The last of the As
The women and one man below complete nine blogs which where possible chart the lives and actions of the campaigners for women’s suffrage who had surnames beginning with the letter “A”. The arrest record being alphabetically organised gives a fascinating snapshot of the movement for women’s votes. Even these few dispel the myth of London middle class centric. The women come from Scotland, the north east, the north west and London, they are socialists, mill workers, well educated, married, unmarried. In other words from all walks of life. Amongst them the list of “A”s is topped and tailed by a man. These few cover four pages out of a record three hundred and eighty seven pages long.
Helen Atkinson was arrested on November 28th 1911 charged with obstructing the police during the breaking of windows. She was sentenced to a fine of five shillings or five days imprison.
In 1913 Keir Hardie, the first Labour member of Parliament gave a speech at Rusholme, Manchester supporting the right of women to take militant action to further their cause. Four suffragettes including Helen wrote to him thanking him for his support and urging members of his party to take militant action for then the government would have no choice but to listen.
Helen was baptised Helen Agnes and was born in Manchester in 1873 the daughter of John Bernard and Mallie Atkinson. She was the second eldest of six children. The youngest, Lucy, was born in 1885 and very soon afterwards Mallie died. By the census in 1891 the family had moved south to Stoke Newington, north London. John describes himself as an author and journalist. Two years later he gave evidence in a trial at the Old Bailey and was stated to be the owner of a publication called the Journalist. By the 1901 census Helen is earning her living as a shorthand typist.
Although she was only arrested once she was active in the movement throughout its activities staying in touch with fellow suffragettes. She died in 1955 on the way to visit her youngest sister in hospital.
Jane Atkinson was arrested on March 21st 1907 and November 28th 1911. Jane was from Newcastle upon Tyne and was arrested the first time for attempting to gain entry to the House of Commons. For her second arrest she was sentenced to fourteen days imprisonment. She was a member of the Newcastle WSPU being part of their delegation to Herbert Samuel, a member of the Liberal cabinet. Although it did change the government view Herbert Samuel did himself, in time, support women’s suffrage.
Sadly it has not been possible to identify Jane with enough certainty to research her life.
Mary Aves was arrested on March 21st 1907 for her part in the attempt to enter the House of Commons alongside Jane Atkinson. The newspaper report states that she is from Chelmsford and no other details have been located.
Barbara Gould Ayerton was arrested on March 7th 1912. This record should actually read Barbara Gould Ayerton. Barbara is well documented for example at http://spartacus-educational.com/Wgould.htm.
James Aylward was arrested on October 14th 1908, one of fourteen men charged with either obstructing or assaulting the police. Events started at Caxton Hall where the WSPU were holding a meeting with entry by ticket only. A group of men gate crashed, the police doing nothing to stop them. Only after pleas from the platform did the men leave. After addressing the audience the women left to walk to the House of Commons. Along the route there was a huge police presence, some on horseback. The numbers were considerably swelled by members of the public who had either come to lend support or view the spectacle. One suffragette, Mrs Travers Symons, private secretary to Keir Hardie, succeeded in entering the House of Commons where MPs were debating the Children’s Bill. This success she managed by subterfuge arranging to meet an MP and then giving him the slip. She was swiftly ejected from the building. One the corner of Westminster Bridge a huge crowd gathered kept back by mounted policemen. One newspaper suggests that the crowd around the Bridge and up Whitehall was in excess of twenty five thousand. James was charged with obstruction and bound over to keep the peace.
The next two names bring the total number of Armstrongs to four. Frustratingly it has not been possible to identify the next two with any certainty but their actions have been recorded in the hope that someone might be able to shed light on them and so that they are not forgotten.
Kathleen Armstrong was arrested on November 29th 1911 and sentenced to seven days imprisonment having refused to pay the alternative fine. Her crime was breaking a window at the Home Office, the cost of the damage was ten shillings. In court she stated firmly that she would do exactly the same again to protest against the Men’s Suffrage Bill which it was now clear would not extend the vote to women. Sadly in none of the reports is their sufficient information to learn anymore about Kathleen.
