body processing women who wished to assist in the war effort sending them onto organisations within which they could serve. Katherine offered her own personal message to the women of Shropshire asking them to volunteer to take over men’s jobs enabling them to go and fight “I ask this in the name of my brother, who so sorely needs of the able bodied men in the country”.[ii]
Through her work with the Active League Katherine became involved with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals which formed units able to set up hospitals in the field. The driving force behind these units was Dr Elsie Inglis supported by the Active Service League and Newnham and Girton, both women’s colleges at Cambridge University. The first unit was posted to Royanmount Abbey in France. The administrator had to return to England due to ill health and Katherine offered to take her place.
After only a few months Katherine was posted to Chanteloup near Troyes, also in France, to assist in establishing a second hospital. Initially conditions were harsh and a lot of work had to be undertaken to get the hospital ready. Most patients were accommodated in tents as part of an experiment to see if fresh air helped wounds to heal without infection.
However, their time in France was short lived, in October 1915 the unit was posted to Salonika. The unit travelled to Marseilles in the south of France by specially commissioned train before which Katherine hosted a farewell dinner; from there they sailed to Greece.
The hospital unit first established itself at Ghevgeli about fifty miles from Salonika. They were allocated a disused silk worm factory, tents were erected in the compound surrounding the factory and within two weeks the hospital was ready to receive the wounded. The winter was bitterly cold and soldiers were often admitted suffering from frostbite. When it became too dangerous the unit was forced to retreat to Salonika where they had to start again. The area they were given was knee deep in mud and wounded started to arrive before they were ready. With help of the British navy tents were soon erected and order was created. Katherine for her dedication and services to France was awarded the Croix de Guerre.
In the Spring of 1916 following a dispute Katherine resigned and returned to England. She was, however, determined to return and the Serbian government’s request for two more hospital units each supported by a motorised flying corps of ambulances afforded her the opportunity. This time she was accompanied by her daughter, Edith. Based near Ostrovo the unit opened in September 1916 and was the nearest Allied Hospital to the front. Katherine was in charge of six ambulances, two delivery vans, a mobile kitchen and the staff. Attached to the Serbian Expeditionary Force, billeted in tents, they transported the wounded from the dressing stations to the hospital, journeys which took anything between ten and thirty hours. Within eight weeks of opening they had dealt with over four hundred wounded. One of Katherine’s patients was Flora Sandes, a British woman, who had enlisted in the Serbian army.
The unit operated in difficult conditions and worked tirelessly to keep their fleet of ambulances on the road. However they were criticised for their lack of discipline, smoking, drinking and short haircuts. Katherine it was felt did not have a firm enough grip on their activities. Following an inspection by the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Katherine and her daughter agreed to resign.
In November 1916 Monastir now Bitola was occupied by the Allied Forces. Being a front line town it was bombed and subject to battery fire every day. Katherine determined to continue to do her bit moved with Edith to the town to help the women, children and elderly. She rented a house in the town funding the establishment of an orphanage. On March 7th 1917 the town was subjected to a barrage of shells, Katherine taking tea with Edith was killed by shellfire. Her body was taken to Salonika accompanied by Edith who avowed her intention to return to Monastir to continue her and Katherine’s work. Katherine was buried with full military honours, her grave, considerably more splendid than the other graves includes the inscription “On your tomb instead of flowers the gratitude of the Serbs shall blossom there. For your wonderful acts your name shall be known from generation to generation”.
Following her death a memorial fund was established which endowed a medal at the Royal Salop Infirmary, the Katherine M Harley Medal for Efficiency during nursing training. The Infirmary closed in 1977 and was converted into a shopping centre but the memorial to Katherine remains.
[i] Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C75027-2 , System Origin: India-EASy , GS Film number: 510855 , Reference ID: v 163 p 15
[ii] Huddersfield Daily Examiner September 15 1914