|Part of a series on|
Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom was a movement to fight for women's right to vote. It finally succeeded through two laws in 1918 and 1928. It became a national movement in the Victorian era. Women were not explicitly banned from voting in Great Britain until the Reform Act 1832 and the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. In 1872 the fight for women's suffrage became a national movement with the formation of the National Society for Women's Suffrage and later the more influential National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). As well as in England, women's suffrage movements in Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom gained momentum. The movements shifted sentiments in favour of woman suffrage by 1906. It was at this point that the militant campaign began with the formation of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).
The outbreak of the First World War on 4 August 1914 led to a suspension of party politics, including the militant suffragette campaigns. Lobbying did take place quietly. In 1918 a coalition government passed the Representation of the People Act 1918, enfranchising all men over 21, as well as all women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. This act was the first to include almost all adult men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million menand 8.4 million women. In 1928 the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act equalizing the franchise to all persons over the age of 21 on equal terms.
Until the 1832 Great Reform Act specified 'male persons', a few women had been able to vote in parliamentary elections through property ownership, although this was rare.In local government elections, women lost the right to vote under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. Single women ratepayers received the right to vote in the Municipal Franchise Act 1869. This right was confirmed in the Local Government Act 1894 and extended to include some married women. By 1900, more than 1 million single women were registered to vote in local government elections in England.
Both before and after the 1832 Reform Act there were some who advocated that women should have the right to vote in parliamentary elections. After the enactment of the Reform Act, the MP Henry Hunt argued that any woman who was single, a taxpayer and had sufficient property should be allowed to vote. One such wealthy woman, Mary Smith, was used in this speech as an example.
The Chartist Movement, which began in the late 1830s, has also been suggested to have included supporters of female suffrage. There is some evidence to suggest William Lovett, one of the authors of the People's Charter wished to include female suffrage as one of the campaign's demands but chose not to on the grounds that this would delay the implementation of the charter. Although there were female Chartists, they largely worked toward universal male suffrage. At this time most women did not have aspirations to gain the vote.
There is a poll book from 1843 that clearly shows thirty women's names among those who voted. These women were playing an active role in the election. On the roll, the wealthiest female elector was Grace Brown, a butcher. Due to the high rates that she paid, Grace Brown was entitled to four votes.
Lilly Maxwell cast a high-profile vote in Britain in 1867 after the Great Reform Act of 1832.Maxwell, a shop owner, met the property qualifications that otherwise would have made her eligible to vote had she been male. In error, however, her name had been added to the election register and on that basis she succeeded in voting in a by-election – her vote however was later declared illegal by the Court of Common Pleas. The case, however, gave women's suffrage campaigners great publicity.
Outside pressure for women's suffrage was at this time diluted by feminist issues in general. Women's rights were becoming increasingly prominent in the 1850s as some women in higher social spheres refused to obey the gender roles dictated to them. Feminist goals at this time included the right to sue an ex-husband after divorce (achieved in 1857) and the right for married women to own property (fully achieved in 1882 after some concession by the government in 1870).
The issue of parliamentary reform declined along with the Chartists after 1848 and only reemerged with the election of John Stuart Mill in 1865. He stood for office showing direct support for female suffrage and was an MP in the run up to the second Reform Act.
This section needs additional citations for verification . (February 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In the same year that John Stuart Mill was elected (1865), the first ladies' discussion society, Kensington Society, was formed, debating whether women should be involved in public affairs.Although a society for suffrage was proposed, this was turned down on the grounds that it might be taken over by extremists.
However, later that year Leigh Smith Bodichon formed the first Women's Suffrage Committee and within a fortnight collected nearly 1,500 signatures in favour of female suffrage in advance to the second Reform Bill.
The Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage was founded in February 1867. Its secretary, Lydia Becker, wrote letters both to Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and to The Spectator . She was also involved with the London group, and organised the collection of more signatures. Lydia Becker reluctantly agreed to exclude married women from the "Married Women's Property Act" reform demand.
However, in June the London group split, partly a result of party allegiance, and partly the result of tactical issues. Conservative members wished to move slowly to avoid alarming public opinion, while Liberals generally opposed this apparent dilution of political conviction. As a result, Helen Taylor founded the London National Society for Women's Suffrage, which set up strong links with Manchester and Edinburgh. In Scotland one of the earliest societies was the Edinburgh National Society for Women's Suffrage.
Although these early splits left the movement divided and sometimes leaderless, it allowed Lydia Becker to have a stronger influence. The suffragists were known as the parliamentarians.
In Ireland, the Dublin Women's Suffrage Association was established in 1874. As well as campaigning for women's suffrage, it sought to advance women's position in local government. In 1898, it changed its name to the Irish Women's Suffrage and Local Government Association.
