How the Suffragette campaign inspired women of all backgrounds to rebellion.
In January 1906, Minnie became Chairwoman of the newly formed Unemployed Women of South-West Ham. This group subsequently went to Caxton Hall and joined Emmeline Pankhurst in lobbying the House of Commons.
By February, the group had become the Canning Town branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Minnie Baldock became a salaried Organiser for the WSPU, working at both London headquarters and in regional areas including Bristol.
Minnie’s work as a WSPU Official often involved her spending time away from her husband and two sons. She also served two terms of imprisonment for militancy.
In 1906 she was one of the earliest Suffragettes to be arrested in London for a charge of disorderly conduct in Old Palace Yard in Westminster, for which she served a two month sentence.
In 1908 she was again arrested during the Suffragette ‘rush’ on parliament as she drove round Parliament Square shouting through a megaphone.
In 1911 Minnie was diagnosed with cancer and, although she survived, her militancy and involvement with the WSPU were curtailed.
The women focused their suffragette activity on fundraising for the cause and were never arrested or imprisoned for militant action. In 1911 they organised the curio and bric-a-brac stall at the WSPU Christmas Fair, held in the Portman Rooms.
Dorothy is also listed in the WSPU Annual Reports as a regular financial donor, contributing small amounts to the campaign ‘war chest’ between 1907 and 1913.
In later years Dorothy inherited her unmarried aunt Alice's estate with the understanding that, on her death, the residual money would be used to establish a scholarship for female medical students at the Royal Free Hospital, London. This scholarship continues today.
In 1911 Kitty spent 10 days in prison for her part in a deputation to the House of Commons.
The following year, in 1912, she was sent to Holloway with over 200 other suffragettes for taking part in the window-smashing campaign.
Kitty went on hunger strike during this second period of imprisonment, and was awarded this medal by the WSPU.
Kitty was part of Emmeline Pankhurst's bodyguard, who were trained in jujitsu and carried Indian Clubs to protect the Suffragette leader.
In 1913 Kitty, in her role as bodyguard, was again arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer during the re-arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst at the London Pavilion.
As a married suffragette, Kitty's involvement in the campaign was dependent on the support of her husband Arthur.
A solicitor, Arthur proved very useful to the militant Votes for Women campaign and regularly acted on behalf of arrested suffragettes.
In November 1910 Sophia took part in the notorious deputation to the House of Commons, known as 'Black Friday’, that resulted in a violent confrontation with the police.
Sophia was also a member of the Tax Resistance League. Formed in 1909 by female taxpayers, the League organised a campaign against the injustice of having to pay tax without having representation in parliament.
She was twice fined for her refusal to pay tax. This document records the seizure of her possessions for non-payment.
In 1910 the authorities seized her diamond ring for non-payment. The ring was returned to her after being purchased by a fellow member of the League at a government auction.
In 1914 a pearl necklace and gold bangle were seized from Sophia and sold at auction at Twickenham Town Hall.
Sophia remained loyal to Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst after 1914, taking part in the Women's War Work Procession in 1915.
On the death of Emmeline Pankhurst in 1928, Sophia became president of the committee in charge of providing flowers for her memorial statue.
Leonora also edited the Anti-Suffrage Alphabet by Laurence Housman.
Advertised in 'Votes for Women' on 15 December 1911, it was marketed as a suitable gift for Suffragette supporters.
Leonora received book orders at her home address in Streatham, where she printed each edition by hand.
In 1911, Suffragettes boycotted the national census, refusing to register their names: “If women do not count, neither shall they be counted.”
Leonora took part in the boycott by spending census night, along with other Suffragettes, at her local WSPU branch shop at 5 Shrubbery Road, Streatham.
Leonora was bilingual, her father being German. In October 1911 she represented the WSPU at the Women's Congress in Hamburg.
The following year she returned to Germany for a speaking tour on female suffrage.
In March 1912, Leonora served her only prison sentence for militancy. Sentenced to two months hard labour for breaking windows at Government Offices, she went on hunger strike and was force-fed.
From her prison letters in the Museum of London, Leonora indicates that she went on hunger strike from Sunday 14 April at 4pm, and was first force-fed on Wednesday 17 April at 5pm.
Leonora was released from prison on 8 May 1912.
On 10 May, along with three fellow released Suffragettes, she attended a Prisoners’ Reception at Streatham Town Hall, organised by the Streatham WSPU branch, where she was presented with a specially commissioned medal of valour.