Friday Hoydens: The Suffragettes In Court [Guest post by baroquestar]

Today’s guest post is swiped, with permission, from baroquestar. Baroquestar is a 28 year old singing, studying, Australian museum geek with eclectic tastes in reading material. She is a solo mama to one beautiful daughter who likes dogs too, the bigger the better. [~lauredhel]



Christabel Pankhurst, Flora Drummond and Emmeline Pankhurst at their hearing at Bow Street Court, October 1908. Source: Musem of London.

The Old Bailey proceedings are now online, both transcripts and scans; you may have seen it in the news. Database is searchable by date, name, keyword, crime, punishment, and so on and so forth. They’ve done some really impressive interpretive work, it’s good to go visit from a heritage/collections perspective

My favourite bit, though, is the section on gender, particularly the section on suffragettes. Sure, I knew some of the history, I certainly knew the main names. But reading the transcripts of their trials, and some of the speeches? I was just floored. Floored by their fierce courage and intellect and just how much we owe them.

[Emily Davison] has six convictions against her, for assault on the police, obstruction of the police, and doing wilful damage, all in connection with the Women’s Suffrage movement. She is highly respectable beyond this movement. She has given the police a great deal of trouble.

Hahaha, awesome. “I said…Girlpower.” “Did you do this? *fist*” *nods dejectedly*

From a speech by Christabel Pankhurst, cited during the 1912 trial of Emmeline Pankhurst:

“Some people tell us that we ought to have chosen a different moment for the protest because the coal strike is in progress. The miners are fighting for something that is important, no doubt. They are fighting for bread and butter. Votes for Women means bread and butter too. But it means something infinitely more. I dare say it is an embarrassment to the Government that the miners and the suffragettes should be fighting at one and the same time, but if either of these fighting armies is to give way to the other, we say let the miners wait until Votes for Women is settled, for we shall wait for nobody.”

Hands up all feminists who’ve been told in a patronising tone that they should drop their struggles for gender equality, because there are MORE IMPORTANT PROBLEMS in the world today? *waves hand frantically* Nice to know there’s a precedent… and nice to know there’s a precedent for replying with bugger off, too.

There are other delicious bits; do go have a read.


Emmeline Pankhurst (sixth from left) welcomes hunger strikers from prison, September, 1909.

Categories: gender & feminism, law & order

Tags: , ,

5 replies

  1. There were also those who were more into physical action – such as the marvellous Edith Garrud and her ju-jutsu suffragettes! (There’s even a play) They provided physical protection for the speakers of the WSPU against police brutality.

    Mrs Garrud and her trainees provoked this Punch cartoon:

  2. Heh, very cool. I heard the Old Bailey site broke down uner the traffic when the records were first released.
    On a tangentially related note, the excellent Police and Jusice Museum in Sydney has a blog.
    Amandas last blog post..Richard Shindell is a Top Bloke

  3. How wonderful is this history? Gorgeous!!

  4. ”nice to know there’s a precedent for replying with bugger off, too”

    I LOLed at this! So right.
    Mary Tracy9s last blog post..Something Stinks In Austria


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