Click here tIt is often the case that due to the commonality of someone’s name and in the absence of any clues in the newspaper reports no further information can be traced. Whenever this is the case their name and actions are recorded not only does this allow any new information to be added in the future, it ensures that each participant’s part is recorded for posterity and allows for future research.
Sophie Albert was arrested on November 27th, 1911. The name given to the authorities appears to have been an alias as the records also record that her name was Margaret Bennett. Suffragettes often used pseudonyms to disguise their identity from family or employers. The arrest related to the activities of the suffragettes on November 22nd 1911, following the adoption by the WSPU of window breaking as a critical plank of protest. Sophie was a member of the WSPU, and like other members she gave her address as Clement’s Inn the headquarters of the WSPU and home of the Pethick Lawrences. Again, this was often a tactic used to protect their identity. She was sentenced to five days imprisonment or a 5 shilling fine for obstruction. The fine was paid on November 30th.
Ann Alice Alder was arrested on February 12th 1908 along with Violet Addis, mentioned in the first blog, following an attack on the House of Commons. Ann, according to the newspaper report, was thirty years old, married and had travelled south from Honley, Yorkshire to attend the demonstration. Although both the newspaper reports and the suffragette record state her surname is Alder it is, in fact, Older.
Born Ann Alice Sykes on August 12th 1876, Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, she was the daughter of Joseph, a shoemaker and Rebecca. The 1891 census return records Ann, aged thirteen, working as a cotton piecer in the local mill. Ann married Charles William Older on April 14th 1900, while she has no recorded occupation, Charles was a stoker. After their marriage they settled in Honley. They had one daughter, Murial, born in 1915.
Ann was a member of the Huddersfield WSPU alongside her aunts Ellen Beever and Annie Sykes who had first demonstrated in London in 1907. Ann was sentenced to six weeks in prison. Like many on the record this was her only offence.
Ann died on February 16th 1958; Charles having died two years earlier.
Grace Alderman was arrested at the same demonstration on February 12th, 1908. Like Ann Grace had travelled south this time from Preston. Grace was born in 1885, Crewe, the daughter of a solicitor. She was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment. Later she moved south to Witham in Essex. She died during December 1968.
Mary Ann Mitchell Aldham was arrested on at least eight occasions including 22 November 1911, 7 March 1912, 19 March 1912, 17 November 1913 and 14 May 1914, dates which are recorded in the amnesty records. She was, however, first arrested in 1908 in connection with a meeting outside the Houses of Parliament in October. The reason for this apparent discrepancy is that Mary sometimes used the Wood, her maiden name, or the records misspelt her name as Oldham. When the dates for Oldham are added, 14 October 1908 and 19 and 24 October 1910, the arrests total eight.
Mary was a dogged, determined and brave woman. Born in 1858 she was nearly fifty years old when she was first arrested. In 1883 Mary married Arthur Robert Aldham, a commercial clerk. Mary and Robert had two daughters Mary and Gertrude. By the time of the 1901 census, the family were living at 22 Coom’s Hill, Greenwich. Mary Ann’s life took a tragic turn when Arthur died in 1905 and Gertrude four years later in 1909.
In 1908, Mary’s trial, along with several others, was adjourned to allow her to obtain legal representation. At the delayed hearing, Mary was found guilty and given the choice of being bound over to keep the peace along with a fine or be sent to prison for one month, which she elected to do.
The offence in October 1910 was, along with seven others, breaking windows valued at £5 at the house of John Burns, the member of Parliament for Battersea. Burns frequently locked horns with the leader of the WFL, Charlotte Despard who strongly disagreed with his view that women whose children failed to thrive was due to their feckless mothering rather than poverty. For this offence, Mary was fined £5 or one month in prison. She chose to go to prison. Mary also participated in Black Friday on 18 November 1910 when approximately three hundred women marched to the Houses of Parliament. Following the general election in 1910, the Liberals led by Herbert Asquith only had a majority in the House of Commons if they were supported by the Labour party which led Henry Brailsford to lead the foundation of a Conciliation Committee for women’s’ suffrage. The Committee which consisted of thirty-six members of Parliament from all parties drafted a bill, the Conciliation Bill, which would have given about a million women the vote. It was seen by many as a step in the right direction, and Emmeline Pankhurst, on behalf of the WSPU, agreed to cease all militant activities while the bill was debated. However, while the bill received the backing of the House of Commons, Asquith made it clear it was a piece of proposed legislation which he intended to shelve. The demonstration now known as Black Friday was a response to Asquith’s declaration.
The women were met by flanks of police officers who resisted their attempts to access the building for six hours. Many of the women complained of violence, some of sexual assault. One hundred and nineteen were arrested, only to be released without charge. The portrayal of the events in the newspapers was mostly pro the police praising them for their restraint in dealing with women intent on attacking them. Many called for a public enquiry which Winston Churchill, Home Secretary, refused.
Nonetheless amongst the files transcribed by http://findmypast.co.uk is one including statements from police, the women and a few members of the public. Mary wrote ‘I was thrown about a good deal by the police for a long time … My arms were wrench back and twisted so that I had to have help to dress the next morning’. Part of this file is made up of the Brailsford report prepared by Henry Brailsford and Jessie Murray in response to the refusal to hold a public enquiry. A powerful advocate of women’s suffrage was Robert Cecil, a Conservative member of Parliament, one of only a few of that party who supported the vote for women. Amongst the papers in the file is a damning critique of why his calls for an enquiry are misguided and potentially damaging to the democratic process.
