On this day in history….21st March 1920

On this day in history : 21st March 1920 – The death of Evelina Haverfield, the British suffragette who during WW1 began to devote herself to helping the Serbian people….

Portrait of Honorable Evelina Haverfield by B. Cundy – The Wellcome Collection CC BY 4.0

Evelina Scarlett, the daughter of William Frederick Scarlett, 3rd Baron Abinger and Helen Magruder Scarlett, was born at Inverlochy Castle, Kingussie, Scotland on the 9th of August 1867…. She grew up in London and Inverlochy before going to school in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1880….

On the 10th of February 1887 Evelina married Royal Artillery Major Henry Wykeham Brooke Tunstall Haverfield – she was 19-years-old, he was 20 years older than her…. They had two sons, John Campbell Haverfield in 1887 followed by Brook Tunstall Haverfield in 1889…. The family made their home in Sherborne, Dorset….only Henry was to die only a few years later in 1895….

Evelina remarried on the 19th of July 1899 – another Royal Artillery Major, John Henry Balguy, a friend of her late husband…. She kept her house in Sherborne – and continued to use the name Haverfield, changing it back by deed poll just a month after the marriage…. She accompanied her new husband to South Africa during the Second World War…. Being an accomplished horsewoman herself she formed a retirement camp for horses…. After 10 years Evelina and Balguy went their separate ways as it was not a happy union, although they never actually divorced….

After joining the Sherborne branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Evelina attended a rally at the Royal Albert Hall…. Inspired she then in 1908 joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst…. She was arrested several times, once with Emmeline during a demonstration, another time along with 200 other suffragettes for smashing windows and in 1910 for assaulting a police officer…. She reportedly claimed in court that she had not hit him hard enough and “next time I will bring a revolver!” She eventually found herself in Holloway serving a two week sentence after attempting to break through a police cordon outside the House of Parliament…..

In 1911 Evelina began a relationship with Vera ‘Jack’’ Holme, also known as the Pankhursts’ Chauffeur……it was a friendship that was to last for the rest of her life…. They soon began to live together, quite possibly as a couple – and Vera made Evelina the sole heir in her Will….

Not a lot is known about the early life of Vera Holme…. She was born on the 29th of August 1881 in Birkdale, Lancashire to parents Richard and Mary Holme…. She may have been educated in France before becoming an actress…. Vera was known to be a lesbian, she tended to dress in masculine clothes and adopted mannish mannerisms…. She joined the WSPU in 1908, soon becoming an active member, working alongside the likes of Annie Kennedy, Clara Codd and Elsie Howey…. It was in 1909 that a wealthy supporter of the WSPU bought Emmeline Pankhurst an automobile that Vera was appointed her chauffeur…. Vera also spent time in Holloway….during 1911 after being convicted of stone throwing….

Vera ‘Jack’ Holme – LSE Library via Flickr

At the outbreak of WW1 Evelina founded the Women’s Emergency Corps, to help with the war effort….an organisation that helped women to become doctors, nurses and motorcycle messengers….

In 1915 she received instructions to organise the dispatch of the Scottish Women’s Hospital units to Serbia, an expedition she herself accompanied…. The Scottish Women’s Hospital to Foreign Services had been founded in 1914, providing nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, cooks and orderlies to what was to become four hospitals in Serbia…. The conditions in Serbia were beyond dire….the Serbian army had just 300 doctors for half a million men…. As well as battle injuries to contend with there was also a typhus epidemic affecting both the military and civilians alike…. However, in 1916 the volunteers were forced to leave after Serbia was finally invaded…. A hard resistance campaign had been fought against the invading Austrians but eventually starvation, disease and exhaustion were to take their toll in the winter of 1915 – Serbia could no longer hold out….

In August 1916 Evelina was dispatched to Serbia via Russia as ‘Head of Transport Column’ – she was in charge of an army of 75 women…. She was then later to co-found with Flora Sandes the ‘Evelina Haverfield’s and Flora Sandes’ Fund for Promoting Comforts for Serbian Soldiers and Prisoners’…. Back in England she raised awareness of the situation in Serbia….

Flora Sandes in Serbian Army uniform ca.1918 – Public domain

After the War Evelina and Vera travelled back to Serbia and they set up a children’s health centre and orphanage in the small mountain town of Bajina Bašta…. The centre was later to be named after her – and she was to receive the highest Serbian award….the Order of the White Eagle….

On the 21stof March 1920 Evelina died of pneumonia…. She was buried with full military honours of the cemetery in Bajina Bašta…. Shops and offices closed for the day and all the inhabitants of the town attended…. Her work was continued after her death – a British medical mission remained in Bajina Bašta until 1922; now a hospital stands in its place where a plaque commemorating Evelina Haverfield hangs…. She is still held in the highest esteem by the Serbian people….

Evelina Haverfield on a 2015 Serbian postage stamp – Post of Serbia – Public domain

On her death Evelina left Vera £50 a year for life in her Will – even though it was contested by the man who was still legally her husband….

