Emily Brandon was arrested and sentenced on December 1 1911. She was charged with causing an obstruction in Parliament Square on November 21st and 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.”[i] 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 June 16th 1901 Emily married Albert Brandon, a upholsterer, from Tring, Buckinghamshire. The couple settled in Chesham, Buckinghamshire where Emily founded the Chesham branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union.
What happened to Emily after her spell in prison is not clear.
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. On the 1911 census return is entered “Until I am acknowledged to be a citizen of Great Britain I refuse to carry out the duties of citizens.” Other than G M Branson, Branson daughter, Prout servant, Mrs Harvey visitor and her three children daughter, son and son. The only clue is it states that Grace is a widow. No trace has been found of any further background information. Her daughter Edith was born on May 26 1899 and she went onto to marry on of the anonymous sons of Mrs Harvey, Charles Donald Warren Harvey.
Grace was arrested twice, March 1912 and February 10th 1913. The first time was for breaking windows in the Haymarket. She was sentenced four months and sent to Aylesbury prison. Along with four others she was released early. Winston Churchill had promised that they could wear their own clothes and be given books to read. When these concessions were not forthcoming the prisoners started a hunger strike. The prison authorities commenced force feeding.
The following year Grace was charged with breaking three windows at the Junior Carlton Club with a value of £4 10 shillings. One witness stated that Grace had thrown several pieces of lead at the windows. In her defence, Grace addressed the court “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.”[ii] 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.
A meeting was held where 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 the force feeding. The movement needed to be broken down using “patience, forbearance and humanity.” [iii] It is possibly a 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 of force feeding, 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 one suffragette would had learnt how to contract her throat so that a finer 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 who 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.
Grace and her daughter and son in law settled in Devon where she died in 1961.
[i] Bucks Herald December 9th 1911
[ii] Sheffield Daily Telegraph February 11th 1913
[iii] Ibid March 19th 1913
Janet Augusta Boyd was born in 1855 to George and Anne Haig. Part of a large extended family her niece Margaret Thomas Haig, and her cousins Louisa and Florence Haig also became suffragettes. In 1874 Janet married George Boyd, a solicitor. His father was Edward Fenwick Boyd, an industrialist based in the north east of England who built a substantial family house called Moor House in the small village of Leamside on the outskirts of Durham. In due course George inherited the house and Janet and their four daughters moved in. George died in 1909 and this seems to have allowed Janet to pursue her contribution to the fight for suffrage for women.
The Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette dated June 12th 1911 reported that Janet had refused to pay her rates amounting to £21 and in consequence an auction was to be held at her house to raise the funds. Janet offered a Spanish mantilla for sale which was bought by her gardener presumably funded by his employer. The auctioneer announced his support for the campaign and a member of the WSPU came to address the crowd. Prior to this it seems likely Janet joined the protest against the 1911 census return as she does not appear.
Janet was first arrested on November 19th 1911 for breaking a window in the Strand. In court she stated “I don’t consider I was guilty, because I was doing it for a good purpose.” She was fined 10 shillings and three shillings for the damage. Her second arrest was in March 1912. At the first hearing she was committed for trial alongside her cousin Florence Haig for breaking two windows each at D H Evans to a value of £66. She was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Florence stated that if she was bound over to keep the peace she would feel like a soldier deserting in the middle of battle was sentenced to four months. Following a hunger strike when she was not force fed she was released in June of that year. She was one of the women who “signed” a hankerchief owned now by the Priest House at Hoathly.[i]
She died in December 1928 and is included in the Suffragette Roll of Honour.
The next entry reads Dinah or Nina Boyle who was arrested on several occasions during 1912, 1913 and 1914. Born Constance Antonia in 1865 to Robert, an army captain and Frances her father died when she was four years old. Her widowed mother was left with six children, the youngest of whom David was only a few months old. At some point Nina went to live in South Africa where she was a journalist writing for the Transvaal Leader alongside nursing during the Boer War. She wrote to the Times newspaper of the unequal treatment metered out to Boer and loyalist refugees. Interested in women’s rights she founded the Women's Enfranchisement League of Johannesburg.
Nina returned to England in 1911. She was initially active in the Victoria League and Colonial Intelligence League for Educated Women. The former she resigned from when she felt they were pursuing an anti-suffrage stance. She spoke at a meeting of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Redhill in April 1911 about the suffrage campaign in South Africa. Present was Mrs Harley, sister of Charlotte Despard with whom Nina was soon to become closely involved. A month later she addressed a joint conference of suffrage groups in Edinburgh highlighting the unpaid work women undertook without which the country would suffer.
Shortly, thereafter she joined the Women’s Freedom League whose President was Charlotte Despard. She regularly addressed meetings and was elected to the executive. She also was a member of the Tax Resistance League. Nina was arrested alongside Charlotte Despard and Julia Wood and charged with obstruction. Current regulations banned protests in Trafalgar Square. In breach of these Charlotte mounted a plinth addressing a growing crowd, standing alongside her was Julia and Nina who rang a hand bell. They all refused to descend and were arrested. Nina was fined 60 shillings or 10 days imprisonment. The other two were treated similarly. All elected to go to prison. However not long afterwards their fines were paid and they were released.
A similar ban on public speaking had been imposed in Hyde Park. In May 1913 Nina and Annie Munroe were arrested for attempting to break the ban. At the same time four of the Women’s Freedom League executive including Nina wrote to every police force urging them to refuse to rearrest any woman who had been released from imprisonment suffering from the effects of force feeding, in other words women released under the Cat and Mouse Act on licence. In court Nina and Annie were fined 20 shillings or fourteen days imprisonment. They both elected to go to prison. Both complained about the conditions of the prison vans where contrary to the attestation by the Home Secretary that men and women were separated within the vans this was not the case. They both served their sentences in full.
Nina returned immediately to campaigning. In November 1913 Nina along with others was arrested and charged with obstruction. At the initial hearing Nina applied for an adjournment so she could call witnesses. The magistrate was far from amenable to which she retorted “Why should we be dictated to by Mr Muskett, sitting there with his ears cocked like an intelligent terrier?”[ii] Her requested was granted and she was bailed for a week. At the reconvened hearing Nina was bound over to keep the peace, on her refusal to agreed she was sent to prison for one day.
Campaigning swiftly resumed and Nina travelled the country addressing meetings. In July 1914 she was arrested and charged with obstruction. Five women, Nina gave her name as Ann Smith, chained themselves to the door in the waiting room of the Marlborough Street Police Court temporarily housed Francis Street. The police cut them free putting them outside of the building from whence they refused to move. They were each bailed for a £2 surety. At the trial Nina when entering the witness box exclaimed “Here we are again! It’s quite like coming to see old friends.”[iii] She was fined forty shillings or a week imprisonment.
Immediately after the outbreak of World War 1 Nina lobbied for the founding of a female body of Special Constables who could protect women and children in the absence of the men. She also was an active member of the Women Suffrage National Aid Corps formed to provide support services to women whose husbands were away fighting. Without any government approval for her proposal regarding women police Nina together with Margaret Dawson continued on their own and by January 1915 the Corps of Women Police Volunteers had been formed. Courses were undertaken in first aid, court rules and self-defence. Everyone wore a uniform, Nina being one of the first. However, she split from the Corps when they sought to curtail the freedom of women by imposing a curfew on prostitutes. Although a women’s force continued to operate in London and Brighton under the auspices of the Women’s Freedom League.
In October 1915 Nina was charged with failing to register under the Alien Restriction Order 1915. The case was dismissed when it was held the summons had not been issued correctly. In due course she was awarded damages for her illegal arrest. Nina used this experience to raise awareness of the lack of reasonable treatment for women held in police cells where there was no accommodation for women nor any women gaolers.
Towards the end of 1916 Nina travelled to the Salonika Front to act as a nursing orderly. It was widely reported in the press prior to this that her fiancée had been killed and perhaps that is what prompted her to take this step. There Nina renewed her acquaintance with Katherine Harley who was eager to learn of her sister Charlotte. Nina remained for eight months. On her return she continued with campaigning and supporting the wives left behind.
In 1918 Nina announced that she would stand in a by election as a prospective member of Parliament for Keighley. It was ruled that as a women she could stand but as her nomination papers were incorrectly completed she could not. This acceptance of a woman’s right to stand allowed others to stand in the general election in 1918.
Nina remained politically active for the rest of her life particularly supported the National Union of Women Teachers and the Save the Children Fund. She also wrote novels. She died in March 1943.
[ii] Globe November 17 1913
[iii] Daily Record July 14 1914
Grace Hosdson Boutelle was arrested once on October 14th 1908 as part of a contingent attempting to deliver a petition to the House of Commons. Grace was American, born in Maine in 1869 to Charles and Lucy Boutelle. Her father served in the United States Navy and on his discharge, became a businessman who served as a Republican Congressman.
Grace was musical and literary writing poetry which was published in American magazines. Her mother died in 1891 she often acted as his hostess. By 1900 her father was suffering from dementia, unusually although he was confined to a Lunatic Asylum he was re-elected to the House of Representatives although he was too ill to ever return. Grace moved with her father from Washington to Waverley, Massachusetts. The Newcastle Courant dated December 8th 1900 includes an article from The York World about her plight drawing a parallel with Lear and Cordelia. Daily she visited her father spending all his waking hours with him, taking him for carriage drives, making small talk. This she did until he died May 21st 1901.
Following her father’s death Grace spread her wings. She travelled to England where she became a suffragette writing articles for both the British and American press. Alongside her suffragette activities she studied English Folk Music.
For her actions on October 14th 1908 she was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment. She returned to America permanently in 1910 where she gave lectures on her experiences as a suffragette in England and on her time in prison often in her prison uniform. In later life she taught piano, singing and instructed people in the genre of English Folk music.
She died on August 25th 1957 in Maine.
For a picture and more information: http://bangordailynews.com/2010/08/23/living/bangor-suffragette-jailed-in-london
Eugenia Bouvier who was arrested twice on February 8th 1908 and July 12th 1909. She was born Eugenia Anna Weber in Russia in 1865. She married Paul Emile who was born in Italy. The couple settled in Lewisham where Paul taught French. The couple had one daughter Irene Eugenie born in 1893. In 1904 Paul died. Eugenia was often known as Jeannie. In the Suffrage Movement by Sylvia Pankhurst she referred to her as the “brave, persistent Russian.”
The first record of Eugenia being involved in the suffragette movement is a report in the Berkshire Chronicle dated January 25th 1908. A meeting in Reading being addressed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Augustine Birrell, was interrupted by women demanding the vote. Entry to the meeting was by ticket only to prevent any protest but somehow the group of women had successfully gained entry. Seven women including Eugenia were in the hall and at regular intervals shouted out Votes for Women. One by one the seven women made themselves known and having spoken either left the hall themselves or were ejected. Outside the women regrouped addressing the gathering crowd. A group of young men heckled the speakers in turn shouting “It’s a different girl again” “Half time”. Later when the women walked to the train station the men followed them, chanting and attempting to gain access to the platform but the women managed to leave safely.
On February 12th Eugenia was part of a group attempting to enter the Houses of Parliament. One newspaper described it the attempt as like “the wooden horse of Troy.” Two vans drove past Parliament with men in the usual green aprons sitting on the tailboards. One carried on but the other stopped, the men jumped down opening the backdoors from which appeared a group of suffragettes who ran quickly towards the nearest door to Parliament. The police although caught unawares managed to stop them. More vans pulled up decanting more women, more scuffles and arrests followed.
In the meantime, in Caxton Hall a conference called the Parliament of Women was taking place. After several speeches, it was resolved that the women would march to Parliament. Scuffles broke out between the women and the police whilst others circled the area in cabs with megaphones shouting Votes of Women. Eugenia was one of those arrested. She was fined £40 or six weeks in prison.
Only a week later Eugenia staged another protest. Along with two others, Mrs Watson and Miss Fraser, they dressed in evening clothes and took a cab from the WSPU headquarters at Clement’s Inn to the Admiralty. As no tickets were asked for they had no difficulty in entering the reception being hosted by Reginald Mackenna, First Lord of the Admiralty, and his wife. Eugenia informed the press afterwards that she shook the hands of Mr and Mrs Mckenna and the Prime Minister, all of whom were unaware that she was a gate crasher. Towards the end of the evening there was a lull in the music so she mounted a chair, close to Mackenna, and asked him, from her lofty position, his views on votes for women. Surprised he walked away but Eugenia continued addressing the throng. A member of staff intervened, helped her off the chair, and escorted her from the building where she was joined by the other two women.
Two days later Eugenia was in action again at the inaugural dinner of the Certified Grocers at which Augustine Birrell amongst others was present. Dressed in a white full length dress adorned with a large spray of poppies Eugenia interrupted Augustine Birrell’s address from the gallery. Several guests ran upstairs to remove her only to discover that she had chained herself to the gallery railings using steel chain and two padlocks, the whole had been disguised by wrapping it in cotton wool. Next to her was another suffragette who it turned out had also chained herself to the railings. The stewards resorted to forcing them into their seats and silencing them by covering their mouths with napkins. Both the women continued to attempt to speak and jump up from their seats. Eventually they were cut free whilst the pianist played a Merry Widow to drown out the noise of sawing. They were both removed from the building.
In July 1909 Eugene was arrested for breaking a window at the Privy Council. She was fined £5 and the cost of replacing the window or a month in prison. At this she announced she trusted she would be treated as a political prisoner, the Magistrate retorted that it was not a political offence. He stated that throwing stones was what small hooligan boys did, Eugenia pointed out that stone throwing was used as a protest to the Reform Act. Eugenia went on hunger strike and along with others was released on July 21st 1909.
Eugenia continued campaigning. She addressed a meeting in Plymouth, a few months after her release. In 1912 present at the opening of new WSPU offices in Lewisham the crowd of around three thousand became hostile throwing eggs. Eugenia and others had to escape assisted by the police. This was repeated on several occasions over the next year when she addressed meetings. Eugena carried on campaigning after the outbreak of war. In 1915 she joined Sylvia Pankhurst on the platform addressing a meeting in East London where it was resolved to campaign on the basis of obtaining the vote for all, women and men. To this end the East End group was renamed the Worker’s Suffrage League, Eugenia being elected to the committee. Alongside this campaign Eugenia was against conscription addressing a No Conscription Conference in December 1915. This led to a demonstration in January the following year which Eugenia addressed.
Nothing has been found for Eugenia after 1916. At some point she travelled to Russia where she died in 1933.
Dorothea Boulter was arrested on December 15th 1913 for smashing six panes of glass at Richmond upon Thames police station. She was born Dorothea Anna Georgina Connell circa 1857 in Ireland marrying Harold Baxter Boulter, a doctor. The 1891 census records the family living in Sandown on the Isle of Wight. By this point they had two children: Dorothy born in 1882 and Christopher born a year later. Eleven years later they had a second daughter, Norah, by which stage they were living in Richmond where Harold was a doctor. Whilst both the daughters are included on the 1911 census return Dorothea is not possibly in a protest as her husband has left the number of years married blank.
According to the evidence Dorothea arrived at the police station equipped with a copy of the Suffragette newspaper and a hammer. The reason for her actions was the failure to gain the vote and the treatment of Mrs Pankhurst who had been rearrested. Dorothea was fined 40 shillings or ten days in prison. Harold offered to pay the fine but Dorothea declined as he did not agree with her views although he was a good man. Despite this refusal Harold paid the fine.
Harold died a few years later in 1915. Dorothea continued to live in Richmond later moving to Eastbourne where she died in 1949.
The next entry is Helen Bourchier, a member of the Women’s Freedom League, who was arrested on January 31st 1908. Helen and eight gathered outside Asquith’s house holding banners proclaiming “Votes for Women.” After a while they started ringing and knocking on the front door, the butler declining them entry. Their next move was to host an impromptu rally on the steps addressing the gathering crowd. At which point four of them, Helen along with Mrs Dempsey, Mrs Duval and Mrs Sanderson were arrested. In court, they were fined 40 shillings or a month imprisonment. They all elected for prison.
The event is recalled in Sylvia Pankhurst’s book The Suffragette. The women elected to defend themselves. Helen was the first to speak but was cut off by the magistrate “Behave yourself! You are the bell-weather of the flock.” On sentencing the magistrate stated his regret that he could not give them a stiffer sentence but this was all the law allowed him. “I do not consider it by any means a fair measure of your deserts.”
Helen Johnston Bourchier was born on October 24th 1852 in Somerset, the daughter of Charles and Margaret. Her father was a soldier holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel when he died in 1866. A dependent’s allowance was from there on until they reached majority paid to Helen, her brother Charles and sister Margaret. Following their father’s death the family initially settled in Clutton, Somerset where their grandfather had been Rector. By the 1881 census return Helen’s mother and sister had moved to Finsbury Park in North London although Helen’s whereabouts are unknown. A year later her sister married Peter Purves, a land agent, to which Helen was a witness. Their brother has also married and was serving in the army.
In 1890 their mother died. Helen was a doctor who qualified in Paris. The Dundee Courier, January 26th 1886, records that six women are more or less practising medicine successfully in Paris, one of whom was Helen. According to her obituary she practised medicine for some years in India, an experience which influenced her novels. In the early 1900s she was appointed to the Honorary Medical Staff when the Battersea Hospital was established. In those records Helen is stated to be still residing in Paris which would explain why she appears on few United Kingdom records. Although Helen does appear to have around this time maintained an address in Notting Hill advertising for a lodger or patient to live with her. She wrote novels such as Darry’s Awakening and The Ranee’s Rupees, attended séances contributing to the The Occult Review, believed in theosophy and was a vegetarian, her interests running in parallel with other fighters for votes for women such as Charlotte Despard. An anti-vivisectionist Helen was a founding member of the Pioneer Anti-Vivisection Society becoming its President. Vivisection, she believed, led to a passion for experimentation which was not always halted when experimentation involved the human being if it was a woman.
On her release from prison she wrote an article for Women’s Realm on her experiences “I am not a young woman, and a good deal of my life has been spent alone .... Yet I found even that short term of imprisonment, in some subtle way affecting my mind …. But the fact which showed me most startlingly the effect produced on my mind by the unnatural conditions of seclusion, silence and monotony, which prevail in Holloway, was the growth of a strange feeling of apprehension, of shrinking from the outside world.”[i] In another interview to the press she commented that being a vegetarian her diet consisted of one egg, potato, carrot or onion in place of meat. Her article led to an inspector being appointed by the government to report on conditions in Holloway Prison.
In October 1908 Helen was involved in another protest, this time at the House of Commons, organised by members of the Women’s Freedom League. It was organised to start at exactly 8.30pm. A group of women including Helen entered the Ladies Gallery from which ladies were permitted to view the proceedings in the House of Commons from behind a metal grille. At the appointed hour two of the women chained themselves to the grille, rose to their feet and commenced to address the few MPs in the House. One attendant attempted to silence them by placing his hand over their mouths but Helen stepped in and prevented him. Two other protests in the precincts of the Houses of Parliament took place simultaneously. A male supported seated in the Stranger’s Gallery threw down into the chamber votes for women literature. After some wrestling the attendants managed to snap part of the grille off and dragged the women from the gallery still attached by chains to the grille. Although several women were arrested Helen was not.
When the 1911 census was taken Helen refused to participate, her entry being completed by the collector. Across it is written “No votes for women. No census”. Her occupation is given as doctor (believed to be of medicine), her age is estimated at around fifty and her place of birth is blank. At the time Helen was living in Fulham.
Helen died in 1918 in Kensington, London. Just before she died she wrote to a friend “I expect to be soon on the ethereal plane.”
[i] Marxists Internet Archive
Ivy Bon was arrested on May 23rd 1914 and June 3rd 1914. She is also recorded as unknown. Her first arrest was for breaking windows in Grosvenor Square, found guilty she was sentenced to two months imprisonment. Force fed she was released under the Cat and Mouse Act.
Only just released from prison Ivy was arrested for attacking two pictures at the Dore Galleries: Love Wounded by Bartolozzi and a drawing of the Grand Canal in Venice by John Chapland. The manager grabbed her to prevent any further damage but Ivy put up a struggle until the police arrived. Appearing in court Ivy who refused to give her address had declared in a letter that she left at the Galleries that she was prepared to die for the cause, this was now a war. The case was adjourned.
At her trial Ivy continuously screamed “Torturers, murderers!” “I will do it again and again until we get justice.” She was sentenced to six months in prison. With the outbreak of the First World War Ivy would have been released under the government pardon. Nothing else has been found out as to who Ivy was as the name does appear to be an alias as was believed at the time.
The next two entries are Richard and Alfred Bond arrested on October 19th 1908. The event at which they were arrested had been well advertised beforehand. The WSPU had hired a steam launch decorating it with banners and flags and for a whole afternoon it sailed up and down the Thames arriving at Putney during a well-attended sculling competition. Hand bills had been handed out on numerous street corners. The event in question was the intention of a delegation to obtain access to the Houses of Parliament. Its high profile advertising meant that the authorities were aware of the women’s intention giving them plenty of time to prepare a response. Mrs Pankhurst was invited to discuss the situation with the authorities but instead hosted a meeting to further rally support.
On the evening of October 18th the streets between Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament were heaving with police some mounted. The numbers differ from each newspaper report but the police admitted to five thousand men. A cordon was placed around Parliament and the crowds were swept back at every attempt to move closer. At Trafalgar Square where many had gathered the mounted police climbed the steps preventing the crowd from progressing towards their intended destination. A deputation left from Caxton Hall but they too were turned back.
May Billington was one of those arrested alongside Richard and Alfred. Whilst the Votes for Women Newspaper dated October 15th 1908 gives small biographies on most of the women arrested at the end it simply states “and twelve men.” Both of the men were charged with obstruction, found guilty they were bound over to keep the peace. No biographical information is given which would shed some light on their motives. It seems though from the press coverage that the event was also attended by people with other gripes such as unemployment so that possibly might explain their involvement.
