When the Pethick Lawrences and Emmeline Pankhurst were charged in 1912 with conspiring to incite women to commit criminal acts, Lilian was summoned as a witness. It was stated that Lilian was a married woman living in Tooting, south London who earned a living as a dressmaker. Another record notes she was born in 1878. When Lilian entered the witness box, the newspapers reported that she broke down in tears and it took some time for her to be able to take the oath. She attested that she was a member of the Balham branch of the WSPU. Her first foray into protesting was in 1910 as part of a deputation to the House of Commons. However, she hurt her foot and was conveyed by carriage to Caxton Hall to recover. In November 1911 Lilian attested that she received a message to attend the WSPU headquarters. There she was given a bag of stones which she tied around her waist concealed by her long coat. The bag was produced. Lilian emphatically denied giving it to the police asserting that they had obtained it while she was in prison. She and two other women were instructed to go to the back of the House of Commons and get to the windows. The three of them wandered around in the vicinity for about three hours and then went home. The bag of stones remained untouched at her home until she went to prison.
In March the following year, Lilian stated she received another message, ‘Militancy alone can bring pressure to bear on the Cabinet’. Lilian submitted her name as willing to act. In return, she received an invitation to attend the Gardenia Restaurant, where she was handed Instructions to volunteers: ‘When arrested and taken to Cannon Row or other police station you will, after an interval, be bailed out; then return to your home or hostess. In the morning you should surrender at the time mentioned on your charge sheet at the police court, bringing with you a bag with everything you are likely to need during your imprisonment. (Signed) E. Pankhurst.’ Lilian believed she had left the piece of paper on the table of her employer, Mrs Fagent.
A woman asked her how long a prison sentence would be feasible. Lilian replied that she had made arrangements to leave her home for seven days. She was sent to the Royal United Institution with a hammer attached to which was a note ‘Better broken windows than broken promises.’ The advice was to conceal the hammer up her sleeve. Lilian believed she was despatched there as the panes of glass were small and thus with a limited opportunity for damage, the prison sentence would be short. Lilian broke the window and was immediately arrested. Pethick Lawrence appeared in court to obtain her bail. The day after she was found guilty and sentenced. Asked why she thought she had been called as a witness Lilian responded that she had signed a petition while in prison. She could think of no other reason.
Lilian’s belief that her signing a petition had drawn her to the attention of the authorities appears to be well-founded. On 12 March she submitted a petition for a reduction in sentence. Briefly, Lilian recounted the invite to the Gardenia restaurant and why her desire for a short sentence led her to the Royal United Services Institute. Lilian closed ‘I should esteem it a great favour if you could help me in anyway by shortening my sentence.’ A handwritten file note suggests that Lilian’s petition should be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions as ‘it seems just possible that this woman might be willing to make a statement.’ Despite the authorities ultimately coercing Lilian into being a witness, there is nothing to indicate that she benefited.
Lilian was not arrested again until 11 February 1914 when she was charged with obstruction in Whitehall. Seven suffragettes were organised into three separate groups, each addressing the crowd while one member of each group rang a bell to attract attention. The police ordered them to move on, their refusal resulting in their arrest. In court, they stated that they were protesting at the absence from the King’s Speech of franchise for women. Lilian was jailed for four days for refusing to find sureties. This was not a criminal offence, and therefore technically Lilian was not convicted of any offence. The Women’s Freedom League wrote to the Prison Commissioner regarding two of their members which indicates Lilian had abandoned the WSPU in favour of the League. The letter protests that as Lilian was unconvicted, the authorities did not have the power to take fingerprints from her forcibly. Correspondence between the Home Office and the Prison Commissioners indicates that a decision to take fingerprints regardless of the status of the prisoners had been taken the previous December, in part because if it was not done the weakened state of suffragettes refusing food led the medical officer ‘being of the opinion that it was not advisable to apply the necessary force to overcome the resistance of the prisoner.’ A similar letter was sent to the Home Secretary. While the authorities denied any use of force the rules were modified that fingerprints could not be taken by force if only a minor offence had been committed so long as the prints were not required for evidential purposes or the women was or had in the past refused food.
She was arrested again on 26 March 1914, but no report relating to this has been found. Her final arrest was on 16 July 1914 where all the defendants gave their surnames as Smith or Smyth. Their offence was chaining themselves to the door of a police court in Francis Street in the West End of London. During the lunch interval, the women had left the court and chained themselves to the court doors by first chaining all five of them together and then to the doors. The only way the police could secure their release was to wrench off the door handle. They were then conveyed to a police station still chained together, only on arrival was it possible to disconnect the five women.
