150 years ago today John Stuart Mill (- of his own freewill) presented a petition to Parliament signed by some 1521 people submitted by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett. This was the 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition, the first mass Votes for Women Petition submitted to Parliament. There were many more to come and a long fight ahead for the women (and men) involved in fighting for women’s suffrage.
It was a pretty rubbish time to be a women (in modern terms), you were still owned by your father until you married and then you became your husband’s possession. Then men in your life would have control of your money, your children and everything in your life. I need a whole other blog or two to go into this so I’ll be back with more on this at a later date. Meanwhile back to the Isle of Wight…
Three ladies on the Isle of Wight signed the petition that Mill presented in 1866. Ellen Cantelo – 69 High Street Newport, Sarah James – St James Street Newport and Elizabeth Thompson of Carisbrooke. It is understood that the signatures for the petition were collected through family and friends connections. You can see that in the growing mill towns that people would go from neighbour to neighbour, but how did the petition reach these ladies on the the Isle of Wight? That is what I am trying to find out!
I have been able to find some information on Ellen Cantelo – she was an artist and it would appear, fairly successful as she left £253.00 in her will after she passed away in 1898 – before the suffrage fight really began to take hold. The money was left to Elizabeth Thompson (the same lady who signed the petition? perhaps her sister?). As for the other ladies, they both remain somewhat a mystery but it’s still early days for researching. I look forward to updating this blog as I find out more.
I am fascinated by these ladies, living in Newport in the 1860’s being involved in women’s rights and perhaps facing prejudice or taunts for being a woman with an opinion and I am excited to find out where things went from here. Please read the next installment https://sudniheritage.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/the-1866-petition-a-follow-up/
To find out more about the petition and to look who signed it you can download the signatories here http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/parliamentary-collections/1866-suffrage-petition/