Although women's political party groups were not formed with the aim to achieve women's suffrage, they did have two key effects. Firstly, they showed women who were members to be competent in the political arena and as this became clear, secondly, it brought the concept of female suffrage closer to acceptance.
The Primrose League was set up to promote Conservative values through social events and supporting the community. As women were able to join, this gave females of all classes the ability to mix with local and national political figures. Many also had important roles such as bringing voters to the polls. This removed segregation and promoted political literacy amongst women. The League, however, did not promote women's suffrage as one of its objectives.
Although there is evidence to suggest that they were originally formed to promote female franchise (the first being in Bristol in 1881), WLAs often did not hold such an agenda. They did, however, operate independently from the male groups. They became more active when they came under the control of the Women's Liberal Federation, and canvassed all classes for support of women's suffrage and against domination.
There was significant support for woman suffrage in the Liberal Party, which was in power after 1905, but a handful of leaders, especially H. H. Asquith, blocked all efforts in Parliament.
The campaign first developed into a national movement in the 1870s. At this point, all campaigners were suffragists, not suffragettes. Up until 1903, all campaigning took the constitutional approach. It was after the defeat of the first Women's Suffrage Bill that the Manchester and London committees joined together to gain wider support. The main methods of doing so at this time involved lobbying MPs to put forward Private Member's Bills. However such bills rarely pass and so this was an ineffective way of actually achieving the vote.
In 1868, local groups amalgamated to form a series of close-knit groups with the founding of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (NSWS). This is notable as the first attempt to create a unified front to propose women's suffrage, but had little effect due to several splits, once again weakening the campaign.
Up until 1897, the campaign stayed at this relatively ineffective level. Campaigners came predominantly from the landed classes and joined together on a small scale only. However, 1897 saw the foundation of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) by Millicent Fawcett. This society linked smaller groups together and also put pressure on non-supportive MPs using various peaceful methods.
Founded in 1903, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was tightly controlled by the three Pankhursts, Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928), and her daughters Christabel Pankhurst (1880–1958) and Sylvia Pankhurst (1882–1960).It specialized in highly visible publicity campaigns such as large parades. This had the effect of energizing all dimensions of the suffrage movement. While there was a majority of support for suffrage in parliament, the ruling Liberal Party refused to allow a vote on the issue; the result of which was an escalation in the suffragette campaign. The WSPU, in contrast to its allies, embarked on a campaign of violence to publicize the issue, even to the detriment of its own aims.
The Cat and Mouse Act was passed by Parliament in an attempt to prevent suffragettes from becoming martyrs in prison. It provided for the release of those whose hunger strikes and forced feeding had brought them sickness, as well as their re-imprisonment once they had recovered. The result was even greater publicity for the cause.
The tactics of the WSPU included shouting down speakers, hunger strikes, stone-throwing, window-smashing, and arson of unoccupied churches and country houses. Historian Martin Pugh says, "militancy clearly damaged the cause."Whitfield says, "the overall effect of the suffragette militancy, however, was to set back the cause of women's suffrage." Historian Harold Smith, citing historian Sandra Holton, has argued that by 1913 WSPU gave priority to militancy rather than obtaining the vote. Their battle with Liberals had become a "kind of holy war, so important that it could not be called off even if continuing it prevented suffrage reform. This preoccupation with the struggle distinguished the WSPU from that by the NUWSS, which remained focused on obtaining women's suffrage."
The greater suffrage efforts halted with the outbreak of World War I. While some activity continued, with the NUWSS continuing to lobby peacefully, Emmeline Pankhurst, convinced that Germany posed a danger to all humanity, persuaded the WSPU to halt all militant suffrage activity.
During the war, a select group of parliamentary leaders decided on a policy that would expand the suffrage to all men, and to most women. Asquith, an opponent, was replaced as prime minister in late 1916 by David Lloyd George, a longtime supporter of women’s suffrage.
During the war a serious shortage of able-bodied men ("manpower") occurred, and women were required to take on many of the traditional male roles. With the approval of the trade unions, "dilution" was agreed upon. Complicated factory jobs handled by skilled men were diluted or simplified so that they could be handled by less skilled men and women. The result was a large increase in women workers, concentrated in munitions industries of highest priority to winning the war. This led to a new view of what a woman was capable of doing, at the same time the anti-suffrage hostility caused by pre-war militant tactics declined. All the major women's groups strongly supported the war effort. Pacifism existed on the left of politics, especially in the trade unions, but did not play a major role in creating opposition to women's suffrage. Until now suffrage was based on occupational qualifications of men. Millions of women were now meeting those occupational qualifications, which in any case were so old-fashioned that the consensus was to remove them. For example, a male voter who joined the Army might lose the right to vote, which was an intolerable result. In early 1916, suffragist organizations privately agreed to downplay their differences, and resolve that any legislation increasing the number of votes should also enfranchise women. Local government officials proposed a simplification of the old system of franchise and registration, and the Labour cabinet member in the new coalition government, Arthur Henderson, called for universal suffrage, with an age cutoff of 21 for men and 25 for women. Most male political leaders showed anxiety about having a female majority in the new electorate. Parliament turned over the issue to a new Speakers Conference, a special committee from all parties from both houses, chaired by the Speaker. They began meeting in October 1916, in secret. A majority of 15 to 6 supported votes for some women; by 12 to 10, it agreed on a higher age cut off for women.Women leaders accepted a cutoff age of 30 in order to get the vote for most women.