Arguably Black Friday marked a change in the campaign for women’s votes. Many women disavowed militant tactics, and it was the last demonstration of that type the WSPU undertook as they move towards activities such as window breaking which enabled the women to flee more easily.
In this vein Mary was next arrested on November 22nd 1911 for window breaking at Charing Cross Post Office, one of two hundred and twenty- three. She was the first defendant in the dock at the trial attended by Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst. Refusing to pay the imposed fine, she was imprisoned for fourteen days. She was now fifty-three years old.
Undeterred Mary continued to campaign. She was arrested during March 1912 for breaking a window to the value of £20 and was imprisoned for six months in Holloway. Her release date was 18 September 1912. Mary went on hunger strike. Amongst the papers is a list of names of woman whom it was doubtful were medically fit to be force-fed; another of those where it was unclear whether they were sufficiently strong, Mary features on this list. Minutes record that an order was issued for the immediate release of any prisoners subjected to force-feeding without further discussion if their health necessitated; Mary was one of five released following a medical assessment which noted ‘Elderly woman presenting slight indication of cardiac degeneration. Resists cup feeding and it would not be safe to feed by tube; shows indication of impaired nutrition quickened pulse, coated tongue which are likely to become more marked. A report written a few days later highlights the number of prisoners involved in the refusal of food, fifty-seven. Of those twenty-nine were being fed forcibly by tube and fifteen by a cup or spoon. Thirteen had been on hunger strike for one day, so no measures had been taken. A further sixteen had been released due to a deterioration in their health, Mary being amongst them. These numbers were over four prisons: Holloway; Aylesbury; Birmingham and Brixton. James Agg-Gardner, member for Parliament, raised a question concerning prison visits. These the authorities responded would be withdrawn if the medical practitioner felt that the prisoner was medically unfit to receive a visit, and it would be detrimental to their health.
In 1912 Helen Gordon, a suffragette who had been subjected to force-feeding, wrote a pamphlet describing her experiences. It is a graphic and frank account. Placed in solitary confinement for refusing food she was taken to the hospital. Forced on to a bed she was restrained by four wardresses, her head held by a doctor, a gag forced ‘roughly between my teeth…A mixture of brown bread, milk, bovril, or mince, was half poured or ladled out of a basin down my throat.’ If she did not swallow her nose was held until she did. This was the cup and spoon method. The alternatives were either a nasal tube or an oesophageal tube. The latter Helen described as ‘The worst torture of any kind’. The authorities unaware of the pamphlet hastily obtained a copy. On this occasion, the records note Mary was released without being force-fed on 23 June.
During her imprisonment, she and her fellow inmates signed a handkerchief, a poignant memento. https://sussexpast.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Priest-House-suffragette-handkerchief.pdf
Annie Ainsworth was arrested on 25 February 1909 [this arrest is recorded incorrectly as 1908] and 22 November 1911, alongside Violet Aitken [see below]. The first arrest followed another attempt by the WSPU to enter the House of Commons. Following a meeting, at Caxton Hall a deputation led by Mrs Pethwick Lawrence, the secretary of the WSPU, set off to the House of Commons. The police stood firm before the door; the women were shoved forwards towards them by the crowd that had gathered to watch and demanded in vain to be admitted. The police removed them from the area one by one, but many endeavoured to return to the doorway being seen off by a large number of police congregated the other side of the doors. Some were arrested, others attempted to rally again or make speeches. Twenty-seven women and one man were arrested among them Annie who was recorded as being twenty-eight years old; she gave her address as 4 Clement’s Inn, the headquarters of the WSPU. When the matter came to court Annie refused to pay the £10 fine and was imprisoned for one month along with the other twenty-six women. Mrs Pethwick Lawrence lobbied the authorities for the right of the suffragette prisoners to exercise together and converse while so doing assuring them that if this concession was granted they would not breach the rule outside of the exercise period and would not cause any other trouble. A report includes a robust response: ‘I think this request is quite inadmissible…they want to dictate their own terms as to how they are to serve their self-imposed sentences’. The anonymous author continued to explain how, while Mrs Pankhurst and her daughter, had previously been allowed to exercise together this was only due to the former’s ill health and such a concession would not be applied. The prisoners were 2nd Division and therefore not entitled to such privileges. Her second arrest in November 1911 was for breaking windows with Kathleen Broadhurst at the West Strand telegraph office. They were fined 15 shillings or one week’s imprisonment. The campaign, this episode was part of, is discussed in more detail below.
At the Great March held on 8 June, 1910 Annie was in charge of leaflet distribution along the route and her involvement continued over the years with financial donations, leading the organisation of the Suffragette summer party in 1913 or leading a group of mourners at Emily Davison’s funeral.
Laura Ainsworth was arrested in Birmingham on 18 September and 26 November 1909. Much has been written about Laura, for example at https://spartacus-educational.com/WainsworthL.htm. The focus of this blog is those who have been forgotten as the years have passed and therefore no further research has been undertaken.
