In the 19th June 1913 edition of The Cornishman,sandwiched between a report on the output of black Tin from Botallack Stamps and a hysicians advice about curing indigestion,was a short notice headlined MRS PANKHURST RELEASED.
Emmeline Pankhurst was the suffragette leader who had been on hunger strike,enduring the torture of force feeding,while being incarcerated at Holloway Prison for centuries nspiracy to commit property damage.Emily Davison had also tragically lost her life while trying to pin suffragette colours to the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby barely a week before.
The tragedies of Emmeline Pankhurt’s treatment and Dividon’s death rallied peaceful Suffrgists into action and on Thursday June 19th an amazing th No happened.
Seven women gathered at Land’s End to start the suffrage Pilgrimage,a gruelling march through Cornwall and up I try to London.
This little band of Zeolots comprised of Miss Misick(organising secretary),Mrs Ramsey(Plymouth),Miss Raby(Exeter),and Miss Helen Fraser(London),and Mrs Robins(Edith) Bolitho,who is actively interested in the non-militant movement gave a hearty speech to signal the start,whilst a number of men who had assembled raised a cheer.Along the route to Penzance,litreturewas left at the houses,and the idea of the movement explained.
As we have already been introduced to Robins,or ,as we know her,Edith Bolitho,there would be a further reinforcement to the Marchers in the form of Morwena Penpraise from West Cornwall.
As a record of their march,Edith had commissioned an artist to first of all sketch each of the marchers by way of a record,and later,to provide a full study in oils of the collective band of women.
We note,that this was the year before the onset of the Great War,and the sheer guts of these women would be at the vanguard of a truly remarkable journey that would contribute ,along with the supreme war effort of all women to the eventual granting of the right of women to vote.
It is also of great interest that the first ever women to be elected an MP represented Plymouth ,ensuring that the West Country continued to be at the vanguard for women’s rights and equality.
Morwena would go on to play a very important role ,and her place among Cornish Women ,although hidden from the public gaze ,nonetheless,was essential to the movement.While,it is true,that at the top of many of our organisations today,there is a glass ceiling for women,but we have to understand just how far ,thanks to these women ,our society has come.
As has been written earlier,there were men present at Lands End who were sympathetic to their cause and supportive,and one such man,a republican from Paris,was to have a part to play that would surprise many,but,in particular,it would affect Morwena Penpriase to a profound extent.
We await the next day in Penzance and the filling in of further events as a prelude to the main march.