On this day in history….13th February 1958

On this day in history : 13th February 1958 – The death of Dame Christabel Pankhurst – eldest daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union….

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Christabel c.1913

Christabel Harriette Pankhurst was born on the 22nd of September 1880 in Manchester…. Her mother owned a small shop at the time and her father, radical socialist Richard Pankhurst was a barrister…. Christabel and her two younger sisters, Sylvia and Adela, attended Manchester High School for Girls and then Christabel went on to the University of Manchester to study law….

In 1893 Richard and Emmeline formed a branch of the new Independent Labour Party (ILP) and in 1895 Richard stood as ILP member for Gorton in the General Election…. Christabel and Sylvia became involved in the campaign, in which Richard got a respectable amount of votes but lost to the Conservatives…. It was whilst Christabel and Sylvia were in Geneva in 1898 – as part of an extended European holiday – that they received a message to hurry home as their father was ill…. By the time they had arrived Richard had died from a perforated ulcer….

In 1903 Christabel and her mother founded the Women’s Social Political Union….adopting the slogan ‘Deeds not words’…. Christabel was arrested and imprisoned for the first time in 1905 – she and fellow suffragette Annie Kennedy disrupted a Liberal Party meeting in Manchester by unfurling a banner proclaiming ‘Votes for Women’…. Her actions caught the attention of the world, even more so because of her imprisonment – her arrest and subsequent treatment afterwards prompted Emmeline to begin to take more militant action….

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Anne Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst c.1908 – Public domain

Upon her release Christabel embarked on a campaign including more direct action…. She helped organise large rallies and as civil disobedience escalated was involved in arson attacks and even bombings…. In 1906 she obtained her law degree – but being a woman was not permitted to practice…. Instead she used her legal training to produce speeches and pamphlets – she was appointed ‘Organising Secretary’ of the WSPU and earned the nickname ‘Queen of the Mob’….

Christabel was jailed several times and went on hunger strike…. The authorities began to use the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’…. A cruel procedure – women on hunger strike would be released from prison to recover, often after having endured traumatic and painful force feeding, only to be re-arrested to finish their sentences once their health had improved…. Between 1913 and 1914 Christabel lived in Paris to avoid re-arrest….

Whilst in exile she continued to help run the Suffrage campaign, mainly in an administrative role…. It was at this time the publication ‘The Suffragette’ was founded….

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‘The Suffragette’ – the newspaper edited by Christabel Pankhurst ~ the Emily Wilding Davison memorial issue – Public domain

Returning to the UK at the start of World War I Christabel was re-arrested to serve a three year sentence…. However, after immediately going on hunger strike she only served 30 days of her sentence….

At the end of the War some women were granted the Vote and Christabel decided to stand as a Women’s Party candidate in the 1918 General Election…. She was narrowly defeated by the Labour Party candidate standing against her….

Christabel moved to California in 1921…. She became an Evangelist and prominent member of the Second Adventist Movement, later lecturing and writing books on the Second Coming…. She returned briefly to Britain during the 1930s and it was in 1936 that she was created a Dame…. At the onset of World War II she went back to the States, to live in Los Angeles….

On the 13th of February 1958 her housekeeper found her passed away – sitting in a straight-backed chair, there was no obvious indication as to how she had died…. She was 77-years-old…. Christabel was buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, California….

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Christabel Pankhurst DBE c.1910

On this day in history….25th June 1912

On this day in history : 25th June 1912 – Prime Minister Herbert Asquith comes under attack in the Commons over the force-feeding of suffragettes….George Lansbury is suspended from Parliament for his outburst….

George Lansbury was Labour MP for Bow and Bromley; he was a peace activist, opposed to the Boer War and World War I…. He was also a staunch supporter of Women’s Suffrage….

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The Right Honourable George Lansbury MP – Bassano Limited – Public domain

The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) had engaged in an active campaign and many had been imprisoned for acts such as smashing windows and refusing to pay fines…. Soon Holloway was full and women were sent further afield, to prisons such as Aylesbury and Birmingham and overcrowding meant conditions were even poorer than usual…. Denied the status of political prisoners and so not receiving the certain privileges that such were entitled to, many of the women resorted to going on hunger-strike in protest…. The authorities responded with forcible feeding….

Force-feeding was a brutal procedure…. The woman was either tied to a chair, which was then tipped back, or she was tied down on to a bed…. A rubber tube was then forced up her nose or down her throat, into the stomach…. If administered via the mouth, a ‘gag’ was used, occasionally made of wood but more often steel…. The steel option was particularly painful as it was pushed into the mouth to force open the teeth and then a screw was turned to open the jaws wide…. Sometimes the rubber tube would be accidentally forced into the windpipe, causing food to enter the lungs, thus endangering life…. Which ever method was used, damage to the nose or throat was pretty much inevitable…. Some women had to endure being force-fed more than two hundred times….

