DESPITE some of the biggest contributors to the votes for women campaign being made by Scots, many people would be pushed to name one of them.

Even in this year of centenary celebrations of women being granted the right to vote, much of the publicity has centred on the London-based supporters of the suffrage movement.

Attempts are now being made to address this by Glasgow Women’s Library which is embarking on several initiatives to highlight and celebrate the lives of Scottish women who were in the vanguard of those who fought for the right of women to vote in the UK. Funding support is being given by the Scottish Government.

One of the projects is The Suffragette City which will see two new trails created in Glasgow. These are centred on sites relating to women’s suffrage and activists involved in the struggle. The library’s “Women’s History Detectives” are currently hard at work creating new maps that will show the city in a new, less masculine, light.

In addition, the newly launched Moving Story aims to bring to life 100 Scottish and international women involved in women’s suffrage campaigning. The library is working with animation and illustration students at both City of Glasgow College and Edinburgh College of Art to produce a new, accessible, online resource.

Sue John of Glasgow Women’s Library said the aim was to defy the tendency towards the all too common “Mary Poppins styling” of campaigning heroines evident in some centenary gatherings and memorials.

“We want to create information on, and generate interest in, each suffragette or suffragist – from ‘The General’, Flora Drummond, to the mighty McPhun sisters, in easily digestible, dynamic ways,” she said.

“Each animation will be short, with just a couple of intriguing facts about each woman, and links to more detailed information for those who want to learn more.”

To whet the appetite, here is a brief outline of ten Scottish women who did much to further the women’s vote campaign (including one duo).


The National:

THE first and one of the most well-known British suffragettes to go on hunger strike was actually a Scot who claimed to be a direct descendant of William Wallace.

Born in 1864 at Leys Castle near Inverness, Marion Wallace-Dunlop was an excellent sculptor and artist who had paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy.

A socialist and active member of the Fabian Women’s Group, she joined the Central Society for Women’s Suffrage as early as 1900 and was a member of the the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Arrested first in 1908 for “obstruction” and then for the “crime” of leading a women’s march, she was arrested again in 1909

Commons, by stenciling a passage from the Bill of Rights on the wall.

When she refused to pay a fine she was sent to jail but went on hunger strike. Home Secretary Herbert Gladstone was consulted and told the prison governor that “she should be allowed to die”.

However, on reflection, they thought that if this happened, Dunlop might become a martyr, and after 91 hours she was suddenly set free. After word spread about her defiant move, hunger-striking became standard suffragette practice.


The National:

ETHEL Moorhead holds the dubious honour of being the first woman to be force-fed in a Scottish prison.

The Dundonian, who was born in 1869, had already ramped up a reputation for militancy – one of her first acts being to throw an egg at Winston Churchill. She followed that by smashing windows, throwing pepper at policemen, stoning the chancellor’s car and interrupting political meetings – in one case tracking down and attacking the man who had thrown her out.

Jailed several times, she was not a compliant prisoner and smashed the cell windows, threw buckets of water over the guards, flooded passageways and went on hunger strike.

In 1914 she was arrested in the grounds of Traquair House near Peebles where she had been discovered with fire-lighting equipment. She immediately went on sleep, thirst and hunger strike, and apparently barricaded herself into her cell. Entry was gained when she became weak and she was force-fed, but unfortunately the tube was incorrectly fed into her lungs rather than her stomach, resulting in double pneumonia.

Her treatment resulted in a public outcry and she was released, although later linked to an arson attempt at Burns Cottage in Alloway just before the outbreak of the war.


The National:

SCOTLAND’S youngest suffragette was Elizabeth (Bessie) Watson, born in the Vennel area of Edinburgh in July 1900.

Encouraged to take up piping at an early age as her parents thought it would strengthen her lungs against the ever-present danger of tuberculosis, she was only nine years old when she was asked to play the pipes in a procession organised by the WSPU. Both Bessie and her mother were members of the WSPU and proudly marched in 1909 down Princes Street before gathering for a rally led by Emmeline Pankhurst.

In 1911, Bessie was invited to lead the Scottish contingent with other female pipers at the Great Pageant in London. She continued to support women’s rights, accompanying Scots bound for Holloway Prison to Waverley Station and playing the pipes as their trains departed. Bessie’s rousing skirl also made a regular appearance outside the walls of Edinburgh’s infamous Calton Jail in an attempt to raise the spirits of the suffragettes locked up inside. She wore hair ribbons to school in the colours of the suffragette campaign.

Former neighbours recall that, even into her late eighties, Bessie continued to play her bagpipes at 11am every morning.


The National:

Helen Crawfurd (right) with Janet Barrowman

JAILED for two years for a bomb blast that damaged Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens, Helen Crawfurd was not a woman to mess with.

Helen was born in the Gorbals in 1877, the daughter of William Jack, a master baker, member of the Conservative Party and staunch Presbyterian.

His daughter was much more radical, joining the WSPU in 1910. Two years on she was jailed for smashing the windows of Jack Pease, minister for education, and was later arrested for attacking police officers trying to arrest Emmeline Pankhurst at a public meeting in Glasgow. Although released later that night, she was re-arrested the following night and sentenced to one month in jail for smashing the windows of the army recruiting offices. She went on hunger strike and was released after eight days.

Later that year she was arrested and charged for the Botanics bomb attack. Again she went on hunger strike, her third in less than two years, and was once more released.

She left the WSPU in protest at its support of the war and joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP). During the war, Helen was involved with the Red Clydeside movement, including the Glasgow rent strikes in 1915.


