The centenary of women’s franchise prompted me to dig out the one photograph in my family’s collections that depicts women involved in politics.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave women the vote for Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom for the first time. It granted voting rights for all men aged over 21 resident in the constituency. However, the franchise only applied to women aged over 30 who also met one of three further criteria:
- occupied property valued at five pounds as a tenant or owner in their own right
- was the wife of a husband who met the above property requirement
- a University graduate
It is striking that this photo is a group of women, but it was taken over a decade later than the 1918 Act. The clothes and hairstyles, especially of the younger women, date from the 1920s or 1930s. The banners give further clues:
Wellcome to Old Newton Labour Party
Vote for Owen Aves
Womens 21 Vote
The women 21 reference chimes with the reduction of voting age to 21 and removal of the property requirement for women brought in by the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, 1928. Old Newton was in the Eye Division constituency in Suffolk. Owen Aves was the Labour candidate in the General Election of 30 May 1929. He didn’t win the seat or stand again in the constituency, so we can be sure this photograph was taken during to the 1929 election campaign.
Based on comparison with other photographs in the family collection, the lady standing leftmost was most likely Ellen Elizabeth Shave, nee Knock, born in 1871. Who were the other women? If you recognise them, I would love to know.
© Sue Adams 2018