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Women's Suffrage -- Hunger Strike medallions

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    Posted 6 years ago

    Bluboi
    (103 items)

    Sorry this is so long, but we women were awarded the right to vote less than 100 years ago! We stand on the shoulders of those brave ones who fought this battle!

    Photos above from left:

    - Silver Suffragette Holloway brooch and Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) badge. Owned by Marion Wallace Dunlop (1864-1942). Holloway brooch awarded in 1909 [I have the original box.]

    - Holloway brooch presented to Constance Collier in 1912 in original box. This brooch was presented to Constance Collier in 1912, after her imprisonment for breaking the windows of the John Lewis department store in Oxford Street, London in support of the cause.

    - Eating implement issued to Holloway prisoners

    - Hunger strike medal issued to Rona Robinson. The circular silver medal is inscribed "HUNGER STRIKE" on the front and "RONA ROBINSON" on the obverse. The bars are inscribed in descending order "FOR VALOUR", "OCTOBER 15th 1909" and "AUGUST 20th 1909. The two bars signify two separate arrests and hunger strikes that Rona endured for her cause. On the obverse of the top bar is the makers name and address "TOYE 57 THEABOLD RD LONDON" it is believed that no more than 100 of the medals were awarded; there is no answer to how many have survived.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    An area of collecting I have become fascinated with is that of pins, badges and jewelry (if available) belonging to those brave women who fought for the right to vote. The material from Marion Wallace Dunlop was acquired from her nephew's estate and includes family photos, a letter from Lucy Shaw (George Bernard Shaw's sister) to Mrs. Pankhurst, and a lovely watercolor.

    The cause of women's suffrage was a worldwide phenomenon, but we tend to have the most information on the British and American movements. Each was similar in that the initial push was for peaceful legislative change.

    By 1905 in the UK, the media had lost interest in the struggle for women's rights. Newspapers rarely reported meetings and usually refused to publish articles and letters written by supporters of women's suffrage. Emily Pankhurst, the leader of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), advocated a new strategy of militancy to obtain the publicity that she thought would be needed in order to obtain the vote.

    During the summer of 1908 the WSPU introduced the tactic of breaking the windows of government buildings. On June 30th suffragettes marched into Downing Street and began throwing small stones through the windows of the Prime Minister's house. As a result of this demonstration, twenty-seven women were arrested and sent to Holloway Prison.

    Marion Wallace Dunlop, an exhibited painter and daughter of nobility was a supporter of women's suffrage and in 1900 she joined the Central Society for Women's Suffrage. She was also a socialist and from 1906 she was an active member of the Fabian Women's Group. She joined the WSPU and in July 1908 Wallace Dunlop was arrested and charged with "obstruction" and was briefly imprisoned.

    On 25th June 1909 Wallace Dunlop was charged "with wilfully damaging the stone work of St. Stephen's Hall, House of Commons, by stamping it with an indelible rubber stamp, doing damage to the value of 10s." According to a report in The Times, Wallace Dunlop printed a notice that read: "Women's Deputation. June 29. Bill of Rights. It is the right of the subjects to petition the King, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitionings are illegal."

    In her book, Unshackled (1959) Christabel Pankhurst claimed: "Miss Wallace Dunlop, taking counsel with no one and acting entirely on her own initiative, sent to the Home Secretary, Mr. Gladstone, as soon as she entered Holloway Prison, an application to be placed in the first division as befitted one charged with a political offence. She announced that she would eat no food until this right was conceded."

    Wallace Dunlop refused to eat for several days. Afraid that she might die and become a martyr, it was decided to release her after fasting for 91 hours. Soon afterwards other imprisoned suffragettes adopted the same strategy. Unwilling to release all the imprisoned suffragettes, the prison authorities force-fed these women on hunger strike. In one eighteen month period, Emily Pankhurst, who was now in her fifties, endured ten of these hunger-strikes.

    To commemorate these brave actions, Sylvia Pankhurst designed a brooch and it was presented to Suffragette hunger strikers who had been incarcerated in Holloway prison for their militant actions in support of the cause.

    The silver brooch is in the shape of a portcullis gate, representing the House of Commons, with a central convict's arrow enameled in the colors of the Suffragette movement - purple for dignity, green for hope and white for purity, and with convict chains to each side. The brooch was presented in a purple box with white satin lid and green velvet interior. The lid of the box is inscribed:

    Presented to [name of hunger striker] by the Womens' Social and Political Union in recognition of a gallant act whereby through endurance to the last extremity of hunger and hardship a great principle of political justice was vindicated.

