Important Women


Emmeline Pankhurst

She founded the Women’s Franchise League in 1889 and helped found the WSPU in 1903. Her daughters Christabel and Sylvia were also very active suffragettes.


Lydia Ernestine Becker

She was the Editor of the Women’s Suffrage Journal, a Parliamentary agent, a member of the Manchester School Board, and formed the Ladies’ Literary Society.


Millicent Garrett Fawcett

She was married to Henry Fawcett and became the President of the NUWSS in 1897. She signed the Petition for Women’s Suffrage and was a leader of a six-woman commission to clean up Kitchener’s concentration camps.


Emily Wilding Davison

She was a suffragette who died when she threw herself in front of a horse at the Derby in 1913. Davison also tried to throw herself from a building while in prison.



Herbert Asquith

Served as Prime Minister from 1908-16. He planned to limit the power of the House of the Lords and thus the Parliament Act was passed in 1911, ending the Lords’ ability to veto financial legislation. In 1912, we reintroduced Irish Home Rule. He was against women’s suffrage.


Augustine Birrell

Served as an MP and chief secretary of Ireland. He was also an author of two essay collections that made him popular in literary circles. He was not in favor of women’s suffrage and was very against the militants.


Robert Cecil

He was elected as an MP in 1906. He helped create the League of Nations and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1937. He supported women’s suffrage.

Winston Churchill

Served as Home Secretary from 1910-11. He was responsible for maintaining the suffragettes. Churchill managed to help the arrested women in prison, but is also credited for the events of Black Friday because he gave instructions to police to delay arrests, resulting in physical violence. He did not support women’s suffrage.


George Curzon

He served as the under secretary of state for India and became the leader of the House of Lords in 1915. He was an anti-suffragist. He also suffered from back pain beginning in 1878, which caused him to wear a leather harness for the rest of his life. The pain was the result of a horseback riding accident four years before.


Henry Fawcett

Served as an MP. He tried to convince Parliament to give women the vote along with John Stuart Mill. He was Millicent Fawcett’s husband. Fun fact: He was blinded at 25 in a hunting accident when his father’s gun shot him.


King George V

Became King in 1910. He thought force-feeding was shocking and cruel and tried to abolish it. 


Herbert Gladstone

Served as Home Secretary from 1905-1910 when force-feeding was introduced and it given credit for it. Gladstone’s thoughts on the women’s suffrage bills:

  1. It was narrow- married women were excluded

  2. It needed the consent of nation and parliament

  3. Many women objected or were indifferent

  4. It would change social function of women

  5. Vote would not be limited to gifted women

  6. They could not exclude women from Parliament or public office

  7. It may Injure family life

  8. Women may suffer from turmoil of masculine life


Edward Grey

Served as an MP, Foreign Secretary from 1905-1916, Ambassador to the Unites States from 1919-20, and Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords. He voted in favor of the Women’s Enfranchisement Bill in 1908.


James Keir Hardie

Served as an MP and was Leader of the Labor Party from 1906-08. Considered the most devoted friend of the women’s suffrage movement. He was personal friends with the Pankhursts. As well as supporting women’s suffrage, he supported adult suffrage and opposed the Cat and Mouse Act.


Reginald McKenna

Served as Home Secretary from 1915-16. He is responsible for the Cat and Mouse Act


John Stuart Mill

Served as an MP and was a supporter of women’s suffrage, being one of the first men in Parliament to really fight for it. He also wrote about a theory of liberty in his book On Liberty. He writes about the limits of society’s power over the individual.

John Seely

Served as a Conservative MP from 1900-04, a Liberal MP from 1904-1922 and 1923-24, and the Secretary of State for War, thought he was forced to resign by Asquith. He was friends with Churchill.

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