Dora Marsden for the Prosecution

Uncategorized / Wednesday, May 4th, 2022
Dora Marsden was known to appear in court on the defense for furthering through militant action the principles which she was known to support; suffragette. Here is a lesser-known example of her appearing in court on the attack.  From the Manchester Evening News for 14 February 14, 1910. Dora and Mary Gawthorpe would both leave suffrage to found The Freewoman. Mabel Capper (1888-1966) was one of the first suffragettes to be force-fed during imprisonment. She maintained a lifelong commitment to her principles, and a life-long connection to Mary Gawthorpe and her family.


The Southport Police Court was crowded today when John Aspinall, Peter James Halsall and James Sumner were charged with assault by Miss Mary Gawthorpe, Miss Dora Marsden and Miss Mabel Capper, suffragists, and there was a further summons brought by Miss Dora Marsden and others against Councillor Dr Arthur W. Lemont for damage to a flag.

Mr. Greaves Lord, barrister, prosecuted and Mr. Overend Evans defended.

Sir George Pollard, MP, presided over a full bench of magistrates.

The summonses for assault were taken first Mr. Greaves Lord said the assault was committed on Southport election day.

Miss Gawthorpe, Miss Marsden and Miss Capper along with other ladies attended the polling booths in Southport for the purpose of furthering the principles which they were known to support. Between four and five o’clock they arrived at St. Simon’s and St Jude’s Schools one of the polling booths. Limont took a flag from the car. It was through this that the whole bother commenced. Limont tore the flag off, waved it In the ladies’ faces and threw it into the crowd. One of the ladies got out of the car at the polling station and was roughly treated by the crowd. Two others got out to assist her and some further bother ensued.

It was arranged that Miss Marsden should board a tram car and go down to see the Chief Constable for help while Miss Gawthorpe and Miss Capper remained at the school. Miss Marsden failed to board the tram car and was hustled back by the defendants. Miss Gawthorpe was pushed violently against the car and Miss Capper was next taken up by the defendants and lifted right over the head of Miss Gawthorpe and thrown into the car head first with her legs in the air.

A number of witnesses were called in support of Mr Greaves Lord’s statement.

Mr Overend Evans for the defence said that with regard to Dr. Limont it was monstrous to bring a gentleman of his position into court on such a paltry charge as damage to a flag. The proper place for the action was the County Court.

Joseph Robson, an ex-county constable and who acted on the day of the election as a special constable, said he asked the ladies to move on when they drove up in the motor car because they were obstructing. Everything was quiet until they came. He did not see any violence.

Mr Greaves Lord promptly reminded the witness that he had previously signed a statement to the Chief Constable that violence had been used and he then admitted that one of the ladies was pushed into the car head over heels.

William Johnston, election worker, said he carried one of the suffragists to the car and he did not consider it unnecessary violence. A lady named Higham an election worker said she herself early in the morning put one of the suffragists out of the yard because she was telling people “to keep the Baron out.” The witness admitted that she wanted to “get the Baron in.”

The charge of assault was dismissed and the other charge was withdrawn. Sir George Pollard announced that there were eight for dismissal and one against.

Councilor Austin, another magistrate, protested against this announcement and said that there ought simply to have been a declaration made by the chairman of case dismissed. As a matter of fact, to be quite correct, there were five for dismissal and four against.

Mr. Jones another magistrate also said there were four against dismissal.

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