Marie Brown was charged with maliciously damaging five plate glass windows the property of the Postmaster General in the Edgeware Road, to the value of £25 during March 1912. She was found not guilty. Marie stated she was forty-two years old, married, from Brighton, Sussex. The following entry is Mary Brown arrested in May 1913. The amnesty record is annotated to reflect that this is an alias used by Edith Hudson, a nurse from Scotland.
At the suggestion of a follower of this blog I have decided to post each person listed as a separate blog. This should hopefully make it easier to locate an individual. If you have any thoughts or opinions do let me know. Any feedback good or bad is valued.
Mrs M Brown was arrested in November 1910 for her part in Black Friday when the charges were dropped. The following entry is Margaret Jane Brown, who is also known as Mary Jane Brown, Mary Jane Tagg, again there is no further identifying information save a file note: ‘Mrs Margaret Brown breaking window Daily Mail. Prosecution refused. Released. It is unclear if these are one and same person, but I have not been able to find out any more.
Ada Broughton is first recorded as involved in the suffrage movement in the Votes for Women newspaper, July 1908. She was arrested in April 1909 for her part in an attempt to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister at the House of Commons; the charge was obstruction. At the trial, it was reported that Ada had rushed at a policeman knocking off his helmet. Ada commented that the Women's Parliament had commissioned her to present a petition, and she intended to do it. She was sentenced to a £10 fine plus a £10 surety to keep the peace for three months or one month in prison. Ada and the other eight defendants avowed to go to prison, but it is not clear whether Ada ultimately did.
Ada was born in Liverpool in 1879, the fourth child of William and Alice. William was, at the time of her birth, a draper. Two more children followed Ada. Ten years later, her father is recorded working as a watch engraver. When she finished school, Ada worked as a municipal cashier.
By 1913 Ada had switched from the WSPU to the Women's Freedom League. She travelled to Paisley in Scotland and established a branch holding several open-air meetings to garner support. She spoke at Gourock in West Scotland and then became the organiser tasked with resurrecting the Dumfermline branch. Ada continued campaigning across Scotland until 1915, when she appears to have moved back to Liverpool, forming the Central Branch of the WFL there. Ada's particular area of expertise was outlining to women their legal and economic position. She was also a campaigner for the Temperance movement, claiming during one speech that where women had the vote, temperance was frequently supported.
By 1917 Ada had moved to Newcastle to support the Cadets of Temperance branch while still being active in the suffrage movement. The following year she moved to Bermondsey, London and became an active member of the local Independent Labour party. In November 1919, she was elected as a Labour member of the Borough Council in Bermondsey; alongside this role, she was also an organiser for the National Federation of Women Workers, a trade union founded in 1906 for women who could not join their own union or were employed in trades not supported by a union. In 1921 it merged with the GMB.
Ada kept her council seat until her death in 1934, when during a visit to Liverpool, she succumbed to scarlet fever. The member of Parliament for Bermondsey and the local Labour party leader both travelled to Liverpool for Ada's funeral.
Alice Ward Brown, or Alice Ward, was arrested on 28th July 1913. One of twenty-four men and women arrested, Alice was charged with obstruction. A meeting of the WSPU and the Men's Federation for Women's Suffrage was held in Trafalgar Square. Sylvia Pankhurst, released under the Cat and Mouse Act, attempted to address the meeting but was forced to flee when the police arrived to re-arrest her. The crowd surged after her, and that is when the arrests took place. Testifying, Alice stated she had been going to Downing Street. Although she did not know why she was going there, she had the right to do so. She was bound over to keep the peace for a year and fined £10. The Museum of London website states that Alice went to prison for five days, either on remand or due to her failure to pay the fine. While there, this surveillance photograph was taken of her:
No further information has been found save for a further entry in the arrest record stating Alice was arrested in November 1913 for failure to present a child for a medical examination.
Amelia Brown was arrested at the Guildhall in the city of London along with Alice Paul. The two had managed to evade the extra security in place ahead of a banquet to be attended by leading politicians by disguising themselves as charwomen. They remained hidden for twelve hours despite constant security sweeps of the building and at least one close shave when a policeman tossed his cape on their feet. They intended to smash a pane as the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, rose to speak; the broken pane would allow their shouts of votes for women to be heard in the banqueting hall. However, the Lord Mayor spoke and sat down. Believing Asquith would then follow, Amelia broke a pane with her shoe. However, it was not Asquith who rose to his feet but the Lord Mayor of London to propose a toast to the King. She said to the arresting officer 'a political protest,' their intention to confront the Prime Minister, with a stomach pump. Tales of daring-do were included in the press with guests, fireman, and police reported to scrabble over the Guildhall roof to capture the two women who remained standing by the broken pane shouting votes for women. Below, the orchestra struck up to drown them out. Other guests were reportedly showered in shards of glass.
At trial, the two women who were described as 'looking very cold and miserable', it was stated that when they had both been searched, Amelia was found to be in possession of a bottle of milk and Alice the stomach pump they had planned to show Asquith. When Amelia was asked if she had anything to say, she responded, 'I don't see how you can convict me, as I am not recognised by law as being alive.' The Magistrate described Amelia and Alice as 'hysterical creatures' before passing a sentence of a fine of £5 or one month in prison with hard labour.
Amelia was described on arrival at Holloway Prison as 'in good mental and physical health.' She changed into prison clothes without protest and submitted to a medical examination. However, Amelia refused any food. Four days after her admission, she was being subjected to force-feeding twice a day. According to the reports, Amelia participated in exercise and religious worship but refused either to eat or undertake any prison work. Given a spoon, she sharpened the end sufficiently to enable her to write on her cell walls and smashed the inspection glass in her door to allow her to communicate with Alice. On this particular day, she was force-fed twice using the stomach tube. The authorities noted, 'Her resistance was easily overcome. No vomiting after feeding.' Amelia persistently demanded to meet with Gladstone, the Home Secretary, and when the chaplain visited her, she insulted him, making 'irreverent jokes about sacred matters.' The chaplain was advised to curtail his visits.
One report observed that they were 'nice' ladies seeming 'to find methods of enlivening the dullness of prison life.' The authorities responded by withdrawing access to their letters. Amelia was examined by J Hopper Baker, a doctor, before her admission to Holloway Prison, who noted that in his opinion, Amelia's health was not sufficiently robust to survive ordinary prison life, let alone force-feeding. This opinion was damned in an internal memo; 'I cannot think that anyone but a venal and unscrupulous person could have written them.' The doctor's credentials who signed the statements were disputed, stating he had attended three medical schools and his entry in The Medical Directory was cursory. Despite the doctor's opinion, the force-feeding continued.
By 16th November, Amelia had lost two and a half pounds in weight, but 'as she is a stout woman, this is not of any material consequence.' Every day she attended chapel and exercised in the yard. Amelia continued to be disruptive: singing and shouting but conceded to eat normally on Sunday 21st November 'so as to give less trouble' presumably because it was a holy day. The following day Amelia again refused food, complained of a cold and spent part of the day in bed. The Prison Governor considered that there were 'no signs of any serious malady.' The following day, Amelia was again force-fed and when weighed, appeared to have gained weight, meaning that she had only lost one pound thus far. This routine continued without change until 26th November, when it was noted that Amelia drank some milk during the evening, so she was force-fed only in the morning. On and off over the next few days, Amelia took milk, and then a session of force-feeding was omitted. By the end of November, she was reported to have lost two and a half pounds.
A week later, the regime was taking its toll. Amelia was reported to be suffering from indigestion and 'slight sickness,' spending most of her day in bed. Amelia was due for release on 9th December. The day before, she was weighed and was found to have lost four pounds; the report concludes, 'I consider this satisfactory.' The following day Amelia and Alice were released.
Sadly, none of the press coverage gives any more clues to allow Amelia to be traced any further, but her legacy is the enormous amount of press coverage her actions garnered.
23rd November 1911 was the date of the arrest of Catherine Brown for window smashing, for which she was fined forty-five shillings or ten days in prison. The records note that Catherine was born in 1869. Nothing further has been located.
The next entry is Jeanie Brown, born in 1877, arrested on 9th March 1912 and charged with wilful damage, for which she was sentenced to one month with hard labour. The Times, 15th March 1912, explained the difference between hard labour for men and women prisoners. For the latter, it was not 'rigorous hard labour' but worked for between ten and six hours a day. The Times reports the trial for breaking a window at the Home Office of 'a young girl' called Jeanne Brown. At her trial, she said, 'if he [the magistrate] sentenced their leaders, the women would do worse and worse.' These words are credited in the Advertiser to Jennie Brown. The following entry is J C Brown arrested on 9th July 1909, and there the trail runs cold.
Kathleen Brown was arrested for the first time in October 1908. The suffragettes had gathered at Caxton Hall ahead of marching to the Houses of Parliament to deliver a resolution. The police were present in large numbers and managed to keep the women at bay. One, however, presented her card requesting an audience with an MP. When he appeared, she pushed past and entered the Houses of Parliament. Gaining access, she charged into the House of Commons chamber demanding votes for women. Only a few members were participating in the debate, which came to an abrupt halt. Escorted from the premises, the woman with enormous sang froid asked a policeman to hail her a cab which she climbed into and disappeared. Meanwhile, the crowds swelled, and the women were pushed back by mounted police, often coming close to being crushed.
