MANY of the events of the period 1912-14 were in the nature of a civil

war, and are comparable to the auctions of a repressive regime towards a

minority. In retrospect, ''Votes for Women'' was no great radical

demand. The woman-hatred which it elicited and the excuses which were

put forward in support of the continuing disenfranchisement of women

turned a simple demand for political reform into a long-term sex war. A

polite pro-suffrage gesture at the installation of Mr Augustine Birrell

as Rector of Glasgow University on December 5, 1912, turned the male

students into rampaging bulls who marched on the WSPU shop in

Sauchiehall Street and wrecked it. It was not simply a question of

breaking the windows, but of destroying the entire shop and its

contents: tables and chairs were broken; stock laid in for Christmas was

destroyed; the few pieces of equipment were smashed; the electrical

wiring was ripped out. Although it was the middle of the day, and the

young gentlemen of Glasgow were dancing up the street with broken

furniture, there were no arrests and no witnesses. From that point

onwards, the suffragettes recruited male enforcers - burley dockers and

miners - to protect their meetings from the attention of Glasgow's

university educated young men.

SUFFRAGE militacy escalated and took different forms. A natural

history case in the Royal Scottish Museum was smashed in February 1913,

and the King's portrait in the National Gallery in Edinburgh was

damaged. In April 1913 the Western Meeting Club in Ayr was burned to the

ground, causing damage worth #3500. An attempt was made to set fire to

Kelso racecourse stand. In May 1913 the mansion house of Farrington Hall

in Dundee was bombed and burnt, #10,000 worth of damage being caused.

Large unoccupied houses were a favourite target for the militants; it

was hoped that the insurance companies would have to bring pressure to

bear on the Government to grant the vote, for their own financial

protection. The suffragettes always took the greatest care to target

property, not lives.

The militants who had been caught in the act of attempting arson at

Kelso were sentenced at Jedburgh Sheriff Court. The ringleader, an

Edinburgh teacher called Arabella Scott, described it as ''a mere

attempt to burn a low gambling shed''. She and two others received nine

months' imprisonment. A further two accomplices, the Misses Thomson --

elderly Edinburgh ladies who had formerly been missionaries in India --

received lighter sentences.

On account of this ''Jeddart Justice'', the Royal Observatory in

Edinburgh was bombed and #100 worth of damage was caused. This was

followed by an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to the waiting-rooms on

both platforms of Shields Road Station, Glasgow. The Gatty Marine

Laboratory of St Andrews University was severely damaged by fire in June


Militancy was unabated. In August 1913 two women hid on the golf

course at Lossiemouth and physically assaulted the Prime Minister. There

were fires at Fettes College and Morelands House, Edinburgh. In December

1913 there was a spectacular fire at Kelly House, Wemyss Bay, and the

#30,000 mansion designed by William Leiper and Daniel Cottier, and built

for ship-owner Alexander Stephen, was left in ruins.

No-one was ever arrested for it, but women were heard laughing

immediately before the fire broke out, and afterwards copies of suffrage

magazines were found on the driveway. Sixty-five years later, Scottish

journalist Julie Davidson admitted in a newspaper article that she knew

the woman who did it. Perhaps this was the first safe opportunity to

admit such knowledge.

The women who were arrested for such offences received savage

sentences. The apprehension of Dr Elizabeth Dorothea Chalmers Smith,

medical doctor, mother of six and wife of the Reverend Chalmers Smith of

Glasgow's Calton Parish Church, whilst trying to burn down an empty

house at 6 Park Gardens in the West End, caused a sensation. She and

artist Ethel Moorhead were caught red-handed.

Shortly before the trial, there had been a raid on a house of ill-fame

in Pitt Street, and because quite a number of prominent Glasgow citizens

were involved, the case was hushed up, and a trivial sentence of two

weeks passed on the owners of the house. By contrast, Dr Chalmers Smith

and Miss Moorhead were sentenced to eight months.