Norah Armstrong was arrested on November 24th 1910 and November 27th 1911. The first arrest was for window breaking for which was sentenced to fourteen days or 40 shillings fine. Like most she refused to pay the fine. Lauded in the Votes for Women Newspaper tickets were sold at a cost of 2 shillings and 6 pence for a celebration breakfast at the Criterion Restaurant on their release.
Following her arrest in November 1911 she was charged with throwing a stone at Messrs Pearson & Son along with Margaret Dickson. The two women stated that Norah cracked the pane with her throw and Margaret broke it. The damage was said to amount to £2. Norah was sentenced to ten days imprisonment because she had committed a previous offence or a 20 shilling fine with 10 shillings damages. Equitably Margaret was fined in the same in damages but half the fine and three less days in prison.
Mrs Arncliffe Sennett was arrested on March 21st 1907 and November 22nd 1911. Born Alice Maud Mary Sparagnapane, but known as Maud, in London in 1862 to Gaudente and Amelia she was one of three daughters. Her eldest sister died aged fourteen, the youngest sister, Florence, was also a campaigner for women’s suffrage. Her father was born in Switzerland and ran G Sparagnapane & Co retailers of ornamental confectionary and in time crackers. He died in 1877 and his wife continued to run the business.
Maud became an actress performing as Mary Kingsley. Aged only twenty four she received rave reviews for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth “her rendition of the part must at once be classed as unqualified success”. She toured the country and Australia performing a wide variety of Shakespearean roles. On July 9th 1898 in London Maud married Henry Robert Sennett, one of the witnesses was Gerald du Maurier. The couple took over the running of her father’s business.
Maud joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Involved in the organisation of the march from Hyde Park to the Strand in February 1907 which became known as the Mud March her company supplied red and white rosettes for the marchers to wear. She became a member of the WSPU and was arrested on March 21st 1907 for being part of the attempt to enter the House of Commons. At court she was bound over to keep the peace and fined £5.
Just over a year later she resigned from the WSPU and joined the Women’s Freedom League. She was elected in time to the National Executive but took a dim view of the leadership she saw writing that “Billington Greig was great …. and kept a grip of the machine … Mrs Despard, …. a sort of flaming torch that toured London and the country.” After two years Maud resigned but continued to be a member of the Actress Franchise League whose membership she seemed to find more to her taste. She also supported the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage helping to found one branch.
Maud often spoke out on the subject of women’s suffrage. At a meeting in Eastbourne she specifically questioned whether the Countess of Jersey, who had made it clear she would not attend had any idea how the poor lived. In reply the Countess of Jersey wrote to the papers defined her anti votes for women stance “We have already enough votes who are swayed by sentiment … Moreover, since there are more women than men in the United Kingdom, the result would be that the casting vote in government would rest with women, a climax which many of us would consider undesirable.”
In 1911 as part of the Actress Franchise League she was part of a deputation who visited Downing Street. One newspaper article attributed various stances to the women stating Maud tried “cajolery.” Not long afterwards she was arrested for a second time for breaking a window at a newspaper office. This time she was fined forty shillings. Maud responded by stating she would not pay and must therefore go to prison. As she was an employer people would, in consequence, lose their jobs and she would leave the country in protest at paying taxes when she could not vote.
During the First World War she campaigned for fair treatment of women and respect for soldiers’ wives continuing her support for women’s suffrage. In her later years she became a support of anti-vivisection. She died aged seventy four in Sussex.
Evelyn Arton was arrested on March 7th 1912 and March 27th 1912. The entry reads Evelyn B B Arton (Mrs) and it is believed that this is Eveleen Boyle Anna Arton nee McCarthy. Eveleen was born in Ireland in 1887 and married Frederick Richard Alston Arton in 1909. Eveleen and Frederick went into partnership together trading as film dealers and exporters.