About forty men and women were arrested and charged with assaulting or obstructing the police; Kathleen was among them. She was fined £10 and bound over to keep the peace for a year or, in the alternative, sentenced to twenty-one days in prison. A letter on the files notes that Kathleen's sentence was not a month because the Magistrate believed the 'defendant was quite a girl.' She, along with the sixteen others she was tried with, refused to be bound over and were taken to Holloway Prison. Kathleen was released on 11th November 1908 along with two other suffragettes whom Mr and Mrs Pethick Lawrence greeted.
Kathleen returned to Newcastle upon Tyne, her hometown, the following month. The local branch of the WSPU hosted an At Home where Kathleen was the guest of honour. She was presented with £21, which had been raised by donation, each £1 representing a day in prison. Kathleen handed it to the treasurer and commented that she wished she had been in prison for longer as more monies would have been raised.
In February the following year, Winston Churchill visited Newcastle, and in a carefully orchestrated plan, the suffragettes dogged his every move. Kathleen and Miss Davies entered the banqueting hall, where Churchill was dining, with a megaphone demanding the vote. Kathleen pointed out that men and women paid politician's wages even though they could not vote.
Kathleen was back in London in June and was arrested for her part in another attempt to deliver a petition at the House of Commons. When the women arrived for their court hearing, many carried portmanteaux in readiness for prison and baskets of strawberries to enjoy while they waited. Kathleen was charged with breaking a Privy Council window. Found guilty on 12th July, she was fined £5 and £5 damages or six weeks in prison. Again, she elected to go to prison. Kathleen went on hunger strike in protest at not being accorded a political prisoner's status and allocated to the First Division with privileges. A report on the file states that there were few, if any instances, of men being treated as political prisoners and sent to the First Division: 'It does not appear that … similar privilege has even been given to dynamiters … men who break shop windows in order to draw attention to the unemployed question … Even anti-vaccinationists who are put in Div I by statute … are treated exactly like other prisoners if in the course of their agitation they offend against the ordinary law by assaulting police.'
The Home Secretary, Herbert Gladstone, refused to overturn the Magistrate's decision that the women were not political prisoners. The majority of the women refused to abide by prison regulations. The prison governor described the women as 'mutinous since reception'; they sang, shouted, broke cell windows and waved their sashes through the glassless apertures. Some suffragettes had secured the use of a room in Crayford Road, which abuts the prison from where they addressed the prisoners through a megaphone. Fourteen of the prisoners, including Kathleen, were brought before the prison visiting committee charged with gross misconduct. According to the report, each was examined separately, and each, according to the report, 'admitted the charges and gloried in their offences.' Allegations are made in the report of one wardress being bitten and another being showered in hot cocoa during the proceedings. Throughout the hearing, the women not called loudly sang, banged on walls and rang bells. The report concludes that the committee 'had no difficulty deciding that the prisoners must all be punished and agreed easily as to the amount of punishment', which ranged from ten days to seven days in solitary confinement.
Eight of the women were placed in 'special' cells, one in a 'silent' cell and the rest in cells housed in a wing away from Crayford Road. While their possessions were removed from them, none of the women were searched or forced to wear prison clothing because it was felt it would lead to more confrontation and potential violence. One woman, on release, explained that the 'special cells' were a dank, damp, dungeon of a room with little ventilation with only a slither of light. The bed was a wooden board jutting out from the wall and only at night was a thin mattress provided. The Governor reported that a suffragette band played outside the prison despite the presence of several police officers.
Kathleen was released on 21st July and was reported to have spoken of her hunger strike as 'merely an episode-ended and forgotten.' Dr Ethel Bentham examined Kathleen. Ethel, a suffragist, had been a general practitioner in Newcastle and in 1909 moved to Holland Park, London. She wrote to the Home Secretary that for several days she had been very concerned for Kathleen's health, who was suffering from muscular rheumatism. In such a young person, this was surprising. Kathleen had explained that when she had been confined to a punishment cell, the water vessels had leaked. While the vessels were replaced and Kathleen cleared up the water with what materials came to hand, the area remained damp. Ethel also observed that Kathleen's hair was 'in a terrible state when she was released.' The supplied brush and comb had been totally inadequate, and either they or the bedding 'must have been very unclean, for the hair was in a verminous condition.' The prison staff pointed out that as Kathleen refused to be medically examined, declined medicine or food, 'it is scarcely possible for us to take responsibility regarding [her] health.' The brush, comb and mattress were new, and all other bedding had been freshly laundered. Examination of the cells did not reveal any vermin, which it was suggested may have been picked up at the police cells or court. Equally, no evidence was found of damp or any complaints as to the conditions of the cell. The findings were relayed to Edith, who responded: 'May I say that it is hardly a complete answer to mine.' The Home Office decided not to reply, but the file reveals were sufficiently concerned to commission a report from Arthur Newsholme, a prominent public health expert. Hampered by the lack of specificity as to the nature of the vermin, Arthur provided a detailed analysis of the life cycle of fleas, bugs and lice, commenting that so long as clean clothes and a bath were provided on admission and the cells thoroughly cleaned, it was 'highly improbable that … fleas or bugs' could be acquired. Head lice or body louse broadly followed the same pattern requiring either bodily contact or contaminated clothing.
When Kathleen returned to Newcastle, she was met at Central station by a large crowd of supporters and the Warner Colliery Band. After tea at the Turks Head Hotel, she addressed a crowd at the Haymarket. In March 2017, a plaque was erected on the building, formerly the Turks Head Hotel, in recognition of the suffrage campaign. In October 1909, Lloyd George travelled to Newcastle to speak at the Palace Theatre in the Haymarket; tickets to the event were printed with 'Not to be sold to a woman.' There was a massive police presence to prevent any suffragette demonstration. The Governor at Newcastle Prison subsequently reported that he believed the women had arrived in the town in force to get arrested and swamp the prison staff deliberately, the suffragettes appearing to be aware of the staffing levels. In his opinion, they failed in their objective, beyond getting arrested, but felt that it was a tactic likely to be repeated.
Among the eleven arrested were: Constance Lytton, Emily Davison, Winifred Jones, Jane Brailsford (see earlier blog), Dorothy Pethick, Miss Pitman, Kitty Marion and Kathleen, who was charged with wilful damage by breaking a window of the Post Office in Pink Lane. Bail was refused. While the women were awaiting jail, the Prison Governor assured the Home Office that they were 'allowed reasonable facilities for communicating with and interviewing their friends, and obtaining meals and bedding outside.' In court, Kathleen said: 'We demand the franchise.' Found guilty, Kathleen was sentenced to one month with hard labour.
On admission to prison, the women refused to eat. On 14th October, a visit was paid to ascertain whether or not forcible feeding was 'immediately necessary.' Kathleen's condition was described as 'fair, but she has a slight but marked murmur over the cardiac region', which was believed 'not to be indicative of organic disease' although this could not be said with certainty. In addition, both Kathleen, her friends and her medical adviser asserted she had a history of heart problems which led the report to recommend that force-feeding was not undertaken as any resistant to the process could risk her health. In consequence, release the following day was recommended. A telegram sent the same day as the report agreed to Kathleen's immediate release.
Kathleen was born in 1886 to Joseph, a clerk in the railway accounts department, and Margaret. At the time of her birth, the family lived in the village of Greenside to the west of Gateshead. Kathleen had two younger sisters, Nora, born in 1890 and Sydney, born in 1893. By the time of Sydney's birth, the family had moved to the village of Ovingham, to the east of Hexham. When the 1911 census was taken, the family lived at 88 Elswick Avenue, Newcastle upon Tyne. Kathleen, however, was staying in Dewsbury and is recorded as working as a registration officer at the local Labour Exchange.
In 1919 Kathleen married Donald Fraser. The couple lived abroad following their marriage, ultimately settling in Devon. They had four children. Kathleen died in 1973.
The next entry states Helen Briddle arrested on 14 February 1907, charged with obstruction and fined 10 shillings or one week in prison. It is noted that Helen came from Liscard, part of Wallasey town. There the trail goes cold. Other newspapers report a Mrs Ella Briddle rather than a 'Helen', but again no trace has been found.
The next entry is Annie Briggs, who, when arrested, stated she was born in 1864 in Rochdale and gave her occupation as a housekeeper. The arrest record states that Annie was arrested twice in 1911 and 1913. The official records also state that a Annie Briggs was arrested in 1907. However, it is possible that these are not the same people. Whatever the case, while the charge in 1907 remains unknown, the fine was 20 shillings or fourteen days in prison.
Four years later, Annie was charged with throwing a stone at Parliament Chambers in Great Smith Street. She was sentenced to twenty-one days in prison. The next arrest was during April 1913, when she was remanded for a week for malicious damage to thirteen paintings in the Manchester Art gallery. An account of the events and Annie's acquittal can be found at https://radicalmanchester.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/the-suffragette-attack-on-manchester-art-gallery-april-1913/. A picture of Annie can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterarchiveplus/6891425369. Nothing further about her life has been found.
