Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘1900s’

A group mentioned in a press report about May Day in 1905. There were Marxian clubs in the rest of Britain around this time, often hosting speakers from the Social Democratic Federation.

References: Aberdeen Daily Journal.

Sources: unknown.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The League was formed nationally in November 1907 after a split from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The split was led by full time organiser Teresa Billington-Greig and Charlotte Despard, who along with many others were concerned about the control the Pankhurst family had over the Union and its local branches. There was also disagreement about the militant actions of the WSPU and the new League favoured non-violent forms of dissent such as non-payment of taxes and refusing to take part in the national census.

The branch in Aberdeen was established following a meeting in May 1908 with activists Teresa Billington-Greig, Amy Saunderson (from Forfar) and Aberdeen socialist Christian Farquharson-Kennedy. It was Kennedy who would become the new branch President, with Miss Third (Vice-President), Miss Scott (Secretary), Lily Lippett (Treasurer) and Miss McLeod (Literature Secretary).

The Aberdeen branch was still operational in 1918. The national organisation was still active as a pressure group until 1961.

Related entries: Women’s Social and Political Union and Christian Farquharson-Kennedy

References: Aberdeen Daily Journal, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866 – 1928 (Elizabeth Crawford, Routledge, London., 2001), The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A Regional Survey (Elizabeth Crawford, Routledge, London, 2006), A Guid Cause: the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland (Leah Leneman, Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, 1991) and Bajanellas and Semilinas: Aberdeen University and the Education of Women 1860 – 1920 (Lindy Moore, Aberdeen University Press, 1991), The Conciliatory Suffragette (Sarah Pederson in History Scotland, vol.5:2, 2005) and Caroline Phillips: Aberdeen Suffragette and Journalist (Sarah Pederson, Aberdeen, 2018).

Sources: Archives of the national body are held at the Women’s Library, London School of Economics.

Read Full Post »

The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was formed nationally in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Adela, Christabel and Sylvia. The WSPU, in comparison to the moral force of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, soon adopted direct action (the Union motto became ‘Deeds not Words’), as their main tactic. Members became known as suffragettes as opposed to the older term which was suffragists.

An Aberdeen branch was formed in the spring of 1907 with Lady Ramsay (wife of Sir William Ramsay, University of Aberdeen Professor of Humanity) as President and Caroline Philipps, journalist with the Aberdeen Daily Journal, as Secretary. The branch headquarters were at 41 ½ Union Street (Crown Mansions). Another interesting connection is that when the Pankhurts and other activists visited Aberdeen, they were hosted by Rev. Alexander Webster, veteran of the socialist movement of the 1880s. It was Rev. Webster as well, who in 1908, during a rather raucous visit by Herbert Asquith as part his University of Aberdeen rectorial installation, spoke in support of Emmeline Pankhurst as she tried to move a motion on women’s suffrage.

Aberdeen for a brief while became notable in the votes for women campaign, and was often visited by member of the Pankhurst family and activists from Edinburgh/Glasgow and London. There were a few reasons for this: firstly, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire was a traditional Liberal heartland and after the Liberals took power nationally in 1906 the WSPU campaign was directed squarely towards the party, secondly, the 1907 South Aberdeen by-election which occurred after the sitting Liberal M.P. vacated his seat thereby triggering an election campaign and thirdly, the 1908 campaign for the University of Aberdeen Rectorship which saw opponent of woman’s suffrage, the Liberal Herbert Asquith, nominated.

Direct actions undertaken in the name of the suffragettes included pouring corrosive liquid into letter boxes, putting letter boxes on fire, smashing windows, and in the specific case of Aberdeen, replacing the flags on Balmoral golf course with WSPU colours and cutting the words ‘Release Mrs Pankhurst’ in 12 foot high lettering in the turf in Duthie Park (this last action was apparently undertaken by male medical students). Aberdeen Train Station was also the scene of a whipping incident in December 1912 when Emily Wilding Davison (later to be killed under the King’s horse at the Derby in 1913), came up from London to protest against Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George who was speaking in Aberdeen. Davison mistook an elderly Baptist Minister for Lloyd George, and whipped him across the face.

The WSPU based in London required militant campaigning. The Aberdeen branch did not appear willing or able to comply with this and Honorary Secretary Caroline Phillips was ousted in January 1909 by the arrival from WSPU in London of Sylvia Pankhurst and activist Ada Flatman. The local branch was now essentially directed by the central office in London and managed by a series of organisers dispatched north.

The national WSPU suffered a major split in 1907, when many of its leaders and members left in protest at the Pankhurst family autocracy and militant tactics, to form the Women’s Freedom League. More splits followed, with Sylvia Pankhurst expelled in 1914, and eventually in 1917 the organisation was eventually disbanded.