She was arrested for window smashing along with Mrs Alice Green, the damage amounting to £150. Bail was refused and they were remanded in custody to await trial. What happened thereafter has not been traced. It appears that her marriage was short lived and certainly during October 1913 the partnership between them was dissolved. Two years later Eveleen went bankrupt. She continued to live in London dying in Wandsworth in 1970.
Lily Asquith was arrested on October 9th 1919, the record incorrectly stating the date which should read 1910. Lily along with Violet Bryant, Ellen Pitfield and Dorothy Shellard smashed windows, to bring attention to the cause during a visit to Newcastle by Lloyd George, at the Liberal Club. The cost of the damage being said to be in excess of £3. All four pleaded guilty and were imprisoned for fourteen days. They immediately started a hunger strike. The four were swiftly joined by other suffragettes amongst them Emily Davidson and Lady Constance Lytton who had thrown stones at the car of Sir Walter Runciman, a local Liberal politician. On their release they were admitted to a nursing home for rest. Interviewed by the press Lily stated she had been force fed by tube and by cup, tempting food had been placed in here sight and she was regularly informed that the others had abandoned their hunger strike.
Although an approximate year of birth has been located several persons of the same name were born around the same time and it is not been possible to narrow it down any further.
Selgarde Atheling was arrested in Liverpool on December 9th 1909 and December 12th 1911 in London. This is a name that perhaps not surprisingly does not appear anywhere. Researching newspapers for a report of the actions that led to the first arrest revealed that Selgarde Atheling is actually Lelgarde Acheling as discussed in an earlier blog. The date November 22nd 1911 should be added but the addition of December 12th 1911 is a clerical error as this was the date of the trial for the offence on November 22nd.
On December 9th 1909 Winston Churchill was in Liverpool and Lelgarde travelled there with Violet Jones to protest. Lelegarde smashed a window at the Reform Club with a stone around which was wrapped a piece of paper with the words “deeds not words”. She was sentenced to five days hard labour. Her next arrest on November 22nd 1911 was breaking three plate glass windows at the National Bank in the Strand. Again she was acting with Violet Jones. The damage was said to amount to £30. When they were searched more stones were found on them. They were committed for trial and released on bail provided by Mr Pethick Lawrence. At their trial in December they were found guilty and sentenced to two months imprisonment.
Whilst this details her actions it does not shed any further light on Lelegarde herself.
 The Era June 5th 1886
This is the seventh blog on the women behind the suffragette arrest record. Instead of just names, some of whom are well known and documented, most of the women with a surname beginning with A and their stories are coming alive. Even the small sample so far belies the myth that they were on the whole London centric and middle class.
This group of women includes Annie Evelyn Armstrong one of the youngest suffragettes to be arrested whose arrest along with another young girl brought about a change in the WSPU rules regarding militant action. Louise Archibold, housewife and mother of two based in London and Lillian Armitage socialist supporter from childhood married to a union leader from Bradford, women poles apart but united in a cause.
Louise Archibold was arrested on March 12th 1912 and March 19th 1912. Louise appears on the Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners 1905-1914 with the surname spelt Archibald as opposed to Archibold as recorded on the arrest record. She is recorded as being married. Using either spelling there is only one marriage that fits the criteria that of William Henry Archibold to Louise Victoria Adams on August 14th 1889 in Kentish Town, north London. The remainder of this entry has been written on the basis that the correct person has hopefully been identified.
On her marriage certificate her father is named as Joseph Adams, gentleman but no record of her birth or entries on the census return can be located so beyond this there is no background information. One clue is that the 1891 census return records William and Louise being visited by her sister Eva whose birth place is recorded as France. The family are living in Richmond and William’s occupation is publisher. On July 16th 1890 Louise gave birth to their first child, Norah Enid. Ten years later the family are living in Holloway and Louise has given birth to a son, Andrew, born exactly one year later on Norah’s first birthday.