One of the tactics of the WSPU from 1907 onwards was to hold a Women's Parliament at the beginning of each Parliamentary session. The King's Speech was on 12 February 1907, and the following day the women held their own session followed by a march to the Houses of Parliament to present a petition to the Prime Minister. After speeches, about four hundred women, led by Charlotte Despard, set off for Westminster, where they were greeted by flanks of police determined to halt their progress. The women were not for turning, and they resolutely attempted repeatedly to progress. About fourteen women made it to the Lobby, but all were immediately arrested. Another fifty women were arrested outside, including Florence Bright. In court, Florence, charged with disorderly conduct, questioned the police constable's evidence, which a second officer substantiated to her shock. Florence observed that such testimony was 'dreadful to the dock'. Bringing out the mounted police had been 'dreadful' but being used to horses, Florence testified that she had grabbed the bridle turning the horse from her, at which point she was arrested. She was sentenced to fourteen days in prison.
Several newspapers reported that Florence was the first authoress to go to prison. By the time of her sentence, she had written The Vision Splendid published in 1899 and co-written with Robert Machray, a fellow author and for a year the editor of the Daily Mail, the Girl Capitalist and One Pretty Pilgrim's Progress. In 1907 Florence followed her earlier success with the publication of An Outsider's View of the Women's Movement.
Ten years later, she gave her name to a promotional advertisement for Sanatogen, writing that a course of the medicine had cured her nervous debility.
Florence Katherine Bright was born in 1862; although her middle name was registered at birth as Catherine, she usually spelt it with a 'K'. Her parents were George and Jennie, and she had an elder sister, Eva, who was born in 1860. Their father had served in the Fifth Royal Irish Lancers, followed by a time as a war correspondent for the Times. Although when Eva was born, her baptism record records George's occupation as a merchant. Nine years later, the 1871 census notes his occupation as a public accountant. Florence was educated, at least in part, at boarding school. Her sister, Eva, was reported to have been one of the first women admitted to Newnham College, Cambridge. Both sisters pursued careers as authors and journalists.
In 1911 Eva emigrated to Perth, Australia. The sisters collaborated on a play, 'That Betty, ' staged in Australia. Their mother lived with Florence in later life; her obituary, February 1924, poignantly records that due to caring obligations, Florence had been able only to write little but intended to resume now. Florence also expressed the hope that 'That Betty' would be staged in London. By the following year, Florence, a vivisectionist, hosted an At Home at the Hall in Temple Fortune, North London, to raise funds for Animal Welfare week when she acted and recited a poem written for her by Eva.
Throughout the years, Florence remained in touch with the suffragette movement attending events of the Suffragette Fellowship alongside Edith How-Martyn, with whom it is believed she formed the Suffrage Club. She was amongst the mourners at the funeral of another suffragette, Dora Montefiore. Eva died in Perth in 1933, survived by four daughters, but her only son had been killed only weeks before the end of the First World War. Florence died in 1943.
John Angell James Brindley, named after a nonconformist clergyman and writer, was born in 1860 to Richard, an independent minister, and Mary. John was born in Bath, Somerset, but by the time James was eleven, the family, including two younger siblings Ruth and Thomas, had moved St Paul's Road, Islington, North London. Their father, Richard, had passed away, probably explaining the move. Ten years later, the family had moved again to Highbury Park, still in Islington. John, aged twenty-one, was employed as a ship owner's clerk, but by 1891 John had set himself up as a painter; the census specifically records an artist in black and white. He still lived with his mother and brother, but again they have moved this time to Baalbec Road in Islington.
John painted landscapes primarily and up until 1909 exhibited at numerous galleries and
exhibitions, including the Royal Academy
and the Goupil Gallery. He also in 1893 in part illustrated The Tragedy of the Norse Gods by Ruth J Pitt.
In 1899 John married Maud Mary Eadon. Maud, like John, campaigned for suffrage; he was arrested once in 1909, whereas she was arrested five times between 1908 and 1913.
Maud was born in 1860, the daughter of Frank and Anna Maria, while the family were living in Carlisle, Cumberland. By the census the following year, her father Frank, a captain in the militia, his wife and baby daughter were lodging with Anna's brother in the Parsonage in Snaith, East Yorkshire. By the 1871 census, the family numbers had swelled with the addition of three sons and a daughter. While Anna and her brood are living in the village of Heslington to the south-east of York, Frank was lodging in Cumbria in connection with his service as a captain of the militia. By 1881 Frank had retired. The family settled in the White House in the village of Fulford on the outskirts of York. After another decade, the family had moved back to Snaith, the village where both Frank and Anna had been born.
Following their marriage, Maud and John settled in Hampstead. On the census return for 1901, both are stated to be artists and painters. Maud's father had always left the occupation blank for his daughters, and, interestingly, marriage legitimised what her father possibly viewed as a genteel hobby, as a profession. Both Maud and John became members of the Hampstead Art Society and entered their pictures for exhibitions. In one, they both exhibited depictions of Corfe Castle. John's was described as painted 'in a fine decorative manner', and Maud's as 'good direct work.'
This blog is a break from the usual alphabetical approach. A recent edition of the Times reported on the fundraising by the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. This research had already been completed but not posted and I thought it would be a good moment to publish to add to the knowledge of her contribution to the suffrage movement.
May or Mary Clarke was arrested three times between 1908 and 1910. Mary Jane Goulden was born in 1862 to Richard and Sophia. One of eleven children: six sons and five daughters, Emmeline, later Pankhurst, was her eldest sister born four years earlier. Rachel Holmes in her far-reaching and excellent, recently published biography, of Sylvia Pankhurst, observes that Mary was Emmeline's favourite sister. Both of their parents were socially and politically active. By the time, Mary was nine; the family had moved to Seedley, part of the Salford where her father ran a printing firm employing over two hundred and fifty people. Although, forward-thinking her parents set little store by girl's education. Mary attended Seedley Castle School, passing the Government Art Examinations in 1877.
Emmeline, by now married with four children, moved to London in 1886 and Mary joined them. The two sisters opened art furnishers and decorators, Emerson & Co, which opened in Regent Street in its final incarnation. Alongside retailing furniture and soft furnishings, they offered art classes. In time for Christmas 1890, they printed and distributed a trade catalogue explaining their reasons for embarking on 'the tempestuous billows of commerce' their primary line being white furniture which the purchaser could decorate themselves. Trade, however, was not brisk and by 1893 the shop closed. Emmeline's husband had already returned to the northwest, and the family and Mary followed. Mary began teaching dressmaking.
Two years later Mary married John Clarke – the 1901 census describes his occupation as a credit draper working for himself. The couple settled in Camberwell in the south of London. It did not turn out to be a happy union. Rachel Holmes writes that John was abusive, and, on at least one occasion, Sylvia rescued her aunt. By 1904 Mary had fled for good returning to the north of England joining Emmeline to fight for women's votes.
On June 21st 1908 the WSPU organised Women's Sunday – a suffragette march followed by a rally in Hyde Park to raise awareness of the cause. It was estimated that half a million people attended. Women wore white dresses embellished with the suffragette colours. Within the environs of the park, the speakers were allocated to platforms. Mary was assigned to platform 1 alongside Georgina Brackenbury, Nancy Lightman and Mrs Morris, a health visitor from Manchester.
Mary was first arrested the following month. Many campaigners gathered at Caxton Hall. After several resounding speeches led by Emmeline, they marched towards the House of Commons headed by a small group led by Emmeline who wished to present a petition to Herbert Asquith. Mary was one of twenty-nine women arrested. Emmeline and Sylvia attended the court at Bow Street when Mary and all but two of her fellow arrestees were brought before the courts. Found guilty Mary was ordered to pay a fine or face one month in prison. All elected to go to prison. There are no reports of Mary's first time in prison in the official files online.
Mary and fourteen fellow prisoners were released from Holloway prison at the end of July. A large crowd greeted the women along with a brass band and a hefty police presence. The women travelled to central London for a welcome breakfast. Several spoke during the meal, including Mary, who observed how much she would miss the women she had left behind in prison.
During February 1909 Mary was arrested for a second time alongside Lucy Norris. The two went to Downing Street to try and have a meeting with Asquith. They repeatedly knocked on the door despite being informed he was away. Eventually, the police intervened arresting the two women. Charged with obstruction, the court found them guilty. As before Mary refused to pay the fine and was sent to prison for one month. Ada, her sister, wrote to the governor of Holloway Prison, requesting a visit to discuss a family matter – permission was granted. From prison Mary wrote a letter which was published in Votes for Women:
'Before we are set free, the Women's Parliament, which meets in Caxton Hall on February 24th will be over. I know our comrades will on that day do their duty as we have tried to do ours. Let our motto be 'Never let I dare not wait upon I would.'
