Constance Bryer was arrested for the first time on 29 June 1909. Under the auspices of the WSPU an attempt was made to approach the House of Commons to speak to the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith. It was estimated that over three thousand police were drafted in to secure the area. One newspaper describes the phalanx of police ‘as far north as the War Office in Whitehall, the south side of Westminster Bridge, the top of Victoria Street and the gates of St James’s Park’. The women gathered at Caxton Hall, where behind the speaker’s platform hung banners ‘Come on, Brave Soldiers’ and ‘Doubt not of the day’. Nine women including Emmeline Pankhurst and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence made up the deputation intent on conveying to the Prime Minister a resolution demanding Votes for Women.
While the police gave free passage to the deputation; the followers access was barred. One woman caused quite a stir by leaving Caxton Hall mounted on a horse sporting the WSPU colours. When Emmeline Pankhurst reached the door at the St Stephen’s entrance to the Houses of Parliament, she was handed an envelope inside which was a letter from Asquith stating he was unable to receive the deputation. The nine women refused to leave and were arrested. The following crowd repeatedly tried to approach Parliament Square, but the police attempted to move them towards Trafalgar Square. In the ensuing melee several windows were broken. Around one hundred people were arrested among them Constance who was described in Votes for Women as ‘always been a rebel against the unfair conditions of women’s life’. In an interview, after her arrest, Constance said of herself ‘not a bit of pluck’. The charges against her were discharged.
Constance Elizabeth was born in 1870, the daughter of Thomas, a bullion merchant, and Elizabeth. Baptised at St George’s Church, Tufnell Park, the family lived, at the time, at 2 Shaftesbury Villas, Hornsey Rise, a short walk away. Constance, a talented musician, was the eldest daughter preceded by a brother, Edgar of a family of nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. By 1901, the family were living in a substantial house, 30 Avenue Road, on the edges of Crouch End, north London. Ten years later, they had moved to 49 Tufnell Park Road, only a few miles away.
Constance’s father, Thomas, had joined his father’s, John, firm of watchmakers. During the 1870s John acquired a business refining and smelting gold and silver based at 53-54 the Barbican which he ran alongside a business making chronometers and watches. After his death, his three sons including Thomas continued. They rebuilt the premises in 1900 adorning it with a frieze depicting the process of gold refining which is preserved to this day. Thomas’s attitude or the census enumerator’s approach is reflected in both the 1901 and 1911 returns which lists the sons of the family first regardless of age and then the daughters.
Constance was charged with obstruction for her part in Black Friday but as with all the other participators the charges were dropped. She gave an account to Henry Brailsford and Jennie Murray. Constance described her injuries as ‘principally bruises on the arms, although I was knocked about all over really. The only remaining injury is a knock or strain on the shoulder, which seems to get no better’. She had intervened in Downing Street by pulling on a policeman’s belt ‘to relieve’ an arrested woman who was being taken ‘away with great unnecessary roughness’. Constance believed violence would not have ensued if the police had not deployed plain clothes officers misleading wearing Men’s League badges which she described as ‘an unspeakable act of meanness and treachery’.
Constance became secretary of the North Islington branch of the WSPU in December 1910 with many of the meetings hosted at her home. Some gatherings were held in the St Mark’s vicarage garden in Tollington Park, north London as guest of Reverend Finlay Green and his wife. Finlay went on to be the editor of the journal, Church League for Women’s Suffrage, first published in 1912 by the League of the same name. During November 1911, Constance was arrested and found guilty of breaking a window at a Local Government Office. She was fined five shillings or five days in prison. Charged and convicted alongside Mrs Eleanor Adams (see earlier blog) Constance said in court that ‘she did it because it was the only thing the Government understood’.