The 1911 census records the family living in Twickenham, Middlesex. Interestingly neither mother nor daughter are recorded which indicates that they both possibly participated in the suffrage protest against the 1911 census return. Louise was arrested for window breaking and was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
The family continued to live in Twickenham on her release. Predeceased by her husband Louise died on March 4th 1951.
Helen Armes was arrested on May 22nd and May 26th 1914. Her case was sent to the Old Bailey for trial along with that of three other suffragettes. The charge was one of conspiracy to damage property. The police raided a flat in Maida Vale, London and found a list of public libraries together with bags of stones and tools. The start of the trial was delayed after an outburst from two of the women who flung a book towards the judge and chucked anything else that came to hand around the court. Mary Richardson was called as a witness for the defence but she quickly turned giving evidence into an opportunity to state that her mouth had been cut during force feeding. She was then removed. Helen and one other were cleared of the charges the other two who had been the ones shouting at the outset were sentenced to three months imprisonment. Sadly it has not been possible to identify Helen any further with certainty.
Lillian Armitage was arrested on February 14th 1907. She was part of the cohort who attempted to enter the House of Commons. At her trial she was found guilty and ordered to pay twenty shillings or serve fourteen days in prison. Her name is on the Role of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners.
Lillian was born in Leeds in 1885. As a child she attended the Leeds Socialist Sunday school and as an adult became a teacher in the Bradford Socialist Sunday school. In 1906 she married Matthew Armitage, a trade unionist and gas meter inspector. This was Matthew’s second marriage and a much younger Lillian became step mother to four children. When Lilian was arrested was she was the Secretary of the WSPU in Bradford and Matthew was President of the Gasworker’s Union. The Leeds Mercury dated February 15th 1907 includes an interview with Matthew following Lillian’s arrest and imprisonment. Asked how he would manage “So I shall be a fornight by myself, except for the four children. But I shall be able to manage very well. I am very handy in a house myself, ..”
Lilian fell pregnant not long after her release and gave birth to a son Stitt Wilson in December 1907. Several more children followed. Lilian remained invovled in the suffrage movement. Matthew died in 1947.
Bessie Armstrong was arrested on December 14th 1906. She was part of a group of women and men who attempted to enter the House of Commons. When they were brought to court several leading figures in the suffrage movement attended including Christobel Pankhurst and Charlotte Despard. Five women and one man were charged with disorderly conduct and causing an obstruction. Each was fined fourteen shillings or fourteen days imprisonment. None of them were released until after Christmas and they were denied visitors. On their release they were greeted by members of the WSPU and they returned to Clifford Inn for breakfast all announcing they would gladly return to prison in the cause of women’s suffrage.
Bessie is recorded in the newspaper reports as being married and there is no trace of someone married, of that name in Manchester.
Evelyn Armstrong was arrested on March 21st 1907. Her name is given in the press as Annie Evelyn Armstrong of Blackpool. One report going so far as to describe her as “buxom”. At the time of her trial she was stated to be seventeen years old. After her case Mrs Pankhurst introduced a rule that no one under twenty one years old should undertake any activity which could potentially lead to a prison sentence. Many Lancashire mill girls had come south to join a protest outside the House of Commons and it is often stated that Annie Evelyn was part of this contingent. It is true that there was another young girl involved from the Lancashire mills but it does not appear Annie Evelyn was part of them.
The only Annie Evelyn Armstrong recorded was born in March 1890 in Reading which would make her seventeen at the time of her arrest. She was the daughter of James and Mary Jane Armstrong who by the 1891 census had moved to Salford, Lancashire. Both her parents and elder brother James were born in Ireland whilst her elder sister was born in Kent so clearly the family had a peripatetic existence. At her trial the judge expressed his hope that her parents were there to support her and in view of her age remanded her for one week. When she was brought before the court again the magistrate stated that the court would pay her expenses home if she were to agree. Annie Evelyn accepted the terms and was taken by a mission woman to be reunited with her sister.
When Annie Evelyn returned home it was to the news that her father had died. Interviewed her mother was clear that she did not support the cause holding suffrage meetings responsible for turning her daughter’s head. If she chose to return to London it would be without her consent. Annie Evelyn emigrated to America in February 1911.