In July 1910 Mary again addressed a suffragette rally in Hyde Park from platform 16 speaking alongside Dr Christine Murrell who in 1924 was the first woman appointed to the British Medical Association Council and the Honourable Mrs Haverfield. While organising the Brighton branch, Mary lived with Minnie Turner at Seaview, 13 Victoria Street. Minnie ran the house as a holiday bed and breakfast, a facility suffragettes availed themselves of to rest and recuperate. During September Mary arrived in St Leonards ahead of a visit by Emmeline Pethick Lawrence. To advertise the event, a parade was organised. Several women gathered in their carriages, one sporting a banner which read 'Women's Suffrage Propaganda League,' others were on foot. Elsie Bowerman headed the procession. She and the other women carried banners with messages such as 'No surrender' and Face to the Dawn.' Mary accompanied Mrs Darent Harrison, a member of the Tax Resistance League, in her carriage. The local newspaper reported that during the town's circuit, which took an hour and a half, there were few outbursts against their cause.
The following week the well-publicised meeting was held at the Royal Concert Hall. Before this, Emmeline and Christabel visited Mary, who was staying in the town. The Hon Mrs Haverfield whom Mary had occupied a platform alongside in Hyde Park chaired the meeting supported by Emmeline Pethick Lawrence and Mary who moved a motion in support of the Woman Suffrage Bill.
Mary was arrested again during November alongside Greta Allen, Laura Armstrong, Gennie Ball and Grace Chappelow (see earlier blogs) and charged causing criminal damage by stone-throwing. Emmeline requested to see Mary at Cannon Row Police Station. When the visit was denied, Mary broke a window. She was sentenced to a month in gaol.
Mary telegrammed the WSPU branch in Brighton 'I am glad to pay the price for freedom.' She was released on December 23rd. A welcome home lunch was held in her honour at the Criterion restaurant.
Mary spent Christmas Day with Herbert and his family at their home in Winchmore Hill. Sadly, Mary passed away during the evening. She was buried at Southgate Cemetery. One observer wrote 'Without approaching her sister's power as an orator, she did an immense amount of splendid service, and she was the leader of the women's franchise movement in Brighton.'
The January 6th 1911 edition of Votes for Women includes a memoir written by Emmeline entitled The Utmost for the Highest. She recollects being in Holloway prison at the same time as Mary was first imprisoned, describing her as a 'Prisoner of Hope' with her' extreme patience' and 'extreme gentleness.' Emmeline writes that Mary had been ill before she travelled to London to stand in solidarity with the women who had been ill-treated on Black Friday by throwing a stone to get herself arrested.
It has been widely written over the years that Mary was force-fed during her final time in prison. In her tribute, Emmeline alludes to the procedure but does not directly assert that Mary was subjected. The official files online are blank which, perhaps, in itself speaks volumes.
the link to the appeal in Brighton to raise funds to erect a statue in her memory. https://maryclarkestatue.com/
Bertha Brewster was born in 1887 to George and Bertha who lived in the village of Henfield, near Horsham in West Sussex. Two years after Bertha was born, the family was completed with the arrival of a brother, Philip. Brother and sister attended the progressive boarding school, Bedales, presumably as day pupils as the 1901 census records the family living in Steep, Hampshire, the village location of the school. Founded in 1898 by John Haden Badley, its foundation was in part at the urging of his wife, Amy a suffragette and cousin of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Fawcett. Bertha was academic and in 1905 was one of the first two girls to leave school to attend London University although no record has been located of her graduating.
The first indication of Bertha’s involvement in the suffrage movement is a donation to the fundraising £20,000 appeal to which her mother also donated. By 1909 the family had moved to Osmonds, a substantial country house located between Droitwich and Ombersley in Worcestershire. In August 1909 Bertha was arrested for the first time. A group of suffragettes had rented a house adjacent but separated from Sun Hall in Liverpool by a narrow passage for when Richard Haldane, a Liberal member of Parliament and the Secretary of State for War came to speak. When the meeting started, one climbed onto the roof while another addressed the gathering crowd. According to the press reports, slates and other missiles were thrown from the roof of the house at the gallery windows of the hall forcing Haldane to interrupt his speech. Bertha was sentenced to one month in prison, not the two months her fellow participants received. Bertha protested at the leniency of her sentence which she served at Walton Gaol. Votes for Women reported that on the way to the gaol the women sang the Marseillaise and managed to push through an opening in the roof of the prison van a flag, which had they had smuggled in, which read Votes for Women.
The lack of recognition as political prisoners led the women to go on a hunger strike before their trials. Sentenced on 24 August, by which stage they had been on hunger strike for three days, the women were released two days later. Their treatment prompted questions in the House of Commons. The Home Office gathered information regarding the force-feeding of other categories of prisoner. A report from Parkhurst Prison reported that in three years sixteen were force-fed; three of whom were classified as insane. The majority were fed for short periods, but several were fed for longer. One was subjected to the procedure over two years, another for over year who became so familiar with the process he inserted the tube himself. The report makes for chilling reading. The process is described in detail: a soft rubber tube passed into the stomach through which a hospital diet of grated or pulped ‘meat or fish, pudding, potatoes, cabbage and bread’ mixed with ‘eggs and milk or beef tea’ was poured via a funnel. The process took if there was no resistance a couple of minutes. The use of a nasal tube, in the alternative, disposed of the need to use a gag but less nutritious food only could be administered.
Following their release, the women were charged with willful damage at the prison where they had allegedly smashed windows. Bertha was charged with damaging fifteen panes in her cell valued at 3 shillings and 9 pence. In response, the women contended that they had been punished for their actions while in prison and all that remained to be settled was a payment for the damage. However, the authorities argued that because Bertha was ill due to refusing food, she had been too weak to be punished. The summonses for arrest were issued in September over a month after the incident took place. While Bertha remained at large, a court hearing took place in October. Bertha’s mother instructed a barrister to defend Bertha and pay any damages. The judge refused to hear the barrister ordering the issuing of a warrant for her arrest.
The Bedales Chronicle, following Bertha’s imprisonment, commented ‘May it go down to posterity side by side with Franklin’s discovery of Sodium, and the imprisonment of Bertha Brewster - our suffragette- for stone throwing.’ The following issue of the Chronicle published a letter from ‘G.J.’, who took issue with the celebration of criminal activity, his missive closed ‘...to get the vote, use one’s influence quietly is my method.’ Bertha had been cast as the leading lady in a performance of Ibsen’s Love’s Comedy to be performed by alumni of Bedales. The Chronicle reported that while Bertha was in the audience, her part was taken by another actor as it was felt if she appeared, she might be arrested as the warrant was still out for her detainment.
In January 1910, Bertha and Emily Hudson gained access to the roof space above Louth Hall, Lincolnshire, where Lloyd George was due to speak. During their sojourn in the roof, they survived on German black bread, hard-boiled eggs and chocolate. When Lloyd George rose to speak, they began to shout. He responded by observing ‘I see some bats have got into the roof - Well let them squeal; it doesn’t matter’, dismissing their actions as ‘silly tactics.’ When the two women appeared in court, they were cautioned. While in the cells Brenda wrote on the walls ‘Most welcome bondage, for thou art a way I think to Liberty.’
A few weeks later, Bertha was arrested and back in Liverpool to answer the charges of wilful damage at Walton Gaol. She was sentenced on 21 January to six weeks with hard labour. Just before she entered prison, she handed over 5 shillings ‘Because I cannot work in the election.’ The WSPU organised a well-attended protest meeting outside the prison, a few days later. In London, the treasurer of the WSPU, Mrs Pethick Lawrence, spoke of the unjustness of the sentence comparing it to the 5 shillings fine metered out to a man who had attacked and knocked down a woman holding a baby.
The decision to prosecute was intended to deter other such prisoners from damaging prison property. A memo, on the files, makes it clear that the sentences were viewed by the Home Office as ‘unnecessarily severe’ and it was feared that as Bertha went on hunger strike, she would have to be released early. A letter was written to the judge who had tried the case requesting his support in showing clemency by agreeing to release Bertha after three weeks.
Bertha went on hunger strike and appealed against her sentence. On 30 January she was released on bail of £40 having refused food for six days. It was noted that Bertha was released into the care of her mother and took a meal before she left the prison. Interviewed by Votes for Women Bertha described the process of force-feeding using a tube and steel gag. On each occasion, she resisted necessitating her to be forcibly restrained by tying her down. Once she barricaded herself in her cell, and it took a considerable time to extract her. For this, she was given three days close confinement in a punishment cell. Part of this sentence was remitted, and Bertha was returned for another attempt at force-feeding; the table on which she had been tied initially was replaced by a chair. In February the Home Secretary, Herbert Gladstone, pardoned and remitted the balance of the sentence and therefore Bertha withdrew her appeal. Bertha received the WSPU medal for valour.
Following her release, Bertha spoke of her experiences at WSPU events. During a carefully orchestrated procession in July 1910, Bertha was the banner captain of the group, which rallied at Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames embankment, leading a group from the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage and four other groups. On 18 November 1910 Bertha was arrested for her part in Black Friday when over three hundred women marched on the Houses of Parliament. Asquith had made an election pledge of a Conciliation Bill which would have granted some women the vote. When the Liberals won the general election, a committee proposed legislation which would have seen around a million women obtaining the vote. Although it received the support of the House of Commons Asquith halted its progress by refusing to allow its passage any more Parliamentary time. A dispute between the House of Commons and the House of Lords saw Asquith call on 18 November a general election which dissolved Parliament from 28 November. The WSPU were outraged and marched to Parliament in protest. Many women were injured. Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary, announced that ‘on this occasion no public advantage would be gained by proceeding with the prosecution.’ Bertha participated in the inquiry conducted by Henry Brailsford and Jessie Murray. She reported ‘both arms were very much bruised for over three weeks … I could hardly walk upstairs…the Black Heath policemen were dreadfully rough and cruel … and lifted me right up and flung me as hard as they could many times..’
