Was there a suffragette or suffragist in your family? Have you got a suffrage story to tell or a local suffrage campaigner you’d like to include on this website? There doesn’t have to be a Bristol connection. If you have a suffrage story or information about the suffrage campaign you would like to add, you can email me here.

Suffrage in Hereford

Members of many faith groups were active in the campaign for the women’s vote, including the Church of England. The Church League for Women’s Suffrage was formed in 1909 by Reverend Claude Hinscliffe and his wife Gertrude.

In Hereford, a group of researchers based at the Cathedral have been looking into the contributions of local men and women as part of their Violet Plaques Project. The project has resulted in the installation of eleven temporary plaques across the city.

The idea for the violet plaques arose during the research phase of the Eastern Cloisters Project, a Heritage Lottery Funded project based within the cloisters of Hereford Cathedral. The aim of the Eastern Cloisters Project is to renovate the area and open them up to the general public for special events and activities. The research phase has uncovered many interesting stories from the archives of the cathedral.

To find out more about this fascinating project, you can download a Violet Plaques fact sheet here.  

Edith Gray Wheelwright

Edith Gray Wheelwright lived at 52 Sydney Buildings, Bath between 1910 and 1912 and was secretary of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Bath. Helen Hobbs of the Sydney Buildings Residents’ Association has researched Edith’s life and written a fascinating article about her. Read about Edith Gray Wheelwright on the Sydney Buildings website.

The Suffrage Campaign in Tewkesbury and Cheltenham by Derek Benson

I’m delighted to be able to include two articles by researcher Derek Benson which look in detail at the suffrage campaigns in Tewkesbury and Cheltenham. In them you’ll find information about the activity of non-militant campaigners like Harriet McIlquham, Rachel Costelloe, Rhoda Garrett, and Bristol suffragists such as Emily Sturge and Lillias Ashworth, as well as meet arsonist Lillian Lenton and other militant women. (PDF Documents.)

Women’s Suffrage Activism in Cheltenham by Derek Benson

Women’s Suffrage Activism in Tewkesbury by Derek Benson. An illustrated version of this article was published in the Tewkesbury Historical Society Bulletin, No 24, 2015.

Walking with Buckinghamshire Suffragettes

Find out about prison protests in Aylesbury, fire bombing in Saunderton, and the NUWSS Suffrage Pilgrimage in Buckhamshire in this wonderful collection of women’s suffrage heritage trails in and around the Chilterns. Written by local historian Colin Cartwright, with Andrew Clark of “Chesham Walkers are Welcome”, Walking With Buckinghamshire Suffragettes offers six short walks and lots of information about suffrage campaigning in the region. It’s available as a free download from Chesham Town Council. It’s sure to inspire you to find out more – and you’ll get the full story from Colin’s book – Burning to get the Vote: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Central Buckinghamshire, 1904-1914. RRP is £15, and the book is available from the University of Buckingham Press. It’s also available on Amazon and Kindle.

Marion Gilchrist: A Scottish Suffragette

By Anna Rose Fegan

This picture was taken on the 13th of September 2014 in Bothwell village. I met this “suffragette” at the Bothwell Parish Church graveyard tour, where famous people from the past would talk about their lives The tour was part of the annual Bothwell Scarecrow Festival – you can find out more about the Bothwell Scarecrow Festival here.

The lady in the picture was playing Marion Gilchrist, a suffragette who lived on a local farm, yet still went to Glasgow University – and was the first Scottish woman to graduate in medicine. She also worked tirelessly for women’s right to vote, and so she was a local Emily Davison.

Marion Gilchrist was born in 1863 at Bothwell Park Farm. She went to Bothwell School and the Hamilton Academy, and then studied medicine at Glasgow University. She qualified as a doctor in 1894.

In 1902 Marion helped set up the Glasgow and West of Scotland Association for Women’s Suffrage. Then she began to think that the non-militant societies weren’t getting any closer to winning votes for women, and so in 1908 she left the Association and joined the militant Women’s Social and Political Union.

The WSPU was founded by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903 and used militant tactics such as breaking windows, burning post boxes and setting empty houses on fire. Marion opened the WSPU headquarters at Bath Street in Glasgow on 11 January 1908 with a speech which praised the militant suffragettes and said they had made people notice the women’s cause at last.

In the 1930s Marion worked as an eye surgeon at Redland Hospital for Women in Glasgow. She died in 1952.

I was inspired by the story of how Marion, who was not from an exactly posh background, could do so well!

Vera Holme – Suffragette and Singer

(Picture: David Stone, Author’s Collection)

This beautiful book plate, designed by Jessie M King, belonged to suffragette Vera Holme, who in 1909 hid in the organ in Bristol’s Colston Hall to interrupt a Liberal MP’s speech. Vera was also a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and the Actresses’ Franchise League.  In his article ‘A Savoyard Suffragette: The Extraordinary Adventures of Vera Louise Holme’, David Stone tells us all about Vera’s connection with Gilbert & Sullivan and her exciting suffragette escapades. I’m delighted to be able to include David’s article on the website. Read A Savoyard Suffragette here (PDF Document).

Alice Hawkins – a working class suffragette

Peter Barratt writes:-

I am proud to say that my great-grandmother was a suffragette. Alice Hawkins was a working class lady and strong socialist who joined the suffragette movement in 1907 after her first arrest outside Parliament on the day of the State opening. Imprisoned 5 times in all, Alice is credited with founding the Leicester branch of the WSPU with the help of the Pankhurst sisters.

Now in my mid-fifties, I have always been proud of Alice and learnt of her from my grandfather (one of Alice’s sons) and also my mother who lived with Alice for many years. We have perhaps one of the best collections in the UK today of suffragette memorabilia that once belonged to Alice, including her sash, hunger strike medal, prison notes and much more. With this memorabilia I have created a web site in Alice’s memory and also as a learning aid for students of the movement. The web site ishttp://www.alicesuffragette.co.uk/.

I speak to groups on a regular basis about Alice’s fight for the vote as it is clearly a passionate hobby of mine.

Alice’s husband Alfred also supported the women’s cause and was injured on one occasion heckling Churchill at a public meeting. So although I am male, the support of the women’s cause is in the blood!