Alternative Vote Edwardian Style

My grandson Daniel is always telling me I should do more topical posts So what’s more topical today on the 5th May 2011, than the Alternative Vote.

It has already split the party faithful and caused battles in the commons, But all this bad behaviour practised today mainly by the men, was common practise a century ago with the ladies, when the alternative to the normal voting system was Votes for Women.

The demand for votes was raised as early as 1792 by Mary Wollstonecraft, which was followed by further attempts to get the vote in the 1860’s.

Early suffrage groups were formed and the womens Social and Political Union was founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst.

Emily Davidson
Suffragettes mourn the Derby martyr.

Now the Alternative Votes for women was a hot topic in the early 20th century and even the first past the post method made the headlines in June 1913 when the now well known suffragette Emily Davidson tried to seize the reins of the King’s horse Anmer, but was fatally injured when it fell in that years Derby.

First of all let me set the scene of this amusing story which made the headlines on another corner a little closer home here in Wolverhampton

By 1904 Wolverhampton had its own branch, of the Social and Political Union, whose president was Mrs Thomas Graham, a relative of the owner of the Express and Star, and In 1906 Emmeline Pankhurst visited Wolverhampton and made two speeches at the City’s Labour Club Then in 1908 came the East Wolverhampton election of 1908, in which the suffragettes supported L.S. Amery the Conservative Party Candidate.

Now if we go back five years to 1903

Which of course included residents of Red Hill Street.

Amongst the names of the residents included on the pages in this sale of properties taking place in Wolverhampton in 1903 are the names of the tenants at Nos 14 and 15 Red Hill Street, adjoining North Street, in St Peters’ Ward. Messrs Gill and Dawson.

The stage is set.

Ive included this Register from 1926 because a similiar one to this would have contained all the names of persons in this division previously entitled to vote as parlimentary and local goverment electors.

Polling station Red Cross Street Schools.

Then in 1908 came the East Wolverhampton election. Well as you know now In 1908 women could not vote in parliamentary elections. However, there was great joy in Wolverhampton during this by-election when a woman realised that one of the names on the electoral register was open to interpretation.

Lois Dawson was listed on the register under the name of Louis Dawson. As such she was eligible to vote. Complete with her voting card, Lois duly arrived at the Red Cross street School polling station, went in and voted – much to the delight of the local suffragettes.

So now the East Wolverhampton election of 1908, will always be remembered if only from the fact that a woman had the vote.

The corner shop and terrace still intact But not for long.

The same corner of Red Hill Street as it looked in the 1960s, the Dawsons lived next door to the shop.

The Headlines that evening in the Express & Star were, “A WOMAN VOTES: SUFFRAGETTES HUG THEIR SISTER.”

On the allotments at the rear of 14 red Hill Street 1950.

Doll and Fred Wright were great friends of my family and the source of this information originated from them.

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