EMILY WILDING DAVISON
A new book tells the story of Suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison from the perspective of her home village.
Emily is often associated with Morpeth where she is buried in the family grave at St Mary’s Churchyard. There is also a striking statue of Emily in Carlisle Park, Morpeth.
However, less is known about her links with Longhorsley, the place she called home, where her mother lived and ran the village shop.
Author, Margaret Scott, reveals more about the time Emily spent there and how the villagers in recent years continue to honour her.
The book is based on original documents and Emily's own writings includes Emily's mother's letters to her Suffragette daughter and show how the village of Longhorsley has commemorated Emily's role in women's suffrage.
'EMILY’S LONGHORSLEY' A4 sized book is published by Longhorsley Local History Society.
Sale Price £8
Buy locally and collect from: Colli Linn, West Road, Longhorsley NE65 8UU
or 53 Whitegates, Longhorsley NE65 8UJ
or Newcastle City library
or by post (Postage & package to uk mainland is £2.95)
Send a Cheque, payable to:- 'Longhorsley Local History Society'
to:- 53 Whitegates, Longhorsley, NE65 8UJ
Contact for enquires: LLHS.firstname.lastname@example.org
On June 4, 1913, a tall, slender, 40-year-old woman with red hair and green eyes stood quietly at the rail of the Epsom Downs race track, waiting for the running of the English Derby. Her name was Emily Wilding Davison and she was a member of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). Under her coat, she carried two suffrage flags. As the first group of horses passed her and a second rounded the corner, she slipped under the rail and ran onto the track. Newsreel films show her running toward the king's horse and throwing up her hands, perhaps to stop the horse, perhaps to protect herself. In an instant, a woman, horses, and jockeys are on the ground. Only Davison was seriously hurt; the horse walked off the track and the jockey, Herbert Jones, recovered quickly from his injuries. Kicked in the head, Emily Davison died four days later without regaining consciousness. Emily Wilding Davison was born on October 11th, 1872 in Blackheath Surrey. The daughter of Charles Davison, a retired merchant, and his second wife Margaret Caisley. When her father died in 1893 he left the family with little money so his wife returned to Northumberland and ran a shop in Longhorsley, to make ends meet.
Emily's father was originally from Morpeth, her mother born in Longhirst. Emily never lived in Morpeth, only coming north when her mother returned and she lived with her here in Longhorsley, between her suffragette activities and to recover from her periods of imprisonment, in particular after she had been subjected to force-feeding, in prison.
Even although she was only her between her many escapades, Emily could not resist the opportunity to advocate the cause of the suffragettes. Often standing on a 'soapbox' on the village green making speeches, whilst turning a deaf ear to those who heckled her. Locals said she was very expert in defending herself against, what was sometimes, very personal abuse.
As a young lady she had defied the odds, a male-dominated society imposed on women, by graduating with a BA at London University. After this, she gained a first-class honours degree at Oxford University.
She was appalled, at the lack of real opportunities women had in late Victorian Society, She was especially angered by the stigma, attached to all women, by being denied the right to vote. A very wealthy female landowner could not vote at the end of the nineteenth century, yet many of her male staff could - the most obvious example being Queen Victoria who believed those women should not involve themselves in politics. The logic of this, according to the Suffragettes, was that this denial of the right to vote made them second class citizens. This particular aspect of discrimination greatly angered Emily Wilding Davison.
Emily Davison was perhaps the most militant member of the militant WSPU and from when she joined until she died, she was continually in and out of prison. She threw metal balls labeled ‘bomb’ through windows set fire to post boxes, hid in Parliament three times (notably on Census night in 1911 when according to Tony Benn she hid in a broom cupboard) and continually went on hunger strike. The suffragettes who ‘hunger struck’ were initially released early, so as to avoid martyrdom, but soon the authorities started force-feeding to, in the end, disastrous publicity.
In 1912, in protest to another bout of painful force-feeding, and which may be a clue to her actual plans on the fateful Derby day of 1913, she threw herself off a balcony at Holloway prison. She was saved from her suicide attempt by the netting three floors below. She later wrote;
“I did it deliberately, and with all my power, because I felt that by nothing but the sacrifice of human life would the nation be brought to realise the horrible torture our women face. If I had succeeded I am sure that forcible feeding could not in all conscience have been resorted to again”
Emily Davison joined the WSPU in 1906 and her entry the Suffrage Annual & Woman's Who's Who 1913 follows:
Davison, Miss Emily Wilding, BA Honours (London), Oxford Final Honour School in English Language and Literature (Class 1) etc. Society: WSPU; born at Blackheath; daughter of Charles Edward and Margaret Davison; joined WSPU in November 1906.
March 30th, 1909, One month for going on deputation.
July 30th, 1909, Two months for obstruction at Limehouse, released after five and a half days hunger strike.
Sept.14th 1909, Two months for stone-throwing at White City Manchester, but released after two and a half days hunger strike.
Oct. 20th, 1909, One Month hard labour for stone-throwing at Radcliffe Manchester. Hunger struck, forcibly fed, hose-pipe incident at Strangeways prison, released end of eight days
Nov. 19th, 1910, One month, broke a window inside the House of Commons; hunger struck, forcibly fed and released after eight days.
Dec. 14th, 1911, Arrested for setting fire to pillar-boxes in City of Westminster; remanded in custody Holloway, one week.
Jan. 10th 1912 For above, sentenced at Old Bailey to six months; hunger struck twice with others, twice forcibly fed; released 10 days before sentence finished on account of injuries sustained in protest made against forcible feeding.
Nov 30th, 1912 Ten days imprisonment for assaulting a Baptist Minister by mistake for David Lloyd George at Aberdeen Station; hunger struck and released at end of 4 days fast;
Was arrested on great deputation together with Mrs Pankhurst, June 29th 1909; January 19th 1910. Won case against visiting magistrates of Strangeways Prison Manchester; Has three times hidden in House of Commons - April 1910, in hot-air shaft, April 1911 in crypt and also in June 1911; Marches in which she took part - March 1907, July 1910, June 1911 and July 1911.
Publications; Articles in 'Votes for Women' and other papers.
Recreations; Swimming, cycling, and studying.
Address; Longhorsley, S.O., Northumberland.
Emily Wilding Davison's connection with Longhorsley ended when staying with her mother in the village, a telegram arrived and she left on the fateful journey to Epsom, and her death under the hooves of the King's horse Anmer.
Emily Wilding Davison's Funeral Cortege Leaves Morpeth Station
A copy of Emily Davisons entry and signature in the autograph book of a Longhorsley resident. However, we are sworn to secrecy in exactly who's autograph book - someday perhaps!