Bertha supported the protest that saw women refuse to pay tax, as they did not have the vote, under the auspices of the Women’s Tax Resistance League. Her refusal to pay the Inhabited House Duty saw the authorities seize a carriage clock to be sold at auction to raise the taxes she owed. At each sale, a crowd of women would attend to protest. On this occasion, in an attempt to outwit the women, the only auction lot was Bertha’s carriage clock. A crowd of women gathered both inside and outside the auction room. The auctioneer mounted the podium and opened the bidding and then without a single bid being made turned to a man in the corner of the room handed him the clock and received in return twenty-one shillings. Uproar ensued. The auctioneer found himself surrounded by angry woman. The police had to come to the aid of the auctioneer who then retrieved the clock from the man and started the auction again. As the women had initially intended it was resold to one of their own. The auctioneer departed, and the women used the auction room to make speeches and accepted an apology from the man who had originally bought it.
Documents gathered collected and collated following a raid on the WSPU offices sheds light on Bertha’s mother’s involvement with the union. In 1908 Bertha’s mother joined the union and went on to be the secretary of the Ombersley branch distributing copies of the Vote. After Bertha’s release from Liverpool the WSPU wrote to her mother: ‘You have already given so very much through your dear daughter whose devotion and courage has been proved again and again.’
In November 1911 Bertha was arrested for breaking two windows at the National Liberal Club valued at 20 shillings. She was fined £5 or twenty-one days in prison. It is unclear whether she went to prison or not as there is no record of either her internment or release. In May the following year, Bertha wrote to the press regarding the treatment of women in prison. She argued that by not according them the status of political prisoners, the government were harming their own argument. Few she felt would question the length of sentences metered out if the women’s treatment in prison was the same as criminals.
A few weeks later Bertha was arrested for breaking windows at Rayleigh Post Office. She was fined £5 or one month imprisonment. A lady in court paid the fine. Bertha continued to raise awareness of the cause in a series of letters to the press. Her most widely publicised letter and the one which is most remembered today was published in the Daily Telegraph on 26 February 1913:
Everyone seems to agree upon the necessity of putting a stop to Suffragist outrages; but no one seems certain how to do so. There are two, and only two, ways in which this can be done. Both will be effectual.
On the 6 February 1914, the United Suffragists was formed by former members of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the WSPU. While the latter stopped campaigning during World War I the United Suffragists continued taking over Votes for Women as their newspaper. Bertha became an active member joining the governing committee and playing a pivotal role in founding a branch in Birmingham. The same year her brother, Philip a conscientious objector married a fellow suffragette, Clara Giveen. Throughout the war, Bertha continued to campaign and keep the issue in the spotlight. In one issue of Votes for Women, 3 August 1917, she penned an erudite essay on why Jane Austen should be regarded as a feminist.
When success was achieved, Bertha penned the following poem:
The Passing of the Grille
On Anti’s all, do you recall the days that once you knew,
When you were the majority, and the Suffragists were few?
When women all were womanly, and men were really male,
And bipeds clamouring for votes were promptly put in jail?
When the female of the species was made to know her place,
And hidden in the gallery with bars before her face?
But now all that is at an end, she’ll sit where she’s a will,
For the House has just consented to removal of the grille.
That prehistoric state of things has gone without a doubt;
The Suffragist is everywhere; you cannot keep her out;
The Anti’s ranks are getting thin; their day is nearly done;
Their prominent supporters are converted one by one;
Six million soon will vote and worst - and final blow!
The House will never be again the House they used to know,
For every night in future the gallery will fill
With those who hitherto have scorned to cower behind the grille.
In August 1918, Bertha was campaigning for men like her brother Philip, a conscientious objector. She suggested writing in protest to the Home Secretary at the release of the objectors after the end of their sentence and their prompt re-arrest on the same charge. A step which was contrary to a pledge Lord Derby had made the previous year in the House of Lords. In addition, she was fundraising for the Save the Children Fund, formed to raise monies for the starving children of Germany and Austria whose suffering was caused by the blockade of Germany by the Allies. After the end of the war, Bertha turned her attention to supporting the Labour Party raising funds to fight elections.
Bertha ultimately settled in the village of Weobley in Herefordshire and died in France in 1959.
Edith Annie Bremner was born May 1881 in Weymouth, Dorset. Her father, John, was a paymaster in the Royal Naval, he and his wife, Annie, had seven children; five of whom survived to adulthood. Edith’s father died in 1896 while serving with the Royal Navy in Hong Kong. At the time of the 1901 census was taken, Edith was living with her mother and sister, Hilda, in Alverstoke, Hampshire; the sisters were working as governesses.
By 1908 Edith had joined the Women’s Freedom League spearheaded by Charlotte Despard. The Women’s Franchise newspaper lists Edith has one of the leading participants at various rallies across London during the summer of 1908. In October of the same year, Edith was arrested and charged with obstruction in connection with an attempt to gain access to the House of Commons. Fifteen arrests were made, fourteen women and one man. All were taken to Cannon Row Police station and were released on bail, Charlotte Despard standing as surety. Their actions were part of a larger protest - Muriel Matters and Helen Fox persuaded two Members of Parliament to assist them in gaining admission to the Ladies Gallery. Both women chained themselves to the grille of the gallery and began to address the House of Commons on the subject of women’ suffrage. At the same time, a man had entered the Strangers’ Gallery from where he shouted: ‘I am a man and I protest against the injustice to women.’ Outside members of the Women’s Freedom League had gathered. Two gained entrance to the lobby of the House of Commons, while another climbed the plinth of the statue of Richard I and began to address the gathering crowd. It took some time for the police and Parliamentary attendants to regain order.
At their trial all the women sported the colours of the League and passed their time, before the hearing started, making rosettes. The actions at the House of Commons were described as ‘one of the most disorderly and disgraceful scenes that had occurred in the last few years’ in connection with the suffrage movement. Edith was fined £5 or an alternative of a month in gaol. Refusing to pay the fine Edith was sent to Holloway Prison. She was released on 28 November. The League organised a celebration to mark the ‘red-letter day’ of the women’s release. Greeted at the gates of Holloway Prison, the women processed to breakfast at the Cottage Tea Rooms in the Strand. This was followed by a rally in Trafalgar Square and an evening reception at Morley Hall near Hanover Square.
Following her release, Edith joined in supporting the League at a variety of gatherings during December, often talking of her prison experience. The League mounted a silent siege at the gates to the House of Commons. The vigil lasted for over forty-four hours; one participant was Edith. She also continued throughout the year to address meetings and rallies. By the beginning of 1910, Edith was in Wales organising the North Monmouthshire branch of the League. The country was in the grip of a General Election campaign, and North Monmouthshire was significant as it was the seat of the future Home Secretary, Reginald Mckenna. In a report to the Women’s Franchise newspaper Edith recounts the difficulties of gaining a short-term tenancy of a vacant shop in Pontypool and how ‘slowly but surely we have won our way’ gaining permission from the council to hold meetings at the Cattle Market. She describes walking through the streets to the market in ‘drizzling rain’ to find the platform and that light had not been delivered. Undaunted Edith mounted a wall, only for a ‘sudden terrific squall’ to hit through which she addressed the small crowd for twenty minutes observing the polite tolerance with which she was received ‘even if they do not agree with us.’ Charlotte Despard joined Edith in Wales addressing a meeting in Blaenavon. Although Mckenna was re-elected, his percentage of the vote was slightly reduced and, as Edith observed, the numbers voting had increased significantly.
Edith travelled to East Fife, the seat of the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith. The day before the poll the League adopted the tactic of following him in a car from meeting to meeting ensuring that ‘the green, white and gold fluttered behind the English Czar’s car.’ The women attempted to ask questions about the vote at each meeting, ‘now to questioning was added a policy of dogging and protest.’ The whole area was covered in posters. At the County Building, around three thousand turned up to hear Edith, Marguerite Sidley and Anna Munro speak. Asquith was returned as the Member of Parliament for East Fife but as the result was declared many shouted out ‘Votes for Women.’
Shortly afterwards Edith was made the organising secretary for Ireland, a country dear to the heart of the President of the League, Charlotte Despard. After a few months Edith, based in Southsea, was heading the campaign in Portsmouth proposing to hold meetings three times a week. On 18 June 1910, a suffrage march was organised which processed from the Embankment to the Albert Hall. The women were divided into groups from university women to an international section. Edith was in the group of women who had been imprisoned once. Not unexpectedly Edith does not appear on the 1911 census. Edith continued to be involved with the Portsmouth branch agreeing to address an open-air meeting during June 1912. Unfortunately, heavy rain brought the meeting to a halt before Edith had spoken. It was reconvened the following day. As Edith spoke a man in the crowd challenged her to a debate with ‘an Anti lady’, a duel Edith promptly accepted. Held the following week, not unsurprisingly, the Vote declared that Edith clearly was the victor.