The next entry is also a man called James Booty arrested on July 27 1913. A demonstration took place in Trafalgar Square, again with the aim of marching to the Houses of Parliament to present a petition. Sylvia Pankhurst led the crowd and was arrested alongside twelve women and eleven men, one of whom was James. He was alleged to have grabbed a policeman by the throat and struck another. He was fined 40 shillings or a month imprisonment. His response when arrested was to state “I must have gone mad.” The magistrate observed that many respectable people appeared to have been swept up in the moment.
Lilian Borovikovsky, known as Lilly, was arrested on February 19th 1909. She was born Lilian Bertha Dora Prust on August 30th 1880 to Christopher and Louisa. Her father, a vaccination officer, died in 1882 leaving her widowed mother with two daughters aged one and three. Louisa remarried in 1902, Charles Teague, a Cheltenham musician who played the organ at the local family church and was a well renowned cellist. Lilian’s sister Emily married and moved to Finland although she returned to live in Cheltenham in the early 1920s. Lilian married Sergi Alexandrovitch Borovikovsky in June 1902, the groom was described as of the Russian Finance Office in Petersburg. Lilian met Sergi through her cousin Helen who was firstly married to a Russian called Chrouschoff. Just prior to the ceremony Lilian was baptised into the Church of England. The ceremony was followed by a Russian service at the Russian Embassy in London. Two years later Lilian gave birth to a son Sergei. In 1905 her husband was appointed to a commission on press censoring by the Czar, embroiled in the Russian crisis it appears that Lilian returned to Cheltenham to give birth to her son and never returned.
As a child Lilian appears to have attended Cheltenham Ladies College and attended their annual reunions. She became a member of the Women’s Freedom League and was elected to the committee in January 1909 at a meeting held at the Cheltenham Vegetarian Hotel.
Lilian was part of a delegation led by Charlotte Despard who attempted to deliver a petition to the Houses of Parliament. They were met by a not inconsiderable police presence including some on horseback. She was arrested and charged with obstruction. Found guilty she was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment of which she served two weeks released due to failing health.
After her release the Women’s Freedom League hosted a reception to welcome her home themed as an American Tea Party and sale. Lilian was clear that she would be more than happy to take part in another demonstration as she now felt more “suffragettish”, on this basis she encouraged all at the gathering to accompany her next time. Lilian was presented with the Holloway badge given to all women who served time in the prison and a copy of the Awakening of Women by Mrs Swiney. All the proceeds were donated to the Despard Prisoners Fund.
Lilian continued to involved with the Women’s Freedom League becoming the Cheltenham Branch Honorary Secretary. During the First World War Lilian trained with the Red Cross.
Lilian died on May 25th 1926, a patient of Gloucester Mental Hospital.
The next entry is for Boadicea which is an apt name given on arrest designed no doubt to infuriate the police. The person’s real name is Lilian Dove Willcox who it may be recalled was one of two released prisoners feted at a reception at Violet Bland’s house in Bristol. Lilian will be written about when her other entries are reached.
The next name is Lillie Boileau who was arrested twice. Lillie Maud Boileau was born circa 1870 in Purayh, India to Neil and and Mary, Neil was a retired army major general. The second of four daughters her father died in 1895 and the family permanently settled in England.
Lillie was one of five women charged with obstruction in respect of a picket outside Asquith’s house: Mrs Cranston, Charlotte Despard, Mrs Cobden Sanderson and Mrs Hicks. A member of the Women’s Freedom League the women had been taking it in turns to man the picket usually in pairs. Lilie tried to give a petition to Asquith who replied “Don’t be so silly.” The size of the picket grew ensuring that Asquith would have to face them whichever way he chose to leave. At that point the police attempted to move the women on. On their refusal two were arrested. Charlotte Despard protested and as she and Mrs Cobden attempted to take the others place they too were arrested along with the others on the picket.
At their first appearance in court the women stated that they were going to make a claim against the police for damages. On the understanding that they would stay away from Downing Street the case was adjourned for a week. In the meantime, the women rallied support. On August 26th they organised a meeting at Caxton Hall where all the women addressed the meeting explaining their belief based on the Bill of Rights that all citizens regardless of sex had the right to petition the government.
