Daily Mail (22/Mar/1907) - 62 Suffragettes go to Prison

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors.

62 SUFFRAGETTES GO TO PRISON.

OLD OFFENDERS GIVEN NO OPTION.

INDIGNANT MAGISTRATE.

“DISGRACEFUL TO BRING SUCH A CHILD TO LONDON.”

POLICE CALL FOR STERNER MEASURES.

For hour after hour smiling Suffragette after smiling Suffragette, to the number of seventy-five, stepped into the dock at the Westminster Police Court yesterday to answer a charge of disorderly conduct, or, in some instances, the dual charges of disorderly conduct and resisting the police in the execution of their duty.

The following summarises the sentences:

Fined 20s., or 14 days 55
Fined 40s., or a month 8
Adjourned or remanded 4
Bound over in £5 6
Month, without option of a fine 2
75

The charges, of course, arose out of the disorderly scenes which took place outside the Houses of Parliament on the previous evening, following oh the Suffragette meeting, at Carton Hall.

In the great majority of cases the penalty imposed by the magistrate, Mr. Horace Smith, was 20s. or fourteen days' imprisonment, but in the case of defendants who had been previously convicted for a similar offence the penalty was 40s. or a month. Two of the defendants, however, who had been convicted more than once, were given a month’s imprisonment without the option of a fine. Three of the women paid the fine, or had it paid for them, but the rest elected to go to prison.

Mr. Muskett, who prosecuted on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, addressing the magistrate, said: "In all seriousness and earnestness, I ask if the time has not come when this misguided band of women who are endeavouring to obtain a change in the Constitution by unconstitutional and illegal means should not be more severely dealt with than has hitherto been the practice at this court. The utmost indulgence has been shown by the police, by yourself, and by your brother magistrate, and a lenient view has been taken. Is there any reason why persons who persistently and wilfully defy the law of the land should not be dealt with as ordinary common wilful law-breakers?

“I am desired by the Commissioner of Police to say that the collection of these women and the crowds which they cause to assemble causes great inconvenience to the legislators of both Houses of Parliament. We entertain, great fears that unless more stringent methods are adopted to put down these disorders there may be a difficulty in coping with them in the future.

CHILD SUFFRAGETTES.

The most interesting of the defendants was a young girl, Dora Thewlis, a Huddersfield factory hand, who is sixteen years of age. She wore a shawl over her head, and on taking her place in the dock gazed confidently round the court and smiled at the magistrate. The officer in the case stated that she refused to go away when requested, and he was compelled to arrest her. The following dialogue then ensued:

The Magistrate (Mr. Horace Smith) to the defendant: Do you ask the officer any questions? — None at all.

You are only a child, you know. Where do you come from? — Huddersfield.

The Magistrate (to the defendant): You ought to be in school. It is a shocking thing that you should have come up on a wild-goose chase like this.

The Defendant: I came for my mother and my sisters, who could not come.

The Magistrate: Your mother ought to come with you. It is a shocking thing. Will you go home again? — I do not wish to go back.

What, do you intend to stay here all your life? — Oh, there are plenty who will have me.

The Magistrate: I think it is perfectly disgraceful, and the whole circumstances reflect the gravest discredit on all concerned in bringing you up to London. I shall remand you for a week, and write to your father and mother.

On another young girl, Evelyn Armstrong, aged seventeen, being placed in the dock, after evidence had been given, the magistrate said: Why, you are only a child, and want taking care of. Where are your father and mother?

The Defendant: In Blackpool.

The Magistrate: I hope I shall see them next Wednesday. You will be remanded to that day.

Later in the afternoon, Mr. Pethick Lawrence, who on the previous evening had gone bail for all the defendants, asked the magistrate if he would accept bail for Thewlis and Armstrong.

Mr. Horace Smith: Most decidedly not.

PRAISE FOR THE POLICE.

Miss Julia Varley, who was fined 40s., or a month, as she had been previously convicted, addressing the magistrate, said: “I should just like to make a few remarks before I go. I think the police did their duty in an honourable manner, but I wish to express my huge contempt for the law and the law-makers.”

Addressing Miss Patricia Woodlock, who has been convicted three times, the magistrate said: You have been here before?

Miss Woodlock: Yes, I only came out of Holloway on Wednesday week. (Laughter.)

The Magistrate: You will have one month without the option of a fine. It may be as well for me to say that if any of the women who are now convicted come here again on a similar charge they will certainly share your fate.

Miss Woodlock: I can only say that it is an honour for me to go to prison on behalf of my sisters.

Mrs. Chatterton, who had also been convicted on two previous occasions, on being sentenced to a month’s imprisonment without the option of a fine, asked the magistrate in what division she was to be placed.

Mr. Horace Smith : Oh, the first division. In every case the imprisonment will be in the first division.

Miss May Leigh, after the evidence against her had been given, seized a favourable opportunity when the gaoler was not looking to unfold a small banner, which she took from beneath her jacket, on which were inscribed the well-known words: “Votes for women.” The gaoler, turning smartly round, snatched it from her and threw it on the ground.

The Magistrate: I shall fine you 40s. or a month, instead of 20s. or fourteen days, because I do not think it was decent for you to bring a thing like that into court.

Mr. A. R. Orage, the only man arrested, pleaded that he was merely protecting a lady friend, and he was discharged.

Daily Mail (22/Mar/1907) - 62 Suffragettes go to Prison

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This page was last modified on 8 June 2017 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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