Related entries: Women’s Freedom League (Aberdeen) and Rev. Alexander Webster.

References: Aberdeen Daily Journal, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866 – 1928 (Elizabeth Crawford, Routledge, London, 2001), The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A Regional Survey (Elizabeth Crawford, Routledge, London, 2006), A Guid Cause: the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland (Leah Leneman, Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, 1991), Bajanellas and Semilinas: Aberdeen University and the Education of Women 1860 – 1920 (Lindy Moore, Aberdeen University Press, 1991), The Conciliatory Suffragette (Sarah Pederson in History Scotland, vol.5:2, 2005) and Caroline Phillips: Aberdeen Suffragette and Journalist (Sarah Pederson, Aberdeen, 2018).

Sources: Correspondence of Caroline Philipps (Watt Collection) is held at Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums. Archives relating to the national body are held at the Women’s Library, London School of Economics.

Read Full Post »

The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) was formed in 1897 as an umbrella organisation for all the suffrage societies in England, Scotland, and Ireland. It formed from fellow organisations which had previously been a part of the earlier National Society for Women’s Suffrage (formed in 1867), and which had split in the intervening years. The leading light was Millicent Garrett Fawcett (sister of pioneering woman doctor Elizabeth Garret Anderson).

An Aberdeen Women’s Suffrage Association (with around 60 and 70 members) was active in around 1900 (and was a continuation of the earlier National Society for Women’s Suffrage branch), but did not actually affiliate to the National Union until 1905 (Edinburgh and Glasgow affiliated a couple of years before). As well as the usual activities of meetings and campaigning, the group was active in trying to get more women elected to the School Board. The President was Mrs Trail (a veteran of the earlier National Society Branch), Vice-President was Mrs Clegg and Honorary and Secretary/Treasurer was Miss H.E.G. Smith. Later secretaries included: LM Murray (1909), Dorothy Tait (1910) and Mrs Firth (1913) and a later President, from 1908, was pioneer of female education, Louisa Innes Lumsden. The branch headquarters (1913) was 214 Union Street. Like the national Union, many supporters were also part of the Women’s Liberal Associations, and Aberdeen was no different, with Aberdeen liberals such as the Mrs Black (President) and Mrs Allan (Honorary Secretary) active members. The Suffrage Association also had variants of their name – Aberdeen Association for Women’s Suffrage (Non-Militant) and then another variant (Law-Abiding).

At a national level, in 1919, the NUWSS renamed itself as the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship.

Related entries: National Society for Women’s Suffrage (Aberdeen).

References: Aberdeen Journal/Aberdeen Daily Journal, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866 – 1928 (Elizabeth Crawford, Routledge, London, 2001), The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A Regional Survey (Elizabeth Crawford, Routledge, London, 2006), A Guid Cause: the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland (Leah Leneman, Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, 1991) and Bajanellas and Semilinas: Aberdeen University and the Education of Women 1860 – 1920 (Lindy Moore, Aberdeen University Press, 1991), The Conciliatory Suffragette (Sarah Pederson in History Scotland, vol.5:2, 2005) and Caroline Phillips: Aberdeen Suffragette and Journalist (Sarah Pederson, Aberdeen, 2018).

Sources: Archives of the national body are held at the Women’s Library, London School of Economics.

Read Full Post »

William Leslie was born in Elgin and his father Alexander was a shoemaker. Prior to World War One, from 1908 – 1913, he was a professional footballer playing for Elgin City and Manchester City. He was a carpenter by trade, later becoming an active trade unionist in the Elgin area.

During World War One he was a conscientious objector appearing before a Military Service Tribunal in July 1916. He left Elgin for Glasgow in September 1916, presumably driven out for his anti-militarist views and for not signing up for non-combatant work. He went to Glasgow in 1917, working in John Brown’s shipyard, and it is possible he was then imprisoned for ignoring the decision of the tribunal.

Leslie was a member of the Independent Labour Party, No-Conscription Fellowship, Socialist Labour Party (from September 1918 until September 1919) and then he was one of the founders of the Aberdeen Communist Group in September 1919. He was also actively involved in the ‘Hands of Russia’ campaign in Aberdeen, co-ordinated by Aberdeen Trades Council.

In July 1920 Leslie set off for Moscow, via Finland and Petrograd, as a stowaway and without a passport, to attend the Third Comintern Congress. He declared himself to be a British delegate of the British Communist Party, along with Sylvia Pankhurst. It is not clear though whether he was in fact an ‘official’ delegate, like Pankhurst.

