In Front of the Party was Miss Dora Marsden

1845-1945, Dora Marsden, Events, Trevor Blake / Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Dora Marsden carries the colours in this confrontational clipping from the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser for 31 March 1909.

Trevor Blake is the author of Confessions of a Failed Egoist.


Members the National Women’s Social and Political Union assembled in large numbers at a “Parliament for Women” at Caxton Hall, Westminster, yesterday, in readiness for another attempt to interview the Prime Minister on the question of women’s suffrage. Mrs. Pankhurst presided over the “Parliament,” and was supported on the platform by Miss Christabel Pankhurst and the members the deputation, all of whom wore “Votes for Women” sashes and carried copy of the resolution folded up and tied with purple, green and white ribbon – the colours of the union.

A resolution was passed demanding votes for women, and appointing a deputation to carry copy of it to the Prime Minister at the House of Commons, and to elicit his reply. Amid applause the following ladies selected for the deputation formed in procession and left for the House: Representing London:

Mrs. Saul Solomon, who was member of the last deputation and led the procession. Mrs. Eates, Mrs. Birnstingh, Mrs. Reinold, Mrs. S. M. Watson, Mrs. Florence Farmer, Miss Dora Smart, Miss D’Elsa, Miss Kathleen Streatfeild, Miss Norah Binnie, Miss Florence Peek, Miss Louise Till, Mrs. Julia Scott, and Mrs. Emily Walding-Davidson.

Birmingham: Miss Kate Noblet and Miss Margaret Smith.

Manchester: Miss Helen Tolson, Miss Pepper, Miss Sanders, Miss Ethel Cockburn, Miss Dora Marsden, Miss Robinson, and Airs. Mary Wiseman.

Liverpool: Mies Patricia Woodlock, Miss Broughton, Mrs. Bessie K. Morris, Miss Alice Burton, and Mrs. Hilton.

Lancaster: Miss Selina Martin.

As the ladies emerged from the hall band played the “Marseillaise,” and the crowded gathering cheered loudly. In front of the party was Miss Dora Marsden, carrying the Union colours. They marched slowly along compact formation till they arrived at the end of the street, where they were met by an inspector at the head of a body of policemen and stopped. There was a little parleying, and somehow Miss Dora Marsden, the colour bearer, wriggled through and went marching boldly along Victoria street, holding her purple, white, and green banner aloft. Presently Miss Farmer and Miss Scott also got through the cordon as the procession was broken up, and marched side side with Miss Marsden, with whom Mr. Holland Birch was walking. There was a drizzling rain. As they proceeded along the street the three ladies were continually separated, but came together again.

At Parliament square a detachment of mounted police rode up, and as Miss Marsden persisted her efforts get through she became rather dangerously mixed up with three horses, and the pole of her banner was snapped. Amid a scene of some excitement the ladies were forced back, when was discovered that other members the deputation had got round by another route and were marching on to St. Stephen’s entrance. An excited rush of people took place, but the ladies reached the entrance, and there found the hall blocked by policemen, with a large number of members Parliament standing on the steps inside.

The leader of the women asked to see the Prime Minister and, failing him, Colonel Seely. Superintendent Wells, who was charge of the police, told them they could not do so, and they were pushed away. For some considerable time the entrance was in state of siege. The police did not make any arrests, but continually advanced in solid line and pushed the aggressors off the pavement in dangerous proximity to number mounted police who were holding the crowd back. Every now and then a single member of the deputation would wriggle round and rush between the arms of the police on the steps. In the scurry the ladies lost their hats and presented bedraggled appearance. Shrieks were heard they got in dangerous positions near the horses, and some laughter was caused by cries of “Mind your toes, girls.”