The case was tried in the High Court at Jail Square and some hundreds

of Suffrage women attended the trial . . . When the sentence was

pronounced, the women rose from all parts of the court and protested,

crying out ''Pitt Street, Pitt Street'' while others started to pelt the

Judge and counsel with small apples. A cartoon appeared in one of the

evening papers with the caption ''Hallow'een at the High Court'' showing

the Judge and the barristers dodging the apples, the Judge getting one

in the eye and another official with a fork in his mouth catching one.

The contrast in sentences where human life and property were at stake

was so great, that the women were filled with wrath and indignation at

this outrageous travesty of justice.

Both women immediately went on hunger strike. When they became weak in

body, they were released from prison under the Cat and Mouse Act,

introduced in April 1913, which allowed for the re-arrest of prisoners

once their health recovered. A pair of detectives were posted on the

door of the manse in Dennistoun which was the home of the Smith family,

to make sure that the dangerous Dr Smith did not escape. She did on

occasion, dressed up in her younger sister's school uniform.

In the long term, his wife's feminism was too much for the Rev.

William Chalmers Smith. They divorced at a time when it was difficult

for a Church of Scotland minister to do so. The boys went with their

father and the girls with their mother. After the Great War, Dr

Elizabeth Smith worked in the newly established child welfare clinics in

Glasgow, doing pioneering work in child-care, and raising her daughters

to be doctors. She died in 1944, and her silver WSPU Hunger Strike medal

was donated to the People's Palace by one of her daughters.

When Ethel Moorhead, her accomplice in the Park Gardens raid, was

re-arrested, she was less fortunate. In Edinburgh's Calton Jail she was

clumsily force-fed and contracted pneumonia, the food having been poured

into her lungs. Her left ear was also burned with hot wires, apparently

either to lessen her resistance or deter her from struggle.

The medical officer who did this to Ethel Moorhead came from Perth

Prison, one of the worst prisons as far as women torture was concerned.

Hunger strikers committed elsewhere in Scotland in 1914 were sent to

Perth for forcible feeding because, according to the Secretary of State

for Scotland, ''We have there medical officers who are accustomed to

perform the operation in the criminal lunatic department there''.

In July 1914 Frances Parker, a niece of Lord Kitchener, was caught

trying to blow up Robert Burns's cottage in Alloway. She went on hunger

strike, was transferred from Ayr Prison, and received the worst Perth

Prison had to offer. She was fed by violence, and afterwards held down

for two hours. On the third day of force-feeding she lost consciousness,

and instead of being subjected to the nasal tube again, three wardresses

attempted to feed her by the rectum. This is her account.

Thursday July 16 . . . the three wardresses appeared again. One of

them said that if I did not resist she would send the others away and do

what she had come to do as gently and as decently as poss-

ible. I consented. This was another attempt to feed me by the rectum,

and was done in a cruel way, causing great pain.

She returned some time later and said she had ''something else'' to

do. I took it to be another attempt to feed me in the same way, but it

proved to be a grosser and more indecent outrage, which could have no

other purpose than to torture. It was followed by a soreness which

lasted for several days . . .

FRANCES Gordon, arrested for attempted arson in Lanarkshire, was

sentenced in the High Court in Glasgow in June 1914 and received the

same treatment at Perth. She was both fed with the nasal tube and had

injections into her bowel three times a day. Her health was wrecked. On

her release her doctor described her as having the appearance of a

famine victim.

The treatment of women in Perth Prison was a national scandal.

Suffrage organisers were deeply concerned for their health. With an

impending royal visit, Janie Allan of the Glasgow WSPU tried to bargain

with the Lord Provost of Glasgow, promising no militancy during the

visit if the force-feeding could be stopped.

