2018 sees the 100th Anniversary of women over 30
getting the vote and the right of women to stand as MP.
There will events to celebrate this success of the pre-war suffragette campaigning in Croydon and elsewhere across the country.
Because there did not appear to be be a published study of Croydon’s suffragettes, the Croydon Radical History Network published a note in April 2015..
· Anne Stonebank. Suffrage and the Women of Croydon: 1907-1914. Harbouring Hopes; The Struggle for Women’s Freedom. (BA Dissertation. University of Greenwich. CLS: S70(324)STO)
· Ruth Margaret Davidson. Approach to Social Action: Public Women in Croydon 1900-1914. (MA Dissertation. September 2003 (CLS S70(3240DAV)
In addition to these dissertations a framework can be built from a number of accessible books and web resources which allows the start of in-depth research.
· Lee Webster’s article The Croydon women who laid down their lives for equality on Inside Croydon on 3 June 2013.
· Elizabeth Crawford’s The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928; & The Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A Regional Survey. (Routledge. 2013)
· Antoinette M. Burton’s Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture, 1865-1915. (Univ of North Carolina Press. 199???) & Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India. (Oxford University Press 2003) – latter re Bonerjee
· Laurie Magnus’s The Jubilee Book of the Girls' Public Day School Trust 1873–1923. (Cambridge University Press. 2014) – re Neligan
· Kate Luard’s Unknown Warriors: The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918. (The History Press. 2014) – re-Neligan.
· Joy Bounds’s A Song of Their Own: The Fight For Votes For Women in Ipswich (The History Press. 2014) – miscellaneous
· Sandra Stanley Holton’s Feminism and Democracy: Women's Suffrage and Reform Politics in Britain, 1900-1918 (Cambridge University Press. 2003)
· Cherly Law’s Suffrage and Power: The Women's Movement 1918-1928. I.B.Tauris. 1997.
· Croydon WPSU branch. Formed 1906. It had a shop at 50 High St. Its Secretary was Miss D. Arter. The Secretary in 1913 was Mrs Cameron Swan. The WPSU office was raided by the police on 30 June 1914.
· Croydon Actresses Franchise League branch.
· Croydon Women’s Freedom League branch
· Anerley Womens Freedom League branch. 1913 Secretary Miss J Fennings.
· Purley NUWSS. Formed January 1912. 40 members enrolled. Joint Secretaries: Miss Wallis and Miss Brailsford.
· Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association branch 1913. Secretary Miss Edith Moor (Glan Aber)
· South Norwood Suffrage Society.
· Miss D. Arter, ‘Melrose’, 38 Blenheim Park Rd. First Secretary Croydon WPSU 1906.
· Florence Baxter of South Croydon photographed campaigner Vera Wentworth
· Annie S Biggs. She wrote My Life and Why I am a Suffragette in Croydon Citizen 1907
· Miss Brailsford. Highwood, Peaks Hill. Joint Secretary Purley NUWSS.
· Mrs Dempsey – member of the Women’s Freedom League who was imprisoned.
· Miss Lottie Denham presided at South Norwood Suffrage Society meeting April 1913.
· Miss J Fennings, 149 Croydon Rd, Anerley: Secretary, Anerley Womens Freedom League branch 1913.
· Kattie Gliddon was member of the Croydon WPSU in 1910 and 1911. Her papers include press cuttings are held at the Women’s Library at London School of Economics (Cat: GB 106 7KGG/4/3 & 4)
· Marion Holmes – see below.
· Miss James, tax resister – see under Dorinda Neligan below.
· Mrs Leeds and her husband - members of the central committee of the Central National Society for Women’s Suffrage. She became honorary secretary of the Union of Practical Suffragists (1888-9) They lived at Tower House, Birdhurst Rd, Croydon.
· Mrs William T Malleson, and daughters Alice and Catherine. Unitarians, Alice member of Kensington Society 1865, lived at Duppas Hill.
· Miss Miller. There is a newspaper photo of her talking of Rev. Penman of Thornton Heath, under the title The Persuasive Suffragette. (CLS. Well Known Residents. S70(929)WEL. p. 54).
· Miss Edith Moor. Glan Aber. Secretary Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association branch 1913.
· Dorinda Neligan – see below.
· Mary Pearson - member of the Women’s Freedom League who was were imprisoned.
· Miss Dorothy Simmons, B. A., Secretary Croydon WPSU 1907. 5 Heathfield Rd.
· Helen and Margaret Smith, imprisoned following February 1907 deputation to the Commons. One of these may also be referred to as Miss E. Smith of Norbury in Croydon Times, 20 February 1907 – see below).
· Polly Smith. Wife of local builder J. A. Smith, on 13 March 1912 she was involved in smashing shop windows in the West End when 119 were arrested. She had 4 children, the youngest being 8 years old. While she refused to pay the fine it was paid for her, she was bound over and released. The hammer belonging to her husband which she had borrowed had been confiscated by the police. (John Bailey-Smith. A Local Suffragette. Bourne Society Bulletin. No. 181. August 2000).
· Rev Rudolph Suffield. Unitarian Minister Croydon 1870-77. Member National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act 1883/4.
· Mrs Cameron Swan, 79 Mayfield Rd, Sanderstead. She worked from Croydon WPSU offices at 2 Station Buildings, West Croydon. In March and April 1912 she was in Australia touring and lecturing.
· Mrs Terry, 6 Morland Ave, Secretary Croydon WFL.
· Miss Wallis, Birkdale, Foxley Lane. Joint Secretary Purley NUWSS.