He left to return to Scotland via Norway but was arrested and imprisoned. After a hunger strike, he made it back to Scotland, and in November 1920 spoke to an audience about his adventures at the Aberdeen Picturedrome.

Related entries: Aberdeen Communist Party and Socialist Labour Party.

References: Conscientious Objectors Register 1914 – 1918 at Imperial War Museum website, ‘Aberdeen Was More Red Than Glasgow: The Impact of the First World War and the Russian Revolution beyond Red Clydeside’ (William Kenefick, in Scotland and the Slavs: Cultures in Contact: 1500 – 2000 (Mark Cornwall & Murray Frames (eds.), Newtonville, 2001) and Red Scotland: The Rise and Fall of the Radical Left c.1872 – 1932 (William Kenefick, Edinburgh University Press, 2007).

Sources: Letters from Leslie are housed in Moscow in the Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History.

Read Full Post »

There were ‘freethinkers’ in Aberdeen from the 1820s, followers of Richard Carlile and Robert Owen, themselves heirs of Thomas Paine. There was renewed attempts to form a society in Aberdeen in 1855, and a John Fraser of Aberdeen, wrote an article for ‘The London Investigator’, stating that there were plenty of freethinkers in the city, and appealing to form a new society. The high point of the Secularist movement was between the 1850s and 1880s under the leadership of George Holyoake and Charles Bradlaugh (founder of the National Secular Society (NSS) in 1866). There were numerous societies throughout Britain in the 19th century/early 20th century, including in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In Aberdeen a group was active between 1870 and 1878 and it would seem was part of the Scottish Secular Union, which was for a time a Scottish equivalent of the NSS. There was also a society, which was an official branch of the NSS, between 1892 and 1894. A further group is noted as being active between 1899 – 1901. In the society which was active in the 1870s, the officers included, George Middleton (President), Joseph Campbell (Treasurer), James Maitland (Financial Secretary) and Keith Murray (Secretary). The society met every Sunday at Aberdeen Reform House, Guestrow. Also of note is that the radical and freethought journal ‘The National Reformer’ (edited by Charles Bradlaugh), was available in Aberdeen from booksellers, George Middleton at Skene Square. Middleton was a key member of the movement, as a local agent for secularist publications and also because his premises were used as a meeting place. He was also a publisher and issued pamphlets attacking the church and local ministers (see, The Comet: Or Letters To Bon-Accordians, 9 issues produced between 1884 – 1887).

Related entries: Utilitarian Society (Aberdeen).

References: The Comet: Or Letters To Bon-Accordians (George Middleton, Aberdeen, 9 issues, 1884 – 1887), Victorian Infidels: the origins of the British Secularist Movement 1791 – 1866 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1974), Radicals, Secularists and Republicans: Popular Freethought in Britain 1866 – 1915 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1980), Aberdeen Booksellers of Bygone Days (William Walker, Aberdeen Book-lover 2, 1918), The London Investigator, The National Secular Society Almanack, The Secular Chronicle and The Workers’ Herald (1892)

Sources: unknown.

Read Full Post »

Henry (or Harry) Hill Duncan was born in 1862, son of Radical shoemaker Alexander (Sandy) Duncan. Henry was also a shoemaker and an active member of the Unitarian church, led by the Rev. Alexander Webster.

Duncan was active in Aberdeen Trades Council as delegate for the Boot and Shoemakers’ Union and he was also part of the Aberdeen Socialist Society with James Leatham et al. In early 1891 he led a group which acrimoniously split from the Society to form the Aberdeen Revolutionary Socialist Federation, changing its name to the Aberdeen Anarchist Communist Group in 1893. This group had argued for a more revolutionary than reformist position. Duncan was a very active member of the group and published a pamphlet titled ‘A Plea for Anarchist Communism’ in 1893.

After the group dissolved in the mid-1890s Duncan came to the fore on the Aberdeen Trades Council, serving as President in 1903 – 1905 and 1910, and also playing a formative role in organising dock workers in the city. He was also a member of Aberdeen School Board from 1900 -1906 and from 1911 – 1920, later working for the Education Authority.

Related entries: Aberdeen Anarchist Communist Group, Aberdeen Socialist Society, James Leatham and Rev. Alexander Webster.

References: obituary of H.H. Duncan in Aberdeen Journal 5th May 1937, web article by Nick Heath ‘Anarchism in Aberdeen, the Granite City’ (2013) (author used sources such as the articles submitted by the group to the journal Commonweal) and ‘A Plea for Anarchist Communism’ (H.H. Duncan, Aberdeen Anarchist Communist Group, James Blair, Aberdeen, 1893).

Sources: as above, articles submitted by the group to the journal Commonweal and H.H. Duncan’s pamphlet. Also Post Office Directories.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »