Ivy Constance Beach was arrested in March 1912. Born in Southampton in 1881 it is not known who her parents were. By the age of nine, she was at boarding school in Cheltenham and, ten years later in 1901, she was an apprentice draper’s assistant living over the shop in the Isle of Wight. When she appeared before the court in 1912, Ivy was stated to be from Brighton with no occupation. Ivy was charged with malicious damage to five windows in Edgeware Road, the property of the Postmaster-General to a value of £25. Ivy was charged alongside Catherine Green, Marie Brown and Mabel North. Bail was set at £100 and, all four women elected to await trial on remand in prison.Ivy pleaded not guilty and was acquitted of the charges. Ivy died in 1931.
 HP 140/298
 HO 144/1193/220196-1to233
 DPP 1/19
After university, she moved to London and started working for the WSPU. All of her entries in the arrest record is under the name Phyliss Brady, the alias she always gave to the police. Olive was first arrested in April 1913 for being found with combustible material with the intention to commit a felony; a railway carriage had been damaged by an explosion and, the police believed the railway stations were to become a target. Olive and Millicent Dean with whom she was arrested, were considered to be suspects. A policeman saw them walking in Croydon at 1.45 am, each carrying a leather travelling case. When questioned as to why they were out so late they replied they were returning from their holidays. Followed by the policeman for some distance, they dropped the cases and ran. According to the newspaper reports, the retrieved cases contained tins of paraffin paper saturated with oil, candles, matches, cotton wool and firelighters. There was also a piece of paper on which had been written “Beware of how you treat Mrs Pankhurst.”
When the two women appeared in court, they requested an adjournment to prepare their defence. This was agreed to, bail being agreed at £50. Olive continued to use her false name and gave an invalid address. Olive was remanded in custody where she immediately went on hunger strike and was in due course force-fed. At her trial, she was sentenced to six weeks.
Olive continued to refuse food, and the authorities continued to respond by force-feeding. On April 25th 1913, the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913 came into force, commonly known as the Cat and Mouse Act. This legislation allowed prisoners who were in danger of dying to be released and then taken back into prison when they had sufficiently recovered. Olive was released three days after the Act came into force, 28 April, but failed to return to prison.
Her details were circulated “late of Albany Street, Regents Park, twenty-three years, 5ft 6in, complexion swarthy, hair dark, eyes dark, medium build.” The reason for the reference to ‘late of’ is that the authorities had believed that on release the prisoner would ‘give the address to which she intended to proceed, and also of any intention to remove from that address to another.’ Not unsurprisingly Olive did not notify them when she left Albany Street.
Surveillance was mounted around King Henry’s road in Hampstead. When Olive left one of the houses on the road, she was followed to Chalk Farm tube station where she caught a bus. Olive got off at Holborn. There she was arrested taken to Cannon Row police station and from there conveyed to Holloway. Olive refused to be examined, to drink water or take food. A memo noted that Olive was ‘a dangerous woman who has probably been guilty …of arson since her release.’ In the writer’s opinion, Olive should be held ‘as long as possible whether she is committed for trial on the fresh trial or not.’ She should not be released ‘merely because she is refusing food.’ The recommendation was that force-feeding should commence on 17 January which, it was noted, had successfully been endured the last time she was in prison. When Olive was informed of the intention to force-feed her, she informed them she suffered from appendicitis. An examination proved otherwise. It was noted that Olive had ‘considerable physical strength.’ After Olive was force-fed, she protested by breaking the panes of glass in her cell.
Two days later she was charged with setting fire to a house in Englefield Green, Surrey. Olive’s response was “I am almost certain not to appear.” While at court it was noted Olive ate and drank ‘two egg sandwiches, two cups of tea and a teaspoonful of Brands Essence.’ Back in prison awaiting trial Olive refused food. Concerns were expressed and, in response, the Bishop of London paid a surprise visit to Holloway. He reported that he found Olive well “and kindly and considerately treated by the prison officials.” He was not permitted to witness the force-feeding but had been assured the only side effects were indigestion and sickness. Another prisoner he had interviewed only screamed, he wrote, as a protest at what was about to happen. His report angered the WSPU who felt it was a whitewash as he had failed to witness the force-feeding. Olive issued a statement in which she stated that she had informed the Bishop that force-feeding was very painful and she was frail. The Bishop; had assured her that her fellow prisoner only screamed through protest. When Olive put this to the prisoner, she was clear that she had told the Bishop that she screamed as a means of relieving her feelings as she knew that what was about to happen was so awful, if she did not scream she would go mad.
A doctor examined Olive noting that she was fed using an oesophageal tube as Olive could expel the nasal one. Each time she was force-fed Olive ‘violently resists.’ In the doctor’s opinion, Olive was anaemic with low blood pressure. Overall he viewed Olive’s condition as ‘fairly good’ and, there was ‘no indication that her health [was] suffering to any marked extent.’ He had been assured she had not lost any weight, but this was a visual conclusion as Olive refused to be weighed. He expressed concern that Olive’s violent resistance to being force-fed might injure her health.
