Mary Barnett was part of a deputation of women who attempted on February 24th 1909 to present a petition to the House of Commons. The women marched from Caxton Hall to the Houses of Parliament in single file as ordered by the police. A large cordon of police awaited them outside Parliament which the women repeatedly tried to breach. The newspapers reported that a large crown gathered to watch booing or cheering the women’s efforts. Many were arrested but some returned to Caxton Hall disappointed that they had not been. Four returned to Parliament to have another attempt but were turned away by the police who had to protect them from the by now angry crowd. Refusing to be bound over to keep the peace as she felt that she had done nothing wrong Mary was sentenced to a month in prison.
Pattie Barrett, aka Martha, was arrested twice in 1907 on February 14th and March 21st 1907. The February arrest related to an attempt to access the House of Commons. The women marched four abreast singing “Glory Glory Hallelujah” headed by Charlotte Despard as they rounded into Parliament Square the police moved towards them some on horseback. The women scattered into small groups all with the united aim of entering Parliament. Several of the newspaper reports write that the police were far from passive in their response. Pattie was fined ten shillings or imprisonment for one week. Alongside her on the march was her sister Julia Varley who was sentenced to the same.
Pattie nee was born Martha Varley to Richard and Martha in 1876. Richard was an engine tenter in a worsted mill which meant he was responsible for the operation of the machine that stretched the cloth as it dried. Julia was five years older than Martha and the two sisters had seven other siblings five of whom survived to adulthood. Both Julia and Martha started out their working lives as worsted weavers. Their mother died during the 1890s and by the 1901 census Julia is staying at home to care for the family.
In June 1899 Martha married George Ollive Barrett, a wine merchant’s bookkeeper, who died only three years later in 1902. According to newspaper reports following George’s death Julia and Martha moved in together. Whatever the truth of this by the 1911 census return on which both women are recorded Martha had returned to live with her father and Julia was living alone having moved to Selly Oak in Birmingham as a trade union organiser. The sister’s grandfather had been a Chartist campaigning for better working conditions and pay. This legacy impacted on most of the family, both of the sisters joined the WSPU. In 1911 two of their brothers worked for the Education Committee Corporation one as a chef and the other as assistant chef providing nutritious meals for underfed children whilst Martha was registration clerk at the Labour Exchange having previously worked as a visitor to check on the welfare of poor children.
On their release from Holloway the WSPU in Bradford intended to form a welcoming party at the station. They sent postcards to the women to inform them to get on a particular train but unfortunately these were never received. They returned home to be greeted by a few friends and family on an earlier train. The WSPU arranged instead for a welcome home supper the following week.
The two travelled to London again towards the end of March to again join a protest to the Houses of Parliament. They were two of seventy six arrested. Martha was fined forty shillings or a month in prison. Julia stated in court that she wanted to state that she had no complaint against the police but she had a huge contempt for the law and the men who made it. She was sentenced identically to her sister. Julia went on to be involved in the trade union movement more of which will under her own entry. Julia following retirement returned to Bradford to live with Martha who died in 1956.
Alice Barton was arrested on November 25 1910 no press reports have been found mentioning Alice which is due to the sheer numbers of women arrested. It is possible that this entry actually relates to Alice Burton who will be written about later.
Mary Bartrum whose full name was Mrs Doris Mary Bartrum was part of a deputation to the House of Commons with the aim of seeing the Prime Minster, Herbert Asquith. The protest had been organised because Asquith had reneged on the Conciliation Bill which would have given property owning women over thirty the vote. The bill passed its second reading but Asquith declared there was no Parliamentary time for a third reading as Parliament was to be dissolved. The suffragettes were incensed. The deputation were corralled by the police and forced to stay in one place where all they could do was watch the events unfurl. For four and half hours hundreds of suffragettes struggled with the police who were on foot and on horseback. The police’s approach was to wear the women down rather than arrest them. The women were met with beatings, batoning and punches. The Daily Mirror published, a few days afterwards, a picture of suffragette Ada Wright on the ground. As one eye witness reported she was bodily lifted and thrown back into the crowd. When she approached again a policeman struck her with all his force knocking her to the ground, as she tried to get to her feet she was struck again. As the picture shows a man remonstrates with the police but he was swiftly moved on. After knocking her down again and again she was left lying by a wall of the House of Lords.
As women marched towards the House of Parliament their banners were snatched from them by the police whilst they kicked or punched the women. Some women claimed they were sexually assaulted. Only after four and half hours did the police take to arresting the women rather than trying to wear them down. One hundred and nineteen were taking to the cells. In reports included in Votes for Women the women placed the blame at the drafting in of policemen from other areas who were not well trained or used to dealing with men.
When Winston Churchill became aware of the photograph that the Daily Mirror had taken he tried to suppress it but they refused publishing it on their front page. Its publication led to an enquiry into the day’s events which Churchill refused. The day became known as Black Friday. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the outcry at the women’s treatment the Home Office decided to offer no evidence and the women were discharged. Many questioned the reasoning behind this and felt the decision had been made as an election was coming up and it was an attempt to mollify the women. The suffragettes saw it as a victory due to the generally supportive press coverage and the clear
acknowledgement, in their eyes, that the government felt that any stand against them would make them unpopular at the forthcoming election.
Doris was born in October 1882 in Kensington, London to George, a produce merchant, and Janet. The family settled in Eastbourne, East Sussex. By 1901 George had retired and the family had moved back to London settling in Hampstead. The family were comfortably off, at sixteen Doris was still at school and they had a live in housekeeper. One of three children Doris married John Edward Bartrum on March 24th 1906. John was a mantle manufacturer for gas lamps and seller. The couple had two daughters Joanna born in 1908 and Bridget in 1914. John completed the 1911 census return where Doris is recorded as working as a commercial traveller in his business. Other than her name, her occupation, numbers of years married and number of children. No other details are recorded about Doris such as date or place of birth. This is true of the other women in the house on census night: Alice Glover single, Kate servant. Only her daughter’s and husband’s details are recorded in full. Someone presumably Doris has written in large red writing “VOTELESS Women of Household only prevented by illness from evading census, therefore have refused to give information to occupier”.
John and Doris divorced in 1918. The following year Doris married John Mackie. Doris died on December 27th 1933.
With thanks to the Museum of London