This is my fourth blog on the faces behind the suffragette arrest record recently released by the National Archives. Including the names below that is nineteen researched but not all successfully. Some despite trying numerous avenues remain anonymous other than the reason for their arrest others have a much higher profile and have a name that is instantly linked to the movement. Even with such a small number the middle class women London centric portrayal is dismissed: Scotland, Preston, Huddersfield, Lewes, working class, male.
Isabella Alexander was arrested on June 22nd 1914. Isabella chained herself to the railings in front of statue of the Duke of Wellington outside the Royal Exchange in London. When she was brought before the court she became violent and abusive. In consequence she was remanded in custody pending a medical assessment. When she was brought before the court again she was ordered to pay £10 and be bound over to keep the peace for three months. Isabella’s response was to the point “You have not risen to the occasion, and we must put you in the category of white slavers. We women will not be bound over.” As she refused to pay the fine or give any undertaking in respect of her conduct she was imprisoned for 7 days.
Isabella gave her age as forty two and her residence as Campden Hill, Notting Hill. Sadly it has not been possible to identify her from this information.
Doreen Allen was arrested twice on March 12th 1912 and March 19th 1912 for taking part in the demonstrations that involved window smashing. She was imprisoned for four months and was force fed. Doreen was one of the suffragettes imprisoned with Mary Aldham and she signed the handkerchief. During her imprisonment some of the women performed a scene from the Merchant of Venice, Doreen played Narissa. Following her release Doreen continued her political activities. Late in 1913 Emmeline Pankhurst was arrested on the Majestic as she returned from America. A group of suffragettes including Doreen travelled to Plymouth to meet Emmeline only to see her arrested under the Cat and Mouse Act and taken to Exeter Gaol. Emmeline went on hunger strike and was released again. She spent the night following her release at the Great Western Hotel along with a close group of supporters and her nurse. Outside the press and two plain clothes policemen sent from London waited. Doreen informed those waiting that Emmeline would shortly leave and travel to London where Emmeline was to take part in a meeting.
There is no record of a Doreen Allen being born and of an age to take part in the suffragette campaign. This would indicate that Allen is her married name. There was only one marriage that fits all the criteria. Assuming that this is correct Doreen’s full name was Edith Doreen Allen nee Allchin born in 1879. She was the daughter of John James, a builder and Mary Ann Allchin. Doreen married Melville Hodsoll Allen who worked at the Stock Exchange in 1905. They do not appear to have had children. Melville died in 1932 and Doreen in 1963.
Janie Allan was arrested on March 4th 1912 and March 19th 1912 for her part in the window smashing campaign. Sentenced to four months imprisonment she went of hunger strike barricading herself into her cell. It apparently required the use of a crow bar to free her for force feeding. She was one of the women who signed the suffragette handkerchief.
Janie born in 1868 in Scotland was the daughter of a wealthy shipping owner who despite his wealth held strong socialist principals. She was active throughout the suffragette campaign and following its cessation on the onset of World War 1 she contributed to the establishment of medical facilities. She never married and died in 1968. An excellent article can be found here: catandmouse.org.uk/docs/Janie_Allan_op.pdf
Helen Allen was arrested on February 12th 1902 for her participation in the attempt to gain entry to the House of Commons. A member of the WSPU she gave the headquarters address as her own. At her trial she was bound over to keep the peace.
Margaret Allen was arrested on November 24th 1910 as part of the contingent who attempted to enter the House of Commons. She is not specifically named in the newspaper reports but the majority were sentenced to one or two months imprisonment. She was the daughter of Thomas Taylor Allen and Margaret nee Dowden of Cork, Ireland. Known as Greta she lived in Lewes, Sussex. A trained nurse she was involved in public health lecturing local authorities on their responsibilities. In 1908 her book Practical Hints for Health Visitors with an emphasis on child welfare was published. The Kent and Sussex Courier dated November 25th 1910 contains an announcement that Greta had been unable to provide the evening lecture on Home Nursing that week which is obviously explained by presence at the rally and subsequent arrest. Several years later Greta addressing a medical conference said that she rarely drank but her imprisonment made her yearn for alcohol and on her release she drank green Chartreuse.
Although Greta lived in Lewes she was the organiser of the Brighton and Hove WSPU as there had been considerable local debate on the establishment of a group supporting the call for women’s right to vote. The Lewes Women’s Suffrage Society was not founded until 1910 and only went so far in its resolution to support the right of women homeowners to vote and to further this aim using non-violent methods. Greta attended the Mayor’s Ball in Lewes which was after all her home town. The attire was fancy dress and Greta attended dressed in a convict’s outfit entitled Suffragette: Second Division, a reference to the suffragette’s categorisation in prison.
Greta, in time, instigated the founding of a branch of the WSPU in Lewes although the suffrage movement in the town remained divided. In 1913 Lewes became the focus when Beatrice Sanders was imprisoned there. Sentenced as a Third Division prisoner whereas suffragettes were normally classed as Second Division meaning her time would be even harsher. She went on hunger strike and Greta held an open air meeting to drum up support for Beatrice. Heckled she eventually had to be led to safely by the police. Suffragettes then gathered at the prison walls singing suffragette songs and maintaining a vigil. Beatrice was released under the Cat and Mouse Act and it was Greta who arrived to collect her arranging for her admittance to a Lewes nursing home. Greta appears to have resigned from her post before the outbreak of World War 1 and what happened to her thereafter is not known.
 The Monmouth Guardian June 26th 1914 http://cymru1914.org/en/view/newspaper/4030564/6