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1909: Cuckfield supports women's suffrage

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

AI, with a little help, visualises what the meeting was like in Queen's Hall in 1909. Bing Image Creator.

Women and politics

A suffragette handbill from the Hampstead branch

A large and fashionable company responded to the invitation of Miss Bevan and Miss Payne to attend on Saturday a drawing-room meeting at the Queen's Hall for the purpose of forming a society for the attainment, by constitutional methods, of the franchise for women.

Miss Payne presided, and eloquent speeches were delivered by Dr Flora Murray and Mrs Francis (Brighton). It was made clear that women were asking for votes on the same terms as they were possessed by men, and that the agitation for votes would not cease until women gained the franchise. They did not ask for votes as a favour, but as a constitutional right.

It was not until 1832 that sex came into the franchise question, women in the olden days possessing all the privileges in connection with voting and the holding of high positions as did men. Women were seeking the restitution of their ancient rights.

On being put to the vote the following resolution was carried, only two hands being held up against it: That in the opinion of this meeting 'the Parliamentary franchise should be extended to women on the same terms as it is or may be extended to men.' Mrs CH Corbett proposed a vote of thanks to the speakers, and Miss Grey seconded. It was announced that the Cuckfield Society would be affiliated to the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, and that persons living at Haywards Heath and Lindfield would be eligible for membership.

Sussex Agricultural Express, 11 June 1909

Handbill: British suffragette handbill produced during the women's suffrage movement. Women were granted the right to vote in Britain in 1918 at the end of the First World War. David Lloyd George, who was PM at the time, passed the Bill allowing the women the right to vote as long as they were over 28 years old and owned a certain amount of land/property. this meant that at the beginning only middle/upper class women could vote in local and general elections. The first General election after women could vote, saw 39.1% of women eligible to vote turn out and vote with 98% of the votes going to Lloyd George and the liberals.

it could be argued that Lloyd George only passed the bill to win more votes to keep him in power longer. After Lloyd George was forced out of office in May 1923 after losing an election, he was replaced by John Major Senior who was then followed up by Winston Churchill in 1940 after a National Government, coalition, was formed. [Wikimedia public domain image].

Handbill image is in the Wikimedia public domain.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

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