Women’s Suffrage

Click here to explore the story behind women’s suffrage in Surrey and read about the county’s pro and anti-suffrage campaigners.

From the 1870s onwards, Surrey was home to suffragists, suffragettes (militant activists) and groups on all sides of the fierce debate. The county was home to many pro-suffrage organisations and notable activists, including Mary Seton Watts, wife of the famous Compton artist GF Watts, and Dame Ethel Smyth, the Woking composer who was imprisoned for her suffragette activities. Surrey witnessed key moments in the long-running campaign, including Emily Davison stepping out in front of the King’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby and suffering fatal injuries, and Emmeline Pankhurst’s part in the blowing up of a house in Walton-on-the-Hill being built for Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George.

Extract from the report by Superintendent Henry Coleman, Surrey Constabulary (Dorking Division), regarding Emmeline Pankhurst’s arrest for her part in the bombing of Lloyd George’s house at Walton-on-the-Hill, 24 Feb 1913 (SHC ref CC98/11/3).

Extract from the report by Superintendent Henry Coleman, Surrey Constabulary (Dorking Division), regarding Emmeline Pankhurst’s arrest for her part in the bombing of Lloyd George’s house at Walton-on-the-Hill, 24 Feb 1913 (SHC ref CC98/11/3).

Surrey’s women also played a vital part in winning the First World War by working in munitions factories and hospitals and on the land, efforts which helped to turn the tide of public opinion in their favour.

Published cartoon sketch entitled ‘History Up To Date And More So By a Suffragette Pavement Artist’, by suffragette Marie Brackenbury, 1908, from cuttings compiled by the Vaughan Williams family of Leith Hill, c.1913 (SHC ref <strong><a title="Published cartoon sketch entitled ‘History Up To Date And More So. By a Suffragette Pavement Artist’" href="https://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/collections/getrecord/SHCOL_6536_10_11_10_18" target="_blank" rel="noopener">6536/221</a></strong>).

Published cartoon sketch entitled ‘History Up To Date And More So By a Suffragette Pavement Artist’, by suffragette Marie Brackenbury, 1908, from cuttings compiled by the Vaughan Williams family of Leith Hill, c.1913 (SHC ref 6536/221).

That’s Surrey TV interviewed Rosie Everritt (Project Archivist at Surrey History Centre) about Surrey’s project, called ‘The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote’, watch the interview by clicking on the YouTube link below.

Useful links

Project Archivist, Rosie Everritt, was interviewed by Radio Redhill about this project. You can listen again at http://radioredhill.co.uk/listenagain/. The interview is in two parts and can be found in ‘The Sunday Colour Supplement’. The first part is 16:45 minutes into the ‘Sun 11 Mar 2018 – 2:02pm’ recording and the second part is at 33:20 minutes.

Find out more about the women’s suffrage movement in Surrey, including how the movement grew, activism and militant suffragettes, how suffragettes evaded the 1911 census, sources for researching suffrage in Surrey, and how the vote was won.

Discover more about key figures of the Surrey Suffrage movement, such as Dame Ethel Smyth, Gertrude Jekyll, Emily Wilding Davison, Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Constance Maud, and Helena Auerbach. Read more biographies of the women and men involved in the pro and anti-suffrage movements in Surrey.

Find out how Surrey’s women contributed to the county’s First World War effort http://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/.

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