Sheffield Daily Telegraph (28/Mar/1907) - The Baby Suffragette

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.


Huddersfield Girl’s Release.


Miss Dora Thewlis, the 16-year-old lass from Huddersfield, yesterday made her second appearance before Mr. Horace Smith at the Westminster Police Court. She was arrested during the disturbances outside the Houses of Parliament, and when charged on the following morning with disorderly conduct, Mr. Horace Smith expressed surprise at seeing so youthful an offender before him on such a charge, and passed some severe comment upon those whom he considered responsible for bringing her to London. He offered to discharge her if she would go home, but she indignantly refused and was thereupon remanded until yesterday, Mr. Smith intimating his intention of communicating with her relatives. Since that time Miss Thewlis has been under remand in Holloway Gaol. Her case has aroused considerable interest and the cognomen “The Baby Suffragette” has been generally applied to her. Her parents, when communicated with upheld their daughter in her action, but whilst in prison she is alleged to have expressed a strong wish to return home. Among the early arrivals in court yesterday, were Mrs. Despard[1], Mrs. How Martyn[2], and Mr. Pethick Lawrence[3].

The prisoner stepped into the dock wearing a shawl.

The Magistrate: I understand you are willing to go home?

The Prisoner (eagerly): Yes, sir.

The Magistrate: You wish to go home? — Yes, sir.

The Magistrate: Then I will make arrangements for that to be done immediately.

Prisoner appeared to be quite elated at the decision of the Court, and was led away with a happy smile on her face.

Mrs. Despard and Mrs. How Martyn, secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union, attended the court fully an hour before the opening, with a view to obtaining an interview with Miss Thewlis. They were doomed to disappointment, however, and in the words of Mrs. Martyn, “Received the usual courtesy that women receive from the authorities.” Even after the case had been disposed of they were unsuccessful.

The following letter was then sent by these two ladies to Mr. Horace Smith:—

Dear Sir,
As we are responsible to Mrs. Thewlis for her daughter’s safety, we should esteem it a favour to be allowed to see her, or to be officially informed of the arrangement that has been made for her return home.

No reply was received from Mr. Smith to this.

The arrangements for the return of Miss Thewlis have been placed in the hands of Mr. Barnett, the Court missionary.


The following letter has been sent to Mr. Horace Smith, the Westminster magistrate, by Mr. and Mrs. Thewlis:—

20, Hawthorn Terrace, off Carlton Street, Huddersfield, 24th March, 1907.
In reply to your communication of the 22nd, duly to hand, we, the undersigned, desire to express our appreciation of the solicitude shows by Mr. Horace Smith towards our daughter Dora, in her present situation. We trust that similar solicitude is shown whenever young girls have the misfortune to appear in the dock of the Court over which his Honour presides. We find ourselves in agreement with his Honour when he says that girls of seventeen ought to be at school, but we respectfully remind his Honour that girls of Dora’s age in her station of life are in this part of Christian England compelled by their thousands to spend ten hours per day in health-destroying factories, and that the conditions and regulations under which they toil for others’ gain are sanctioned by law, in the making of which women have no voice. What wonder is it if Dora should have turned a rebel and joined bands with the dauntless women who risk life and liberty in the hope that thereby justice may the sooner be conceded to their sex? Had it been the fact that our daughter had left home regardless of her parents’ wishes we should have felt a deep sense of gratitude for his Honour's stay of sentence and kind solicitude. As the matter stands, however, Dora journeyed to London with our consent and approval, her mother accompanying her as far as Manchester, leaving her there in the bands of friends, in whom she had every confidence. In these circumstances. it is not our intention, therefore, to bring discredit on our daughter’s actions by accepting the advice tendered in your communication. We have every confidence that her friends in London when the time comes for our daughter's release will see that she returns safely home.

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