Florence Chapman and Starch
Florence Chapman or Charman is the next entry in the amnesty record. She was arrested during May 1914. As the dawn of the First World War drew nearer detailed reports of the suffragette trials became less of a regular feature in the press; Florence’s trial is an example. Nor do the official records provide sufficient detail to trace her any further.
Whether or not this is the correct Florence the following tale of family angst arising from suffrage activities deserves inclusion. Alfred Nicholls of Harborne in Birmingham appeared before the magistrates in connection with a request for the issue of a summons for the arrest of Florence, his sister-in-law, on assault charges. Alfred testified that his wife, Melinda, had been unwell and in a weak moment he had invited Florence to their home to care for her sister while she was indisposed. Florence was a militant suffragette and her influence on his wife and daughter was so strong they had become estranged from him, refusing to cook his meals. Alfred repeatedly asked Florence to leave to no avail.
Alfred was not having his laundry done for him either. Deciding that a clean shirt and collar were a necessity he took matters into his own hands setting to mix the starch he needed. Florence burst into the kitchen, finding Alfred busy at his laundry, she launched into a tirade and hit him with a walking stick leaving him with three or four cuts on his head and face. Terrified Alfred locked himself in his bedroom. Florence said that she could not leave Melinda as she was consumptive. The magistrates adjourned the hearing for a week. It would be resumed if Florence did not leave.
What happened next is unclear. However, the sisters remained close. In 1939 they are recorded living together in Coventry. There is no sign of Alfred.
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