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 was elected as a Republican Congressman.
Grace was musical and literary; writing poetry which was published in American magazines. Her mother died in 1891 leaving Grace to often act as her father’s 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 8 December 1900 includes an article from The York World about her plight, drawing a poignant parallel with King 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 on 21 May 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 14 October 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 donning her prison uniform. In later life she taught piano, singing and instructed people in the genre of English Folk music.
She died on 25 August 1957 in Maine.
Eugenia Bouvier who was arrested twice on 8 February 1908 and 12 July 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; one her daughter's application to enter the London University as an undergraduate she signed herself as Mrs J A Bouvier, mother. 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 25 January 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 12 February 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 21 July 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, a branch Eugenie was Honorary Secretary of, 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.
When I originally concluded this blog I wrote 'Nothing has been found for Eugenia after 1916. At some point she travelled to Russia where she died in 1933.' Since then the Dreadnought newspaper has been put online by the British Newspaper archive which sheds light on Eugene's activities post 1916. the historian Maurice Casey has followed Eugene's fascinating journey which saw her leaving the United Kingdom and become a Russian citizen. His blog can found here https://mauricejcasey.com/2018/03/24/from-russia-to-east-london-and-back-again-eugenie-bouvier-1865-1933-suffragette-and-socialist/