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Anglophile Guide to British travel, culture and history with profiles of British destinations, events and landscapes and tips celebrating Britain's heritage.

In today's 23rd installment of #WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs in celebration of UK Parliament's #Vote100, we me...

In today's 23rd installment of #WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs in celebration of UK Parliament's #Vote100, we meet Winifred Carney.

During the Easter Rising of 1916, Winifred Carney was the only woman present at the initial occupation of Dublin’s General Post Office. As she marched into the building, she carried her typewriter and her Webley revolver. Winifred entered alongside the Rebellion’s leader, James Connolly. Though many women fought during the Rising, none were a part of the epicenter the way Winifred was.

By 1916, she and Connolly had known each other for four years, having met in 1912 when he was based in her native city of Belfast. They worked together on suffrage and socialist activities, trying to better the conditions of the female textile workers. Winifred became the secretary of the Textile Workers Union, and eventually Connolly’s secretary, typing his publications and becoming an integral part of his inner circle. As the Easter Rising was being planned, Connolly asked Winifred to accompany him to Dublin to type his dispatches and record the events of the Rebellion.

Winifred was one of the first women in Belfast to receive her qualification as a secretary and typist from Hughes Commercial Academy. She was a staunch Irish Catholic Republican and a member of Cumman na mBan, the women’s branch of the Irish Volunteers, where she taught first aid and learned to handle a rifle as well as her revolver. Winifred was known as a crack shot.
After the rebels surrendered, Winifred was jailed at Kilmainham Goal, and later moved to an English prison. She was held from April until Christmas, 1916. Because she never gave up her activism and her Anti-Treaty views, Winifred was jailed many times in subsequent years.

In 1928, after a lifetime of fighting for her belief in an Irish Republic, Winifred surprised everyone she knew by marrying a man who was a Unionist, meaning he believed in Ireland remaining a part of England. Tall, handsome George McBride, a Protestant, a former member of the Ulster Volunteers, a veteran of the First World War. George had enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles and served with distinction at the Battle of the Somme. He was 10 years younger than Winifred, and they came from vastly different backgrounds.

But he was, however, an avid socialist, and like Winifred, he fought for workers’ rights. Winifred alienated anyone who did not approve of her marriage to McBride. Though they debated their differences, neither changed their position, and they remained happily married until Winifred’s death in 1943. George never remarried.

Winifred Carney, a boundary-breaker and a passionate fighter, and a woman who followed her heart.
Next time, join Wednesday’s Women for another profile a brave woman who fought for a cause.

For more: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-58625




Today is the 22nd installment of #WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of ...

Today is the 22nd installment of #WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of #Vote100. This week, meet Leila and Rosalind Garcias de Cadiz (Lily and Rosie).

Lily and Rosie joined the Irish Women’s Franchise League in 1910, and achieved a “First” among their peers. In a sphere of militant suffragettes, they are the first and only to be expelled from the League for being “too militant.”

In their numerous arrest records, they each used an alias, “Maggie Murphy or Jane Murphy,” because their highly publicized political involvement was an embarrassment to the prominent relatives that raised them. Lily and Rosie were born in India, orphaned, and brought to Roscommon, Ireland, to be raised by the Gunning family. (Their Spanish origin dates back to the Duke of Cadiz.)

The sisters also joined their English counterparts in the WSPU and were present at the Black Friday riot in London. They were jailed and went on hunger strike while in Holloway prison, London. Both Lily and Rose endured many sessions of forcible feeding, from which Lily felt she never fully recovered.

After their release, they returned to Dublin, and participated in the window smashing attack on the GPO, Custom House, and Dublin Castle led by Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington. Again, they were jailed, but in this case were treated as political prisoners. They went on hunger strike in sympathy for the other women who were not given the same status.

Between 1910 and the outbreak of World War One, the Irish Suffragettes waged an all-out guerilla war: scorching golf courses, burning houses and post-boxes, breaking street lamps, and cutting phone lines. The Cadiz sisters were zealous participants until their expulsion from the League.
When suffragette militancy halted at the outbreak of WW1, Lily and Rosie answered an ad from Sheehy-Skeffington’s newspaper, “The Irish Citizen”. It called for volunteer nurses, greatly needed by the troops in France. They trained hastily and shipped out to the front, serving in some of the most dangerous areas of conflict. Rosie sustained a back injury that restricted her mobility for the rest of her life.

Like so many women of their time, Lily and Rosie were engaged to men who were lost in the war, and neither sister ever married. Both were quoted as saying that their true loves were gone, and there could be no substitute.
Lily and Rosie spent their last years living together in poor circumstances in South Dublin. Rose passed in 1964, Lily in 1968.