They were all charged with obstruction arriving in court for their hearing dressed in white bearing the colours of the Women’s Freedom League. Lilian was sentenced to five days imprisonment.
 HO 144/1193/220196-1to233
 DPP 1/19
 DPP 1/23
 HO 45/12915
Gertrude was born Louisa Gertrude in 1871 to Ambrose, a bootmaker and Emma. Gertrude had two younger brothers: Arthur and Alfred. Her father, Ambrose, died in 1883 which left the family struggling. Gertrude and Arthur were admitted to the Harrow Road Workhouse the following year and from there were sent to Ashford Residential School. By the 1891 census, the family were reunited, while Alfred was still at school Emma was employed as a cook, Gertrude as a dressmaker and Arthur in an ironmonger. In time Gertrude started to employ people in her dressmaking business. In 1908 she wrote a letter which was published in the Vote. The government was keen to ascertain how many married women were employed and asked employers to complete a return recording the number of unmarried women, married and widowed they employed. Gertrude set out her intended response which example she hoped others would follow “I shall certainly not volunteer such particulars, but state instead, “When women are directly represented, so that they can give expression to their opinions and wishes regarding curtailment of employment, & etc, I will give voluntary particulars, but consider it beside my duty to do so now.”
Gertrude’s mother died in 1909 and like many Gertrude appears to have avoided the 1911 census. She died in 1951.
Nora continued to campaign until the outbreak of the First World War, like so many she is not recorded on the 1911 census. She ran a canteen for soldiers during the war and afterwards helped to establish the Girl Guides in Northumberland. Her interest in politics did not wane, and she served as a Town Councillor standing as an Independent candidate. She was also appointed as a Justice of the Peace. Her desire to help others in any way possible continued up until her death in 1980.
Harry Bark was arrested on 29 July 1913. He was charged with obstruction along with two other men following the attempts to prevent the police from conveying away Annie Kenney at the London Pavilion. This was the same incident for which William Ball, see the previous blog, was arrested. It was made evident in court that Harry was believed to be the instigator who had incited others to act. He was fined 20 shillings or fourteen days imprisonment. His occupation was given as traveller. It is not clear to what extent he was a supporter of the movement or was just caught up in the moment. In either event, no further trace of him has been found.
Grace Barber was arrested on the same day as Nora, just like Nora, she was charged with obstruction, but the charges were dropped. Grace provided a statement to Henry Brailsford and Jessie Murray outlining her experience during what became known as Black Friday. Grace describes herself as a ‘passive resister’, and therefore any violence committed against her person was ‘unprovoked.’ Arriving at Parliament Square on 18 November it was mostly clear of any protestors, and only the police remained. When Grace was two yards away from the line, the police rushed towards the new arrivals. ‘I was pushed, grasped by the back of the neck and propelled forward with great force. This was followed by an almost stunning blow on the base of the skull which sent me to my knees.’ When Grace was slow to pick herself up and move on another policeman hit her in the back three times, these she could feel for a week afterwards. With a friend, Grace walked to the opposite side of the square where a woman sitting in a taxi invited them to get in. It was only then that Grace realised her ‘double leather dog-skin motor glove was cut’ and her knuckle ‘cut to the bone.’
Despite this treatment, Grace returned four days later. This time her ‘motor veil’ was twisted by a police officer ‘trying to choke’ her. Several people intervened not initially realising that the man dressed in civilian clothes was a plainclothes officer. She went back to the square the following day. This time several police officers ran down the steps towards her. One used the height gained by being on a step to rain blows down on Grace’s head. She complained of pains in her head for several weeks afterwards as well as suffering from a cough caused, Grace believed, from the blows to her back. She closes her statement ‘I am not a person likely to exaggerate violence, as I am used to hard knocks and bruises , as I play every sort of game and get many falls hunting.’
Grace was born in 1879, the daughter of Thomas, a colliery owner, and Frances. One of eight children Grace had a privileged upbringing. When her father died in 1893, he left an estate worth in today’s money 18 million pounds. Around 1904 her widowed mother purchased Barnby Moor House in the village of Barnby Moor, near Retford. It was a substantial house with numerous outbuildings and landscaped grounds. Grace never married and continued to live at Barnby Moor House after her mother’s death in 1930. The 1939 register states that Grace was a Justice of the Peace and an air warden living with a lady’s maid and two other servants. She died in 1955.
 HO 144/1107/200655 [recorded as Laura Balls]
 MEPO 3/203