Sources for researching the women’s suffrage movement in Surrey
Surrey History Centre cares for many significant letters, books and documents which shed light on the growth of the suffrage movement in Surrey, and how the battle for the vote was fought and ultimately won. Through a Heritage Lottery funded project called ‘The March of the Women: Surrey’s road to the vote’ (2017-2019), the catalogues of many of these papers and newly acquired items were either enhanced to highlight the suffrage content, or were catalogued from scratch. The catalogues are available to view on the Surrey History Centre Collections Catalogue, or by searching here on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website.
For a full bibliography of works relating to suffragettes and the women’s suffrage movement held at Surrey History Centre click here (pdf copy). Other works can be found on the Surrey Libraries online catalogue.
A full history of the beginnings of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey and elsewhere, and the names of those involved can be found in Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide (Routledge, 2006), from which much of the above information comes. A reference copy can be found in the local studies library collection.
Kelly’s Directory of Surrey and other local directories list a number of women involved in the Surrey NUWSS and WSPU branches, as private residents.
Local newspapers such as the Surrey Advertiser and Surrey Mirror carry stories of Surrey’s suffrage branches, along with reports and notices of meetings and the people attending. These are especially useful as most branch records do not survive. See our New Online Resources section below for indexes in local newspapers and periodicals referencing people and events in the Women’s Suffrage campaign in Surrey, 1887-1918, along with an A-Z People Name index containing over 11,000 entries; and a list of suffrage-related organisations active in Surrey.
You can search for archives relating to suffragists and suffragettes in Surrey using Exploring Surrey’s Past and Surrey History Centre’s Collections Catalogue. Search using the terms ‘suffrag*’, ‘suffragette’ or ‘suffrage’ to show a broad range of results.
Notable archive sources held at Surrey History Centre include the following but a full list of material catalogued for the project can be found here:
Papers of Dorothy Hunter (1881-1977) of Haslemere, suffragist and co-founder of the National Trust, including correspondence with Millicent Fawcett (SHC refs 1260/22/1-28, -/23/1-3, -/25-26, -/27/1-22, -/28/1-44, -/30-31, -/33, -/38. -/44, -/74, -/82, -/87, and -/100)).
Papers of Thomas Cecil (1859-1940), 2nd Baron Farrer, of Abinger, and his wife Lady (Evangeline) Farrer, supporters of women’s suffrage and other women’s movements including letter books and correspondence with various prominent members of the NUWSS and its supporters, such as Millicent Fawcett, Sandra Bray and the Crosfields (SHC ref 2572 and 9793).
Papers relating to the Auerbach family, including Helena Auerbach of Reigate, suffragist (SHC Z/709).
Surrey Constabulary reports of suffragette activity in the county: explosion in a back bedroom of a house being built for David Lloyd-George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Walton on the Hill, 19 Feb 1913 (SHC ref CC98/11/3), and explosion at Oxted Railway Station, 3 Apr 1913 (CC98/11/2).
Papers relating to Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), of Woking, composer, author and suffragette, including research papers of Lewis Orchard (SHC ref 9180), copy correspondence and visitor book entry relating to Ethel Smyth, at St Andrew’s University, 1928-1929 (SHC ref Z/699/1-3), and copy unpublished memoir by Ethel Smyth, ‘A Fresh Start’, c.1942 (Z/711/1).
Papers (business related) of Laura Annie Wilson (d.1942), secretary of the Halifax WSPU and one of the first suffragettes to be imprisoned (SHC ref 8433).
Copy diary entries of Harriet Blessley, in Surrey en route for the ‘Great Pilgrimage’, 1913 (SHC ref Z/708/1).
Insurance policy taken out by the Vicar and Churchwardens of All Saints, Warlingham, against suffragette damage, Jul 1914 (SHC ref 6022/1/4/4).
Published cartoon sketch by Marie Brackenbury of Peaslake, suffragette, entitled ‘History Up To Date And More So. By a Suffragette Pavement Artist’, from papers of the Vaughan Williams family of Leith Hill, 1908 (SHC ref 6536/221).
Letters and papers of Bertha Broadwood (1846-1935) of Capel, business woman and philanthropist, relating to the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements (SHC ref. 2185/BMB/-). Bertha was a member of the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage (SHC refs 2185/BMB/7/1/1/1-37, 2185/BMB/4/32, 62, 67, 72, and 17/6, 2185/BMB/1/1158, 2185/BMB/6/12/7, 2185/BMB/5/6/5, and 2185/BMB/8/10/1-7.
New online resources:
Information pages on various aspects of Women’s Suffrage, including Godalming & District Suffrage Society, the Great Pilgrimage through Surrey in 1913, the Peaceful Protest, the Women’s Freedom League caravan campaign through Surrey, Arson at Hurst Park Racecourse, 1913, Lloyd George and the suffragette bomb outrage, 1913, the Oxted Railway Station suffragette bomb, 1913, the Anti Suffrage campaign in Surrey, Women get the Vote, the 1918 General Election and Suffragettes and the 1911 census.
