Daily Mail (28/Mar/1907) - London Police Courts: Child Suffragette Released

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.





A pathetic little figure crept wearily into the dock at Westminster Police Court yesterday. The face was tear-stained, the hair tousled, the shawl and dress untidy. It was Dora Thewlis, the young girl-Suffragette from Huddersfield, who was remanded in custody by the magistrate a week ago so that her friends might be communicated with.

She is a very repentant demonstrator now, and showed so in the second or two she was in the dock.

Mr. Horace Smith (to the accused): I understand you are now willing to go home to your parents?

Dora: Oh yes, sir. I do want to go home.

Mr. Horace Smith: Very well, I will arrange for it to be done at once.

With a joyous clasp of her hands, Dora stole out of the dock and disappeared within the precincts in charge of the matron. She did not even turn a glance in the direction of Mrs. Despard[1] and Mrs. Martin[2], who were there to represent the Suffragettes of Clement’s Inn.

Dora Thewlis would have nothing to do with them. She had changed her views entirely, and resented the Suffragette movement as one which had led her into undesirable society and places. Mrs. Despard, grey-haired, dignified of mien, was anxious to intervene, but the magistrate would not have anything to do with them. A letter was sent to him, begging that he would let them see her and they would take charge of her and return her to Huddersfield, but that Mr. Horace Smith would not listen to; he kept the matter entirely in his own hands.

Miss Elsie M. Thornton-Stephenson, with Miss Kenney[3], drove down to the courthouse in the afternoon, and attempted to soften the heart of the magistrate by a diplomatic letter. She wrote: "We have heard that Dora Thewlis has been discharged on condition that she goes home, and we crave your permission to see her and arrange for her to be sent to Huddersfield."

They added a few words intended to please the magistrate, but he would have none of it, and the inspector simply returned the reply, "No answer."

A scene took place at King's Cross station, when Dora left for Huddersfield, the female warder in charge objecting to photographers taking snapshots of Dora. Mrs. Martin succeeded in getting hold of her, despite the magistrate's precautions, and she once more declared herself in favour of the Suffragette movement.

Miss Thornton-Stephenson explained to a "Daily Mail" representative that the National Union were surprised at Dora's presence in town. The person they expected was her mother, who is what is called "a convinced Suffragette." "I myself," she said, "was kept out of the movement till I was twenty-one, which was two months ago."

"Dora," she proceeded, "is going to do all she can for the movement when she gets back to Huddersfield. She said so at the station to-day. We gave her cakes and chocolate, and she went off quite happy. Mrs. Martin saw her away.

"We cannot make out how she came to be in prison dress. My mother, when she was in gaol, was in the infirmary with Millie Marsh, and that girl was not in prison dress; they simply aimed at breaking Dora's spirit."

Mr. and Mrs. Thewlis have written to Mr. Horace Smith, in reply to his letter concerning Dora, thanking him for his solicitude on her behalf.

"Dora," they say, "journeyed to London with our consent and approval, her mother accompanying her as far as Manchester, leaving her there in the hands of friends in whom she had every confidence. In these circumstances, it is not our intention to bring discredit on our daughter's actions by accepting the advice tendered in your communications. We have every confidence that her friends in London will see that she returns safely home."

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