When the case reconvened a week later the women were represented by Timothy Healy, an Irish Nationalist MP, barrister and in not that different a stance from the Women’s Freedom League not agree with the attack tactics of the WSPU, Timothy supported Sinn Fein but not any associated violence. The defence stated that the women had a constitutional right to present a petition, the prosecution that the document was not prepared in the correct way to conform legally to a petition. However, the police admitted they had not actually examined the document. The women had been charged with obstructing the police in their duty whilst what they had actually been doing was potentially obstructing the pavement with which they were not charged. After hearing the evidence, the case was adjourned for a further week when the women were found guilty being fined 40 shillings or 7 days in prison.
The women, however, were granted the right to appeal. A letter appeared in several newspapers signed by Charlotte Despard, Mrs Cobden Sanderson and Mrs Hicks explaining the appeal and asking for donations to pay for it. It was an appeal they were to lose. Lillie amongst others travelled to Wales to promote the cause. They were met with fierce opposition by some. In Newtown they were refused lodgings and were eventually taken in by a member of the WSPU for the night, an attempt to hold an open air meeting was met with a crowd determined to prevent it from happening and the women had to take refuge in a shop. In meetings behind closed doors the rooms were packed and support unanimous but outside it continued to be a different story.
Whilst in Wales Lillie gave an interview to the Montgomeryshire Express and Radnor Times. She described the campaign in Wales as broadly successful particularly in Newton where they had encountered the most opposition and therefore also received the greatest support.
In one town small boys pushed up against Lillie pummelling her with their fists. She pushed one boy away. His mother shouted that she would bash Lillie’s head in. The women abandoned their plans and walked to the railway station. The angry crowd followed but with the help of station staff they safely boarded the train. The mother had followed and informed Lillie that she had a dog whip which she w[i]as keen to use. News came that the appeal had been unsuccessful and Lillie was aware that on her return to London she would be arrested.
Alongside her suffragette activities Lillie was a member of the Union of Ethical Societies which promoted living within ethical boundaries which would lead to people living in a way that supported others and thus a better world. The union supported areas such women’s suffrage, penal reform and assistance for the poor. After her death she was described as “one of its most intelligent, loyal and sympathetic collaborators.”
Lillie was arrested again in November 1913. Following a meeting at Caxton Hall addressed by Charlotte Despard who called for women agitators to have the same rights male agitators four of the women drove to Downing Street to present a resolution to this effect. The remainder walked to St James’s Park gathering on the steps between Downing Street and Horse Guards Parade. Miss Murray began to address the crowd and was immediately arrested being charged with obstruction. Three more arrests followed one of them being Lillie, all three were charged with obstruction. They were released on bail with surety being paid by Charlotte Despard.
At the subsequent hearing the evidence was that by standing where they had a public pathway had been blocked. Lillie was fined £5 and bound over to keep the peace for six months. Lillie refused. She was held until the end of the hearing and then released unconditionally. Lillie was back in court a week later as a witness for two of the accused women, Miss Boyle and Miss Murray, as their hearing had been adjourned. Unsurprisingly both women were found guilty, like Lillie they refused to pay the fine or agree to keep the peace. They were imprisoned in the alternate for one day.
Lillie continued to be involved the Union of Ethical Studies and campaign for a variety of causes. She died in 1930.
[i] The Ethical Movement of Britain
Nora Black was arrested twice between 1910 and 1911. Her first arrest was on Black Friday, November 10th 1911. As discussed in an earlier blog all the charges were dropped when the government came under close scrutiny for the way the women were treated. On both occasions she gave her address as WSPU headquarters, Clement’s Inn. Her second arrest on November 25th 1911 was for breaking a window at the Privy Council offices to a value of £2 6d. In her defence she stated that she had taken this action as it was the only form of intelligence the government understood. She was fined 10 shillings plus the cost of repairing the window or seven days in prison. Without an age or address no further information has been found.
Charlotte Blacklock was a member of the Chelsea Branch of the WSPU. In the November 19th 1908 addition of Votes for Women she writes about the members parading the streets of Chelsea “wearing placards of purple, green and white..acting the part of sandwich men.” [i] Born in 1857 in Brighton she was the daughter of Joseph and Emma Blacklock. In the 1861 census return Joseph describes himself as chemist, druggist and soda water manufacturer. In 1876 Joseph died and Emma continued running the business with as he got older assistance from her eldest son Philip. Charlotte is not recorded on the census returns as having an occupation until the 1891 where she is stated to be a governess. From thereafter she does not appear on any census return. It maybe that working as a governess took her to Chelsea.