Over 50 Suffrage Biographies of key women and men involved in Surrey’s campaign can be found on this website, all with source lists and further reading.
Suffrage Indexes for local newspapers and periodicals referencing the Women’s Suffrage campaign in Surrey, 1887-1918, can also be found on this website, along with an A-Z People Name index containing over 11,000 entries; and a list of suffrage-related organisations active in Surrey.
An audit of suffrage collections of five Surrey museums.
An virtual exhibition highlighting key people and events involved in the Surrey’s suffrage campaign set against the national context. Each panel is digitised and the virtual version of the exhibition can be viewed here.
An online learning resource for Key Stages 3 and 4 History, Drama and Citizenship to include local suffrage stories (set against the national scene). Find out more and access the learning resource.
Online sources and further reading:
Key dates in the road to the vote can be found on the Parliament UK website at https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/keydates/
A very detailed timeline of key dates and players in the history of British women’s suffrage, along with extracts from debates in Parliament can be found on http://www.historyofwomen.org/index.html
A series of BBC recordings of suffragettes recalling their struggles, including Ethel Smyth, Lillie Lenton, and Sylvia Pankhurst, can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/suffragettes/8322.shtml?all=2&id=8322
Read about the Pethick-Lawrences’ links with Dorking on the Dorking Museum website http://www.dorkingmuseum.org.uk/the-dorking-and-holmwood-campaign/
For an online article by Fern Riddell, ‘The Weaker Sex? Violence and the Suffragette Movement’, in History Today, see https://www.historytoday.com/fern-riddell/weaker-sex-violence-and-suffragette-movement
Read more about the bombing of St Catherine’s Church, Hatcham, at https://transpont.blogspot.co.uk/2008/12/fire-at-st-catherine-hatcham-1913.html
The trial of suffragette activists Kitty Marion and Betty (Clara) Giveen, for the burning of Hurst Park Stadium, near Molesey, was held at Guildford, on 3 July 1913. Find out more via Elizabeth Crawford’s blog ‘Woman and her Sphere’ https://womanandhersphere.com/2013/06/07/suffrage-stories-kitty-marion-emily-wilding-davison-and-hurst-park/. Kitty Marion’s unpublished biography is held at The Women’s Library (Ref. 7KMA, London School of Economics) https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/rd/329ea5f9-3260-4be9-bc44-b2ffe8943552
Elizabeth Crawford’s blog post on the bombing of Lloyd George’s property at Walton-on-the-Hill features on the Gov.Uk History of Government website https://history.blog.gov.uk/2013/07/04/mrs-pankhurst-lloyd-george-suffragette-militancy/
The National Archives holds records of suffragette arrests in ‘Amnesty of August 1914: Index of Women Arrested 1906-1914’, Ref. HO 45/24665, which contain details of the dramatic trials of the women involved. Ancestry have made these available online https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/suffragettesarrested/
For an online article by Tinx Newton ‘Suffragettes and Surrey – from Epsom to Peaslake and further afield’ in Surrey Life, 15 July 2013, see https://www.surreylife.co.uk/out-about/places/suffragettes_and_surrey_from_epsom_to_peaslake_and_further_afield_1_2278775
The background to the suffragette boycott of the 1911 census can be found in the Office for National Statistics, Population Trends, nr.142, Winter 2010 (pdf copy) No vote – no census: an account of some of the events of 1910–1911
Details of Emily Wilding Davison’s census entry and her activism can be read online at https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/case-studies-women-parliament/ewd/
For the role of women in the First World War in Surrey see https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/
‘Women do not count, neither shall they be counted: Suffrage, Citizenship and the Battle for the 1911 Census’, History Workshop Journal, by Jill Liddington and Elizabeth Crawford can be read online (pdf copy) at https://hwj.oxfordjournals.org/content/71/1/98.full.pdf+html. Their research led to the creation of a 1911 census suffragette gazetteer, detailed in Jill Liddington’s book Vanishing for the vote: Suffrage, Citizenship and the battle for the census (2014). It includes maps, and an authoritative gazetteer of campaigners compiled jointly with Elizabeth Crawford (author of The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide). The gazetteer lists 500 schedules completed on census night 1911 – by region, by county (or London borough), by town or city, and by neighbourhood. Find out more at http://www.jliddington.org.uk/1911a.html.
For letters from Ethel Smyth to Edith Craig (at Smallhythe Place, Kent, owned by the National Trust), including correspondence relating to Smyth’s suffrage anthem ‘The March of the Women’, see the Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Database (https://www.ellenterryarchive.hull.ac.uk) which has been compiled by Prof. Katharine Cockin, author of Edith Craig and the Theatres of Art (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama 2017; https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/edith-craig-and-the-theatres-of-art-9781472570642/).