Women from region who fought for equal power at the ballot box

Suffragette Norfolk-born Grace Marcon, who later went by the alias Frieda Graham, at the Suffragette

Suffragette Norfolk-born Grace Marcon, who later went by the alias Frieda Graham, at the Suffragette stall on Norwich Market with a disclaimer regarding the letter pillar boxes which were tampered with. Grace was later jailed for an attack on paintings atthe National Gallery. Picture: LIBRARY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

We focus on women from this region who were arrested as part of the suffragettes movement.

May 1913. Norwich Suffragette, Miriam Pratt, who was charged with arson. Picture: LIBRARY

May 1913. Norwich Suffragette, Miriam Pratt, who was charged with arson. Picture: LIBRARY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

They are the women who famously fought for the vote.

But the names of suffragettes go beyond notable female activists such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Wilding Davison.

In fact, women from this region joined the tireless campaign to give everyone equal power at the ballot box.

Great Yarmouth's Britannia Pier was burned down on April 17, 1914, allegedly by the suffragettes, who had been refused permission to hold a meeting there.

Norfolk-born Grace Marcon who was a suffragette and also went under the alias Frieda Graham.

Norfolk-born Grace Marcon who was a suffragette and also went under the alias Frieda Graham. - Credit: submitted


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And now details of more than 1,300 suffragette arrests have been made available online and reveal the fascinating connections between Norfolk and Suffolk and the controversial protests which changed history.

The England, Suffragettes Arrested, 1906-1914 collection comprises a list of the names of women and men detained as a result of their fight for equal voting rights in the early 20th century.

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It has been digitised from original records held at the National Archives in Kew, south-west London, and also details where activists were arrested and how many times.

The collection sheds light on the extent of the widespread oppression faced by women from across the country involved in the suffrage movement.

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in a Polling Booth circa 1910. She was one of the leaders of the mov

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in a Polling Booth circa 1910. She was one of the leaders of the movement to secure votes for women. - Credit: PA

• Caused 'shame and distress': Marian Aitken

Marian Aitken was born on January 21, 1886 to the Canon of Norwich Cathedral, William Hay McDowell Hunter Aitken, and his wife Eleanor (née Barnes).

She was briefly employed as a full-time worker on The Suffragette and was a high- profile campaigner and hunger striker.

Census records show her growing up with her family, but once she became involved in the suffragette lifestyle there was some tension in her family.

She was arrested in London three times in 1911 and 1912. On one occasion she was arrested for breaking plate glass windows on Regent Street.

In his diary, her father says: 'I am overwhelmed with shame and distress to think that a daughter of mine should do anything so wicked.'

• National Gallery attack: Grace Marcon

Grace Marcon was born in 1889, in Erpingham, north Norfolk, to Walter Hubert Marcon and Sarah Marcon.

The 1911 census has her living at the family home in Edgfield, near Holt, with her parents and two siblings, Walter Hubert Marcon (junior) and Edith Marcon.

She was arrested three times in 1913 and 1914 in London. At the time of her arrests Grace went by the alias of Freida/Freda Graham.

She was imprisoned in Holloway women's prison in 1913 and 1914 for taking action – once by attacking paintings in the National Gallery – to fight for all women to have the right to vote.

There were also newspaper reports of Grace's arrests and court appearances found in a case belonging to Grace and a suffragette medal awarded to women activists who had been imprisoned for the cause.

• Turned in to police by her uncle: Miriam Pratt

Miriam Pratt was born in Windlesham, Surrey, in January 1890, although she later moved to Norwich to live with her uncle and aunt, William and Harriet Ward.

Trained as a teacher, she was arrested in Cambridge twice during 1913. According to The Suffragette Bombers: Britain's Forgotten Terrorists by Simon Webb, Miriam, and two other suffragettes, set fire to two houses. Normally, arson attacks were on castles and mansions, but theirs were on ordinary people.

Her uncle, who was a police sergeant, was horrified when he found out what she'd done and turned her in to the police.

• Arrested many times: Hilda Evelyn Burkett and Florence Tunks

Hilda Evelyn Burkett, also known publicly as Evaline Burkitt, and Florence Tunks were arrested together in Felixstowe in 1914.

They burned down the Bath Hotel in the town, which was later replaced by the Bartlet Hospital on Undercliff Road.

Both women were the subject of a book by Dick Moffat – A View of Felixstowe from the Bath – and the event was recently commemorated with a memorial plaque.

Hilda's arrest record shows she was arrested six times, although none of the others were as high profile, while Florence was arrested twice.

It is also widely thought Hilda was force-fed in prison, and on August 7, 1914, Hilda petitioned the Home Office for release.

'I've been in prison since April 28th and have been forcibly fed during the whole time, 292 times so far,' she wrote.

She was released soon afterwards.

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