Ipswich and the campaign for votes
This is the next tranche of suffragettes. The first name below completes the first page of the arrest record. Even this small sample demonstrates the breadth of the geographical location and backgrounds of the women who stepped forward to fight for women’s right to vote.
The next two names on the list are both well known and researched:
Mary S Allen was arrested on February 25th 1909, July 12th 1909 both in London and November 13th 1909 in Bristol and Louisa Garrett Anderson arrested on March 5th 1912. Nina Boyd has written a biography The Many Lives of Mary Sophia Allen published in 2013. Both have detailed and fascinating entries on Wikipedia.
The next name on the list sheds light on the relationships between the campaigners and the threads that continued to entwine them for the rest of their lives.
Constance Andrews was arrested on June 7th 1913 and March 31st 1914. The daughter of Oliver, an architect and surveyor and Mary Andrews Constance was born in 1864 in Stowmarket, Suffolk; her full name being Emily Constance. The local papers record her musical prowess as a teenager often giving recitals either on her own or with one of her sisters. Her father died in 1885 and a few years later in 1891 Constance is recorded on the census return living in Gloucester working as a school teacher probably of music. By 1894 Constance had moved back to Stowmarket and was taking in her own music pupils as well as giving piano recitals. She was by this point an Associate of the London College of Music. Two years later she was instrumental in the setting up of the Ladies Section of the Stowmarket Cycling Club being appointed its first captain. Unusually for the time Constance and two other female members along with a William Bury were in partnership in a building firm based in Stowmarket. By 1901 the partnership had been dissolved and Constance had moved to Ipswich continuing to teach music.
In 1907 Constance was involved in the campaign for women’s suffrage founding the Ipswich branch of the Women’s Freedom League in 1909. An endeavour in which she was joined by her sister, Lilla. In 1911 Constance like many women organised an event in Ipswich to ensure they were not at home for the taking of the census. Among those present was her sister and Isobel Tippett, the mother of Michael Tippett the composer. A few weeks later she appeared before the Magistrates Court in Woodbridge for her failure to have a dog licence. Refusing to pay the fine she was imprisoned in Ipswich Gaol for a week. On her release she was collected from the prison gates by several suffragists including Charlotte Despard.
Isobel Tippett was a cousin of Charlotte Despard. This possibly explains Charlotte’s presence in Ipswich on Constance’s release and her accompanying Constance and others touring Suffolk during the summer of 1912 in a caravan with the aim of spreading their message across the rural and coastal villages. As was the case in other parts of the country they were frequently heckled but continued despite such lukewarm receptions.
During the early months of 1913 she addressed various meetings of the Women’s Freedom League in the North East, the Sunderland Daily Echo reporting that perhaps unusually she had no difficulty in getting her message across and was warmly treated by all. Although in May she successfully defied the ban of public speaking in Hyde Park on the subject of votes for women she was not so lucky a month later when she was charged with obstructing the police when trying to speak outside St James’s Palace. When the matter came to court all three of the women charged requested time to call witnesses which was denied. They were ordered to pay 20 shillings or go to prison for fourteen days. Charlotte Despard who attended the hearing shouted “There is no justice for women in England.” Refusing to pay the fine Constance was imprisoned. According to the arrest record Constance was arrested again on March 31st 1914 but the reason has not been found.
Constance was a member of the Church of the New Age in Manchester. Similar in its views to Theosophy believing in tolerance and service to humanity members were often vegetarians as were the followers of Theosophy. Members of the Church were Countess Markievicz and Esther Roper. Constance held a licence to perform marriages and supported clergyman in services for women of the church. She believed in equality of men and women regardless of religion or sex and their equal right to be ministers.
Constance died in 1947, Sale, Cheshire. The executor of her will was Ada Hines who founded the Manchester branch of the Women’s Freedom League.
For anybody interested in the suffrage movement in Suffolk, Ipswich in particular Joy Bounds has written a book called a Song of Their Own.
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