Votes for Women: A Timeline of the Women’s Fight in Portsmouth

1869 First petition for female suffrage is presented by Portsmouth. Women are allowed to vote in Borough elections this year.

1870 Further petition for Women’s suffrage presented.

1872 Further petition for Women’s suffrage presented.


1872 First documented meeting for women’s suggrage takes place in Portsea, the dockyard quarter, by a Mrs Ronniger on behalf of the London National Society, chaired by Rev. John Ellis.

1872 Jessie Craigen, powerful working class speaker, holds a meeting in Landport.

1974 First meeting takes part in the “fashionable” Southsea, speakers including Miss Beedy, Caroline Biggs and Emily Spender.

1881 Rev. Grant instigates an approach to the girls’ public Day School Trust for a Girls establishment in Portsmouth

1882 Opening of Portsmouth High School (For girls).

1882 Members of the Manchester National Society and the Central Committee met in Portland Hall and Portsmouth came very close to sponsoring a grand demonstration.


Taken from Punch Magazine 1911 

1886 Vigilance Association set up a branch in Southsea.

1888 Women are allowed to vote in County Elections.

1889 Women’s Liberal Association Formed.

1907 Branch of Central Society formed.

1908 Portsmouth send a delegation to the 15,000 strong NUWSS procession. Portsmouth banner read ” engage the enemy more closely”, Nelson’s Signal.

1908 On the 21ST June a specially commissioned train from Portsmouth to London takes over 600 people to “the great shout”, a rally called by WPSU which saw over 250,000 people demonstrate in Hyde Park.


1909 By election brought WPSU to the Portsmouth. Christabel Pankhurst speaks at a meeting in the town hall and there is an overspill of 2000 in the square outside.

1909 Portsmouth branch of Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage formed.

1910 Women’s Freedom League formed.

1910 Anti Suffrage league formed, led by Charles Dickens granddaughter Mary Anne Dickens.

1911-1912 Charlotte Marsh, militant suffragette and organiser for WPSU is based and active in Portsmouth.

1913 Frederick Blessley is charged for smashing a window of the town hall in an act of campaigning for Women’s Suffrage.

1913 Suffrage pilgrimage from Portsmouth to London, documented by Suffragist Harriet Blessley (Frederick’s Sister).WpilgrimageThe pilgrimage arriving in London 1913

1913 Branch of Church League for Women’s Suffrage formed.

1913 Branch of conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise association formed.

July 1914 An organising meeting of 22 different societies and groups took place at Madden’s Hotel to consider the possibility of holding a mass protest meeting against the “sweating” of Portsmouth Female employees.

August 1914 Outbreak of world war one- Hampshire Telegraph declares “We have nothing before us except starvation”.

1915 Women permitted to enter and work in the Dockyard for the first time. By 1918 1,750 women worked in the dockyard and many more worked in the ammunitions factories and Hampshire Land Army.

1917 Norah O’Shear, previously heavily involved with the Central Society group, formed Portsmouth branch of United suffragists and the first meeting was jointly arranged with The Portsmouth Trades Union Council.

1917 Prime Minister Asquith declares that some measure of Women’s suffrage should be conferred on the grounds that Women have proved themselves to be as active and as efficient as men throughout the war.

1918 Representation of People act comes into force and Women aged over 30 and who are property owners or the wives of property owners become entitled to vote for the first time. In Portsmouth 45,000 such women become entitled to vote.

1918 Portsmouth is the first town in which Women are called to the vote and a women, Kate Edmond, was elected as councillor by a majority of over 600 votes on 18TH November.


One thought on “Votes for Women: A Timeline of the Women’s Fight in Portsmouth

  1. Pingback: Votes For Women! Women’s Suffrage In Southampton & Portsmouth, Hampshire | Come Step Back in Time

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