Dorinda Neligan (1833-1914)
She was Irish, educated at the Sorbonne and served with the British Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian War. She was headmistress of Croydon High School (1874-1901). She supported the Women’s Emancipation Union in 1894, the Central Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1900, the WPSU 1909, and later WFL and Church League for Women’s Suffrage, and was patroness of the Actresses’ Franchise League. She was arrested on 29 June 1909 for being part of the deputation to Prime Minister Asquith from Caxton Hall, On 18 November 1910 she was a member of the deputation to the House of Commons. As a supporter of the Tax Resistance League her goods were restrained and sold in April 1912. Along with those of Miss James at Messrs. King and Everall’s Auction Rooms, Croydon; a simultaneous protest meeting being addressed by Mrs. Kineton Parkes.
In 1913 she lived at Oakwood House, Croydon. Her sister was on the Committee of the Croydon branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. One of her pupils was Janaki Bonnerjee who wrote her family history including a chapter about Neligan. Another pupil at the school was Mrs Elsa Gye (1881-1943) a musician who devoted herself to the suffrage cause.
Marion Holmes (née Milner, 1867-1943)
Born in Leeds and grew up near Barnsley. From age ten the family lived in Nottinghamshire where she married aged 21, having two daughters. Having moved to Margate she set up the local Pioneer Society; then moved to Croydon. She was President of the Croydon Women’s Social & Political Union. Christabel Pankhurst came to the meeting to celebrate her release from prison on 5 March 1907. She was opposed to the Women’s Co-operative Guild’s adult suffrage initiative introduced into the Commons in 1907: ‘“Half a loaf is better than no bread.” The women of this country are in the position of political starvation at the present time.’ After the split in the WPSU she joined the Women’s Freedom League, and became a National Executive member and co-editor of The Vote newspaper. She wrote two plays: A Child of the Mutiny and Brass and Clay. As a freelance journalist she was active in the Society for Women Journalists. She also published biographical sketches of sketches of people like Josephine Butler, Florence Nightingale, and Elizabeth Fry and wrote ABC of Votes for Women (1910 and 1913). She was the first female election agent in the Parliamentary election in Keighley in April 1918. ‘For Marion Holmes the history of antislavery made the whole question votes for women cut and dried. “In a word, the difference between the voter and the non-voter is the difference between bondage and freedom.”’ The Museum of London has a postcard of her.
· 1907 – Croydon WPSU members Marion Holmes, and Helen and Margaret Smith imprisoned for taking part in deputation to the Commons in February.
· 1909 - Suffragette week Croydon High St – see photo Suffragette on Croydon on Line website.
· 1909 - Muriel Matters, an Australian and actress who chained herself to the grille of the Ladies’ Gallery in the House of Commons in 1908, scattered Votes for Women leaflets over London from an airship landing in a tree in Coulsdon.
· AFL Croydon met at Pembroke Hall on 11 November 1909.
· 1910 - Bertha Mason was a visiting speaker at the Croydon branch of the NUWSS giving an illustrated lecture on the movement’s forerunners.
· Croydon WPSU published Arncliffe-Sennett’s An Englishwomen’s Home. (1910)
· 1911 -Croydon Women’s Social and Political Union theatre event. Israel Zangwill’s Prologue performed by the AFL at the Lyceum in 1911.
· 1912 - another visiting speaker to the Croydon WPSU Mary Dawes Thompson had her lecture published as a WPSU pamphlet Adam and Eve.
· Women’ Freedom League meeting with Mrs Despard (Croydon Times. 2 April 1913)
· South Norwood Suffrage Society meeting 141 Portland Rd. Miss Lottie Denham presided. Speaker Mrs Terry on ‘The vote and why we want it.’ (ditto)
She and her mother Helen joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU.) in 1908. In February 1908 they were both arrested while taking part in a deputation to the House of Commons. From February 1910, Leonora was the Honorary Secretary of the Lambeth branch of the WSPU, and subsequently transferred to the Streatham branch. From 8 March to 8 May 1912 she was imprisoned in Holloway for her part in the W.S.P.U. window-smashing campaign. In 1959 she lived in Purley. Her story is told in Anne Ward’s No Stone Unturned: The Story of Leonora Tyson a Streatham Suffragette ( 2005). Apart from biographical notes about Marion Holmes there is no mention of Croydon on the ‘How the Vote was Won’ website:
Mary Sophia Allen (1878-1964)
Although not a resident of Croydon when she was a suffragette Mary Allen was imprisoned for her activities three times. In 1914 she pioneered the first female police force, recruiting and training hundreds of women. Later she became Chief Women's Officer of the British Union of Fascists. She died penniless in a Croydon nursing home. (Nina Boyd. From Suffragette to Fascist: The Many Lives of Mary Sophia Allen. (The History Press. 2013)
Barbara Duncan Harris, 1881-1959
Quaker and feminist. NUWSS Organising Secretary for the Hampshire, East Sussex and Surrey County Federation. Initiated the Infant Welfare Movement in Croydon. Chair British Section Women’s International League between the World Wars. First Labour woman councillor in Surrey County Borough. (Ruth Davidson (Royal Holloway, University of London). Barbara Duncan Harris Pioneer, Fighting Spirit in Abstracts for the Aftermath of Suffrage Conference. An International Conference, Friday 24th and Saturday 25th June, 2011. Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield)
Women’s Activism 1914-1939
The story of women’s civil activism from 1914 is by Ruth Davidson in Citizens at last. Women’s Political Culture and Civil Society, Croydon and East Surrey. 1914-1939. (PhD. Royal Holloway. July 2010. CLS S70(324)DAV.)
The local newspapers are a rich source of advertisements and reports of suffragette meetings in Croydon, letters, and the speeches at other organisations meetings. These can be looked at in the Croydon Local Studies room in the Clocktower. There will also be material at the Women's Library at LSE.