Hackney Suffragettes and the 1866 petition

Is it safe to mention the Suffragettes again, now that the moralising about voting in the election is over? 🙂

2009-06-11-1116-06(Petition image from Ann Dingsdale’s 1866 Suffrage Petition Women site, which aims to trace and document the 1,499 women signatories.)

In 1866, a group of women organised a petition that demanded that women should have the same political rights as men*. The women took their petition to Henry Fawcett** and John Stuart Mill, two MPs who supported universal suffrage. Mill added an amendment to the Reform Act that would give women the same political rights as men. The amendment was defeated by 196 votes to 73.

In the wake of this defeat the London Society for Women’s Suffrage was formed. Similar Women’s Suffrage groups were formed all over Britain. In 1897, seventeen of these individual groups joined together to form the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

– British Library “Dreamers And Dissenters

*There had been a previous petition on the subject in 1832.

**Henry Fawcett later became the MP for Hackney from 1874 until his death in 1884 and would continue to campaign for votes for women. His wife, Millicent, was the Mrs Fawcett on the banner in the photo below:


Elizabeth Crawford has now traced five of the signatories on the 1866 petition to South Hackney. Her fascinating blog post covers the five’s personal biographical information as well as early participation in the Suffragette movement, Communism and Vegetarianism:


A previous entries on Elizabeth’s site is also of interest: The Women’s Freedom League Toy Factory At Hackney, 1915.

Any further tip offs about Suffragettes and other early feminists in Hackney would be very welcome.

4 thoughts on “Hackney Suffragettes and the 1866 petition

  1. Pingback: Stoke Newington Suffragettes | The Radical History of Hackney

  2. Dear Hackney Suffragettes group.
    I noticed that you had taken an image from my thesis on the 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition and was interested to see your blog. I have continued to research the 1,499 women who signed since 1995, and now have information, often whole life stories, about some 90% -95% of them. These are often women with a real need for the vote, who had experiences widowhood, orphanedness(!), divorce and desertion, and who were making a living in an amazing range of ways.. Some 18 of these remarkable women came from Hackney. It was good to see the people from the area that Elizabeth Crawford has highlighted.

    2016 is the 150th anniversary of the petition. An exhibition will be held at the Women’s Library @LSE in May-July. My embroidered hanging which includes the names of all the women who signed will be exhibited as part of that exhibition.

    I am also organising at least one walk in May or June celebrating the women who signed in Blackheath and Greenwich where I live.

    Do you have any members who would be interested in doing something similar to celebrate these pioneer suffragists in your area. I would be happy to share the information which I have on the other women in your locality , and would be interested to hear what you have discovered.

    You might be interested to look at my rather sporadic blog about them:- http://1866suffragepetitionwomen.blogspot.co.uk/

    With good wishes
    Ann Dingsdale

    • Dear Dr Ann Dingdale,

      I recently came across your blog but I had some problems leaving a comment or making contact with you. I hope the owners of this page don’t mind me using this opportunity to make contact with you.
      I am currently researching Derby and Derbyshire women (who lived or worked in the County or City) who signed the 1866 Petition. I went through your blog and was very happy to read your post on Emma Bemrose. I wondered if you could provide me with any of the biographies you have on Derby and Derbyshire women I have tried to undertake this research myself but have had limited success. Any help would be much appreciated.

      Thank you Regards Sonya Robotham Derby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.