Sailing suffragettes

February 28, 2008

March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate we have found some pioneering women in our Passenger Lists.

It was 90 years ago, with the Representation of the People Act 1918, that women over the age of 30 were enfranchised. Ten years after, in 1928, this was extended allowing representation on equal terms with men. One family played an enormous part in the movement to allow women the right to vote; establishing organisations, leading protests and involving themselves in direct action to heap pressure on the establishment in the name of women’s rights.

Richard and Emmeline Pankhurst (nee Goulden) set up the Women’s Franchise League in 1889, with the intention of gaining women the right to vote in local elections. Richard Pankhurst was a perennial campaigner for ‘struggling causes’. Following his death, in 1898, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the more radical Women’s Social and Political Union. This organisation, with the motto ‘deeds not words’ encouraged and perpetrated direct, and often violent, action to highlight their cause and their determination.

Pejoratively termed ‘suffragettes’ the movement chained themselves to railings, staged protests in Downing Street and one of their members, Emily Davison, threw herself under the King’s horse at the Derby, dying a few days later in hospital of the injuries that she sustained and becoming a martyr for the cause of women’s suffrage in the process.

Emmeline Pankhurst can be found on the exclusive Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard, 6 years after Emily Davison’s protest, travelling to New York.

Emmeline Pankhurst 1919

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The Pankhursts’ daughters Christabel and Sylvia joined their mother’s movement, undertaking protests and enduring arrests. Adela, Emmeline’s youngest daughter emigrated to Australia in 1914, becoming a founder member of the Communist Party of Australia.

She can be seen travelling to begin her new life Down Under in the Passenger Lists:

Passenger Lists - Adela Pankhurst

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Sylvia and Christabel can also be found on the Passenger Lists, Christabel moved the USA in 1921 where she became an evangelist.

Passenger Lists - Christabel Pankhurst

Sylvia can be found in the latest decade, travelling to Bombay, India.

Passenger Lists - Sylvia Pankhurst

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