Someone kindly got in touch and provided further information on Blanche Bennett who was included in the last blog. She was arrested on March 5th 1912 for her part in the window smashing campaign and was sentenced to two months hard labour for smashing two windows at 1, Baker Street, London. Secretary of the Irish Women’s Suffragette Society and had travelled to London to take part.
Many protested at the harshness of the sentences in comparison to sentences metered out to men for crimes against women or children which were considered to be more lenient. As Charlotte Despard wrote in The Vote published on March 9th 1912 “Let them compare the sentences passed on men for outrageous offences against women and children with that on Mrs Pankhurst, and they will, we hope, begin to realise how low we have fallen in our-man administered justice, and how deep is the necessity for reform”.
Dorothea Benson was arrested on March 5th 1912. No further information has been found.
The next entry is for William Edward Bethell. Unusually no date for his arrest is included as has always been the case so far for every name. Searching through the newspapers a very strange tale transpired. The Votes for Women newspaper dated November 13th 1913 included a report regarding the injuring of William at a suffragette meeting, injuries that were so great he passed away a few days later. However a search through the death records did not locate any record of William dying. A report in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, who had picked up on an article in the Times, states that the police had been trying to verify the veracity of the report included in amongst other publications Vote for Women. William’s brother was apparently informed that he had attended a meeting and been injured. When interviewed William’s father expressed surprise as William had emigrated a year before and he had received a letter from him only days before. A case of mistaken identity or something more sinister because as the police concluded there was no sign of anyone passing away who had attended such a meeting? As apparently William had never been active before that point in suffragette activities who did they arrest or was his name included because his death was being investigated?
Annie Biggs was arrested twice on March 21st 1907 and September 30th 1911. The first arrest was for her part in a demonstration and she was sentenced to two weeks imprisonment. In 1907 a book was published entitled My Prison Life and Why I Am a Suffragette written by Annie S Biggs which seems likely to be one and the same person. Although no light can be shed on her personal life not helped by the fact that she often gave a different age when she appeared in court contemporaneous newspaper reports shed some insight. The Sheffield Evening Telegraph dated April 8th 1908 reported the appearance in court of Annie who refused to give her address and described herself as an organiser. She had been charged with obstruction for sweeping a crossing between Waterloo Place and Pall Mall in Central London. Annie is described as a well dressed woman wearing a “fashionable black toque, trimmed with red flowers and white suede gloves” who spoke “in a refined tone, and was evidently well educated”. Her sweeping of the crossing had drawn a crowd which was causing an obstruction. On being requested to desist she had refused and was then arrested. In court Annie stated that she had tried to gain employment. She was a caterer and organiser of first class restaurants undertaking some of the finest work in London but had not succeeding in finding work. As, she claimed, her references were too good she had been unsuccessful in finding work as a domestic servant. She had tried to emigrate to Queensland but this had not been successful either. She had not known it was against the law to sweep crossings. The magistrate explained why she should not have been sweeping the crossing to which Annie responded “.. I think I have had enough of crossing sweeping; probably I shall not, go there again.” The magistrate discharged her. Not being a suffragette activity this arrest does not appear on her record.
Three years later Annie was arrested again. This time she presented herself at Cannon Row Police Station stating she had broken two windows at the Home Office. Annie was described as an organiser who was homeless. Annie stated that she had broken the windows to draw attention to her plight. Prior to breaking the windows she had spent the entire night sitting at the out patient’s department of a hospital hoping to be admitted as an in-patient but had failed to achieve her aim. She had been without food until the police offered her sustenance. The police informed the court that some months before she had participated in a suffragette protest being charged with resisting the police and had also appeared before the courts charged with obstruction of the highway. The first of these statements is not consistent with the arrest records as only this incident and the arrest in 1907 are included. In response to the assertion regarding the suffragette movement Annie said she was now opposed to the movement.
Annie was remanded in custody to be examined by a doctor. No newspaper reports can be found of recording what followed. It seems probable that Annie was admitted to the workhouse as Annie S Biggs, journalist, is recorded as being admitted on December 12th 1911. There the trail goes cold. It is purely conjecture but perhaps Annie’s imprisonment in 1907 disturbed the balance of her mind which would not be an isolated incident.
 The Vote March 9th 1912