Suffragettes and art
Of the three suffragettes named below two for completely different reasons and actions had art at the centre of their actions.
E Andrews was arrested on November 19th 1910 and November 27th 1911. Before marriage her name was Emily Jane Harding born in March 1850 in Clifton, Bristol to Thomas and Rose Harding. Emily was their first child. When she was born her father was an ironmonger’s clerk but by the time of the 1861 census he had become a commercial traveller selling goods from town to town. Emily was quickly followed by two sisters: Gertrude and Rose and three brothers: Thomas, George and Frederick. This was the last census return when the family were recorded all living together. Sometime between Frederick’s birth in 1864 and the census in 1871 Rosa, Gertrude and the youngest Frederick have moved from Clifton and are living in Holland Road, Kensington. Her father Thomas was hundreds of miles away presumably for his work.
Emily was a talented artist who initially specialised in miniatures. In 1877 she exhibited a miniature at the Royal Academy something that she did not repeat for another twenty years. Two years later in 1879 tragedy struck when Emily’s mother, Rosa, died. Only a few months later Emily, on August 18th 1879, married Edward William Andrews in Fulham, London. It was not common to marry so soon after a mother’s death and at best it would have been a rather gloomy affair. On the marriage certificate both the bride and groom give their occupations as artists. Edward gives his birth on census returns as 1840 and his place of birth as Kidderminster although no such record can be found. Edward in census returns describes himself as a portrait artist and several are recorded in the National Collection.
The couple settled in Hampstead and interestingly although Edward’s occupation is recorded on the 1881 census return Emily’s is left blank. By the mid-1880s Emily has started illustrating books. Initially she mainly illustration children books. One of the first was Happy Hours published circa 1887, a typical Victoria children’s book with a moral message and beautiful illustrations. Sometimes she collaborated with Thomas Heath Robinson the brother of William Heath Robinson. Interestingly she always used her maiden name for work. By the 1891 census the couple had moved to another property in Hampstead. Their finances do not seem to have been very strong because they no longer had a live in servant. Although Emily’s occupation is recorded it is as a ditto for her husbands of portrait artist.
In 1896 Emily published a book which she had both translated from French and illustrated: “The Fairy Tales of the Slav Peasants and Herdsman.” A year later she exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in twenty years and again two years later. By 1901 the couple had moved again. This time their occupations are the same artist (painter). In 1907 the Artists’ Suffrage League was formed with the initial intention of providing banners and posters for a march from Hyde Park to Exeter Hall on the north side of the Strand on February 7th 1907 organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. The weather was so atrocious that it became known as the Mud March.
The poster above was designed by Emily and in the VADS collection a design for Christmas card survives along with the card that accompanied it when she sent it to the chair of the society for her consideration.
In November 1910 the suffragettes attempted to enter the House of Commons with over hundred being arrested for assault, disturbance or wilful damage. Appearing in court the next day many of the women arrived with bags ready to go to prison. To the disappointment of some the Home Secretary offered on evidence and all the women were discharged. The 1911 census records the couple living apart. Edward is living in West Hampstead in an artist’s studio and Emily is lodging in Bayswater. On November 27th of the same year Emily was arrested for her part in the window smashing campaign.
Edward died on January 30th 1915 without leaving a will. His assets were a little over one hundred pounds. On the electoral register for 1918 Emily is living in Camden with fellow artists, a holder of the vote at last. In August 1935 by now and elderly lady she sailed for Australia settling with one of her sisters who had emigrated many years before. She died in Australia in 1940.
Jessie Anscott arrested on March 21st 1907 as part of the deputation who attempted to enter the House of Commons. No such person has been found on any other records. The closest found in the newspaper archives is a Miss Arnott of Merthyr Tydvil, Wales who does appear otherwise in the arrest record. Sadly no further trace can be found of her either.