Violet Aitken [full name Marion Violet Aitken] was arrested on 22 November 1911, 5 March 1912 and 19 March 1912. Born in 1886 in Bedford she was the daughter of William and Eleanor Aitken. Her grandfather, Robert Aitken, printed the first English Bible in America in 1782. William, an evangelist, first worked with William Pennefather, the founder of the Mildmay Conferences and the deaconess movement where women lived together to be trained to work where they were most needed supporting hospitals, education or poor relief. The Mildmay continues today as an Aids and HIV charity. William was appointed to Christ Church, Liverpool but when his wife’s health failed, he moved his family to the fresh air of Derbyshire, and he travelled the length and breadth of the country preaching. He made two preaching tours to America, the last in 1896. In 1900 he was appointed Canon at Norwich Cathedral in 1900.
A member of the WSPU Laura was one of two hundred and twenty-three arrested including three men in Whitehall and Parliament Square on 22 November 1911. The WSPU had organised a demonstration, and in response the police were out in force. Some women attempted to force their way into the House of Commons while others began smashing windows at the Treasury and Scottish Education Office moving along Whitehall throwing stones at windows as they went. The stones were in contained small drawstring bags, and they used the strings as a form of sling to give the stone momentum. Windows were smashed in the Strand and at Somerset House. The protest continued after their arrests with some women using their elbows to smash windows at the police stations. Violet was arrested and charged with obstruction. She was sentenced to five days imprisonment. Like many who wished to retain an element of anonymity she gave her as the WSPU headquarters.
In 1912 the WSPU escalated the window-smashing campaign. Violet was arrested on 5 March 1912. The charge sheet for Violet states that she was arrested along with Clara Giveen for breaking twelve windows valued at £100 at the premises of Jays Limited in Westminster. Her father wrote in his diary: “she has been again arrested and this time for breaking plate glass windows, I am overwhelmed with shame and distress to think that a daughter of mine should do anything so wicked… ‘But my poor wife! It’s heart breaking to think of her being exposed in her old age to the horror….God help us!’ Violet was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
The Times reported on 26 June 26, 1912, that due to overcrowding at Holloway some women prisoners were moved to Winson Green prison, Birmingham. Violet was one of them. Refusing food, she was force fed. The file covering her internment makes bleak reading. The entry for Violet on 23 June notes that she was fed by a nasal tube and ‘vomited continuously’. One report, stamped 26 June 1912, records: No change. To be force fed again tonight’. The report goes on to note that it had been recommended by telephone that if necessary, Violet should be released. This decision was in response to a medical report which noted: ‘Vomited considerably-nervous anaemic state – continued force feeding would endanger health’. Keir Hardie, a Labour member of Parliament, requested details of the medical qualifications of persons subjecting the women to force feeding. He was informed they were all qualified with experience in lunatic asylums, but their names would be withheld in case of reprisals. The file includes a petition signed by one hundred and fourteen medical practitioners asserting that the danger came from the ‘force’ element of feeding which distinguished it from feeding tubes used as part of medical practice. It was the element of force which could cause suffering and potential damage.Shortly afterwards, Violet was released on medical grounds; she was recorded as being in a ‘fair’ state. She was immediately admitted to a nursing home. After, for a time, she worked for The Suffragette, the printed voice of the campaign for votes. She died in 1987 in Hertfordshire, aged 101.
 http://norfolkwomeninhistory.com/1851-1899/marian-violet-aitken/: NRO, MC 2165/1/23, 976X4
The publication by http://findmypast.co.uk of a collection of suffragette documentation prepared by the courts and government has meant that new details can be added to the research already undertaken. The next few blogs will revisit old ones and update them. The first of these is posted below.
Ironically for a movement dominated by women the first name in the record is Alfred Abbey. He was arrested on March 1 1911, alongside Henry Garrett. Both men were members of the Men’s Association for the Promotion of Women’s Suffrage. While the Cabinet was meeting at Downing Street the men attempted to scale the wall into the garden with the purpose, they stated, of delivering a letter regarding women’s suffrage. Arrested, they were charged at Bow Street police station with disorderly conduct. The prosecution stated that if the men were “heartily ashamed” of their actions they could be bound over to keep the peace for three months. Henry accepted, but Alfred refused stating he had been forced into taking such an unusual step to get his letter delivered as all other attempts to be heard had failed. He was imprisoned for 21 days in the Second Division.
The previous year force-feeding had been stopped for suffragettes but continued in respect of other prisoners, who refused food, whose crime involved moral turpitude. Not classed as a suffragette due to his gender when Alfred went on hunger strike, he was force-fed. Questions were asked in the House of Commons of Winston Churchill. He stated that moral turpitude included amongst other things serious violence which had occurred in this instance. Given that the other defendant had been bound over to keep the peace this interpretation of events appears far from honest. Angered by Churchill’s answers Hugh Franklin, another campaigner who detested Churchill, wrapped a letter and a feeding tube around a stone hurling it at Churchill’s windows. Imprisoned in Pentonville Prison he was also force-fed. The Votes for Women dated March 17th 1911 carried the headline “Man Prisoner Force Fed.” For a brief time, he was headline news.
Dorothy Foster Abraham was arrested on March 4th 1912. Born in 1866 she was the daughter, of Alfred Clay Abraham a prominent chemist in Liverpool and Lucy Ellison Clay herself an activist for women’s right to vote. Dorothy was educated at boarding school and then went on to study at Liverpool University and King’s College, London. An early member of the WSPU, whose early meetings her mother hosted in her drawing room, Dorothy was active in both London and Liverpool. In March 1912, the WSPU ceased giving prior warning to the authorities of their intended actions and launched a surprise attack. Over hundred women were given hammers and directed to designated sites, hiding the hammers in their muffs. At 5.45 pm they started to smash windows in Oxford Street, Regent Street and other well-known addresses. Amongst the shops targeted were Liberty’s, Marshall & Snelgrove, Burberry and Harrods where Dorothy was arrested. Sent to Holloway Prison she was charged with malicious damage to a window at the Aerated Bread Company valued at £15 and two windows the property of Charles Stuart valued at £50. Dorothy was, however, released due to insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
When war broke out Dorothy, and her mother joined the Home Service Corp which succeeded the Liverpool WSPU; a group formed to enable women to put themselves forward for war work. Dorothy who had studied at Agriculture College worked on several farms. Ultimately settling on a farm her father bought for her. In 1923 Dorothy married Thomas Place. During World War II she served as an air raid warden. She died in 1976 leaving four children.
Lilyarde Acherling was arrested on November 22nd 1911 and December 12th, 1911. There are no records under this name, but research indicates from a report in The Citizen dated December 12th 1911 that her name was Lelgarde Acheling aged 26 an actress. Perhaps unsurprisingly given her profession this name also appears to be pseudonym or stage name. On November 22nd 1911 over, two hundred women were arrested for breaking windows. Her second offence, in December, was when she was charged alongside Frances Rowe and Violet Jones with damaging plate glass windows at the National Bank. The damage amounting to £50. The report does not record if the three women were imprisoned, but this seems likely as women tried on the same day for a similar offence were.
Christine Adams, sometimes known by the alias, Miss de Pass, was arrested on June 8th 1914. She was charged with riotous behaviour at the Brompton Oratory where a group of women interrupted the service by chanting about Mrs Pankhurst. The priest escorted two of the women out, and on his return, Christine was standing in front of the pulpit screaming, her hat having been ripped off by members of the congregation. She was fined £5 which she refused to pay and was therefore imprisoned for one month. On June 17th she was released under the Cat and Mouse Act having been on hunger strike for ten days. Her condition was described in the press as critical. After a period of recuperation, she was returned to prison finally released at the end of July.
Martha Adams was arrested for the same episode of window breaking in March 1912 as Dorothy Abraham. Recorded as Martha A she is, in fact, Martha Helena Adams. She was born in 1868 in Edmonton, North London. Her father, Joseph, was an ironmonger. Martha had numerous siblings; some of the younger ones were born in France where the family lived for a while. By 1891 the family had returned to England settling in Brecknock Road, Holloway, North London. Ten years later the census records the family living in the same house. While the sons had flown the nest five unmarried sisters, aged between thirty-five and eighteen remained living at home. Although the arrest records state Martha was employed as a clerk the census return, a year earlier does not record any employment. Little had altered from ten years previously. Her mother now widowed lived at the same address still with two unmarried daughters, one of whom was Martha. Perhaps, it was frustration at her position in life that drove her to campaign for the vote.
At the initial hearing several, including Mrs Pankhurst were found guilty and imprisoned, but Martha’s offence, malicious damage to two windows valued at £15 meant the matter was referred to a higher court as the damage exceeded £5. She was sentenced to four months imprisonment in Holloway, only a short distance from her home.
By 1939 Martha was living in Brighton where she died just before Christmas 1946.
Kate Adamson was arrested on March 4th 1912 having taken part in the same window breaking as Dorothy Adams and Martha Adams. However, rather than being arrested for malicious damage, the charge was insulting behaviour. She was sentenced to fourteen days imprisonment.
Violet Ethel Addis was arrested on February 12th 1908. A member of the WSPU she was part of an attack on the House of Commons. The women split into two groups: some were concealed in a van which pulled up outside St Stephen’s Hall, and the other group marched from Westminster Hall where the Women’s Parliament had been sitting to present a resolution of the meeting demanding the vote. Both groups failed in their attempt to enter the House of Commons, and about fifty women were arrested. Violet was recorded as being thirty- one years old, married and from Birmingham and appears to have gone to prison.
Audrey Aimler was arrested on March 12th 1912, again part of the window smashing protest. Recorded as born in 1884, she was charged with maliciously damaging a post office window along with Jessie Heward. Audrey was sentenced to two months hard labour. The records note that she was also known as Mary Fitzgerald.
Emily Brandon was arrested and sentenced on December 1 1911. She was charged with causing an obstruction in Parliament Square on November 21st and trying to force her way through the police cordon. The police stated they had repeatedly requested her to move, when she refused they arrested her. In court Emily stated “the Manhood Suffrage Bill is an insult to the women of England, and I did it as a protest.”[i] She was fined five shillings or five days in prison. She elected imprisonment.
Emily was born Emily Charlotte Mcmahon Foyle in London in 1878. The family lived in Aldgate, London where her father was a warehouseman. When Emily left school she worked in a hotel in Hanover Square in the West End of London as a clerk. On June 16th 1901 Emily married Albert Brandon, a upholsterer, from Tring, Buckinghamshire. The couple settled in Chesham, Buckinghamshire where Emily founded the Chesham branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union.
What happened to Emily after her spell in prison is not clear.
She died in 1968 in North London.