It appears that by 1913 Ethel had possibly switched allegiance to the Church League for Women’s Suffrage and had also been elected to the executive of the National Union of Clerks. Both of which are areas for further research.
By 1939 Ethel is living in Battle, Sussex, employed as a secretary. She died in 1962 aged eighty.
Constance Bray, full name Mary Constance, was born in 1876 to Patrick, an architect, and Mary Auld whose maiden name was Bray. This explains why one official record notes her surname as Bray/Auld. A sister, Winifred, was born in 1879. Their father, Patrick, died in 1889. By 1901 Mary, Constance and Winifred are living in Queen Street in the City of London. Winifred worked as a soprano soloist and violinist who often performed in concerts. While Constance played the piano, both sisters were active supporters of the suffragette movement and lent their musical skills to raise awareness or funds, ‘by playing violin in the street.’
Winifred was the first to be arrested in 1907. She was sentenced to fourteen days in prison for her part in an attempt to gain access to St Stephen’s entrance at the Houses of Parliament. Following her release Winifred, as part of the Willesden and Kensal Rise branch of the WSPU which she, her sister and Louie Cullen founded, addressed a meeting accompanied by Minnie Baldock (see earlier blog). Winifred was heckled during her speech, which was described in the press as ‘amusing’, by shouts of, ‘Woman’s place is in the home’. Minnie interjected, pointing out that many women did not even have a home.
The following year Winifred was arrested for attempting again to enter the House of Commons. Votes for Women, 15 October 1908, included a report from the Evening Standard of a woman found in an underground passage near the House of Commons who, when detected, made a rush for the St Stephen’s entrance. The woman, Votes for Women reported, was Winifred. The initial hearing was adjourned and as Winifred, wearing a Votes for Women sash and a sailor-style hat with a band of suffragette colours left the courtroom she shouted out ‘You shall not have any of my money. I shall go to prison.’ At her trial, Winifred was sentenced to one month.
When Winifred and the twelve women sentenced alongside her were released from Holloway Prison, they were greeted by a large crowd who processed with the women to the Inns of Court, headquarters of the WSPU, for a celebratory breakfast. Winifred recounted to the assembled women a dream she had in prison. Rather than a clergyman in the pulpit, Winifred had dreamt that the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, Henry Curtis Bennett, who had sentenced her stood in the vicar’s sted reading from the 22nd Psalm ‘As for me, I am a woman and no man.’ All her fellow prisoners were in the congregation and responded ‘Hear, Hear.’ Finding that someone had inscribed the prison cutlery with ‘Votes for Women’ Winifred had added ‘Down with Asquith’ and ‘Long live Christabel’ referring to Christabel Pankhurst.
Constance was first arrested in July 1908 and charged with obstruction in connection with an attempt to enter the Houses of Parliament. She was one of twenty – eight women arrested. At court Constance shouted ‘The police arrested me in the execution of my duty. We demand justice, we demand votes for women.’ Constance was bound over to keep the peace or in the alternative one month in gaol.
When Constance was released along with fourteen other women, they were greeted by a reception committee and taken to Queen’s Hall accompanied by banners and flags for a celebratory breakfast. Each woman received a bouquet of purple and white sweet peas along with purple heather, the suffragette colours. Mrs Pethick Lawrence addressed the crowd expressing the Women’s Social and Political Unions gratitude for their service. Constance addressed the gathering. She reported that the prison chaplain had asked if she was paid to be in prison; a suggestion she ‘repudiated …but said it was an insult, and said so in plain language.’ She showed her notebook which she had used as a diary. At one point it had been removed for inspection. Forwarned Constance had spent several hours erasing her ‘individual impressions of prison life.’ Each cell had the Bible, a Prayer Book, a Hymn Book, and copy of A Healthy Home and How to Keep it which the prisoner wardresses insisted were always kept on the shelf provided and in a specific order. Other books from the library were brought round in a basket. Constance selected Shakespeare’s Plays; the Strand and the Cornhill magazines as well as several novels.
Mary Auld, their mother, who had moved to Willesden, noted on the 1911 census in red ink across the return ‘Taxation without representation is Robbery. If, in this great and glorious nation we do not count on Polling Day. It gives us pain and irritation to count when there is a tax to pay. For these, ‘twill somewhat recompense us not to be counted in the census. Bow Wow!’
Both sisters were arrested in 1912. Constance was charged with wilful damage alongside the Brackenburys. She was sentenced to be bound over or in the alternative one month imprisonment. Winifred was charged with maliciously damaging five windows, the property of the London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company in Regents Street valued at £50. She was sentenced to four months in Holloway Prison. Due to the numbers imprisoned Winifred was transferred to Birmingham Goal. On 27 May Winifred and seventeen other women refused food in protest against the allocation of Emmeline Pankhurst to the second division of prisoners and the denial of the rights of a political prisoner. An inquiry into the treatment of political prisoners, particularly in respect of force-feeding, was demanded. A request that the Home Secretary rebuffed.
In an internal memo it was noted ‘If prisoners refuse to take food so as to endanger health, compulsion becomes necessary.’ Winifred was fed by both gastric and nasal tube which she described as ‘much smaller … but it is fiendishly painful, and the back of the nose swells up from ear to ear, and becomes inflamed, and the pain even extends up the sides of the head to the brain.’ The following year a report was filed which noted that during 1912 102 women held in four prisons were force-fed. Winifred was released on 25 June following a diagnosis of a weak heart coupled with a history of rheumatic fever.
In 2012 the Guardian published an article about a suffragette autograph book which had come up for auction. One of the entries was written by Winifred whilst at Winson Green. Titled Holloway it reads:
The Suffragette who plays to win
Will break a window to get in
The hapless ‘Drunk’ with joy would shout
Could she, by breaking one, get out! (Guardian 6 December 2012)
In July 1914 Mary, their mother, passed away, an announcement was placed in the Suffragette. Constance died the following year and Winifred in 1932.
Emily Brandon was arrested and sentenced on 1 December 1911. She was charged with obstructing Parliament Square on 21 November by trying to force her way through the police cordon. The police stated they had repeatedly requested her to move when she refused; they arrested her. In court, Emily stated, “the Manhood Suffrage Bill is an insult to the women of England, and I did it as a protest.” She was fined five shillings or five days in prison. She elected imprisonment.
Emily was born Emily Charlotte Mcmahon Foyle in London in 1878. The family lived in Aldgate, London where her father was a warehouseman. When Emily left school, she worked in a hotel in Hanover Square in the West End of London as a clerk. On 16 June 1901 Emily married Albert Brandon, an upholsterer, from Tring, Buckinghamshire. The couple settled in Chesham, Buckinghamshire where Emily founded the Chesham branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union.
She died in 1968 in North London.
Stated on the arrest records as Mary Grace Branson her correct name is as recorded on the Suffragette Roll of Honour, Grace Mary Branson. Grace was born in 1870 in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire to John, an ironmaster and Margaret Jones. John and his brothers founded Jones Bros & Co, a company which built the Ayrton Rolling Mills comprised of furnaces and mills erected to manufacture sheets for shipbuilding. By the time of the 1891 census, John had moved into the manufacture of concrete and Grace had left home to attend the University of London. In 1898 Grace married Frederick George Reddy Branson, an attorney in the Judicial Department of the East India Company based in Madras. The couple had one daughter, Edith Rosa Grace, born on 26 May 1899 in Madras. Frederick died in 1903.
Mother and daughter returned to England. Edith attended the private school, Rodean in Brighton. Like many suffragettes, Grace seized the opportunity to officially record her opinions on the 1911 census return: “Until I am acknowledged to be a citizen of Great Britain I refuse to carry out the duties of citizens.” In residence with Grace on the night of the census were Edith, Mrs Harvey visitor and her three children daughter, son and son. Edith went onto to marry one of the anonymous sons of Mrs Harvey, Charles Donald Warren Harvey.
Grace was arrested twice, March 1912 and 10 February 1913. The first time was for breaking windows in the Haymarket belonging to John Dewar & Sons Ltd valued at £40 and H E Randall Ltd worth £30. She was sentenced to four months in Holloway Prison. However, she was one of the women transferred to Aylesbury gaol. Rule 243a stated that any prisoner whose character was previously good and who was not either awaiting trial or been sentenced for a crime involving dishonesty, cruelty, indecency or serious violence the prison authorities could ameliorate the rules in respect of wearing prison clothes; bathing; exercise; visitors or books. However, such relaxing of the rules was only allowed at the direction of the Home Secretary. On 9 April a report noted that it had just come to the attention of the prison staff that the women had been starving themselves for three or four days in protest that the lack of response to their petition requesting privileges within Rule 243A.
Reginald McKenna had been appointed Home Secretary the previous year. Initially, the suffragettes believed that the necessity for hunger-striking to highlight their lack of recognition as political prisoners was over even if the relaxation of the prison rules was not as extensive as that accorded to male political prisoners. However, those imprisoned along with Grace were only allowed to wear their own clothes and to converse when exercising, which fell far short of a relaxation of the rules in recognition of their status as political prisoners. When no further concessions were forthcoming, the women, including Grace, went on hunger strike.