Early in 1912 the North Islington branch acquired premises at 19 St Thomas’s Road, Finsbury Park. Thanks are given in Votes for Women to the people who had helped to make the office habitable by providing a table, oil stove and curtains. Another benefactor pledged a shilling a week towards the rent. The article closes with a plea for more furniture and books for a proposed lending library. The following month Constance was sentenced to four months in prison alongside women discussed in earlier blogs such as Violet Aitken, Dorothy Bowker, Grace Branson, and Louise Archibald for maliciously damaging a window valued at £15 and another the property of the Raoul Shoe Company worth £30, both in Regent Street. Due to the sheer volume of women some, including Constance, were sent to Winson Green prison in Birmingham. Constance was allocated to Division III.
A report in the official files notes that Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary from February 1910, had instructed that ‘there was to be no squeamishness’ as to commencing force feeding which should be started after an examination by a medical officer to determine if the prisoner was deemed sufficiently fit to cope with the procedure. Churchill had suggested that force feeding should be commenced twenty-four hours after food had first been refused. However, it was pointed out that the procedure had to take place if it was decided it was a medical necessity and therefore it was for the medical officer to deem when the need for intervention arose. By 25 June twenty-two women at Winson Green were being force fed: sixteen with a tube; six with a cup, voluntarily or semi-voluntarily. Across four prisons including Brixton, where one male supporter was jailed, a total of fifty-seven were being fed by force including Constance although the files do not contain any specific details.
The issues of having suffragette prisoners foisted upon them is highlighted by the Visiting Committee at Winson Green which raised concerns at the presence of the women moved from London. The prison did not lend itself to being able to segregate the suffragettes from other women prisoners. The Committee observed that ‘with the suffragettes the discipline has been so relaxed, that only detention has been secured … the Suffragettes have been allowed to conduct themselves as they pleased, and this in the sight of other prisoners’. This, they felt, was ‘likely to create a feeling of discontent’ among the ordinary prisoners. Constance formed a lifelong friendship with Olive Wharry while in Winson Green who, on her death in 1948, bequeathed to Constance her hunger strike medal and a monetary annuity.
In 2012 an autograph book came up for sale in which, on 2 May 1912 while in prison, Constance wrote:
Suffragettes we sit & sew
Sew &sit & sit & sew
Twenty-five are we
Making shirts & socks for men
Cannot get away from them
Even here you see
Constance was released on June 29 1912. The picture below depicts Constance and Eleanor in the garden of St Mark’s vicarage. On the back is written ‘Miss Adams and Miss Constance Bryer’ after their release from Prison’. The two women lived close to each other in north London. The photograph is taken in the summer probably in July 1912.
Constance continued her work as secretary of the North Islington Branch which intended to stage weekly meetings outside Holloway Prison. Eighteen months later, in January 1914 Constance resigned as secretary but remained a member of the North Islington branch. Constance appeared in the newspapers for a matter unrelated to suffragette activities. A man was charged with committing a burglary at Constance’s family home. He had gained entry through the scullery window which Constance believed the burglar had broken the week before. The Magistrate questioned Constance as to whether she had actually seen the burglar break the window: ‘When was the window broken woman?’ Constance declined to respond to such a rudely worded question observing ‘You are very rude to me’. When the accused’s mother pleaded for clemency, she claimed her son had been influenced by suffragettes who lived in the same house as him. The women, his mother claimed, had declared ‘that capitalists were withholding [their] rights’ and had incited him to commit a crime. Interviewed by a medical officer at Brixton prison the defendant had stated that the suffragists had told him he ‘could take what [he] liked except human life’.
Constance, through her friendship with Finlay Green, was a member of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage. During the First World War Constance worked in Home Defence and munitions. Constance died in 1952 still living in the same area of London.
Violet Bryant is an interesting insight into discrepancies between official records and fact as told by the arrestee. Both versions are included below.
Violet Bryant was arrested alongside Ellen Pitfield, Dorothy Shallard and Lily Asquith (see earlier blog) for breaking windows valued at £3 7 shillings and 6 pence at the Liberal Club in Newcastle upon Tyne ahead of a visit to the city by Lloyd George. The night before Violet addressed a meeting asserting that ‘no barriers would prevent them; they were prepared to go to any length to get their rights even to death itself’. Each of the women pleaded guilty and were sentenced to fourteen days with hard labour. The Votes for Women newspaper reported that Violet was a nurse who was so outraged at the force feeding of the suffragette prisoners in prison in Birmingham she had resigned her position and travelled to Newcastle to support the cause.
