A celebration of our local suffrage campaigners and their contribution to WWI

by Alison Bailey

Milicent Fawcett
Statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square

Millicent Garrett Fawcett, who became the first woman to be honoured with a statue in Parliament Square, in recognition of her lifetime’s work to secure women the right to vote, formed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1897. By 1914, nationally there were more than five hundred NUWSS branches with between 50,000 and 100,000 members and an annual expenditure exceeding £45,000.

The NUWSS brought together the many separate suffragist societies such as the Church League for Women’s Suffrage, the Actresses’ Franchise League, the Artists’ Suffrage League, and even the Barmaids’ Political Defence League. All had the same aim: to achieve the right to vote for women through constitutional, peaceful means, and most would have called themselves suffragists as opposed to suffragettes.

‘Suffragette’ was the nickname given to the militant suffrage campaigners, usually followers of the Pankhursts, by Charles Hand, the correspondent of the Daily Mail. He intended the term to be mocking but many of the more militant suffrage campaigners adopted the term for themselves to generate publicity and differentiate themselves from their politer, campaigning sisters.

In 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst, with her daughters Christabel, Sylvia and Adela, had founded the Women’s Social and Political Union, the WSPU, in Manchester. This new group was formed out of frustration at the many years of unsuccessful suffrage campaigning. Despite bills in favour of women’s suffrage being presented for debate on an almost annual basis from 1867 onwards, women were still no nearer to getting the vote. Only one branch of the militant WSPU was ever founded in Bucks, by Emily Brandon in Chesham.

Nevertheless, several moderate branches of the NUWSS were established throughout the county, including Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted and Gerrards Cross. They united under the banner of the Oxon, Berks, Bucks and Beds Federation which was founded in 1910.



Suffra wage posterThe Mid Bucks Suffrage Society

One of the most active moderate suffragists groups in our area was Catherine Courtauld’s Mid Bucks Women’s Suffrage Society. The members of the group were comfortably off, well-educated, well-travelled and creative.

Click on these links for individual member stories:

Catharine and Sydney Renée Courtauld

Mary Henrietta Dering Curtois

Polly England

Madeline Agar





Other local Suffrage Campaigners

Louise Jopling

The Richardson Sisters

Edith Bigland

Henrietta Busk

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh

Margaret MacDonald

Louisa Garrett Anderson and Flora Murray

Alice Margaret Wright

Muriel Matters

See also

Women at War #1: Car and Josephine Richardson – Amersham Museum

Women at War #2: Eleanora Pemberton – Amersham Museum

Women at War #3: Margaret MacDonald (1870-1911) – Amersham Museum

Women at War #4: Catherine Courtauld (1878-1972) – Amersham Museum

Women at War #5: Alice Mary Wright (1880-1961) – Amersham Museum



Cartwright, Colin, Burning to Get the Vote, the women’s suffrage movement in central Buckinghamshire, 1904-1914

Crawford, Elizabeth, Art and Suffrage A biographical dictionary of suffrage artists

Crawford, Elizabeth, The Women’s Suffrage Movement, Reference Guide 1866 -1928

Robinson, Jane, Hearts and Minds, the untold story of the Great Pilgrimage and how women won the vote

Exhibitions – Braintree Museum

Catharine Dowman and the preservation of Cutty Sark | Royal Museums Greenwich Blog (rmg.co.uk)

About – Potten End Village Hall

Who was Sydney Renée Courtauld? | National Trust

Buckinghamshire mansion is a unique homage to Sxties fashion store BIBA | Daily Mail Online

Plan Your Visit

Opening hours:

Wednesday to Sunday, and Bank Holiday Mondays, 12noon to 4:30pm

49 High Street
Old Amersham

01494 723700
[email protected]


“Enjoyed our visit to this wonderful interactive museum where you are positively encouraged to touch things!”

“Visited Amersham museum yesterday – lovely place, provides many details on the history of the place. Plenty of cute cafes, pubs and shops around also… not difficult to find free parking nearby. ”

“A well-run, informative and interesting small museum on the main street. It’s mostly volunteer-run and they do a great job in keeping it and making you feel welcome…Check out the herb garden too.”

“Enjoyable film and television location guided walk around Amersham hosted by Amersham Museum – here are the Sun Houses on Highover Park and further up the hill is High & Over.”

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