Miss Mary Sophia Allen

Gender: Female

Marital Status: Single

Born: 1878

Died: 1964

Place of birth: Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales

Education: Princess Eleanor College, Ealing, London

Main Suffrage Society: WSPU

Society Role: Organiser

Arrest Record: Yes

Recorded Entries: 3


Other sources: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4769024
Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866?1928 (1999)

Database linked sources: https://www.suffrageresources.org.uk/activity/3214/how-effective-was-the-votes-for-women-campaign-in-bristol

Further Information:

Family information: Father was a Great Western Railway manager.

Additional Information: Mary took part in the 1909 deputation to the House of Commons, where she was arrested and sentenced to one month's imprisonment in Holloway. After her release, she worked for the WSPU's West of England Branch (Newport and Cardiff) as honorary organiser. She was arrested and imprisoned again after breaking a window at the Home Office during a second deputation, but was released early after going on hunger strike to demand political rather than criminal prisoner status. Mary was the first woman to recieve a hunger strike medal directly from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. She was arrested again, this time in Bristol, for breaking the windows of the Bristol Liberal Club during a visit made by Winston Churchill. She was sentenced to two weeks in prison and again went on hunger strike but this time she was forcibly fed. Mary's health never recovered ? her ability to digest food was permanently affected. She was forbidden by doctors and the WSPU leadership from taking part in further militant activity. Instead, she threw herself into the role of organiser in a succession of areas: Eastbourne, Hastings, St Leonards and, in 1914, in Scotland as Edinburgh organiser.

Other Suffrage Activities: With the outbreak of war in 1914, Mary became interested in the Women Police Volunteer Service, as her militant suffrage experience had led her to believe in the importance of female officers so that women weren't always subject to 'handling' by men. She became sub-commandant of the Women Police Service and commandant from 1919 until 1939, and was awarded the OBE. She stood as an Independant Liberal candidate in Westminster parish in 1922 but lost. In 1925, she was an executive committee member of the Forum Club (the London centre for Women's Institute members) but in the 1930s became a controversial figure when she praised Hitler, visiting him in 1934, and showed a continuing interest in facism. She was head of the Women's Auxillary Service in 1940.

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