The National:

Margaret McPhun

MARGARET and Frances McPhun were two prominent suffragette daughters of Bailie John McPhun, a timber merchant and councillor in Glasgow’s East End. Frances, who was born in 1880, and Margaret, who was born in 1876, both attended classes at the University of Glasgow, with the former graduating with an MA in political economy. Members of the university’s suffrage union, they joined the militant WSPU around 1909.

Two years later they travelled to London with other Scottish suffragettes to gain publicity for their cause by smashing windows. They were arrested and sent to Holloway Prison, where they went on hunger strike.

Frances was involved in organising The Pageant of Famous Scottish Women in Edinburgh in 1909, was joint organiser of the WSPU exhibition in Glasgow in 1910 and was honorary secretary of the Glasgow WSPU in 1911 and 1912.

Margaret was a member of the Maryhill Liberal Association from 1906-8 and the Scottish University Women’s Suffrage Union, but left when both sisters joined the WSPU. Margaret was a contributor to socialist journal Forward, Votes for Women and The Suffragette, and wrote a poem included in the Holloway Jingles published by Glasgow WSPU in 1913.


The National:

JESSIE Stephen is one of the few working-class suffragettes about whom much is known. Born in 1893, the oldest of 11 children, her family moved from England to Edinburgh, then to Glasgow in 1901. She attended North Kelvinside School, where she won a scholarship, but had to leave at 15 to work as a domestic servant because her father was unemployed.

The whole family was politically active. Jessie was selling Labour Woman from the age of 12, joined the Independent Labour Party in Maryhill at 16, and quickly became its vice-chair.

In 1912, she started organising maidservants in Glasgow into a domestic workers’ union branch, helping to establish the formation of the Scottish Federation of Domestic Workers.

She was an active member of the WSPU, dropping acid into pillar boxes during their 1912 campaign to destroy the contents.

In 1913, she was the youngest in a delegation of Glasgow working-women who went to London to lobby the House of Commons.

During World War One, she was involved in the rent strikes and Women’s Peace Crusade. She remained an activist throughout her long life, becoming the first woman president of the trades council in Bristol.


The National:

LOUISA Innes Lumsden was the Scottish suffragette who planted the Suffrage Oak in 1918 which still stands today at the top of Glasgow’s Kelvin Way and was Scottish Tree of the Year in 2015, although it has since suffered storm damage.

Born in Aberdeen in 1840, she attended finishing school in London but became bored by middle-class life and went to study in Edinburgh when university standard classes were set up in 1868.

She then became one of the first three female students to sit the University of Cambridge Tripos examinations unofficially and was finally awarded the Classical Tripos in 1892.

She was appointed as the first headmistress of St Leonards School for girls in St Andrews in 1877 and then the first warden of the first residential hall for women students in Scotland at St Andrews University.

In 1908 the Aberdeen Suffrage Association asked her to become its president and she was later on the committee of the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies, going on the campaign trail herself to address meetings, including a huge crowd at the end of the suffragist Great Pilgrimage in 1913. She later became a vice-president of the Scottish Churches League for Woman Suffrage.


The National:

BETTER known as one of the Glasgow Girls, Jessie Newbery was also a supporter of women’s suffrage and an active member of the WSPU, organising the arts and curios stall at the Grand Suffrage Bazaar at Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Halls in 1910.

Born in 1864, the daughter of Paisley shawl manufacturer William Rowat, she developed her interest in textiles and decorative arts after visiting Italy in 1882.

Two years afterwards she enrolled as a student at the Glasgow School of Art and ten years later she became head of the school’s department of embroidery, which she had established earlier. She married Francis H Newbery four years after his appointment as head in 1889.

Her work raised the status of embroidery to that of a creative art form. Her appliqué work included a stylised rose motif that became one of the symbols of the avant-garde Glasgow Style.

Along with her husband, she established the Glasgow Girls as a group that placed arts and crafts on an equal footing with other works of art.

She provided exhibition and studio space for women artists and helped to make materials for related movements, such as the suffrage banners.


The National:

Centre: Flora 'The General' Drummond

BORN in 1879 and brought up on Arran, Flora Drummond retreated back to the island after jail and hunger striking took their toll, but not before she had taught the suffragettes Morse code so that they could communicate with each other between cells while in prison.

Although she took a business course and attended economics lectures at the University of Glasgow she was refused employment as a postmistress and ended up working in a baby linen factory in Manchester after her marriage in 1898.

A member of the Independent Labour Party, she joined the WSPU in 1905 and a year later became a full-time organiser. She was known as “The General” for her brilliant organisational skills and for her habit of leading processions on horseback, wearing a military style uniform.

In 1906, Flora and Annie Kenney led a demonstration to Downing Street. They were arrested then released. Flora was later arrested outside the House of Commons and served her first of her nine jail terms.

In 1908 she hired a boat so that she could approach the Palace of Westminster to harangue MPs sitting on the riverside terrace. She was arrested and sentenced to three months in prison.


The National:

BORN in 1881, Anna Munro was a schoolmaster’s daughter who grew up in Edinburgh until the death of her mother in 1892, when she and her sister went to live with an aunt and uncle in Dunfermline.

She became a social worker and was an early member of the WSPU, becoming organiser of the Dunfermline Branch. However, she left the WSPU in 1907 after a split caused by concerns that its leaders Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst had become dictatorial.

She then joined the Women’s Freedom League and was elected as its organising secretary. She was responsible for the summer campaigns down the Clyde coast when holidaymakers flocked to the area and was jailed for six weeks in 1908 as a result of her suffrage activities.

In 1912, she was one of six women who walked all the way from Edinburgh to London on the women’s march. A year later she was arrested for defying the government ban on public speaking in Hyde Park and later expressed her thrill at receiving a message from her husband sewn into a banana.

She campaigned for women’s rights and remained active in the WFL until it disbanded in 1961.