The food disappeared. The prison wardresses presumed it had been eaten, but it became clear it was being hidden by the prisoners and disposed of down the toilet. The decision was taken to commence force-feeding. Nine were fed using a feeding cup, two by stomach tube and twelve by nasal tube. The process took three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. The second day it was decided to discontinue force feeding four of the women, one of which was Grace, as the medical officer felt it was inadvisable to continue and recommended immediate release. The Prison Commission dispatched Dr Smalley to Aylesbury and proposed that the two women considered to be the ringleaders should be moved to Manchester Prison. Smalley reported back that the four, including Grace who, in his view, was suffering from aortic disease, should be released. A recommendation which was followed; Grace was released having served twenty-four days of her sentence. Her condition on release was described as ‘very fair.’
A heated debate followed in the House of Commons. McKenna argued that the crimes were sufficiently serious to deny the privileges accorded by Rule 243a, and if the women would eat forcibly feeding would not have been necessary. Those opposed to their treatment pointed out that it was the lack of recognition as political prisoners that led to the hunger strike.
The following year Grace was charged with breaking three windows at the Junior Carlton Club valued at £4 10 shillings. Three other clubs were stated to have also been targeted together with the home of Prince Christian, Schomberg House which stood adjacent to the Oxford and Cambridge Club. The women used clay balls, iron nuts and stones. Only three women were arrested. At her trial, Grace said ‘I did it as a suffragette and as one who protests against the government of the country by men alone. Also the fact of prostitution existing is enough to justify any of these acts on our part. This standard of morality makes us women sick to death, and we are going to cleanse and abolish it. You men ought to be ashamed of letting women come here on charges of soliciting.’ Grace’s drawing attention to women being brought before the courts for prostitution highlighted the inequity that suffragettes and suffragists felt at the women facing charges, not the men who sought out prostitutes.
Found guilty she was sentenced to two months in prison. This time she was sent to Holloway. Alongside Sylvia Pankhurst and Edith Ball [see earlier blog] she was force-fed. Grace is mentioned in a letter that Sylvia wrote to her mother, Emmeline. She describes in graphic detail the process of being force-fed “They prise open my mouth with a steel gag…My gums are always bleeding.” She wrote that the authorities claimed they did not resist “Yet my shoulders are bruised with struggling...”. She mentions that Mrs Branson, Grace, has a heart defect and wonders whether anything can be done. Sylvia’s experiences were published in the press, which caused a furore.
A meeting was held at which the Bishop of London protested at the barbarity of force-feeding. In response, a debate took place in the House of Commons. Reginald Mackenna, the Home Secretary, stated that the women were prepared to die, which he did not intend to let them do, thus force-feeding was a necessity. The movement needed to be broken down using “patience, forbearance and humanity.” It is a shocking stretch to imply that keeping the women from starving themselves to death by force-feeding is a sign of humanity. He proposed, in response to the growing public disgust at the practice, that the women could be freed on licence if their health was in danger. This proposal would become the Cat and Mouse Act where women were released on licence and when they had physically recovered were taken back inside to serve the rest of their sentence. Early in April 1913, Grace was released. She spoke to the press describing how one suffragette had learnt how to contract her throat so that a finner tube had to be used, but this was not before she had had two teeth smashed. The treatment of Grace and many others forced the government into the release on licence of women whom it was felt could not endure the practice of force-feeding, but it did not alter their stance on the vote or the practice of force-feeding until it could be endured no longer.
Following a raid of the WSPU offices in 1913 Grace wrote to the authorities demanding the return of a medal belonging to her which had been removed from the premises. The response was a curt one-sentence letter from the Chief Inspector of Police denying that they had taken the medal. In the Autumn of 1917, Edith applied to study at Bedford College, part of the University of London. Grace’s occupation was noted as an oxy-acetylene welder, presumably as part of the war effort.
Grace and her daughter and son in law settled in Devon where she died in 1961.
Frank Brailsford, a commercial traveller, was arrested in December 1912 for breaking a pane of glass in a window at No 10 Downing Street valued at 2 shillings and 6d. One newspaper described Frank as ‘well-dressed’ man who lived in Canterbury Road, Brixton. On his arrest, he said: “I shall not run away, I did it for a purpose.” At his trial, Frank stated he had taken this course of action on purely political grounds due to Asquith’s attitude towards votes for women commenting: ‘Mr Asquith had strained at the Suffragist gnat and swallowed at the Home Rule camel.’ He was sentenced to pay forty shillings plus the money to pay for the pane or in the alternative a month’s hard labour. The newspapers do not record which he picked, but his presence on the suffragette roll of honour for those who went to prison indicates that was the option he took. No further information has been found.
Jane Esdon Brailsford nee Malloch was born in 1874 in Elderslie, Renfrewshire. Her father, John, was a cotton manufacturer employing over two hundred people. Intelligent, she studied Greek at Glasgow University falling in love with her married professor, Gilbert Murray; a love which appears to have been unrequited. Later, she studied philosophy at Sommerville College, Oxford University. A lecturer at Glasgow University, Henry Brailsford, heard Keir Hardie of the Independent Party speak. An event which inspired the founding of a branch of the Independent Labour Party at the university. This, in turn, spun into the founding of the University Fabian Society. One of the first members was Jane.
Henry Brailsford’s academic career was not successful, and he began to explore a career in journalism. His political activities brought him into continual contact with Jane with whom he fell in love. Jane, who was considered by many of his friends to be neurotic, rejected his first proposal of marriage prompted by her departure for Oxford University. Her rejection seems only to have served to make Henry more smitten. He wrote to her, continually ignoring the abruptness of her replies. When Jane returned to Glasgow for the holidays, Henry was contemplating volunteering if Greece went to war against Turkey. Jane encouraged him to go. Henry set off in a fervour of patriotism, only to return seven weeks later exhausted, wounded and disillusioned.
His experiences led him to write his only book, The Broom of the War God. Not widely well-received it opened the door to a commission from the Manchester Guardian to report on the situation in Crete. He proposed again to Jane, and she accepted. Her yes after two years of pursuit and the far from happy marriage it became has led to speculation as to why she finally capitulated. Possible explanations which have been put forward are the romanticism of a mission to Crete, the death of her father or the consequent sale of her childhood home. Jane did not appear, over the years to have much respect for Henry, and indeed many believe the marriage was not consummated.
The couple were married in 1898 in Glasgow, Jane refusing to wear a wedding ring as it symbolised bondage. Whilst in Crete, Jane wrote a novel which failed to find a publisher. She then explored an acting career. Henry wrote her a play, hired a hall but her performance was not met with critical acclaim and her acting career stalled before it had truly begun. In 1903 the couple travelled to Macedonia working as relief agents. Henry Nevinson, a journalist and founding member of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, in a letter dated 12 October 1909 to the Home Office relates Jane’s time in Macedonia which he described as ‘heroic’. Throughout the winter ‘in the wildest & most dangerous part of the country’ Jane remained tending ‘the wounded and the destitute.’ While visiting typhus cases in underground shelters, she contracted the disease and was dangerously ill.
Unhappy in her marriage Jane was a woman who yearned for acclaim and needed a cause which she found in the fight for votes for women. Initially, she joined the National Union of Suffrage Societies, but in 1906 she switched allegiance to the Women’s Social and Political Union. In line with his own political sentiments and ever supportive of Jane Henry often wrote about the campaign and was a founding member of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.
The Daily News, 4 October 1909, printed a letter from Jane to the editor of the paper in response to an article which argued that the forthcoming General Election ‘a decisive victory will be achieved for democratic and Progressive principles.’ Jane pointed out that the argument had no merit ‘in regard to a country where more than half the population is in a state of political slavery.’ Henry was a lead writer on the Daily News. The day after Jane’s letter was published Henry and, fellow journalist, Henry Nevinson, resigned in protest at the treatment of the suffragette prisoners in Birmingham. The Times published a letter from the two setting out their reasoning. The two Henrys argued that in William Gladstone and John Morley, both Liberals had ‘defined the attitude of the older Liberalism towards political offenders’ as one which did not meter out ‘humiliating punishments’ such as forcing the wearing of prison dress. However, Gladstone’s treatment of suffragette prisoners did not accord with this Liberal principal; the women were not accorded political status and were now being subjected to force-feeding.
A few days later on 9 October 1909, Jane was arrested in Newcastle during a protest intended to disrupt a visit to the city by Lloyd George. Among the other suffragettes arrested, alongside Jane, were Constance Lytton, Emily Davidson and Dorothy Pethick. According to the police report, in the days leading up to Lloyd George’s visit suffragette meetings were held across Newcastle. At one Violet Bryant reportedly said ‘they were prepared to go to any length to get their rights even to death itself.’ The city started to swell with suffragettes. Significant numbers of police were drafted in, venues searched, the glass roof of one venue was covered by a tarpaulin, and the suffragettes were placed under surveillance. When Lloyd George arrived in Newcastle a hundred policemen were on duty inside and outside the railway station. Decoy cars were deployed to confuse the suffragettes as to which route Lloyd George was taking. When he arrived at the Palace Theatre guarded by over a hundred police officers, the suffragettes threw stones, and Jane repeatedly smashed one of the barriers with, it was claimed, an axe.
