Our Suffragette Stories
Edinburgh women's suffrage procession 1909
Cat and Mouse could not have been written without the scholarship of the late Leah Leneman.
Her books, A Guid Cause and Martyrs in Our Midst, contain a wealth of fascinating information.
The following links contain more information about six important Scottish Suffragettes.(Adobe Reader required)
Lady Frances Balfour
Suffragette info pack. (includes all the above information)
But there will be other untold stories, memories passed from one generation to the next which
could easily be lost. If you have any information about the Scottish suffragettes and the dramatic
events in the summer of 1914, we would love to hear it.
Please Add your stories here.
There were many Scottish Suffragettes who joined the cause, but there is one who stands out in particular due to her organisational skills. Flora Drummond (1879-1949). She was originally an Arran woman who I believe joined the WSPU (Womens Social and Political Union) in Manchester and followed Mrs Pankhurst to London. Mrs Pankhurst always regarded the struggle to obtain the vote in terms of fighting a war. This is where Flora's skills and attributes came to the fore in her Strategic planning of events. Her talents as an organiser, her bravery and her capacity for challenging Cabinet Ministers marked her out as a leader. She was given the job of organising the London processions and she gave them a unique Scottish stamp. The London crowds nicknamed her "Bluebell", but she was better known as "The General" who marshalled the Suffragette army, and a military outfitter supplied her with a uniform (the sash of which was embroidered general), which she wore with pride when she headed demonstrations on horseback.
Flora Drummond described herself as 'a married woman and a socialist in a hurry'. She was not afraid to go to prison. Indeed, her knowledge of Morse Code served her well, for she managed to teach enough of it to the other suffrage prisoners to enable them to communicate with each other by tapping on the pipes.
When Suffragettes were released from prison, Flora would rally the troops and organise a welcoming party dressed in white and tartan, complementing their suffrage sashes. How fitting that they were piped by women pipers. Indeed, the Scots thistle was to become a potent symbol for the Scottish Suffragettes.
Bridge of Allan, UK -
Here is an account of Suffragette activity in Perthshire that appeared in Issue Number 19 of the Friends of Perth & Kinross Council Archive Newsletter entitled, February 1914; Arson in Upper Strathearn - Comrie area. The article includes a reproduction of a note within the Jack Elliott papers that makes clandestine reference to the arson attacks by militant suffragettes on three mansions in Upper Strathearn - described as the 'Bonfires of the West'. The three mansions were Aberuchill Castle, the House of Ross and Allt-an-Fhionn (by St. Fillans - damage estimated at between three and four thousand pounds). According to the article, ' "The first lost a wing whilst the other two properties were completely destroyed, at a combined cost of over £10,000. Papers left nearby referred to women's right to vote, the Cat and Mouse Act or A Warm Welcome to LLoyd George." There was a fourth target, Dalveich by Lochearnhead, but this arson attempt failed.
According to the above-mentioned article: "Four women had been seen arriving at St. Fillans station the day before, two of them went west and two to the east. After the fires, two women were spotted boarding the train at Killin by Sgt. Heggie and followed from Dunblane to Glasgow by Detective Macpherson. There the women separated but one was pursued and arrested after leaving an office in bath Street. 'Rhoda Robinson' was charged at Dunblane, removed to perth Prison but released on bail. Charges were later dropped from lack of evidence. Extensive inter-police force enquiries revealed that her real name was Annie Rhoda Craig (nee Walker) ... Ethel Moorhead, another suffragette, allegedly connected with the burning of the Srathearn mansions, was arrested at Traquair House, near Peebles, on 17th February. She was taken to Carlton jail, Edinburgh, where she went on hunger strike and was the first suffragette to be forcibly fed in Scotland."
An interesting rider to the story tells us how the Suffragettes were up there with the use of technology:
Mrs Clement Harris was a Vice-President of the Crieff Woman's Suffrage Society and was probably involved in some way with the Strathearn arson attacks - sending a signal between suffragette activists using a Marconi wireless system.
Perth, UK -
The Cat and Mouse team would like to thank -
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
AK Bell Local Studies Department
Tayside Medical History Museum
National Archive of Scotland
the governor and staff, HMP Perth
Hugh Watson and family
Media Arts Services Scotland
Debra Salem, Patrick Dalgety, Jenn Minchin and Horsecross Voices