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Force feeding – A suffragette on hunger strike being forcibly fed with a nasal tube. Source: The Suffragette by Sylvia Pankhurst circa 1911 https://common.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AForcefeeding.jpg

On the 25th of June 1912 George Lansbury well and truly lost his temper in the House of Commons…. Prime Minister Asquith, in replying to an appeal to release the suffragettes, had stated if the women gave the undertaking not to repeat their offences – meaning give up the cause – then they would be released…. Lansbury shouted “You know the women cannot give such an undertaking! It is ridiculous to ask them to give an undertaking!”….

Shouts of “Order! Order!” Rang out around the Commons…. But Lansbury continued with his tirade; white with fury he advanced to the front bench – shaking his fist in the face of Asquith and other ministers…. With his face just inches from that of the Prime Minister’s he screamed “Why, you’re beneath contempt. You call yourself a gentleman, and you forcibly feed and murder women in this fashion. You ought to be driven out of office”…. He carried on ranting despite MPs shouting their disapproval and the Speaker ordering him to leave…. Lansbury shouted at Asquith “You will go down to history as a man who tortured innocent women”….

Eventually the Speaker regained control, telling Lansbury if he didn’t leave of his own accord then he would be forcibly removed…. His fellow Labour colleagues persuaded him to leave….he was temporarily suspended from Parliament….

Lansbury got little support from other Labour MPs in his fight for Women’s Suffrage – he dismissed theses colleagues as “a weak, flabby lot”…. Later in the same year he resigned his post to fight a by-election in Bow and Bromley for Women’s Suffrage…. He lost to his Conservative opponent – who’s campaign slogan was ‘No Petticoat Government’….

In 1913 Lansbury addressed a WSPU rally at the Albert Hall ~ “Let them burn and destroy property and do anything they will, and for every leader that is taken away, let a dozen step forward in their place”….

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British suffragette with a poster, giving out newspapers Ch. Chusseau-Flaviens https://flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/2678367136/in/set-72157606224254056/

Charged and convicted with incitement Lansbury received a three month prison sentence….he immediately went on hunger-strike….

On this day in history….26th November 1867

On this day in history : 26th November 1867 – Mrs Lily Maxwell of Manchester becomes the first ever woman to vote in a British election, due to an error on the list of registered voters….

Lily Maxwell – Public domain

Scottish born Lily had a shop in Chorlton-upon-Medlock, Manchester – where she sold a variety of household items including candles and crockery…. She was not always as honest as she should have been – and was even once fined £1 by the courts for diddling her customers with short-comings in weights and measures…

As a shop owner Lily was obliged to pay rates to the local council…. When the 1867 by-election for a local MP came around Lily, as a woman, was not entitled to vote – whereas all male rate payers were…. Somehow Lily’s name got on to the list of these entitled men….

Early suffragette Lydia Becker came to hear of this and urged Lily to use her vote…. Lily agreed, as she was a keen supporter of Liberal candidate Jacob Bright, who advocated Women’s Suffrage and was a campaigner for peace….

Portrait of Lydia Becker by Dacre, Susan Isabel; Manchester Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/lydia-becker-204800

When voting day arrived Lily, accompanied by Lydia, arrived at the town hall to cast her vote…. Bearing in mind in those days it was not a secret ballot – she had to announce loud and clear to all present who she wished to vote for…. She caused quite a commotion amongst the crowd – but as her name was on the list the presiding officer had no choice but to record her vote…. The room exploded with cheers for the first British woman voter….

More than 5,000 women then applied to have their names added to the electoral registers and on the 2nd of November 1868 the case for these claims came before the Court of Common Pleas…. However, it was ruled that women could not vote in British elections and Women’s Suffrage was declared illegal….

On this day in history….13th July 1911

On this day in history : 13th July 1911 – Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison hides in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons so she can record it as her address on the night of the 1911 Census….

Emily Wilding Davison – Public domain

Emily had hidden herself in a cupboard in St. Mary Undercroft, the chapel of the Palace of Westminster…. She remained there throughout the night to avoid being registered in the Census at any other address…. She was discovered by a cleaner the following morning, who reported her – she was arrested but not charged…. Ironically she ended up being recorded on the 1911 Census twice! Once by the Clerk of Works at the House of Commons and again by her landlady at her lodgings….

Having given up her teaching job to work for the cause Emily was an extremely active suffragette…. She was arrested many times, for acts ranging from causing a public disturbance to setting light to post boxes…. She spent several short terms in prison – and was one of the many suffragettes who went on hunger strike…. She even once barricaded herself in her cell – and the guards flooded it with water, nearly filling the room…. Eventually the door had to be broken down…. In 1912, whilst serving a sentence in Holloway, she jumped from a prison balcony in protest of the abuse and force feeding of suffragettes….

Emily Wilding Davison circa 1912/13 – Public domain

Finally on the 4th of June 1913, Emily committed her final act of suffrage at the Epsom Derby…. She ran out onto the racecourse in an attempt to pin a suffrage flag onto the racehorse belonging to King George V – who was watching the race with Queen Mary…. Emily fell beneath the hooves of the horse….she died in hospital on the 8th of June….

Emily Wilding Davison towards the end of her life – Public domain