Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Emily Wilding Davison in Aberdeen

Extract, slightly edited, from article “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win – women taking on the establishment in Aberdeen in 1912”
... Chancellor Lloyd George had been returning home by train and so the Joint Station [in Aberdeen] became the focus for suffragettes hoping to catch his ear before he fled south.

Moments before the train departed, a Baptist minister, Rev Forbes Jackson, said to resemble Lloyd George, was standing in a compartment taking leave of his wife, when a woman, mistaking him for the Chancellor, hurled herself forward and struck him across the face with a dog-whip.

“Villain, traitor! Take that – and that,” she cried while continually ‘pummelling’ him.

The police were called and she was dragged away still convinced it had been the MP she had assaulted. Of course at a time before television when people’s likeness came from newspaper photographs it was very easy to misidentify a person. As for the minister, Rev Jackson, he took the incident very calmly, saying his concern was for the woman and in her defence agreed he did bear a striking resemblance to Lloyd George.

Despite his not wanting to press charges the authorities were determined to do so and the suffragette in question, who found herself before Aberdeen Police Court was none other than Emily Wilding Davison ...

That December (1912) she was found guilty of whipping the minister and her fine of 40 shillings was paid anonymously. Might it have been by the Baptist minister?

During her four days in Craiginches prison she maintained a hunger strike but did comment that she was treated kindly by the prison staff.

A version of the episode is also given in Michael Tanner’s The Suffragette Derby (Robson Press, 2013), beginning on p.183.

1 comment:

  1. For more on Suffragettes in Aberdeen, see Secret Aberdeen, by Lorna Corall Dey (Amberley, 2016), pp.62-66; p.65: "... hundreds gathered to listen to Sylvia Pankhurst speak at the Wallace statue early in 1909 although she was attacked by a group of stone-throwing boys."