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Today is the 21st installment of #WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of ...
The Female Jiu-Jitsu Crew That Defended Women's Rights

Today is the 21st installment of #WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of #Vote100. This week, meet Edith Gerrud.

Edith Gerrud was a great boon to the militant suffrage movement, as well as the first female martial arts teacher in Europe. She trained a group of women who became known as “The Bodyguard.” Through the use of Jiu-Jitsu, Indian club fighting, sabotage, and decoy tactics, these brave women were the first line of defense against policemen trying to pummel protesting women with their fists and nightsticks, and the main protection against re-arrest for hunger strikers under the Cat-and-Mouse Act.

Edith taught defense tactics, allowed women on the run to hide in her Golden Square Dojo, and taught protesters how to wear “armor” made from cardboard and cotton under their clothing to protect their ribs from the police batons.

Edith Williams was born to unmarried parents in Bath, Somerset, in 1872. This being a shameful circumstance at the time, Edith was sent to live with an aunt. She was not fully accepted by her peers, so she found an outlet in athletics, and developed a lifelong penchant for fitness and physical activity.

In 1893, Edith married William Garrud, also a fitness enthusiast. The couple moved to London where William found work as a physical culture trainer for several universities.
Teachers from the Far East had introduced Jiu-Jitsu to Londoners, and the practice of martial arts had caught on in English culture. The martial arts were noteworthy enough to be mentioned in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels. The Garruds studied these disciplines extensively, and helped popularize them by giving demonstrations all over London. Edith appeared as the protagonist in a short film about Jiu-Jitsu that came to the attention of the suffragettes.

Because she stood at a mere 4’11”, the practice of Jiu Jitsu appealed to Edith. It offered a means by which a small person could defend against a much larger assailant. It also appealed to Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragettes, as they had endured beatings and assault by policemen on many occasions.
And so, the diminutive Edith Garrud took on the sizable responsibility of training suffragettes to defend themselves and their leaders from physical harm. She kept at least thirty women fighters available at all times, and many sustained serious injuries even though they could flip a policeman who was twice their weight.

The Press loved the images of women in large-brimmed hats and elaborate dresses using combat techniques and pulling concealed Indian clubs from their skirts. The Press dubbed Edith’s women “The Amazons.”

With the outbreak of World War One, Pankhurst ceased all militant activity, and the Bodyguard was disbanded. Edith and her husband remained in London and ran a very successful Dojo, teaching martial arts to men, women, and children until they retired.

Edith Garrud died just a few months before her 100th birthday in 1971.

Had the police known there was barbed wire hidden in the floral arrangements, things might have gone a little differently.

#WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of #Vote100, is back this week for i...

#WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of #Vote100, is back this week for its 20th installment!

This week, meet Hanna Sheehy Skeffington.

She was at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights, Irish Home Rule, worker’s rights, and pacifism. She sacrificed greatly for her beliefs, and she gave Irish women and workers a voice in her successful newspaper, “The Irish Citizen."

Hanna Sheehy was raised in a family with deep Irish Republican ties. Her father was imprisoned many times for his activities with the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Hanna campaigned for Irish self-determination, and after the Easter Rising, she came to America to lecture and press the Nationalist cause. She gained the only private audience with Woodrow Wilson granted to any Irish Nationalist.
Simultaneously, Hanna applied the same vigor and passion to the cause of women’s rights and voting enfranchisement. In 1908, she became secretary of the Irish Women’s Franchise League. Though the League pressed the Irish Parliamentary Party to support women’s enfranchisement, they consistently refused. In retaliation, members of the League hurled bricks through the windows of the General Post Office, Dublin Castle, and the Customs House. For this offense, Hanna served her first prison sentence, and went on hunger strike for the first time.

In 1902, as a student in Dublin, Hanna met Frances Skeffington, a controversial political figure who proudly displayed a “Votes for Women” badge on his lapel. They were introduced by mutual friend, James Joyce, and they married in 1903. In keeping with their strong belief in the equality of the sexes, they combined their last names, each using Sheehy Skeffington. This was certainly an unusual practice during that time.

Hanna founded the Irish Women’s Worker Union, and she ran a soup kitchen for the striking workers during the 1913 lockout.

The Easter Rising of 1916 saw Hanna ferrying food and messages for the rebels holding out in the Post Office, and her pacifist husband, Francis, organizing a delegation to stop the looting that broke out all over Dublin. Frances had made it known publicly that he opposed the Rising, and he sought only to lessen the attendant violence.
And here, Hanna’s story takes a shocking turn.

The rebellion began on Easter Monday, and on Tuesday, Hanna and Francis were each busily offering humanitarian aid in different parts of the city. Tuesday night, after Francis’ last attempt to quell the violence and looting, he wearily began to make his way home. For no apparent reason, Francis was abruptly arrested, and taken to Portobello Barracks. He was held without charge by the British Army. Francis shared his cell with two journalists, also non-combatants, who were also held without charge.
Even though he was a recognizable pacifist figure in Dublin, and even though the journalists had valid press credentials, all three men were shot on Wednesday morning, under the orders of British Captain Bowen-Colhurst. There were no charges and there was no trail.
Hanna was not informed of her husband’s death. Word reached her two days later. Then her home was ransacked in an attempt to find incriminating material, but none was found. Only after Hanna’s relentless campaign was an official investigation launched. Captain Bowen-Colhurst was found guilty of murder, but he was declared insane. After a few months in an asylum in Britain, he was sent to Canada and lived out his life as a free man.

This tragedy galvanized Hanna’s efforts, and she published “British Militarism as I Have Known It,” and lectured all over the U.S. advocating for Irish Independence.

Hanna joined Sinn Fein, and continued to fight for feminist causes for the rest of her life. To her great disappointment, the Ireland that was emerging did not emphasize feminist values, and still placed many restrictions on women. But Hanna never gave up, and continued to make her voice heard. She struggled to support herself as a teacher and journalist until her death in 1946 at age 69. Hanna and Francis had one son, Owen, who followed in their footsteps.

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#WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of #Vote100, is back this week for i...

#WednesdayWomen, a series by Amy Griggs that highlights suffragettes in celebration of #Vote100, is back this week for its 19th installment!

This week, meet Barbara Bodichon.

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon had an unconventional upbringing and led an unconventional life. Born in 1827, she was a central figure in the social reform and suffrage activities of the mid-1800’s, but is not as well-known as many of her peers. Nevertheless, she managed to devote her time and money to bettering the lives and education of the downtrodden while simultaneously moving in the upper echelon of society. Her salons were among the most notable in London, and as she was close friends with George Eliot, she is believed to be the model for the heroine in “Romola."

Barbara was the illegitimate daughter of radical Whig politician Benjamin Leigh Smith and Ann Longden, a milliner from Alfreton. Smith fathered 5 children with Ann, but never married her. Though it would have been a scandal to marry a woman from a lower social class, raising 5 children out of wedlock was decidedly more scandalous. Even so, Smith enjoyed a long and successful political career, and was never shunned by his social connections. When Ann died of tuberculosis while all the children were still young, Smith was advised to send his children abroad to be raised discreetly away from the public eye. But he insisted on raising them himself with the help of several aunts. Importantly, he treated his daughters and sons alike, giving them all a private income. This allowed Barbara to live as she pleased, and not have to marry and be dependent upon a husband.

Heir to her father’s beliefs, Barbara’s first nation-wide publication was a small, concise pamphlet that drove the first wedge into English law of the day. It was called “A Brief Summary, in plain language, of the Most Important Laws concerning Women”. It made a tremendous stir, and along with the writings of Caroline Norton, facilitated the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act of 1857.
Bodichon was a major force in the drafting of the Petition of 1866, and as mentioned in our podcast on britishheritage.com, this petition marked a turning point in the suffrage movement.

Barbara also lobbied for educational opportunities for women, co-founding the first women’s college in Cambridge, Girton College, in 1873. Amazingly, women students at Girton were not granted full membership of the University of Cambridge until 1948.

At a young age, Barbara distinguished herself in the art world, studying watercolors and producing works that were shown at the Royal Academy and other notable galleries.
Barbara had a love affair with publisher John Chapman, considered by many to be a rogue and philanderer, but hesitated to marry due to her beliefs. Her father arranged a trip to Algiers for Barbara and her sister, and there she met French army officer and renowned surgeon, Eugene Bodichon, and they married in 1857. He remained in Algiers, and Barbara spent the winters there, but part of each year she returned to London to pursue her many causes. Again, she took an unconventional approach for her time, the mark of a truly independent woman.

Also in 1857, Barbara wrote a very radical pamphlet called “Women and Work”, and it echoes many of the sentiments, questions, and obstacles we are still facing today.
Barbara Bodichon was an artist, an educationalist, and a women’s rights activist. She certainly left the world a better place for her efforts, and stands as an inspiration for women today.

British Heritage Podcast series about these amazing women: https://britishheritage.com/topics/podcast/

For even more: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Barbara-Leigh-Smith-Bodichon


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