Stated on the arrest records as Mary Grace Branson her correct name is as recorded on the Suffragette Roll of Honour, Grace Mary Branson. On the 1911 census return is entered “Until I am acknowledged to be a citizen of Great Britain I refuse to carry out the duties of citizens.” Other than G M Branson, Branson daughter, Prout servant, Mrs Harvey visitor and her three children daughter, son and son. The only clue is it states that Grace is a widow. No trace has been found of any further background information. Her daughter Edith was born on May 26 1899 and she went onto to marry on of the anonymous sons of Mrs Harvey, Charles Donald Warren Harvey.
Grace was arrested twice, March 1912 and February 10th 1913. The first time was for breaking windows in the Haymarket. She was sentenced four months and sent to Aylesbury prison. Along with four others she was released early. Winston Churchill had promised that they could wear their own clothes and be given books to read. When these concessions were not forthcoming the prisoners started a hunger strike. The prison authorities commenced force feeding.
The following year Grace was charged with breaking three windows at the Junior Carlton Club with a value of £4 10 shillings. One witness stated that Grace had thrown several pieces of lead at the windows. In her defence, Grace addressed the court “I did it as a suffragette and as one who protests against the government of the country by men alone. Also the fact of prostitution existing is enough to justify any of these acts on our part. This standard of morality makes us women sick to death, and we are going to cleanse and abolish it.”[ii] Found guilty she was sentenced to two months in prison. This time she was sent to Holloway. Alongside Sylvia Pankhurst and Edith Ball [see earlier blog] she was force fed.
Grace is mentioned in a letter that Sylvia wrote to her mother, Emmeline. She describes in graphic detail the process of being force fed “They prise open my mouth with a steel gag…My gums are always bleeding.” She wrote that the authorities claimed they did not resist “Yet my shoulders are bruised with struggling...”. She mentions that Mrs Branson, Grace has a heart defect and wonders whether anything can be done.
A meeting was held where the Bishop of London protested at the barbarity of force feeding. In response, a debate took place in the House of Commons. Reginald Mackenna, the Home Secretary, stated that the women were prepared to die which he did not intend to let them do, thus the force feeding. The movement needed to be broken down using “patience, forbearance and humanity.” [iii] It is possibly a stretch to imply that keeping the women from starving themselves to death by force feeding is a sign of humanity. He proposed, in response to the growing public disgust at the practice of force feeding, that the women could be freed on licence if their health was in danger. This proposal would become the Cat and Mouse Act where women were released on licence and when they had physically recovered were taken back inside to serve the rest of their sentence. Early in April 1913 Grace was released. She spoke to the press describing one suffragette would had learnt how to contract her throat so that a finer tube had to be used but this was not before she had had two teeth smashed. The treatment of Grace and many others forced the government into the release on licence of women who it was felt could not endure the practice of force feeding but it did not alter their stance on the vote or the practice of force feeding until it could be endured no longer.
Grace and her daughter and son in law settled in Devon where she died in 1961.
[i] Bucks Herald December 9th 1911
[ii] Sheffield Daily Telegraph February 11th 1913
[iii] Ibid March 19th 1913
Janet Augusta Boyd was born in 1855 to George and Anne Haig. Part of a large extended family her niece Margaret Thomas Haig, and her cousins Louisa and Florence Haig also became suffragettes. In 1874 Janet married George Boyd, a solicitor. His father was Edward Fenwick Boyd, an industrialist based in the north east of England who built a substantial family house called Moor House in the small village of Leamside on the outskirts of Durham. In due course George inherited the house and Janet and their four daughters moved in. George died in 1909 and this seems to have allowed Janet to pursue her contribution to the fight for suffrage for women.
The Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette dated June 12th 1911 reported that Janet had refused to pay her rates amounting to £21 and in consequence an auction was to be held at her house to raise the funds. Janet offered a Spanish mantilla for sale which was bought by her gardener presumably funded by his employer. The auctioneer announced his support for the campaign and a member of the WSPU came to address the crowd. Prior to this it seems likely Janet joined the protest against the 1911 census return as she does not appear.
Janet was first arrested on November 19th 1911 for breaking a window in the Strand. In court she stated “I don’t consider I was guilty, because I was doing it for a good purpose.” She was fined 10 shillings and three shillings for the damage. Her second arrest was in March 1912. At the first hearing she was committed for trial alongside her cousin Florence Haig for breaking two windows each at D H Evans to a value of £66. She was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Florence stated that if she was bound over to keep the peace she would feel like a soldier deserting in the middle of battle was sentenced to four months. Following a hunger strike when she was not force fed she was released in June of that year. She was one of the women who “signed” a hankerchief owned now by the Priest House at Hoathly.[i]
She died in December 1928 and is included in the Suffragette Roll of Honour.
The next entry reads Dinah or Nina Boyle who was arrested on several occasions during 1912, 1913 and 1914. Born Constance Antonia in 1865 to Robert, an army captain and Frances her father died when she was four years old. Her widowed mother was left with six children, the youngest of whom David was only a few months old. At some point Nina went to live in South Africa where she was a journalist writing for the Transvaal Leader alongside nursing during the Boer War. She wrote to the Times newspaper of the unequal treatment metered out to Boer and loyalist refugees. Interested in women’s rights she founded the Women's Enfranchisement League of Johannesburg.
