Group of suffragettes taking exercise in the yard of Holloway gaol


Museum of London

Museum of London
London, United Kingdom

Surveillance image depicting Suffragette prisoners exercising in the yard of Holloway jail. The prisoners are identified on the reverse of the photo from left to right as Margaret Scott, Jane Short (the alias used by Rachel Peace) May [Margaret] McFarlane and Olive Hockin. This was one in a series of surveillance images taken by an undercover photographer hiding in a van parked in the yard. The photographs were commissioned by the Home Office and distributed widely to public buildings including museums and galleries to prevent the miltants entering premises and causing damage. It is likely the image was taken in June 1913 when all four Suffragettes were serving terms of imprisonment in Holloway for various offences.
On January 28th Margaret Scott and Margaret McFarlane were two of thirty women arrested for obstruction and wilful damage during disturbances with the police around Parliament Square. At trial Margaret McFarlane was sentenced to one month's imprisonment for window breaking. In March McFarlane was rearrested, sent to trial and found guilty of breaking two windows at the Tecla Gem Company in Bond Street for which she received a five month sentence in the 2nd Division. In June 1913 she was reunited in Holloway with Margaret Scott who had been sentenced to one month's imprisonment for breaking a window at the Colonial Office with a 'half-brick'
A talented artist Olive Hockin (1881-1936) was arrested in March 1913 when Police raided her flat in Camden Hill Gardens, Notting Hill. Suspecting her involvement in the burning of a tea pavilion at Roehampton Golf Club they found incriminating evidence in the flat including wire cutters, corrosive fluid, hammers, flints and false car licence plates referred to in the press as a 'Suffragette Arsenal'. Sent to trial on charges of having conspired to set fire to the pavilion at Roehampton, to damage orchid houses at Kew Gardens, to cut telegraph wires and with having placed corrosive fluid in a post box in Ladbroke Grove, she was, however, only found guilty of the Roehampton offence and for this sentenced to four months imprisonment in the second division. Interestingly Olive wears a black armband, possibly in honour of Emily Wilding Davison who died that month.
Rachel Peace, a repeat offender was, at the time of the photograph, serving a 6 month sentence in the second division for window breaking for which she was sentenced in February 1913. Later that year Peace was rearrested, along with Mary Richardson, for setting fire to an unoccupied home in Hampton, Surrey. At her trial at the Old Bailey in November, Peace referred to her fragile health due to hungerstrike and force-feeding. On hearing her emotional speech in the dock four Suffragettes in the public gallery threw tomatoes and smashed glass in the Court resulting in their own arrest and subsequent imprisonment. Rachel and Mary, who was absent from the Court trial due to ill health, were both sentenced to 18 months hard labour for the arson. One month later Suffragettes concerned about the mental state of Rachel attempted to set off a bomb at Holloway prison in protest against her imprisonment.


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