Tomorrow, February 6th 2018 is the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage, 100 years since the Representation of the People Act was passed, giving some women the right to vote for the first time.
I’ve been trying to find out about our Suffragette and found interesting information in an article to be found at http://www.johndclare.net/Women1_cjbooks.htm about Suffragettes who were imprisoned for breaking windows which was our Suffragette’s crime. There is an excerpt below. Six of the women named in the Diary by our Suffragette are mentioned, (Ada Wright, Kathleen Brown, Theresa Garnett, Mary Allen, Mrs Mabel Tuke, and Mary Leigh – it’s pleasing to learn some first names too) and so is another Suffragette, Gladys Roberts of Leeds.
By a process of elimination, this could be her. I’ve looked in the Census of 1891 and discovered that a 5-year-old Gladys Roberts lived at 7 Craven Road, Leeds. If this is she, she would have been only 18 years old in 1909.
I also discovered that the personal effects of Gladys Robert, ‘ex suffragette’, were auctioned off at Christies in 1981. These included her Holloway brooch, which was awarded to her after her Hunger Strike. ( ‘The Women’s Suffrage Movement’ Elizabeth Crawford)
In the Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners 1905-1914, held in The Women’s Library, I found all but two of the names and learned some more first names: Lilian DoveWilcox, Sarah Carwin, Florence Cooke and Alice May.
To my delight I also found my Great Grandmother, Mrs. Wiseman. She, too, was awarded a Holloway brooch, which is proudly held in another branch of the family, it having gone down the line of oldest girl in each generation.
If our Suffragette is Gladys Roberts, perhaps the original Diary was included in the sale and is now in the hands of the buyer, who may, you never know, read this and get in touch. Perhaps a relative of Gladys Roberts will read this and get in touch.
I, and so many of the readers of this blog, really want to know more about her and the rest of her life. I shall keep on researching and will post if any more info turns up.
Thank you to my readers for your comments and your loyalty in following the Diary of our Suffragette. How incredibly brave these women were.
|It was Marion Wallace Dunlop who was the first to go on a hunger strike. She had been arrested and convicted of wilful damage, caused by rubber stamping a Bill of Rights message on a wall at St. Stephen’s Hall!
She was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment. Being denied political prisoner status she decided to go on a hunger strike on July 5 1909. She threw away the food brought to her. The prison authorities threatened to force feed her with milk through her nostrils. As a form of inducement (or torture) to break her fast, they left food on the table in her cell. After a fast that lasted ninety-one hours the Home Secretary set her free.
The Suffragettes decided on multiple, simultaneous attacks and demonstrations to confuse and harass the establishment, and keep their cause in the newspapers.
One group including Ada Wright was to break windows in Whitehall. To women of culture and refinement, throwing stones in order to cause damage, required great moral courage. As soon as the stone throwing began, arrests were made. Other teams made their way to the House. Onlooking crowds watched terrified, as the women stood their ground fearlessly under the harassment of the milling and rearing police horses.
By the evening, one hundred and eight Suffragettes had been arrested. They appeared the next day in Bow Street to stand trial charged with obstruction, malicious damage and assaulting the police. The police had difficulty identifying their battered prisoners as to who did what. Due to a legal point concerning one of the Acts they were being charged under, the trial was adjourned.
At the same court, the group responsible for the stone throwing were tried separately. This group was found guilty and sentenced to seven days close confinement (solitary) in Holloway Prison. Amongst those imprisoned were Gladys Roberts of Leeds, Miss Wright, Kathleen Brown and Mary Allen. They immediately went on a hunger strike and no amount of pleading by the doctors and intimidation by the authorities persuaded them to eat. Seven days later, they were released without breaking their fast.