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    Comments

    1. racer4four racer4four, 6 years ago
      Fantastic post thanks.
      I think it must be incredible to have such personal items and be able to relate them to the history.
      I'm Australian and don't know much about the movement in the UK apart from a general knowledge about Mrs Pankhurst and the Suffragettes. I'm now much better informed thanks!

      A quick history of suffrage in Australia:
      Awareness began early and flowed on from Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands where women had the vote from 1838 and 1856.
      Suffrage movements began in all states and by 1895 South Australia had given women the right to vote. Other states followed with Victoria the last in 1908.
      The new Commonwealth Government, which was formed in 1901, allowed all women to vote and stand for parliament by 1902.
      I don't believe our Suffragettes had to be so activist here, and we have always been taught in school (rightly or wrongly) that Australia was a leader in women's political rights. It doesn't mean women are well represented in Parliament now however!

      Thanks again. Fab post.
    2. DrFluffy DrFluffy, 6 years ago
      Your knowledge is amazing. I love this post. I love lapel pins and medallions because of what they represent. I do however have a long ways to go before I can identify and learn about each of the ones I have.
    3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Luv your coverage! I've had a number of ex-girlfriends who would do things like you describe. That's why they are "ex-". Just joking, - maybe. Great poste!
    4. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Thanks for the Australian history! In the US, the earliest states allowing women to vote were mostly in the West (many of them were territories) and all of the suffrage laws had to be re-approved when the territories became states.

      It is also interesting that in the UK only men who were property owners could vote, so there were lots of disenfranchised men also. This is also why the women chose to attack the properties as they were a symbol of the voting class.
    5. kyratango kyratango, 6 years ago
      That IS a post! And as all your collection, rarest and historical piece.
      Thank you for sharing such history and knowledge.

      PS...Don't formalize for Bb2 interventions, he is our Leprechaun here :-D
    6. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      More extraordinary pieces, any museum in the world would be proud to own them.

      I'm from New Zealand, and Kiwis are proud to say (from Wikipedia):

      New Zealand was the first country to extend the vote to women ... Pitcairn Island gave women universal suffrage in 1838, but was not a self-governing country; nor was the Isle of Man, which enfranchised female ratepayers in 1881, or the Cook Islands, which passed a women's suffrage bill days after New Zealand but held their election over a month earlier.

      Various American states and territories also enfranchised women before 1893. Franceville gave both native and European women the vote when it declared independence in 1889, but it came under French and British colonial rule soon after.

    7. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      My mom and I spent a month in New Zealand -- what a wonderful country! The people are so nice to strangers. I even found some very nice Victorian jewelry! We were lucky to see Christchurch before the 2 earthquakes. Is it still a mess? So sad.
    8. SEAN68 SEAN68, 6 years ago
      wow!! history @ its finest and stunning!!
    9. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      Hi Bluboi, You were indeed lucky to see Christchurch pre-earthquake. It was a beautiful Victorian city, and those old stone buildings and antique facades and shopfronts were the ones that suffered the most damage in the quake.

      It's being rebuilt, but will never be the same. There's lots of heartache for many residents whose lives were turned upside down. Nature can be a bitch.
    10. zjb, 4 years ago
      How fascinating to see Constance Colliers Holloway brooch. She was my great x4 aunt on my mothers side. My great uncle tried to contact her before she died but sadly his messages were not passed on........true story!
    11. Bluboi Bluboi, 4 years ago
      Hi zjb,

      How fascinating! There are almost no references to Constance Collier, just her name on some lists of women who received the Holloway. I acquired an amazing "autograph book" used during two different reunions of many of the UK Suffragettes and I was thrilled to find a page where the women who were imprisoned signed their names. Constance was one of them. Thanks for commenting!
    12. zjb, 4 years ago
      Wow! We did not even realise she was involved in the movement! She left the UK for America about a year later and found fame as an actress and voice coach. Fascinating as you say!!
    13. Bluboi Bluboi, 4 years ago
      I wonder if your aunt had any Suffrage memorabilia?
    14. zjb, 4 years ago
      Sadly not, as she moved to America in 1913 and died in 1955, she was not aware that she still had family in England. I believe she left everything to her secretary Phyllis, later the companion and secretary of Kathrine Hepburn..here's the Wikipedia link for your interest.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constance_Collier It's all quite interesting.

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