Thomas Mortimer Budgett was the brother-in-law of Emmeline Pethick Lawrence. Born in 1865 Thomas was the son of James, a manufacturer of rope and twine and Sarah. The family lived in Crimchard, Somerset. Thomas had two elder brothers, Henry, and Frederick. In 1879 his father, James died. Twenty years later Thomas, married Annie Pethick, often known as Nance, Emmeline’s sister. Thomas and his brother Frederick, settled in Bromley, Kent where they worked in partnership as timber merchants. Thomas and Annie had four children.
The Men’s League for Suffrage, a group described as being founded on non-political lines, was founded in 1907. Thomas was appointed one of two honorary secretaries, a post he held until April 1908. While Annie wrote a pamphlet for the WSPU titled Facts Behind the Press discussing the misrepresentation of the woman’s movement which sold for 1d.
In February 1909, twenty-nine were arrested following another attempt to garner an interview with the Prime Minster at the House of Commons. A deputation set off from Caxton Hall, following a meeting, and as they approached Parliament Square the following crowd were prevented from proceeding. The deputation was permitted to continue while the police attempted to push the followers back towards Caxton Hall. Emmeline Pethick Lawrence led the group who arrived at the door of the House of Commons to find their way blocked by policemen. She was informed that Asquith was not in the House, but the petition would be given to him. Several of them attempted to push past the police cordon and members of the crowd followed suit leading to many the arrests. Thomas was the only man detained.
At a crowded court, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst were given seats in the dock. The police gave evidence which Emmeline declined to question, electing instead to make a statement. One by one the other defendants entered the dock, each declining to call witnesses or make any statement other than Constance Lytton who entered the dock and observed how proud she was of her actions. The last to enter the dock was Thomas who, according to the police, had attempted to breach the cordon. Described as being ‘in a very excited state’ Thomas had told the police ‘I am not going away: the women are not going to do all the dirty work’. Thomas offered no defence but said ‘it was quite obvious that he could not stand by and see English women treated in such as disgraceful way’. The Magistrate responded that if Thomas had been in court, he would have heard the women talk of the police ‘in the highest terms’. Thomas had interfered for no reason. He was bound over for a payment of £20 and £20 surety or sentenced to one month in prison allocated to Division II. All the women elected to go to gaol, but Thomas did not. His brother-in-law, Frederick, acting as surety.
The WSPU started a fundraising campaign called the £50,000 fund. By April 1909, an impressive £33000 had been raised and that month Annie donated £50. During 1910/11 Thomas served on the committee of the Men’s League for Suffrage. The 1911 census only records Thomas, across the form is written: Women refuse all particulars. No votes = no information’. The couple do not appear to have had any further direct involvement with the movement. Annie died in 1926 and Thomas in 1942.