From the police station in Newcastle eleven women involved in the demonstration wrote to the WSPU at its headquarters in Clement’s Inn. The letter opens ‘Friends, -All is well’ and asserts their collection dedication to women’s suffrage and their intention to refuse food which would leave the Government with the option ‘To release us in a few days; to inflict violence upon our bodies; to death to the champions of our Cause by leaving us to starve; or – the best and only wise alternative – to give women the vote’. On reception at prison Violet declared that she intended to break her cell window and was therefore allocated to a reception cell with additional blankets supplied. Violet was 6 feet two inches tall and weighed fourteen stone which posed a problem as no prison skirt fitted. She was, therefore, confined to bed until one could be made.
Various reports are on the files regarding force feeding. On 13 October Violet was fed by nasal tube twice which led to ‘slight bruises on both arms’ where she had been restrained. The report the following day, records Violet violently resisted force feeding by nasal tube in the morning when one pint of egg and milk was administered. In the evening two pints with the addition of brandy were administered. Her general condition is described as fair. The next day Violet took a mixture of milk, egg, and Valentine’s beef juice from a cup in the morning and evening.
The four women were released on 22 October and taken to a nursing home. Each had been force fed and forced to wear prison clothing, none, however, had undertaken any hard labour. Frederick Pethick Lawrence was one of the occupants of a carriage sent to collect the four on their release. As a crowd had gathered outside the prison the carriage driver was instructed to drive into the prison yard. Frederick writes ‘The prisoners were then brought into the yard. They looked exceedingly ill, not a vestige of colour showing in their faces, and were with difficulty helped in …’ Violet recounted how she had resisted all the attempts to force her lips open and when the nasal tube was inserted, she had managed to eject it by coughing. However, she had become too weak to continue resisting.
Only weeks later Violet was arrested for a second time and charged with breaking windows at the Liberal Club in Haslingden, a town in Lancashire having apparently carried the stones four miles from the village of Waterfoot. The damages were stated to be £4 and 15 shillings. Violet refused to pay either the damages or a 20 shilling fine and was imprisoned for one month.
Very tall, Violet was dubbed the ‘Suffragist Giantess’. On her arrival at prison on 6 December Violet was described by the prison doctor as ‘an exceptionally fine and strong young woman. Violet refused to give her name announcing her intention not to comply with orders, declining to bathe or don prison uniform. The Governor ordered that physical force should be used but Violet immediately stripped off the uniform into which she had been forced and then refused food. He concluded that Violet was very tall ‘strong, and heavy in proportion. Difficult to handle’. Five days after her admission Violet is described as ‘still insubordinate and insolent and refuses to obey any orders’. However, she was wearing the uniform. On the advice of the medical officer Violet had been placed in a special cell. She was by this point being force fed. While authorities concur that Violet, see below, cut through the canvas dress provided for warmth rather than scratch on to the cell wall with a shard of glass Violet had used her own blood from a cut to her finger to write ‘Votes for Women’. As Violet writes no bedding or mattress were given as she was on punishment.
A report on the file dated 13 December notes Violet was force fed by oesophageal tube twice. One each occasion a pint was administered of milk, cream, and a whipped egg with the addition of either plasmon, a powdered milk protein, or a tonic. One of the assistants during the process complained of ‘the force of her grip’ on their wrists. A further report, written the same day, describes Violet who had been confined to a special cell as ‘still obstinate’. On 14th Violet was moved from the special cell to which she had been confined for seven days. Violet requested a library book but was informed she was not entitled to anything other than devotional books. When asked her religion Violet replied, ‘Votes for Women’. In protest Violet smashed four panes in her cell windows. In the margin of the report of Violet’s actions someone has noted that after this incident Gladstone amended the policy for the provision of books and later, Winston Churchill, established a committee to investigate. Matron reported to the Governor that Violet had broken the glass and was violent although absolutely no mention is made of any such behaviour in other reports. In consequence, he ordered that Violet should be removed to a special cell with ‘handcuffs behind her back’ which were removed to allow force feeding several hours later. The report states that handcuffs were not used when Violet was returned to the special cell. It is interesting to note that this is a key difference between her account, see below, and the Governor’s.