Gertrude Mary Ansell was arrested on October 14th 1908, August 2nd 1913, May 12th 1914 and May 13th 1914. Gertrude was born on June 2nd 1861 the daughter of George and Sarah who at the time were living in Vernon Place, Bloomsbury, London. George was employed as a chemist at the Royal Mint and was responsible for the production of a sovereign coin known today as the Ansell Sovereign. Alongside this George had an interest in preventing colliery explosions due to the presence of firedamp, a lethal mixture of combustible gases. He patented an index which detected the level of gas to operate alongside safety lamps which were not totally reliable.
The 1881 census records Sarah, Gertrude and her three brothers living in Holloway, north London. All of the children including Augustus who is only fifteen are working. Gertrude is a telephone clerk. The following year George died leaving a very modest amount of money. Ten years later Gertrude staying with her aunt is recorded as having no occupation. Elizabeth Crawford writes in her book the Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 that by 1908 Gertrude was running a typing bureau and presumably supporting herself financially.
In due course Gertrude joined the Women’s Social and Political Union and in February 1907 joined the march from Hyde Park to the Strand, the mud march, for which the Artist’s Suffrage League including Emily Harding Andrews, prepared banners and posters. Her first arrest was on October 14th 1908 for her part in the attempt to enter the House of Commons. Leaving from Caxton Hall the women strode two abreast down streets lined with policeman towards Parliament. At their head was Miss Wallace Dunlop and Gertrude. Many had congregated to watch the women marching, some intent on trouble picked fights with the police but the women continued until the police brought them to halt informing them they had to wait until 8 o’ clock. When the appointed time came the women tried to push but the police pushed back tossing Gertrude to one side. Matters swiftly turned ugly and Gertrude was arrested for riotous behaviour. Refusing to pay the fine that was imposed on her in court Gertrude was imprisoned in Holloway.
She and other suffragettes who were released on November 21st 1908 were met by Mrs Pethick Lawrence and serenaded by a band playing the Marseillaise. They all returned to the WSPU’s headquarters for a celebratory breakfast. Within days Gertrude had resumed her activities. Addressing a meeting in Camden dressed in her prison uniform she was pelted with eggs and fireworks were let of in the hall drowning out her words. Women refused to pay their taxes on the principal that if they could not vote why they should pay tax. Gertrude had a gold watch seized by the bailiffs and auctioned off to pay her tax debt. As was often the case it was bought by a supporter and immediately returned to her.
Gertrude was active in arenas outside of women’s suffrage. She was a member of the Fabian Women’s Society, an off shoot of the Fabian Society founded to promote debate on social progression and social justice and several animal charities. She had undertaken to one of these animal charities that she would not take part in a militant suffrage activities but the defeat of two bills in the House of Commons both relating to animals made her think again. She was sentenced in August 1913 to one month’s imprisonment for breaking a window at the Home Office. She went on hunger strike and was freed under the Cat and Mouse Act where when your health had sufficiently recovered you were detained again to complete your sentence. Each time Gertrude was detained she went on hunger strike and she was in and out of prison for the rest of 1913 and into 1914. Her last arrest in respect of this prison sentence being in January 1914 when she was detained at a WSPU meeting.
Following her release she made it known that a woman in an adjacent cell had been groaning in pain in consequence of force feeding. Her statement to this effect was taken by a deputation of women to demand from the Bishop of London what steps the church intended to take in this regard. In response the Bishop wrote to the prison chaplain and undertook to visit himself. When he did so he was convinced that the woman was not being force fed something which the woman herself apparently denied. This incident received extensive press coverage and Gertrude’s reputation was brought into doubt as the WSPU’s claims regarding force feeding.
After Mary Ann Aldham, discussed in an earlier blog, attacked a picture at the Royal Academy security was stepped up. Despite this only ten days later Gertrude attacked with an axe a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Sir Hubert von Herkomer. She was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Again she went on hunger strike and was force fed two hundred and thirty six times before being released when the amnesty came into force following the outbreak of war in August 1914.
Gertrude died in 1932.