The women and man written about below demonstrate the personal hardship that often led women to protest and endure imprisonment and also the lengths that they were prepared to go to. The taking of a drug which would mean that force feeding would not have any impact is quite literally a decision to put your life on the line. The flip side to this is that they potentially put an innocent man in a situation where he could have lost his livelihood.
Kate Bard was arrested three times: November 27th 1911, March 12th 1912 and March 19th 1912. The first offence was breaking a window in the Local Government Board offices refusing the pay the fine she was imprisoned for five days. The only information she gave to the court was her address at the WSPU headquarters, Clement’s Inn. The March 1912 offences probably form part of the window breaking protests but due to the sheer number of prisoners some are not included in the press reports.
Kate Bard and K Bardsley appear on the Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners. However only Kate Bard is included in the arrest records. The Suffragette Handkerchief at the Priest House, West Hoathly, signed by imprisoned suffragettes following the window breaking of March 1912, is autographed by Kathleen Bardsley. My hunch was that the two names were actually one and the same person. A search through the online collection at the Museum of London confirms that this hunch is correct. They hold a card with a photograph of a woman with the signature Kathleen Bardsley underneath in brackets “Kate Bard”.
On the basis that the photograph on the postcard is Kathleen it shows, as can be seen, a woman in her forties giving a possible birth date in the 1870s. The 1911 census return gave a hit but it seemed very unlikely that this would be the right person as many suffragettes did not complete the form. When the image opened it became clear instantly that this was Kathleen as written across it were the words “No Vote No Census.” The form was signed by the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths not a member of the Bardsley family as would normally be the case. The only information is the family’s names: Kathleen and her two children: Madge and Geoffrey. Kathleen is also said to be married although her husband is not on the return. They are stated to have been born in Oxford.
Always up for a challenge I set about trying to find the family on earlier returns or a marriage between Kathleen and an otherwise anonymous man called Bardsley. I drew a complete blank. When you click on census returns ancestry will put up other possible hits, tellingly there were none. No searches produced any hits for the births of the children or definite marriages. I started to systematically reduce the amount of information proceeding on the assumption that most not all of the information on the 1911 census return was wrong. At last this produced a result Kathleen on the census ten years previously. Given this was the very early days of the suffrage campaign when the returns were not used as a form of protest it seemed likely more of the information was correct. Kathleen was born in Ireland, according to the return, not Oxfordshire being baptised Kathleen Blanche.
She married Robert Jeffrey Bardsley in Calcutta which is where their first child, a son, was born in April 1897, followed by a daughter in October 1898 in Darjeeling. Their son was baptised Robert Crawford and their daughter Margaret Mary, hence Madge a common shortening of Margaret. Geoffrey followed and it seems likely although not certain that he was born in England. Robert, the son, is not on the 1911 census return as he was visiting friends and appears separately. Robert, the husband, is not recorded in 1901 but in 1911 he is lodging in a house in Southport. The mystery still left is why Kathleen was so keen to hide? Was she separated from her husband and therefore wanted to be in the press under a pseudonym or was he merely up north on business?
Robert died in 1914 in the north of England whilst Kathleen died in 1956 in Watford.
A Barker was arrested on July 9th 1909, in all likelihood having taken part in an attempt to deliver a petition to Parliament. The information is so limited no further research is possible.
Lizzie Barkley, Elizabeth Berkley, was arrested March 21st 1907, one of the women who attempted to enter the House of Commons. Marching from Caxton Hall they were met by over five hundred policemen who formed an impenetrable wall. As women were arrested more pushed forward to replace them. The demonstration included many women from the North including Lizzie who came from Hebden Bridge. Refusing to pay the fine Lizzie was sentenced to fourteen days imprisonment.
Lizzie, a button machinist, was born in Wadsworth, Yorkshire in 1883. One of seven children of whom five survived to adulthood of George and Ann. George born in Durham trained as a teacher at the Durham Training College probably with the help of a scholarship as his father was unemployed. By 1891 the family situation has changed radically. George is recorded as unemployed, his wife Ann has gone out to work and times are clearly very hard as even their eleven year old son, Robert, is employed in an iron foundry in Halifax. In 1895 George died aged forty three. Lizzie is recorded on the 1911 census return probably because it was her mother’s legal responsibility to complete. Both Lizzie’s sisters are also employed in the textile industry.
Lizzie died unmarried in 1969 in Halifax, Yorkshire.
Dorothy Barnes was arrested on March 11th 1913. Dorothy along with four other women attempting to deliver a petition to the King during his procession from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for the State Opening. Charged with obstruction the women pleaded the Bill of Rights as their defence stating that no one could be arrested for petitioning the King. This defence was dismissed and she was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment. In protest at Mrs Pankhurst’s imprisonment at the same time she refused food for six days but was not force fed. Sadly I have been unable to find out any more about Dorothy.
Arthur James Barnett was arrested on June 13th 1914. Arthur worked as a solicitor’s clerk for Messrs Hatchett, Jones, Bisgood and Marshall solicitors of the City of London, the firm had on occasion acted for suffragettes when they appeared in court. Arthur had taken into Holloway Prison a package for Grace Roe, the general secretary of the WSPU. The package contained apomorphine hydrochloride which would induced vomiting. Thus rendering force feeding useless. Arthur pleaded guilty but in his defence stated he had been tricked into delivering the parcel. He was fine £10 and five guineas costs. The firm immediately issued a notice stating they would no longer act for the suffragettes.
Arthur was born in London in 1879. When he was charged he was a married man with two children. He served in the First World War and his attestation papers show he was employed as a solicitor’s clerk indicating that his employers believed that he had been duped.
With thanks to the Museum of London