Still confined to the special cell Violet declined to take any exercise. By this point she had submitted two petitions, one queried her allocation to the Third Division as Violet passionately believed the Magistrate had ordered her to the Second Division and the other was requesting to see her solicitor. Both were declined. The report of 17 December notes that Violet had ‘discovered a new method of obstructing the passage of the tube with her tongue’ but it did not prevent her being fed twice. The following day the process took place again but, it was noted, Violet had consented to do some needlework which she had hitherto refused to do or clean her cell. A few days later Violet requested a hot water bottle, and it only becomes known at this point that her prison slippers did not fit and therefore she could not walk in them. The Governor, noted, that her own boots were returned to her. Violet, who remained in the special cell as she refused to undertake not to cause any more damage, then began to take exercise along a prison corridor and the following day took a half an hour walk around the prison yard.
By Christmas Eve Violet had been force fed for over two weeks. For the first time she complained of feeling faint. The doctor felt this was surprising as Violet had, in his opinion, had an exciting day. She had requested to see the Governor to ask that dirty washing she had brought in with her be laundered. This was agreed to so long as Violet paid to which she consented. Still confined to the special cell Violet asked to attend church on Christmas Day which was granted so long as undertook to refrain from causing a disturbance. It was also agreed that Violet could return to a normal cell. On Christmas Day Violet attended the Roman Catholic service twice but was as usual force fed twice. Concerned at the exertion of the day the doctor advised her to lie down for the remainder.
The force feeding continued. Violet attended a church service again and requested a bucket of water with which she cleaned her cell. However, when she requested to attend again permission was only given if Violet agreed to take some food beforehand as she had complained of feeling faint. This she did eating some bread and butter accompanied by a cup of tea. By this stage Violet had been force fed twice a day for twenty-three days. In his report on New Year’s Day the Governor notes that Violet apologised to him for her previous behaviour. Arrangements were made for Violet’s release. She was to be conveyed in a cab to a friend’s address in Preston accompanied by a prison officer dressed in plain clothes.
Violet was released on 5 January 1910. She sent an account to Votes for Women of her experience in Preston Gaol. The Governor informed Violet that there had been prisoners before her ‘who were not amenable to reason, but we have ways to manage them’. Violet observed that all that followed bore out the Governor’s threat ‘till the authorities found my principals stronger than their regulations’. When she refused to wear prison clothes eight wardresses stripped her but as soon as Violet was locked in her cell, she shed the uniform until only one garment was left. This was all she had to keep her warm as both her bed and bedding had been removed. When nothing happened when Violet complained of her cell being airless, she smashed the windows. As a result, she was taken before the Visiting Committee who sentenced her to seven days in close confinement.
Violet refused food and the decision was taken to commence force feeding. The wardresses forced, Violet recounts, her into a canvas dress with ‘straps at neck, wrists, and waist’. Violet remained undefeated using a shard of glass to cut through the straps and then using one of the straps to smash the glass pane over a gas jet. She then etched on to the wall ‘Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow’. When all of this was discovered, Violet was taken to a punishment cell and placed in irons. Twenty-four hours later and unshackled Violet was force fed by nasal tube; too weak she did not put up any resistance. The following day the nasal tube was abandoned in place of the oesophageal one. The punishment cell was bitterly cold so Violet requested a hot water bottle which the doctor declined instead suggesting she wore her boots rather than bare feet.
By now weak Violet wished at attend the Catholic services over Christmas. As she had collapsed the doctor agreed she could attend New Year’s Day mass if she ate which reluctantly Violet agreed to but thereafter the force feeding continued. Only when the Priest intervened was Violet allowed to take Holy Communion. After seven days in the punishment cell Violet was returned to the regular accommodation but after only a day, she was sent back for breaking a window in protest at not being allowed a book. This time the handcuffs were only in place for a few hours as the skin of her wrist had been pinched in the hinge.