Nina returned to England in 1911. She was initially active in the Victoria League and Colonial Intelligence League for Educated Women. The former she resigned from when she felt they were pursuing an anti-suffrage stance. She spoke at a meeting of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Redhill in April 1911 about the suffrage campaign in South Africa. Present was Mrs Harley, sister of Charlotte Despard with whom Nina was soon to become closely involved. A month later she addressed a joint conference of suffrage groups in Edinburgh highlighting the unpaid work women undertook without which the country would suffer.
Shortly, thereafter she joined the Women’s Freedom League whose President was Charlotte Despard. She regularly addressed meetings and was elected to the executive. She also was a member of the Tax Resistance League. Nina was arrested alongside Charlotte Despard and Julia Wood and charged with obstruction. Current regulations banned protests in Trafalgar Square. In breach of these Charlotte mounted a plinth addressing a growing crowd, standing alongside her was Julia and Nina who rang a hand bell. They all refused to descend and were arrested. Nina was fined 60 shillings or 10 days imprisonment. The other two were treated similarly. All elected to go to prison. However not long afterwards their fines were paid and they were released.
A similar ban on public speaking had been imposed in Hyde Park. In May 1913 Nina and Annie Munroe were arrested for attempting to break the ban. At the same time four of the Women’s Freedom League executive including Nina wrote to every police force urging them to refuse to rearrest any woman who had been released from imprisonment suffering from the effects of force feeding, in other words women released under the Cat and Mouse Act on licence. In court Nina and Annie were fined 20 shillings or fourteen days imprisonment. They both elected to go to prison. Both complained about the conditions of the prison vans where contrary to the attestation by the Home Secretary that men and women were separated within the vans this was not the case. They both served their sentences in full.
Nina returned immediately to campaigning. In November 1913 Nina along with others was arrested and charged with obstruction. At the initial hearing Nina applied for an adjournment so she could call witnesses. The magistrate was far from amenable to which she retorted “Why should we be dictated to by Mr Muskett, sitting there with his ears cocked like an intelligent terrier?”[ii] Her requested was granted and she was bailed for a week. At the reconvened hearing Nina was bound over to keep the peace, on her refusal to agreed she was sent to prison for one day.
Campaigning swiftly resumed and Nina travelled the country addressing meetings. In July 1914 she was arrested and charged with obstruction. Five women, Nina gave her name as Ann Smith, chained themselves to the door in the waiting room of the Marlborough Street Police Court temporarily housed Francis Street. The police cut them free putting them outside of the building from whence they refused to move. They were each bailed for a £2 surety. At the trial Nina when entering the witness box exclaimed “Here we are again! It’s quite like coming to see old friends.”[iii] She was fined forty shillings or a week imprisonment.
Immediately after the outbreak of World War 1 Nina lobbied for the founding of a female body of Special Constables who could protect women and children in the absence of the men. She also was an active member of the Women Suffrage National Aid Corps formed to provide support services to women whose husbands were away fighting. Without any government approval for her proposal regarding women police Nina together with Margaret Dawson continued on their own and by January 1915 the Corps of Women Police Volunteers had been formed. Courses were undertaken in first aid, court rules and self-defence. Everyone wore a uniform, Nina being one of the first. However, she split from the Corps when they sought to curtail the freedom of women by imposing a curfew on prostitutes. Although a women’s force continued to operate in London and Brighton under the auspices of the Women’s Freedom League.
In October 1915 Nina was charged with failing to register under the Alien Restriction Order 1915. The case was dismissed when it was held the summons had not been issued correctly. In due course she was awarded damages for her illegal arrest. Nina used this experience to raise awareness of the lack of reasonable treatment for women held in police cells where there was no accommodation for women nor any women gaolers.
Towards the end of 1916 Nina travelled to the Salonika Front to act as a nursing orderly. It was widely reported in the press prior to this that her fiancée had been killed and perhaps that is what prompted her to take this step. There Nina renewed her acquaintance with Katherine Harley who was eager to learn of her sister Charlotte. Nina remained for eight months. On her return she continued with campaigning and supporting the wives left behind.
In 1918 Nina announced that she would stand in a by election as a prospective member of Parliament for Keighley. It was ruled that as a women she could stand but as her nomination papers were incorrectly completed she could not. This acceptance of a woman’s right to stand allowed others to stand in the general election in 1918.
Nina remained politically active for the rest of her life particularly supported the National Union of Women Teachers and the Save the Children Fund. She also wrote novels. She died in March 1943.
[ii] Globe November 17 1913
[iii] Daily Record July 14 1914
Grace Hosdson Boutelle was arrested once on October 14th 1908 as part of a contingent attempting to deliver a petition to the House of Commons. Grace was American, born in Maine in 1869 to Charles and Lucy Boutelle. Her father served in the United States Navy and on his discharge, became a businessman who served as a Republican Congressman.
Grace was musical and literary writing poetry which was published in American magazines. Her mother died in 1891 she often acted as his hostess. By 1900 her father was suffering from dementia, unusually although he was confined to a Lunatic Asylum he was re-elected to the House of Representatives although he was too ill to ever return. Grace moved with her father from Washington to Waverley, Massachusetts. The Newcastle Courant dated December 8th 1900 includes an article from The York World about her plight drawing a parallel with Lear and Cordelia. Daily she visited her father spending all his waking hours with him, taking him for carriage drives, making small talk. This she did until he died May 21st 1901.
