Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bermondsey and Deptford Suffragettes

London SE1 notes the recent 100th anniversary of suffragette protest in Bermondsey. On the occasion of a Parliamentary by-election on Thursday 28 October 1909, Alice Chapin 'a 45 year old supporter of votes for women living in the West End' broke a test tube of acid on the ballot box in the polling station at the school at Boucher School in Grange Road. Some of the acid splashed into they eye of the presiding officer George Thorley, but he was not seriously injured.

'At the Old Bailey the following month Mrs Chapin was found guilty of interfering with the ballot box and sentenced to three months imprisonment. In addition she was found guilty of a common assault for which she received four months to run concurrently. Also sentenced in the same court was Alison Neilans who tried to pour fluid into the ballot box at the Long Lane polling station... Miss Neilans was sentenced to three months in Holloway Prison along with her fellow conspirator. Both women were members of the Women's Freedom League (WFL) which was a breakaway from the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU)'.

I have also come across a report about a Deptford suffragette from 1910. In that year, the Education Committee of the London County Council, meeting at County Hall, heard that 'an application for re-appointment had been made by a lady teacher at a Deptford school who the report stated "had absented herself from her school duties as the result of her association with a demonstration in connexion with women's suffrage". The teacher "promised not to take part in any further demonstration while in the service of the Council, but subsequently resigned her appointment". It was explained that the teacher was absent from her duties because she had gone to prison. The committee subsequently approved the employment of the teacher on supply' (Times, 21 April 1910).

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