Mrs. Solomon, the leader of the deputation and a Cape Colony lady, was admitted into the House. Narrating her experiences, she said she was stopped by a cordon of the police, but by means of friend who was also in the Lobby, she came the Speaker’s entrance. She asked to see Mr. Asquith, but was told he was not in the House. She then asked see Colonel Seely, whom she knew personally, and subsequently had an interview with him. He was very nice, and said he would be very happy to anything in his power, but could not carry a message to Cabinet Minister. The lady remained in the Lobby for some time, and among others sent in her card to Mr. Birrell, stating that she knew a relative of his.

Before leaving the Houses Parliament Mrs. Solomon, writing on House of Commons notepaper, addressed the following letter to the Premier: “Dear sir, – I have the honour address you in writing, because I learn that you are not at present in the House. I therefore am unable have the privilege of seeing you. May therefore enclose the resolution which was deputed to lay before you by the Women’s Parliament Caxton Hall, and to request that you will give the same earnest consideration.” After leaving the building Mrs. Solomon returned to Hall, and narrated her achievement amid great enthusiasm.

The proceedings outside were watched by several members of the House Lords, including the Primate and the Bishop of Southwark. The police performed their tasks with commendable good humour. Instructions had been given them to make no arrests except in the case of violence on the part of the Suffragettes. Miss Lonsdale attempted to harangue the crowd by means a megaphone. She was uninterrupted for few moments, but then the police closed on her, the megaphone was wrested from her grasp, and she was hurried away. As Lord Cromer’s private motor car drove up a Suffragette wrenched the further door open and leapt into the car amid terrific cheers from the crowd. She shut the door, the police forced it open and hauled her out. Acting under the direction of the police, the chauffeur, in the excitement of the moment, drove off, leaving Lord Cromer standing on the pavement. Eventually a way was made for him through the mob, and he was enabled enter the car and drive away.

At last the Suffragettes got out of hand, and arrests were made. Two the women from Lancashire made a determined rush at the main gate Palace Yard, and one of the women, striking a constable in the face, was arrested. In the thick of the riot Miss Christabel Pankhurst drove through the crowd in a cab. Three other ladies created diversion by driving up to the St. Stephen’s entrance in hansom. As they alighted one of them was seen to take some banners from the seat, when the police rushed and told the cabman to drive away. The ladies got out a short distance off and were returning, but mounted policeman rode behind the one bearing the banners and cleverly snatched them out of her hand, broke the staves, and handed them to a cyclist policeman.

The names of the arrested are:

  • Emily Davison, teacher, 4, Clement’s Inn, assault.
  • Patricia Woodlock, 2, South John-street, Liverpool, obstruction.
  • Mrs. Florence Farmer, Clement’s Inn, obstruction.
  • Ellen Tolson, Hall, Cheshire, obstruction.
  • Emily Margaret Anne Smith, 11, Buildings, Henrietta-street, Birmingham, obstruction.
  • Dora Marsden, 141. Charlton-road, Manchester, obstruction and assault.
  • Julia Scott, 4, Clement’s Inn, obstruction.
  • Messie Morris, 2, Overton-street, Edge Hill, Liverpool, assault.
  • Rona Robinson, Brinslea Villas, Brook-road, Fallowfield, Manchester, obstruction and assault.
  • William Hutcheon, 113. Pepys-road, Wimbledon, journalist, obstruction.
  • Kate Nobletts 86, Bristol-road, Birmingham, obstruction and assault.
    Alice Eliza Burton, 15, Upper Newington, Liverpool, obstruction.

They will be brought this morning, probably at Bow-street Police Court.

It was announced last night the offices of the it was announced last night at the offices of the Women’s Social and Political Union that those members the deputation who had not been arrested will visit the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon with the object obtaining an interview with the Prime Minister. Mr. Asquith has been notified this effect.

Mr. Asquith presided over a meeting of the. Cabinet yesterday morning. The police, view the programme the Suffragists, sent special force Downing-street to intercept any deputation which might seek reach the Prime Minister his official residence, but Suffragists appeared the scene.

Mr. Winston Churchill, M.P., Lord Robert Cecil. M.P.. and Miss Pankhurst will the principal guests at the annual dinner of the West London “Parliament.”

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