The women were arrested and denied bail. While on remand, the police reported that the women were ‘allowed reasonable facilities for communicating with and interviewing their friends, and obtaining meals and bedding outside. The charge against Jane was disorderly behaviour and having an axe. Found guilty Jane was sentenced to one month in prison having refused to be bound over to keep the peace. The prison governor wrote a report in which he stated that he believed the women had reconnoitred the gaol in the days leading up to Lloyd George’s visit to ascertain how many prisoners could be processed and accommodated. The women had concluded that a group of them would be difficult for the staff to manage. Thus the number who engineered their arrest. The governor felt that the women now believed they had failed to subsume the staff but had indicated that next time an even larger number would gather and endeavour to be arrested whether in Newcastle or somewhere else. Sheer numbers would make, for example, force-feeding harder to administer.
On arriving at Newcastle Gaol, the women announced their intention to refuse food. Keir Hardie wrote to Gladstone enquiring if it was true that up to two pints of milk were force-fed to the women during each session. In turn, the Home Office wrote to the prison governors. One report in the official files includes a response which states ‘I think that is in every way desirable for obvious reasons to give as large a quantity at each ‘feeding’ as the patient is found able to digest.’ Jane was not force-fed. Dr Smalley, Medical Inspector of Prisons, wrote on 13 October 1909 following his attendance at Newcastle Gaol ‘We have had a worrying day,’ both Constance Lytton and Jane had ‘gone downhill.’ Smalley summoned a local doctor who thought Jane’s health ‘very doubtful,’ as she was anaemic and showed ‘signs of dilatation of the right ventricle with heart muscle weakness’—describing Jane as in an ‘extremely nervous state’ with a pulse of 120 the doctor advised against force-feeding. Despite his concern, Smalley felt that force-feeding was not a risk; it was the struggling against the process, which was more of a concern.
Smalley interviewed Jane, who informed him that if ‘the force-feeding did not kill her, she would kill herself after.’ He felt that Jane could well attempt to take her own life. When he asked her how she would do this, Jane replied she had the means. Smalley’s concern was that on admittance to the prison, the searching of the prisoners had not been particularly thorough, and Jane could be concealing drugs.
Charles Masterman, Liberal Member of Parliament for West Ham North, wrote a letter on Home Office notepaper to an unknown recipient, aligning Jane’s threat to commit suicide if executed to Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece resulting in ‘the popular support that we have hitherto received …immediately (in its stupid, unthinking way) turn from us.’ Such an event would mean force-feeding would no longer be an option, a fact Masterman believed Jane knew and ‘that is why she is determined …to kill herself: under the wild & frantic idea that by so doing she will save ‘her sisters’ from these ‘outrages’’.
Henry visited the Home Office. He pointed out that the aim of the women’s actions had been to be arrested, and they had deliberately ensured that the damage they did was minimal. Jane had only become ‘a strong supporter of women’s rights [when] she heard of the forcible feeding of women at Birmingham.’ The women had set out to be arrested to enter prison, refuse food and in turn be force-fed, a process which ‘produced a feeling of horror in their minds.’ Henry suggested the women should be released ‘when they had starved themselves long enough instead of being forcibly fed.’ He declined the opportunity to apply for the release of his wife.
Henry Nevinson weighed in writing to the Home Office. He stated that so keen was Jane to do as little damage as possible the axe with which the barrier was struck was wrapped in tissue paper. Nevinson described Jane as a ‘very remarkable woman, who has accomplished at least one most heroic action for humanity.’ Henry’s visit and Masterman’s letter led the authorities to decide that both Constance and Jane should be released as soon as possible.
It was decided to release Jane and Constance as they both showed ‘symptoms of cardiac trouble. Lady Betty Balfour, herself an ardent support of the suffrage movement and Constance’s sister, arrived in a cab to collect both women. Smalley persuaded them to drink a cup of milk each and noted that he had advised them ‘to be careful as to diet.’ In his opinion when it was decided to protest at Lloyd George’s meeting the women had ‘picked out all the ‘crocks’; if this was the plan it was, in his opinion, ‘a cute move.’ A telegram was sent ordering that if any questions were asked by the press, the only response was that any release was on medical grounds.
Shortly after her release, Jane joined Christabel Pankhurst and Dora Spong on the platform at a WSPU meeting in Hampstead. Henry wrote an article published in the Nation on 18 December describing force-feeding as ‘the horrors of warfare’, ‘a degradation which sears the spirit and breaks the will.’ In December Jane travelled to Lancashire to lend her support to the campaign there. On her return, she addressed a meeting of the WSPU Croydon branch. Jane explained that she had carried an axe as she had not wished to partake in stone throwing in case she accidentally hit someone. Dismissing the reports of a heart weakness due to starvation Jane observed that just before examination, she had walked around the prison yard for several hours without pause.
Throughout 1910 Jane continued campaigning and addressing meetings while Henry supported the cause through the Men’s League. In January Asquith had called a general election but the Liberals failed to gain a majority and were reliant on the support of Labour Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Henry approached Millicent Fawcett of the National Union of Woman’s Suffrage Societies proposing the formation of a Conciliation Committee for Women’s Suffrage. Both Millicent and Emmeline Pankhurst agreed, and all militant action stopped. A committee was formed with Henry acting as secretary and a Conciliation Bill drafted. It passed the first stage in the House of Commons, and it was sent to the Committee stage. Asquith then made it clear the Bill would be abandoned which led to the protests on 18 November 1910, known as Black Friday. The Conciliation Committee demanded a public enquiry into the events of Black Friday, but Churchill refused. Henry, along with Jessie Murray, set about gathering statements from the women, a total of 135 were collected.
Jane was arrested for a second time in November 1911 for her participation in an attempt to gain access to the House of Commons. A fellow participator reported seeing Jane repeatedly attempting to breakdown a cordon of police three deep. When this attempt failed, Jane climbed over the railings and ran across the grass towards the entrance to St Stephen’s. Jane was arrested and charged with obstruction. Refusing to be bound over she was sent to Holloway Prison for seven days. On her release, Jane sat on the platform at a WSPU meeting held at the London Pavilion. Chaired by Emmeline Pethick Lawrence Jane gave a short speech on her experience in Holloway Prison.
Various Members of Parliament horrified at the resumption of militant actions by suffragettes indicated their intention to withdraw their support for the Conciliation Bill. Henry wrote to the editor of the Westminster Gazette pointing out that such a withdrawal would only serve as ‘a complete vindication of [the WSPU] policy of ‘all or nothing’’. Jane continued to address meetings. In late April and early May 1912, she went on a tour organised by the Halifax and Huddersfield branch of the WSPU.
The Pankhursts desire to totally control the Women’s Social and Political Union angered Jane, and she resigned in October 1912. The Pethick Lawrences were expelled from the WSPU and from there on they published the Votes for Women newspaper independently under the auspices of the Votes for Women Fellowship which united suffragettes militant or not but who were, generally, frustrated at the actions of Emmeline Pankhurst. Jane took the stage alongside the Pethick Lawrences at a rally in Hyde Park in June 1913.
In 1913 Henry and Jane separated. A year later they reconciled although far from happily. Their respective stances on the First World War were poles apart. Henry who had lost his patriotic fervour many years before joined the Union of Democratic Control which advocated the taking of steps which would ensure such a conflict never occurred again. As the WSPU no longer had the newspaper, Votes for Women, within its control, it launched a new one called the Suffragette which following the agreement to support the war effort changed its name to the more patriotic Britannia with the slogan ‘For King’ For Country, for Freedom.’ Even before its name change the newspaper’s patriotic stance was clear. Despite Henry’s years of support for the suffrage movement, his membership of the Union of Democratic Control was lambasted; it was an organisation ‘which seeks by playing upon sympathies of the well-intentioned to conceal its insignificance and futility.’ Henry was described as ‘having a talent for taking the wrong political turning… This fatal talent … [is] at the expense of his country and the cause of civilisation.’ Jane was consumed by patriotic fervour.
Henry turned his attentions to writing books such as the Origin of the First World War published in 1914 and The War of Steel and Gold: A Study of the Armed Peace. The latter was initially published in 1914. A revised 1915 edition included a new chapter, A Postscript on Peace and Change, and an appendix with an outline for a Federal League of European Nations which influenced Woodrow Wilson’s speech to the American League to Enforce peace. Henry unsuccessfully stood as a Labour candidate in the 1918 General Election. He toured Europe writing two books shedding light on the consequences to the lives of the people of the defeated countries, pointing out that the Treaty of Versailles was flawed which could lead to Germany rearmament and war. Again this influenced the thinking of Wilson.
The couple split again in 1921 although Jane refused to agree to a divorce. By this time Henry was editor of the New Leader, the newspaper of the Independent Labour Party. He fell in love with Clare Leighton, an artist and author, with whom he lived for several years. Blighted by alcoholism, Jane died of its effects in 1937, which left Henry free to marry, but his emotional turmoil following Jane’s death destroyed his relationship with Clare, who emigrated to America in 1939.
Henry continued to combine political activism with writing. Several years after the breakdown of his relationship with Clare, he met and fell in love with Evamaria Perlmann who was much younger than him. They married in 1944, marriage which continued until he died in 1958.