Following her father’s death Grace spread her wings. She travelled to England where she became a suffragette writing articles for both the British and American press. Alongside her suffragette activities she studied English Folk Music.
For her actions on October 14th 1908 she was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment. She returned to America permanently in 1910 where she gave lectures on her experiences as a suffragette in England and on her time in prison often in her prison uniform. In later life she taught piano, singing and instructed people in the genre of English Folk music.
She died on August 25th 1957 in Maine.
For a picture and more information: http://bangordailynews.com/2010/08/23/living/bangor-suffragette-jailed-in-london
Eugenia Bouvier who was arrested twice on February 8th 1908 and July 12th 1909. She was born Eugenia Anna Weber in Russia in 1865. She married Paul Emile who was born in Italy. The couple settled in Lewisham where Paul taught French. The couple had one daughter Irene Eugenie born in 1893. In 1904 Paul died. Eugenia was often known as Jeannie. In the Suffrage Movement by Sylvia Pankhurst she referred to her as the “brave, persistent Russian.”
The first record of Eugenia being involved in the suffragette movement is a report in the Berkshire Chronicle dated January 25th 1908. A meeting in Reading being addressed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Augustine Birrell, was interrupted by women demanding the vote. Entry to the meeting was by ticket only to prevent any protest but somehow the group of women had successfully gained entry. Seven women including Eugenia were in the hall and at regular intervals shouted out Votes for Women. One by one the seven women made themselves known and having spoken either left the hall themselves or were ejected. Outside the women regrouped addressing the gathering crowd. A group of young men heckled the speakers in turn shouting “It’s a different girl again” “Half time”. Later when the women walked to the train station the men followed them, chanting and attempting to gain access to the platform but the women managed to leave safely.
On February 12th Eugenia was part of a group attempting to enter the Houses of Parliament. One newspaper described it the attempt as like “the wooden horse of Troy.” Two vans drove past Parliament with men in the usual green aprons sitting on the tailboards. One carried on but the other stopped, the men jumped down opening the backdoors from which appeared a group of suffragettes who ran quickly towards the nearest door to Parliament. The police although caught unawares managed to stop them. More vans pulled up decanting more women, more scuffles and arrests followed.
In the meantime, in Caxton Hall a conference called the Parliament of Women was taking place. After several speeches, it was resolved that the women would march to Parliament. Scuffles broke out between the women and the police whilst others circled the area in cabs with megaphones shouting Votes of Women. Eugenia was one of those arrested. She was fined £40 or six weeks in prison.
Only a week later Eugenia staged another protest. Along with two others, Mrs Watson and Miss Fraser, they dressed in evening clothes and took a cab from the WSPU headquarters at Clement’s Inn to the Admiralty. As no tickets were asked for they had no difficulty in entering the reception being hosted by Reginald Mackenna, First Lord of the Admiralty, and his wife. Eugenia informed the press afterwards that she shook the hands of Mr and Mrs Mckenna and the Prime Minister, all of whom were unaware that she was a gate crasher. Towards the end of the evening there was a lull in the music so she mounted a chair, close to Mackenna, and asked him, from her lofty position, his views on votes for women. Surprised he walked away but Eugenia continued addressing the throng. A member of staff intervened, helped her off the chair, and escorted her from the building where she was joined by the other two women.
Two days later Eugenia was in action again at the inaugural dinner of the Certified Grocers at which Augustine Birrell amongst others was present. Dressed in a white full length dress adorned with a large spray of poppies Eugenia interrupted Augustine Birrell’s address from the gallery. Several guests ran upstairs to remove her only to discover that she had chained herself to the gallery railings using steel chain and two padlocks, the whole had been disguised by wrapping it in cotton wool. Next to her was another suffragette who it turned out had also chained herself to the railings. The stewards resorted to forcing them into their seats and silencing them by covering their mouths with napkins. Both the women continued to attempt to speak and jump up from their seats. Eventually they were cut free whilst the pianist played a Merry Widow to drown out the noise of sawing. They were both removed from the building.
In July 1909 Eugene was arrested for breaking a window at the Privy Council. She was fined £5 and the cost of replacing the window or a month in prison. At this she announced she trusted she would be treated as a political prisoner, the Magistrate retorted that it was not a political offence. He stated that throwing stones was what small hooligan boys did, Eugenia pointed out that stone throwing was used as a protest to the Reform Act. Eugenia went on hunger strike and along with others was released on July 21st 1909.
Eugenia continued campaigning. She addressed a meeting in Plymouth, a few months after her release. In 1912 present at the opening of new WSPU offices in Lewisham the crowd of around three thousand became hostile throwing eggs. Eugenia and others had to escape assisted by the police. This was repeated on several occasions over the next year when she addressed meetings. Eugena carried on campaigning after the outbreak of war. In 1915 she joined Sylvia Pankhurst on the platform addressing a meeting in East London where it was resolved to campaign on the basis of obtaining the vote for all, women and men. To this end the East End group was renamed the Worker’s Suffrage League, Eugenia being elected to the committee. Alongside this campaign Eugenia was against conscription addressing a No Conscription Conference in December 1915. This led to a demonstration in January the following year which Eugenia addressed.
Nothing has been found for Eugenia after 1916. At some point she travelled to Russia where she died in 1933.
