These five suffragettes are interesting for their diverse backgrounds from dressmaker to Lady, united in their cause, one working one funding the campaign.
Lilian Ball was arrested on March 5th 1912 and charged with breaking a window, with a hammer, worth three shillings at the Royal United Services Institution, Whitehall. It was remarked upon in court that the amount of damage was immaterial it was the fact that she had maliciously intended to do damage that mattered and she was therefore sentenced to two months imprisonment. Lilian was not arrested again until February 11th 1913 when she was charged with obstruction in Whitehall. Seven suffragettes were organised into three separate groups each addressing the crowd whilst one member of each group rang a bell to attract attention. The police ordered them to move on, their refusal resulting in their arrest. In court they stated that they were protesting at the absence from the King’s Speech of franchise for women. Lilian was jailed for four days.
She was arrested again on March 26th 1914 but no report relating to this has been found. Her final arrest was on July 16th 1914 where all the defendants gave their surnames as Smith or Smyth. Their offence was chaining themselves to the door of a police court in Francis Street in the West End of London. During the lunch interval the women had left the court and chained themselves to the court doors by first chaining all five of them together and then to the doors. The only way the police could secure their release was to wrench off the door handle. They were then conveyed to a police station still chained together, only on arrival was it possible to disconnect the five women.
They were all charged with obstruction arriving in court for their hearing dressed in white bearing the colours of the Women’s Freedom League. Lilian was sentenced to five days imprisonment. Sadly no information is included in any reports that assists in determining any personal information about Lilian.
Gertrude Ballam was arrested on March 27th 1914. She was charged with obstruction alongside Elsie Cummin for protesting outside the Director of Public Prosecution’s offices wearing sandwich boards and handing out hand bills. The reason for their protest was that although two police officers had stated they were aware of “activity” between another officer and a fourteen year old girl no action had been taken. They were sentenced to fourteen days in the absence of payment of an alternative fine.
Gertrude was born Louisa Gertrude in 1871 to Ambrose, a bootmaker and Emma. She had two younger brothers: Arthur and Alfred. Ambrose died in 1883. Struggling Gertrude and Arthur were admitted to the Harrow Road Workhouse the following year and from there were sent to Ashford Residential School. By the 1891 census the family were reunited, whilst Alfred was still at school Emma was employed as a cook, Gertrude as a dressmaker and Arthur in an ironmongers. In time Gertrude started to employ people in her business. In 1908 she wrote a letter which was published in the Vote. The government was keen to ascertain how many married women were employed and asked employers to complete a return recording the number of unmarried women, married and widowed they employed. Gertrude set out her intended response which example she hoped others would follow “I shall certainly not volunteer such particulars, but state instead, “When women are directly represented, so that they can give expression to their opinions and wishes regarding curtailment of employment, & etc, I will give voluntary particulars, but consider it beside my duty to do so now.”
Gertrude’s mother died in 1909 and like many Gertrude appears to avoided the 1911 census. She died in 1951.
Nora Balls was arrested on November 19th 1910. Born Norah Elizabeth in 1883 in Tynemouth she was the daughter of William and Elizabeth. Her father was a mariner spending most of his time at sea, he is not recorded at home on any census return from 1891 to 1911. Norah had a younger brother William Daniel, known as Daniel who was six years younger. Norah joined the WSPU and was primarily active in the North East. She was at one time Secretary of the Tynemouth Branch of the Local Government Association. She travelled south to take part in a raid on the House of Commons charged with obstruction the charges against her were dropped when Winston Churchill decided that to continue would make the women martyrs.
Norah continued to campaign until the outbreak of the First World War, like so many she is not recorded on the 1911 census. She ran a canteen for soldiers during the war and afterwards helped to establish the Girl Guides in Northumberland. Her interest in politics did not wane and she served as a Town Councillor standing as an Independent candidate. She was also appointed as a Justice of the Peace. Her desire to help others in any way possible continued up until her death in 1980.
Harry Bark was arrested on July 29th 1913. He was charged with obstruction along with two other men following the attempts to prevent the police conveying away Annie Kenney at the London Pavilion. This was the same incident for which William Ball, see the previous blog, was arrested. It was made clear in court that Harry was believed to be the instigator who had incited others to act. He was fined twenty shillings or fourteen days imprisonment. His occupation was given as traveller. It is not clear to what extent he was a supporter of the movement or was caught up in the moment. In either event no further trace of him has been found.
Grace Barber was arrested on the same day as Norah, just like Norah she was charged with obstruction but the charges were dropped.
The next entry is for Lady Barclay arrested on July 24th 1914 for causing obstruction when attempting to deliver a letter from Mrs Pankhurst to the King at Buckingham Palace along with Miss Fitzgerald. No evidence was presented and both were acquitted. She joined and was a major funder of the WSPU. She was President of the Anglo French Society intended to unite the women of France and the United Kingdom in their fight for suffrage. Born Marie Therese Teuscher born in Brazil, the 1911 census return states she was of German origin. She married Thomas Barclay, a Scottish barrister and Liberal politician. Knighted in 1904 he was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize on several occasions for his work on the Entente Cordiale between France and England before the First World War. The press hailed her arrest as one of a noblewomen and member of the aristocracy but this was clearly not the case. Clearly well connected and circumstanced the family were, however, not aristocratic. Whatever her husband’s view he did not support any attempt she may have made to exclude herself from the 1911 census. The advent of the war halted her campaigning.
With thanks to the Museum of London: http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/