The next three entries in the arrest record relate to a mother and her two daughters: Hilda, Maria and Georgina Brackenbury. The three were collectively active in the campaign for votes for women for many years.
Hilda was born in Quebec, Canada, the youngest of seven children of Archibald and Agnes Campbell. In 1854 she married Charles Booth Brackenbury of the Royal Horse Artillery. In August 1857 they had the first of nine children. During the early years of their marriage Charles served in the Crimean War and was then posted to Malta and back to England rising to the rank of Colonel. The family was beset by tragedy in 1870 their eldest daughter died and in 1884 and 1885 their two eldest sons. Only five years later Charles died suddenly from heart failure. A year later her second eldest surviving son, Lionel, serving in the army, died in India.
Hilda left London and along with Georgina, Maria and Hereward, her youngest son, she moved in with her sister and brother in law, Andrew and Margy Noble, who lived in a grand style in Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle upon Tyne. He eldest surviving son, Richard, had emigrated to America in 1885 and her other son, Cyril, was abroad working as a mining engineer. For a while the two sisters lived in San Francisco where they were pupils of William Keith.
In due course Hilda and her two daughters returned to London moving into 2 Campden Hill Square London. Georgina and Maria studied at the Slade Art School specialising respectively in portraits and landscapes. Initially the three were members of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies but in 1907 they joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. In February 1908 Georgiana and Maria took part in a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament. Charged with obstruction they were both imprisoned for six weeks. Hilda commented that “I feel that my daughters are doing a service to their country in exactly the same way as my sons would do on the field.” It was reported in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser dated October 23rd 1908 that after their release on the Brackenbury sisters attended a party where the magistrate Mr Smith was present. He commented that “he was doing what he was told” when he sentenced them to six weeks in prison. Maria often used to advertise meetings by using her artistic talents chalking the details on paving stones or walls.
Georgina and Maria regularly addressed meetings across the country. Maria gave an interview to the Northampton Mercury, October 22nd 1909 in the introduction the interviewer describes her as “one of the very best exponents of her cause -a lady of culture and refinement, deeply in earnest..” Hilda took part in Black Friday when she was arrested but released without charge. In March 1912 the three were arrested for their part in the window smashing campaign. Hilda was nearly eighty years old when she was charged with smashing two windows at the United Service Institution in Whitehall. Each was sentenced to two weeks in prison having already served eight days on remand. The trial took quite some time as all three took the opportunity to address the court at length.
The family had a home Brackenside in Peaslake, Surrey which was often used to house women who had been released under the Cat and Mouse Act whilst they recovered. Hilda died in 1918, Maria in 1945 and Georgina in 1949. Two of Georgina’s portraits are owned by the National Portrait Gallery; one of the 17th Viscount Dillon and one of Emmeline Pankhurst.
Frank Brailsford was arrested in December 1912 for breaking a pane of glass in a window at No 10 Downing Street valued at half a crown. On his arrest he said “I shall not run away, I did it for a purpose.” At his trial he stated he had taken this course of action on purely political grounds due to Asquith’s attitude towards votes for women. He was sentenced to pay forty shillings plus the half crown 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 1873 in Elderslie, Renfewshire. 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. Her love appears to have been unrequited. A lecturer at Glasgow University, Henry Brailsford, heard Keir Hardie of the Independent Party speak. This led to the founding of a branch at the university of the Independent Labour Party which in turn span into the founding of the university Fabian Society. One of the first members was Jane.
Henry’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 which was prompted by her departure for Oxford University. This seems only to have served to make Henry more smitten. He wrote to her constantly 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. 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 one and 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 acceptance after two years of pursuit and the far from happy marriage it became had led to speculation as to why she accepted. The romanticism of a mission to Crete, the death of her father and the consequent sale of her childhood home have all been proposed. Jane, certainly, did not appear 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 with Jane running a hospital until she contracted typhus. Unhappy in her marriage Jane was a woman who yearned for acclaim and needed a cause. This 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.
Jane’s first arrest was in November 1909 in Newcastle where she had attacked a barricade with an axe. She was sentenced to thirty days. On her release, Jane was committed to the militant approach. Henry was not which brought more discord between them. Jane was arrested for a second time in November 1911 and was sentenced to a week. A journalistic campaign by friends secured her release within three days. The Pankhursts desire to totally control the Women’s Social and Political Union angered Jane and she resigned in October 1912.
Jane, without a cause, was lost. Her mental state pushed her already strained marriage to breaking point and in 1913 the couple 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. Jane was consumed by revenge and patriotic fervour.
The couple split again in 1921 although Jane refused to agree to a divorce. Blighted by alcoholism she died of its effects in 1937.