Finally in 1918, Parliament passed an act granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5, and graduates of British universities. About 8.4 million women gained the vote.In November 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into the House of Commons. By 1928 the consensus was that votes for women had been successful. With the Conservative Party in full control in 1928, it passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act that extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21, granting women the vote on the same terms as men, although one Conservative opponent of the bill warned that it risked splitting the party for years to come.
Emmeline Pankhurst was a key figure gaining intense media coverage of the women's suffrage movement. Pankhurst, alongside her two daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, founded and led the Women's Social and Political Union, an organisation that was focused on direct action to win the vote. Her husband, Richard Pankhurst, also supported women suffrage ideas since he was the author of the first British woman suffrage bill and the Married Women’s Property Acts in 1870 and 1882. After her husband’s death, Emmeline decided to move to the forefront of the suffrage battle. Along with her two daughters, Christabel Pankhurst and Sylvia Pankhurst, she joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). With her experience with this organisation, Emmeline founded the Women's Franchise League in 1889 and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903.Frustrated with years of government inactivity and false promises, the WSPU adopted a militant stance, which was so influential it was later imported into suffrage struggles worldwide, most notably by Alice Paul in the United States. After many years of struggle and adversity, women finally gained suffrage but Emmeline died shortly after this.
Another key figure was Millicent Fawcett. She had a peaceful approach to issues presented to the organisations and the way to get points across to society. She supported the Married Women's Property Act and the social purity campaign. Two events influenced her to become even more involved: her husband’s death and the division of the suffrage movement over the issue of affiliation with political parties. Millicent, who supported staying independent of political parties, made sure that the parts separated came together to become stronger by working together. Because of her actions, she was made president of the NUWSS.In 1910–1912, she supported a bill to give vote rights to single and widowed females of a household. By supporting the British in World War I, she thought women would be recognised as a prominent part of Europe and deserved basic rights such as voting. Millicent Fawcett came from a radical family. Her sister was Elizabeth Garrett Anderson an English physician and feminist, and the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain. Elizabeth was elected mayor of Aldeburgh in 1908 and gave speeches for suffrage.
Emily Davies became an editor of a feminist publication, Englishwoman's Journal . She expressed her feminist ideas on paper and was also a major supporter and influential figure during the twentieth century. In addition to suffrage, she supported more rights for women such as access to education. She wrote works and had power with words. She wrote texts such as Thoughts on Some Questions Relating to Women in 1910 and Higher Education for Women in 1866. She was a large supporter in the times where organisations were trying to reach people for a change.With her was a friend named Barbara Bodichon who also published articles and books such as Women and Work (1857), Enfranchisement of Women (1866), and Objections to the Enfranchisement of Women (1866), and American Diary in 1872.
Mary Gawthorpe was an early suffragette who left teaching to fight for women's voting rights. She was imprisoned after heckling Winston Churchill. She left England after her release, eventually emigrating to the United States and settling in New York. She worked in the trade union movement and in 1920 became a full-time official of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. In 2003, Mary's nieces donated her papers to New York University.
Whitfield concludes that the militant campaign had some positive effects in terms of attracting enormous publicity, and forcing the moderates to better organize themselves, while also stimulating the organization of the antis. He concludes:
The Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst Memorial in London was first dedicated to Emmeline Pankhurst in 1930, with a plaque added for Christabel Pankhurst in 1958.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Women being given the right to vote, a statue of Millicent Fawcett was erected in Parliament Square, London in 2018. [ deprecated source ]
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett was an English political leader, activist and writer. Known as a tireless campaigner for women's suffrage via legislative change, from 1897 until 1919 she led Britain's largest women's rights organisation, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). She would famously write: "I cannot say I became a suffragist. I always was one, from the time I was old enough to think at all about the principles of Representative Government." Fawcett also sought to improve women's chances of higher education, serving as a governor of Bedford College, London and a co-founder of Newnham College, Cambridge in 1875.
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and organizer of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. In 1999 Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating "she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back". She was widely criticised for her militant tactics, and historians disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognised as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in the United Kingdom.
Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, was a British suffragette born in Manchester, England. A co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), she directed its militant actions from exile in France from 1912 to 1913. In 1914 she supported the war against Germany. After the war she moved to the United States, where she worked as an evangelist for the Second Adventist movement.