In a ceremony at the Albert Hall Violet was presented with a hunger strike medal by Emmeline Pankhurst.
The official records state that Violet was born in 1883 and this concurs with all the newspaper coverage but there are no births recorded that year. While it is said she was a nurse in London it could be that she moved to the city to train rather than being born there. Sadly, no further trace has been found of a woman who had a gigantic resolve to match her physique.
The next entry is M Browne arrested in July 1909. There is in sufficient information to delve any further.
The next entry on the arrest record is Mrs Margaret Shaw Brown or in a margin entry Margaret Hopkins. As is often the case, the alias given is, in fact, her maiden name. Margaret Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was born in Falmouth, Cornwall in 1866. As given on her marriage certificate, her father's name was Charles, whose occupation was given as engineer. Margaret is recorded on the 1881 census at school in Saltash, Cornwall. In October 1888, she married John Shaw Brown Akyhab, Bengal, India, a municipal secretary. An announcement was placed in the Dundee Courier citing that John was to wed Maggie. Less than six years later, John died in Burma.
It appears that Margaret returned to England and trained as a midwife. The 1920 Midwives Roll records Margaret as qualifying in November 1905. In the same year, Margaret is also included in the register of Physiotherapy and Masseurs. On the evening of 10 February 1914, Emmeline Pankhurst addressed a crowd of over a thousand from the second-floor window of the London home of the Brackenburys (see earlier blog), 2 Campden Hill Square, which was used as a nursing home and headquarters from time to time by the WSPU. During her speech, Emmeline announced her intention to shortly leave the property, challenging the police to re-arrest her as she was out on release from prison under the Cat and Mouse Act's provisions. In the dark and gloom of a winter's evening, the police struggled to identify Emmeline from among a small group who left the house, which was not aided by the crowd growing increasingly hostile. One policeman described the 'flourishing of clubs and shouting in an excited manner.'
The police arrested one woman, 'dressed to resemble Mrs Pankhurst' but turned out to be a Mrs F E Smith. As they did so, the crowd surged forward, felling not only some of the police officers but also their prisoner. Eventually, the police managed to remove Mrs Smith to the local police station. While the scrummage ensued at the front of the house, Emmeline escaped from the rear. Six other women were arrested, including Margaret, who protested at court at having her fingerprints taken when on remand at Holloway Prison. 'What proof have you that my name is Mrs Shaw Brown? I want to protest against my fingerprints being taken in Holloway. Is it legal, Sir?' Margaret asked the Magistrate. Margaret, charged with obstruction, was fined ten shillings or seven days in prison.
Margaret was arrested for a second time the following month for breaking windows of, Reginald McKenna, the Home Secretary's, residence in Smith Square. She was sentenced to two months with hard labour on 14 March. A report dated 16 March notes that while Margaret was on hunger strike, no attempt had been made to force feed her.
Only three days later, Margaret was released from prison under the Cat and Mouse Act in an ambulance in a 'very weak condition.' The Woman's Dreadnought reported that Margaret was re-arrested on 19 June, while The Suffragette notes that she was returned to Holloway Prison earlier, went on hunger strike and was re-released under the Cat and Mouse Act on 20 June. The following week's edition of The Suffragette noted that Margaret 'has been very much reduced by her imprisonment. For some days after her release, she was in a state of fever, and she is now weak and nervously shocked. It will be some weeks before she is well again.'
From 1919 to 1922, Margaret is registered on the electoral roll living in Melvin Hall, a substantial block of flats, in Golders Green. The last record of Margaret is living in Devon.
Robert Henry Brown was arrested in October 1908. A march on the House of Commons had been planned. The police on foot and mounted filled the area, no one was allowed to pass the cordon without suitable credentials and traffic was diverted away from Parliament Square. The column of women marched towards Parliament only to be deterred in every attempt to breach the cordon. Around forty people were arrested including thirteen men. Among the women detained, already discussed in earlier blogs, were Kathleen Brown and Winifred Bray. Nothing has been found further to identify Robert.
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.'