Anniversaries of the suffrage movement in 2018

Front cover of Ethel Smyth's composition The March of the Women, dedicated to the Women's Social and Political Union, 1911 (SHC Ref. 9180/5)

Front cover of Ethel Smyth’s composition The March of the Women, dedicated to the Women’s Social and Political Union, 1911 (SHC ref 9180/5)

Surrey Heritage was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £99,300 to explore and celebrate Surrey’s role in winning the vote for women. This timely project, called ‘The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote’, marked 2018 as the anniversary for a number of key dates in women’s history:

  • February: Representation of the People Act 1918 – 100th Anniversary – the Act allowed all men over the age of 21 and some women over 30 to vote for the first time.
  • April: Life Peerages Act 1958 – 60th Anniversary – the Act allowed women to sit in the House of Lords.
  • July: Equal Franchise Act 1928 – 90th Anniversary – the Act gave all women the right to vote at the age of 21 on same terms as men.
  • October: Women sitting in the House of Lords for the first time – 60th Anniversary.
  • November: Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 – 100th Anniversary – allowed women to stand for election to the House of Commons.
  • December: All men and some women voting for the first time in the general election – 100th Anniversary.
  • December: First woman elected to the British House of Commons. Constance Georgine Markievicz, representing Sinn Féin, elected 28 December 1918, she did not take her seat.
  • December: First woman to sit as a Member of Parliament. Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess Astor, won the election in Plymouth and took her seat in Parliament on 1 December 1919.

The project focused on Surrey’s hugely significant role in the long campaign for women’s suffrage and revealed the contributions made by local women and men to the cause. Read more about the project here and read the project blog.

Surrey people involved in the pro- and anti-suffrage movements include:

Dame Ethel Smyth, Gertrude Jekyll, Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Constance Maud, Dorothy Hunter and Helena Auerbach, to name a few. Read our Suffrage Biographies here.

The ultimate activism came in June 1913 when Emily Wilding Davison gave her life for the Women’s Suffrage Movement, dying as a result of injuries she received from throwing herself under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby.

Find out more about the women’s suffrage movement in Surrey.