Charlotte was a regular columnist in Votes for Women reporting on the activities of the Chelsea branch. In the April 23rd 1909 edition she sets out the arrangements for the Chelsea Art stall and an intended visit by Laurence Housman who co-founded the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage and was an acclaimed author. It was an artistic world that Charlotte was familiar through her relationship with her cousin, Amy Sawyer, an artist. On March 11th 1912 Charlotte was arrested for her part in a window smashing campaign being charged with damaging a window at the premises of Charles Lynton, Piccadilly valued at £6 15 shillings. Her defence informed the court that the value of the window was significantly smaller than that alleged. One hundred and twenty-six women were arrested having caused an alleged £4000 of damage. Charlotte was sentenced to four months imprisonment, a harsh sentence of a first offence. She went on hunger strike and was force fed. The WSPU awarded her a hunger strike medal which is now part of the collection at the Museum of Australian Democracy along with a portrait painted by her cousin Amy Sawyer. Charlotte moved in 1918 to Ditchling, Sussex. She died in 1931.
Violet Bland was born in 1863, the eldest child of William and Violet. The family lived in the village of Bayston Hill, a few miles south of Shrewsbury, Shropshire where her father worked as a labourer. As was often the way Violet left home and was employed as a kitchen maid at Dudmaston Hall about thirty miles from her family home.
No trace of Violet can be found until the early 1900s when she ran Henley Park Grove, a substantial house, as a Ladies College of Domestic Science from 1904 to 1911[ii] to the north of Bristol. In advertisements under the title of Ladies College is included Home for Health and Culture. Lectures were hosted by the Secretary of the Vegetarian Society, a Christmas party was promoted running from December 23rd 1904 to January 9th 1905 which included classes in hygienic cooking and food values for a cost of 35 shillings a week, this rose to 2 guineas a week if Swedish gymnastics and dancing classes were required. Lectures were to be held on subjects such as Uric Acid in Relation to Health or How the Vegetable World replaces the Animal World.
By 1906 Violet was no longer advertising the Ladies College but was offering first class board and lodgings complete with tennis and croquet. Over the year the advertisement altered drawing attention to the fact the property was heated in the winter and there was a gymnasium. The ever entrepreneurial Violet had branched out again by 1907 advertising for an attendant to assist with a rheumatic patient. Advertising for other staff who should be “useful help” explained “a boy” was “kept” already. Another required a man to tend the garden and the cow. By 1908 Violet had clearly moved far away from the original business selling off folding college beds and hockey sticks with pads described as nearly new. At the same time the Bristol authorities were planning to buy the house and open a hostel for men attending the Bristol Training College. Violet continued to sell off equipment from the school.
Violet joined the WSPU in Bristol. Lillian Dove Wilcox was also a member who was arrested in 1909 for being part of a deputation to the House of Commons. She was sentenced to one month in prison. She went on hunger strike. When her release date was known the women of the Bristol WSPU organised a reception committee to meet Lilian and Mary Allen, another released suffragette, off the train and accompany them in a procession to Violet’s house where refreshments were provided. One of the guests of honour was Annie Kenney who addressed the reception and along with Violet presented the ex-prisoners with leather belts with silver buckles. Violet spoke of the public spirit and endurance shown by the women.
In the Western Daily Press dated August 27th 1910 an advertisement was placed selling off furniture and effects from the house including twenty-one beds and over fifty chairs which indicates the size of the house. Not long afterwards Violet moved to London and opened a boarding house in central London.
Violet was first arrested for her part in Black Friday when the government dropped the charges against the women. The second arrest in March 1912 was alongside Ethel Baldock [see blog Three Bakers Two Baldocks]. They were jointly accused of breaking a window worth £10 at the Commercial Cable Company in Northumberland Avenue, London. Violet was sentenced to four months and was removed to Aylesbury Prison. In the July 5th 1912 edition of Votes for Women Violet described being force feed “They pinched and clutched my nose unmercifully …. and I did not rise quickly from the chair … they snatched the chair from under me, and flung me on the floor…. There is no doubt whatever about the attacks being made with the object of breaking us down… They twisted my neck, jerked my head back.. but pour it [the food] into one’s stomach .. They expect .. to perform the whole operation in two minutes. There were always six or seven to one..”
One her release Violet continued to run her West End boarding house. She died in 1940.
[i] Votes for Women November 19th 1908
[ii] The Heneleaze Book: Veronica Bowerman
Comments by email: Actually we do have some record of Violet Ann Bland, my great aunt, after her time in Dudmaston. She moved to Cirencester where she ran a guest house at 24 Victoria road; then a boutique hotel in (the Queen Anne) Gloucester House. Before long she owned three houses in Cirencester, renting out two of them--before moving to Henley Grove in Bristol.