The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was a women-only political movement and leading militant organisation campaigning for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom from 1903 to 1917. Known from 1906 as the suffragettes, its membership and policies were tightly controlled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia.
Ann "Annie" Kenney was an English working-class suffragette and socialist feminist who became a leading figure in the Women's Social and Political Union. She co-founded its first branch in London with Minnie Baldock. Kenney attracted the attention of the press and public in 1905 when she and Christabel Pankhurst were imprisoned for several days for assault and obstruction, after heckling Sir Edward Grey at a Liberal rally in Manchester on the issue of votes for women. The incident is credited with inaugurating a new phase in the struggle for women's suffrage in the UK, with the adoption of militant tactics. Annie had friendships with Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Baroness Pethick-Lawrence, Mary Blathwayt, Clara Codd, Adela Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst.
Rosa May Billinghurst was a suffragette and women's rights activist. She was known as the "cripple suffragette" as she campaigned in a tricycle.
Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Lady Pethick-Lawrence was a British women's rights activist and suffragette.
The United Procession of Women, or Mud March as it became known, was a peaceful demonstration in London on 9 February 1907 organised by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), in which more than three thousand women marched from Hyde Park Corner to the Strand in support of women's suffrage. Women from all classes participated in what was the largest public demonstration supporting women's suffrage seen up to that date. It acquired the name "Mud March" from the day's weather, when incessant heavy rain left the marchers drenched and mud-spattered.
Flora McKinnon Drummond, , was a British suffragette. Nicknamed 'The General' for her habit of leading Women's Rights marches wearing a military style uniform 'with an officers cap and epaulettes' and riding on a large horse, Drummond was an organiser for the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and was imprisoned nine times for her activism in the Women's Suffrage movement. Drummond's main political activity was organising and leading rallies, marches and demonstrations. She was an accomplished and inspiring orator and had a reputation for being able to put down hecklers with ease.
A suffragette was a member of militant women's organisations in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for the right to vote in public elections, known as women's suffrage. The term refers in particular to members of the British Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a women-only movement founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst, which engaged in direct action and civil disobedience. In 1906, a reporter writing in the Daily Mail coined the term suffragette for the WSPU, from suffragist, to belittle the women advocating women's suffrage. The militants embraced the new name, even adopting it for use as the title of the newspaper published by the WSPU.
Helen Miller Fraser, later Moyes, was a Scottish suffragette, feminist, educationalist and Liberal Party politician who later emigrated to Australia.
The United Suffragists was a women's suffrage movement in the United Kingdom.
The Liverpool Women's Suffrage Society was set up in 1894 by Edith Bright, Lydia Allen Booth and Nessie Stewart-Brown to promote the enfranchisement of women. The society held its first meeting in a Liverpool temperance hall, with Millicent Fawcett, head of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), as its guest speaker. The society set up headquarters in Lord Street. The group became affiliated with the NUWSS in 1898, it held meetings in cafés which included talks, poetry and dance recitals. Members were recruited from prominent members of society and they distanced themselves from working class suffrage societies such as Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Women's suffrage in Wales has historically been marginalised due to the prominence of societies and political groups in England which led the reform for women throughout the United Kingdom. Due to differing social structures and a heavily industrialised working-class society, the growth of a national movement in Wales grew but then stuttered in the late nineteenth century in comparison with that of England. Nevertheless, distinct Welsh groups and individuals rose to prominence and were vocal in the rise of suffrage in Wales and the rest of Great Britain.
Mabel Kate Tuke born Mabel Kate Lear was a British suffragette known for her role of honorary secretary of the militant Women's Social and Political Union.
Lucy Minnie Baldock was a British suffragette. Along with Annie Kenney, she co-founded the first branch in London of the Women's Social and Political Union.
The statue of Dame Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist leader and social campaigner, in Parliament Square, London, is a 2018 work by the Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing. Following a campaign and petition by the activist Caroline Criado Perez, the statue's creation was endorsed by both the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The statue, Parliament Square's first monument to a woman and also its first sculpture by a woman, was funded through the government's Centenary Fund, which marks 100 years since some women won the right to vote. The memorial was unveiled on 24 April 2018.
Helena Jones was a British doctor and suffragette who campaigned for women's vote during the early twentieth century. Although sharing the platform with many notable suffragists, including Emmeline Pankhurst, she broke away from the Women's Social and Political Union, of whom she was a regional organiser, to challenge Pankhurst's decision to curtail the suffrage aims during the First World War.
Jessie Stephenson was a British suffragette, a member of the WSPU, who organised census boycott in Manchester.
The Historiography of the Suffragette Campaign deals with the various ways Suffragettes are depicted, analysed and debated within historical accounts of their role in the campaign for women's suffrage in early 20th century Britain.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Suffrage banners .|