The suffrage movement is a common theme when talking about achievements of women in the past, and we certainly hold a wealth of information here, from the force feeding of women on hunger strike, to 1911 census forms when women refused to provide their details to a government they had no say in electing. Although there are so many achievements of women to choose from, this wealth means there is always something more to talk about!
This file, MEPO 3/203, came to my attention while carrying out some research with colleagues on the last Maharajah of the Punjab, Duleep Singh and his family in preparation for last year’s Diversity Week.
However, it wasn’t a member of the Duleep Singh family that caught my eye during our research.
We looked at a file relating to the Maharajah’s daughter, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and her involvement with the Suffragettes. This particular file contains police reports on ‘Black Friday’, 18 November 1910, when Suffragettes clashed violently with police in response to the apparent stalling of the Bill in Parliament which would have granted suffrage to women of the upper classes. One particular statement, given by disabled protestor Miss May Billinghust, describes the brutality and humiliation the protestors reported: