Women's suffrage timeline
- Article created by: British Library Learning
- Published: 6 Feb 2018
|1832||August||Mary Smith, from Yorkshire, petitions Henry Hunt MP that she and other spinsters should ‘have a voice in the election of Members [of Parliament]’. On 3 August 1832, this became the first women’s suffrage petition to be presented to Parliament.|
|1866||7 June||John Stuart Mill MP presents the first mass women’s suffrage petition to the House of Commons. It contains over 1500 signatures.|
|1867||January||Manchester National Society for Women's Suffrage (MNSWS) is formed, alongside many other societies in different cities across Britain.
|May||John Stuart Mill makes an unsuccessful amendment to the Second Reform Bill, which would have granted suffrage to women property holders.|
|1868||April||On 15 April 1868, the MNSWS holds the first ever public meeting about women’s suffrage at the Manchester Free Trade Hall.|
|1870||December||The Married Women's Property Act gives married women the right to own their own property and money.|
|1880||November||The Isle of Man grants female suffrage in an amendment to the Manx Election Act of 1875.|
|1894||December||The Local Government Act is passed, which allows married and single women to vote in elections for county and borough councils.|
|1897||The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) is formed, uniting 17 societies. Later led by Milicent Fawcett, the NUWSS favoured peaceful campaign methods such as petitions.|
This pamphlet states that ‘the object of the Union [NUWSS] is to obtain the Parliamentary vote for women on the same terms as it is or may be granted to men’.View images from this item (13)
Usage terms Public Domain
|1902||Women textile workers from Northern England present a petition to Parliament that contains 37,000 signatures demanding votes for women.|
|1903||October||The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) is formed in Manchester at the home of Emmeline Pankhurst.|
|1905||The WSPU adopts the motto ‘Deeds not Words’, resulting in the start of militant action by the suffragettes.|
|1907||February||The NUWSS organises their first large procession, where 40 suffragist societies and over 3000 women marched from Hyde Park to Exeter Hall in the rain and mud. It later became known as the 'Mud March'.|
|8 March||The Women’s Enfranchisement Bill (the ‘Dickinson Bill’) is introduced to parliament for its second reading but is talked out.
Dora Thewlis and 75 other suffragettes are arrested when the WSPU attempt to storm the Houses of Parliament.
|August||Qualification of Women Act is passed, allowing women to be elected onto borough and county councils and as mayor.|
|Autumn||1-in-5 suffragettes leave the WSPU to join the newly-formed Women’s Freedom League (WFL).
|1908||April||Herbert Henry Asquith, an anti-suffragist Liberal MP, becomes Prime Minister.|
|June||‘Women’s Sunday’ demonstration is organised by the WSPU at Hyde Park, London. Attended by 250,000 people from around Britain, it is the largest-ever political rally in London. Ignored by Asquith, suffragettes turn to smashing windows in Downing Street, using stones with written pleas tied to them, and tie themselves to railings.|
|July||The Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League (WASL) is formed by Mrs Humphrey Ward.|
|1909||July||Marion Wallace Dunlop becomes the first imprisoned suffragette to go on hunger strike. Later that year prisons begin to force feed inmates on hunger strike.|
|October||The Women's Tax Resistance League (WTRL) is formed, a direct action group who refused to pay taxes without political representation. Their founding slogan is ‘No vote, no tax’.|
|August||The WASL merges with the Men’s National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage. The League now has a total of 42,000 enrolled members.
|November||The Conciliation Bill, which would grant suffrage for one million women who owned property over the value of £10, is passed by the Commons but fails to become law.
In retaliation, 300 suffragettes from the WSPU march on parliament, where they are met with police brutality, assault and arrests. This day later becomes known as ‘Black Friday’.
Map for a Suffragette march, June 1911
This map shows the route for the Coronation Procession organised by the WSPU in 1911. It shows 'the great demonstration' would begin at Westminster and end at the Albert Hall.View images from this item (1)
Usage terms Public Domain
|1911||Emily Wilding Davison avoids the census by hiding in a cupboard in the crypt at the House of Commons.|
|June||On the eve of King George V’s coronation, around 40,000 women from 28 suffrage societies march for female enfranchisement.|
|November||Asquith announces a manhood suffrage bill, which is seen as a betrayal of the women’s suffrage campaign. In protest, the WSPU organises a mass window-smashing campaign through London. This heightened militancy continues into 1912, and spirals to include arson attacks.|
|1912||March||The Parliamentary Franchise (Women) Bill is introduced and defeated by 222 votes to 208.|
|The Labour Party become the first political party to include female suffrage in their manifesto. This was partly in reaction to the NUWSS’s ‘Election Fighting Fund’, which was set up to help organise the Labour campaign.|
|1913||April||The ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act is introduced (officially titled Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act). It allows authorities to temporarily release suffragettes on hunger strike, and then re-arrest them once they have recuperated.|
|June||Emily Wilding Davison is killed after she steps out in front of the King’s horse at Epsom Derby. A member of WSPU, she intended to disrupt the Derby for the suffrage cause, though her exact motives are unknown. Thousands attend her funeral.|
|18 June - 25 July||50,000 people from around the UK take part in the NUWSS’s ‘Pilgrimage for Women’s Suffrage’, which concludes with a rally in Hyde Park. The NUWSS wanted to display the suffragists’ peaceful, law-abiding tactics.|
|December||As part of her involvement with WTRL, Sophia Duleep Singh is taken to court over her refusal to pay taxes.|
|1914||The East London Federation of Suffragettes is expelled from the WSPU after Christabel Pankhurst claims that they are too concerned with other causes – such as living and working conditions.|
|The NUWSS reaches 50,000 members; the WSPU has 5,000 members.|
|May||The WSPU clash with police outside of the gates to Buckingham Palace, when Emmeline Pankhurst attempts to present a petition to King George V.
|July||The outbreak of World War One brings a suspension to the WSPU’s and NUWSS’s campaigns. Women are urged to support the war effort, and they do, as during this period nearly 5 million women remain or enter into employment.|
|1916||Asquith makes a declaration of allegiance to women’s enfranchisement.|
|December||David Lloyd George, a Liberal MP, replaces Asquith as Prime Minister.|
|1918||February||The Representation of the People Bill is passed, allowing women over the age of 30 and men over the age of 21 to vote. Women have to be married to or a member of the Local Government Register.|
|November||The Parliamentary Qualification of Women Act is passed, enabling women to stand as MPs.|
|1919||March||Millicent Fawcett retires as President of the NUWSS, when it becomes the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship.|
|November||Nancy Astor takes her seat in the Houses of Commons, as the first female MP for Britain. In 1918 Constance Markiewicz stands for Sinn Fein and becomes the first woman elected to Westminster, but in line with Sinn Fein politics declines to take the seat.|
|1928||July||The Representation of the People Act entitles everyone over the age of 21 to vote.|
|1929||May||Women over the age of 21 vote in their first general election. There is no majority, but Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour party take over from the Conservatives.|
 ‘Imperial parliament of Great Britain and Ireland’, Morning Chronicle, (No. 19,638, 4 August 1832), p. 1.
 ‘The Women’s Suffrage Question’, Morning Post (No. 29,438, 16 April 1868), p. 7.
 M A Butler and J Templeton, ‘The Isle of Man and the First Votes for Women’, Women & Politics (4:2, 1984), pp. 33–47.
 J Marlow, ed., Suffragettes: The Fight for Votes for Women (London, 2000).
 ‘Another Suffragist Raid’, Morning Post (No. 42,065, 21 March 1907), p. 7.
 Jill Liddington, Rebel Girls, (London, 2006), p. 67.
 KevinGrant, ‘British Suffragettes and the Russian Method of Hunger Strike’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 53, no. 1 (2011), pp. 113–143.
 Paula Bartley, Votes for Women, 1860-1928 (Oxon, 2003), p. 85.
 ‘An Act to provide for the Temporary Discharge of Prisoners whose further detention in prison is undesirable on account of the condition of their health’, 1913 Cat and Mouse Act, Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1913/3&4G5c4 (1913).
 Leslie Parker Hume, The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies 1897-1914 (London, 1982), pp.198–99.
 Julia Bush, Women against the vote: Female anti-suffragism in Britain (Oxford, 2007), p. 3.
 Gail Braybon, Women workers in the First World War (Oxon, 2012).
The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License.