It should not be doubted that she was in a position to do this. The

Allans, of the Allan Shipping Line, were one of the families who ran

Glasgow. Much of Janie's own money had gone to supporting women's

causes, including the Women's Shelter in Gibson Street in the East End,

set up during the great depression in the winter of 1908-9. Her brother

James, known as ''the millionaire socialist'', tried repeatedly to win

Dennistoun for the ILP in the years leading up to the Great War.

The entire membership of the Scottish WSPU was deeply shocked when

Janie, their chief organiser and financier, was summarily sacked by the

Pankhursts for bargaining with the enemy. Helen Crawfurd and Dr Mabel

Jones were sent to sort out the matter with the Pankhursts. Helen

Crawfurd later wrote:

While Chrystabel presented her case as the legal woman, it was to Mrs

Pankhurst that the credit must be given for convincing us that the

action taken was right. Mrs Pankhurst presented her case like this. You

are all attached to Miss Allan because she is such a fine person, so are

we. Not only that, but Miss Allan is a generous contributor to our

funds. Do you think that this action has been taken without serious

thought? The position is this, that the only thing that can stop

militancy is the granting of the Vote to Women. We cannot bargain with

the enemy. If Scottish women are prepared to bargain on any other terms,

then English women are not.

We felt humiliated that we could have made such an error. We returned

fully convinced that both Miss Allan and ourselves had allowed our

hearts to run away with our heads. The majority of the Glasgow members

accepted the decision, as did Miss Allan. Chrystabel's legal reasoning

did not convince; it was Mrs Pankhurst's plain commonsense presentation.

She could be very firm, but she was also an approachable human being,

with charm and sound reasoning powers.

Janie Allan did not manage to strike her bargain and the royal visit

of July 1914 had many little surprises for the royal party. At Dalmuir

the window of a cottage opposite the royal stand was thrown open and a

banner with ''Votes for Women'' and ''No Forcible Feeding'' was flown,

while a woman with a megaphone made a speech. Three days later (July 10)

in Perth, 27-year-old Rhoda Fleming jumped on to the bonnet of the

King's car and tried to smash the window. Typed petitions against the

forcible feeding were found. In another street, a placard was hung from

a window with the inscription ''Visit Your Majesty's Torture Chamber in

Perth Prison''.

Although Janie Allan was cut off from the suffrage cause without a

chance to exonerate herslf, she had been totally loyal to Mrs Pankhurst.

It was she who had organised Mrs Pankhurst's visit to Glasgow in March

1914, when she addressed a mass meeting in the St Andrews Halls. Mrs

Pankhurst's presence was only half-expected, as she was subject to

re-arrest under the Cat and Mouse Act.

The Glasgow WSPU were well prepared: the flower-screened platform hid

several strands of barbed wire, and the platform party was armed with

Indian clubs. Mrs Pankhurst was smuggled into the hall in a laundry

basket, and to the surprise and delight of the audience, she was able to

appear. She had no sooner started her speech, however, when the police

rushed the platform in great numbers. Rioting ensued, the police making

free use of their batons ''in a hysterical and brutal fashion''. The

platform party retaliated with flowerpots and clubs.

Mrs Pankhurst was re-arrested, and police behaviour was such that

Janie Allan and the Glasgow WSPU spent the following months attempting

to take legal action against them. They were unsuccessful in their

attempts -- the police had seized more than enough evidence to justify

their actions. The Daily Record published a photograph of all the

weapons confiscated from the suffragettes, including the barbed wire,

Indian clubs, and even a gun. Over 60 years later, the Strathclyde

Police still had one of the Indian clubs in their black museum, among

the gory murder weapons of Glasgow's criminal history.

Until the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, the suffragettes

were in the news every other day, and were putting their lives in danger

so that women could have a political future. Many historians have

ignored this, while others have had the insolence to say that the

militancy alienated the Government and inhibited the women's cause. We

might still be waiting for the right to vote yet if it had been left to

the men.

Extracted from The Hidden History of Glasgow's Women: The Thenew

Factor by Elspeth King, to be published next week by Mainstream, price