|Lydia Ernestine Becker, suffragist.|
In the mid-to-late 1860s, Manchester committees to campaign for women’s property and voting rights were founded by Elizabeth Wolstenholme (later Elmy), Lydia Ernestine Becker, Emily Davies, Alice Scatcherd and others.
‘Suffragists’ like Lydia Becker and Margaret Ashton argued that voting reform should be fought for using only peaceful, constitutional means. The suffragists scored a major victory in 1869 when property-owning women were given the right to vote in local government elections and act as Poor Law Guardians.
But women (and working-class men) still could not vote in national elections. Sheer frustration at successive governments' refusal to give women the vote led 'suffragettes' like Manchester-born Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters to take direct action. However, it was not until 1928 that all women over the age 21 of were given the vote, and put on an equal footing with men.
|The Pankhurst Centre, Manchester|
My book Tracing Your Manchester and Salford Ancestors has several tips for researching suffragette and suffragist sources in Manchester libraries and specialist archives. I also thoroughly recommend visiting Emmeline Pankhurst’s home at 62 Nelson St, Manchester, which is now a museum and heritage centre, if you wish to find out more about the suffragettes' story.
Lydia Ernestine Becker (1827–1890), an early campaigner for women’s political rights and founder member of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1867. Manchester Faces and Places Vol. 1, J. G. Hammond & Co., c. 1895. Author’s collection.
62 Nelson St, Manchester, now the Pankhurst Centre. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters lived here from 1897–1907. © Sue Wilkes.