An application for bail was made to the court to allow Olive to prepare her defence. Dr Flora Murray appeared to support the application informing the court that Olive was too ill to prepare her defence. She offered to undertake to have Olive living with her. The application was denied as Olive had been released before and disappeared, she had also avowed when charged not to appear again. However, a further application was successful as Olive had by then survived the balance of her first sentence. She was released on 12 February.
When the case came to court Olive, appeared wearing a long coat to which she had pinned bunches of violets. The prosecution evidence centred on suffragette literature found in the garden and the identification by a police officer at Holloway who had picked them out from thirteen women. Fifteen witnesses were called twelve of whom put the women at different places on the evening in question and, few were confident that these were, in fact, the two involved. The house had been empty for three years and, no one could say with any certainty how leaflets got into the garden. Olive’s barrister, George Rivers Blanco White, proffered no defence stating that the evidence was too flimsy on which to convict and thus Olive never spoke or gave an alibi. The judge was clear when he was speaking to the jury, after the conclusion of the evidence, that Olive had not said where she had been that night.
In less than fifteen minutes, she was found guilty with the jury recommending clemency as she had been led astray by older women. Her barrister pointed out her health was frail which the judge dismissed stating it was her own fault as she refused food. She was sentenced to eighteen months, the judge’s only clemency being not to impose hard labour as he was entitled to do.
Tests were carried out on suffragettes on their release for the presence of bromide which relaxed the body, making force-feeding easier to administer. Its presence was detected when Olive was tested. Waldorf Astor, MP for Plymouth, alarmed at these revelations asked Reginald McKenna, Home Secretary if there was any truth in these reports. Mckenna was clear no administration of bromide had taken place.
On 21 March 1914 one of Olive’s brothers, Gerald, visited her in prison, a report of which was taken by the authorities. Gerald was only granted permission to visit her as he had written stating that he wished to do so ‘with the object of persuading her to give an undertaking to abstain from militancy in the future.’ The reply made it clear that her sentence would only be remitted if she undertook to ‘abstain for the future crime or incitement.’ Gerald requested a visit after 5 pm. A note on the file suggests a time of 6 pm as Olive was force-fed at 4 pm and would be sufficiently recovered by then for a meeting.
Her brother urged her to give the undertaking pointing out to Olive their mother’s serious illness. The report states that Olive was reluctant to give the undertaking as she feared reprisals from the WSPU. At Olive’s request, her brother spoke with WSPU leaders who make it clear it was Olive’s decision to make. They were sympathetic to her position and assured her there would be no comeback if she gave the undertaking.
On the file are reports which were completed after each session of force-feeding from the day her sentence commenced on 24 February. On admission, Olive refused food, water and to be examined. The report the following notes that Olive is ‘a little anaemic’ with ‘some acne spots on her face.’ On 26 February, after only one day of no food, force-feeding commenced by nasal tube. A report dated 5 March notes that Olive ‘refuses to go to exercise. Is sullen and refuses to answer questions.’ One dated two days before her release records that to encourage her to eat ‘appetising food’ had been proffered. This failed so in the morning; Olive was fed by a nasal tube and in the evening by oesophageal tube. Each report from the start of her sentence notes that Olive was ‘very resistive’. Only on her last day when Olive knew she was going to be released did she agree to take food herself.
On March 25th 1914, Olive was released from prison having undertaken to stop her political activities. Her undertaking reads ‘On condition that the whole of the remaining portion of my sentence be remitted and I am otherwise released absolutely unconditionally, I undertake in the future not to violate the present existing Criminal law, or to incite or others to do same. In this, I make no admission as to any act in the past.’ Having served one month of her eighteen-month sentence, Olive was released. She was sent by taxi to Dr Flora Murray’s residence at Bedford Gardens, Campden Hill, London. The file contains a letter from her mother dated 27 March thanking the authorities for releasing Olive, and a file note observing that her mother’s handwriting was the same as on two anonymous letters which had been received.
In the Suffragette, she wrote that this had been a reluctant decision only made due to the state of her mother’s health. Whatever the truth of the statement at the time her mother lived until 1929. In a later letter, Olive explained it was a combination of her mother’s health and the long term effect on her own health. She needed to earn a living, and if she were too weak, she would not be able to do so. Olive was tested again for bromide, and again it was found to be present. This was also found to be the case when tests were carried out on another suffragette. Dr Flora Murray outlined in a report supported by Dr Frank Moxon the consequences of the administration of bromide or ‘any other hypnotic drug’ which could include long term mental impairment. Olive was, according to a WSPU speech, found by a doctor to be ‘weak and very anaemic. She had a rash on her face, and in reply to questions described her sensations and symptoms, which led me to form the conclusion that she had been given large doses of bromide.’ The files note that the only drug administered was, when necessary, an aperient which would have been used to relieve constipation. It was a serious allegation in particular in light of the Home Secretary’s adamant denial, but the gathering clouds of war seem to have averted the press attention.
After the First World War Olive founded a secretarial business in London joining the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union. Eventually moving to Suffolk, she became a leading member of the Sudbury and Woodbridge Labour Party. She died in 1978.
 HO 144/1261/236533