Dorothea Boulter was arrested on December 15th 1913 for smashing six panes of glass at Richmond upon Thames police station. She was born Dorothea Anna Georgina Connell circa 1857 in Ireland marrying Harold Baxter Boulter, a doctor. The 1891 census records the family living in Sandown on the Isle of Wight. By this point they had two children: Dorothy born in 1882 and Christopher born a year later. Eleven years later they had a second daughter, Norah, by which stage they were living in Richmond where Harold was a doctor. Whilst both the daughters are included on the 1911 census return Dorothea is not possibly in a protest as her husband has left the number of years married blank.
According to the evidence Dorothea arrived at the police station equipped with a copy of the Suffragette newspaper and a hammer. The reason for her actions was the failure to gain the vote and the treatment of Mrs Pankhurst who had been rearrested. Dorothea was fined 40 shillings or ten days in prison. Harold offered to pay the fine but Dorothea declined as he did not agree with her views although he was a good man. Despite this refusal Harold paid the fine.
Harold died a few years later in 1915. Dorothea continued to live in Richmond later moving to Eastbourne where she died in 1949.
The next entry is Helen Bourchier, a member of the Women’s Freedom League, who was arrested on January 31st 1908. Helen and eight gathered outside Asquith’s house holding banners proclaiming “Votes for Women.” After a while they started ringing and knocking on the front door, the butler declining them entry. Their next move was to host an impromptu rally on the steps addressing the gathering crowd. At which point four of them, Helen along with Mrs Dempsey, Mrs Duval and Mrs Sanderson were arrested. In court, they were fined 40 shillings or a month imprisonment. They all elected for prison.
The event is recalled in Sylvia Pankhurst’s book The Suffragette. The women elected to defend themselves. Helen was the first to speak but was cut off by the magistrate “Behave yourself! You are the bell-weather of the flock.” On sentencing the magistrate stated his regret that he could not give them a stiffer sentence but this was all the law allowed him. “I do not consider it by any means a fair measure of your deserts.”
Helen Johnston Bourchier was born on October 24th 1852 in Somerset, the daughter of Charles and Margaret. Her father was a soldier holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel when he died in 1866. A dependent’s allowance was from there on until they reached majority paid to Helen, her brother Charles and sister Margaret. Following their father’s death the family initially settled in Clutton, Somerset where their grandfather had been Rector. By the 1881 census return Helen’s mother and sister had moved to Finsbury Park in North London although Helen’s whereabouts are unknown. A year later her sister married Peter Purves, a land agent, to which Helen was a witness. Their brother has also married and was serving in the army.
In 1890 their mother died. Helen was a doctor who qualified in Paris. The Dundee Courier, January 26th 1886, records that six women are more or less practising medicine successfully in Paris, one of whom was Helen. According to her obituary she practised medicine for some years in India, an experience which influenced her novels. In the early 1900s she was appointed to the Honorary Medical Staff when the Battersea Hospital was established. In those records Helen is stated to be still residing in Paris which would explain why she appears on few United Kingdom records. Although Helen does appear to have around this time maintained an address in Notting Hill advertising for a lodger or patient to live with her. She wrote novels such as Darry’s Awakening and The Ranee’s Rupees, attended séances contributing to the The Occult Review, believed in theosophy and was a vegetarian, her interests running in parallel with other fighters for votes for women such as Charlotte Despard. An anti-vivisectionist Helen was a founding member of the Pioneer Anti-Vivisection Society becoming its President. Vivisection, she believed, led to a passion for experimentation which was not always halted when experimentation involved the human being if it was a woman.
On her release from prison she wrote an article for Women’s Realm on her experiences “I am not a young woman, and a good deal of my life has been spent alone .... Yet I found even that short term of imprisonment, in some subtle way affecting my mind …. But the fact which showed me most startlingly the effect produced on my mind by the unnatural conditions of seclusion, silence and monotony, which prevail in Holloway, was the growth of a strange feeling of apprehension, of shrinking from the outside world.”[i] In another interview to the press she commented that being a vegetarian her diet consisted of one egg, potato, carrot or onion in place of meat. Her article led to an inspector being appointed by the government to report on conditions in Holloway Prison.
In October 1908 Helen was involved in another protest, this time at the House of Commons, organised by members of the Women’s Freedom League. It was organised to start at exactly 8.30pm. A group of women including Helen entered the Ladies Gallery from which ladies were permitted to view the proceedings in the House of Commons from behind a metal grille. At the appointed hour two of the women chained themselves to the grille, rose to their feet and commenced to address the few MPs in the House. One attendant attempted to silence them by placing his hand over their mouths but Helen stepped in and prevented him. Two other protests in the precincts of the Houses of Parliament took place simultaneously. A male supported seated in the Stranger’s Gallery threw down into the chamber votes for women literature. After some wrestling the attendants managed to snap part of the grille off and dragged the women from the gallery still attached by chains to the grille. Although several women were arrested Helen was not.
When the 1911 census was taken Helen refused to participate, her entry being completed by the collector. Across it is written “No votes for women. No census”. Her occupation is given as doctor (believed to be of medicine), her age is estimated at around fifty and her place of birth is blank. At the time Helen was living in Fulham.
Helen died in 1918 in Kensington, London. Just before she died she wrote to a friend “I expect to be soon on the ethereal plane.”
[i] Marxists Internet Archive