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Emily Wilding Davison Suffragette 1872-1913

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Edited by Gill Burrell, Thursday, 5 May 2022, 13:23

Emily Davison was a suffragette. A suffragette was someone who fought for women to have the right to vote. Until 1918 no woman had the right to vote in an election at all, only men could vote. One woman Emmeline Pankhurst (and soon joined by other women)  founded a movement for Women's 'suffrage' it had originally been known as the Women's Social and Political Movement ( WSPU) but they liked the new title of 'Suffrage' which they felt described them well. Thats how they became known as the Suffragettes.

The methods they used to raise awareness to their cause and to fulfil their purpose, which was to win the right for women to vote in elections, the way they did this was by direct action, marching, heckling, civil disobedience, throwing stones and hunger strikes.

Another active member was Emily Wilding Davison who had come from a middle-class family, studied at St Hughs College Oxford she then became a teacher and governess.
Before long she was known in the organisation, for her daring militant actions including breaking windows, throwing stones, setting fire to post boxes and hiding in the cupboard at the Westminster Palace. She was becoming increasingly bolder and was taking more risks.

Sentenced to a month in prison for throwing rocks at the carriage of chancellor David Lloyd George, she  then attempted to starve herself and resisted being force-fed. Her treatment was harsh and cruel. She was flooded out of her cell after she angered the guards. Eventually she was released and went on to sue Strangeways prison for the sum of 40 shillings.

Unfortunately the action she was most remembered for led to her death. The fateful day of the Derby Horse races she had not told anyone of her intentions, but the women who were there knew they would be protesting and that the king would be present. 

However, they did not know Emily would step straight out onto the racetrack and be immediately run over by the king on his horse. She was severely injured and died soon after. 

Whatever her motives that day, she will always be remembered as a fearless Suffragette devoted to the cause. Women finally got the vote first in1918 for women with property then in 1928 for all women aged over 21.

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