Tax Resistance: Meeting at Buxton.
A highly successful meeting under the auspices of the Women’s Tax Resistance League was held in the Town Hall, Buxton, on . Mrs. [Emily] Juson Kerr presided. The principal speaker was Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard, who said that for five years she had refused to pay imperial taxes, and pointed out that women were virtually in a position of slavery so long as they were forced to obey laws which they had no hand in making. The secretary, Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes, explained the object and progress of the League. A resolution to the effect that women were justified in resisting taxation until they were enfranchised was carried with only three objectors. The Chapel-en-le-Frith Glee Singers gave an admirable rendering [of] “Women of To-day” (music by Montague King). A drawing-room meeting had been previously held at Park House, by kind invitation of Miss Ashmall-Salt. In connection with the League, a shop has been opened at Spring Gardens, where daily meetings are held.
No Vote No Tax.
On , Dr. [Winifred] Patch, of Highbury (Women’s Freedom League), made her second appearance at her public examination in the bankruptcy proceedings brought against her by the Inland Revenue Department, adjourned from . The crowd of suffragist sympathisers was far larger than on the previous occasion, and included Mrs. Despard, Dr. and Mrs. Clark; Miss Evelyn Sharp, Mrs. Juson Kerr, Mrs. [Barbara] Ayrton Gould, Miss [Bertha] Brewster, Miss Smith Piggott, Miss [Agnes Edith] Metcalf, Mrs. Kineton Parkes, Miss [Kate] Raleigh, Mrs. Julia Wood, Mrs. [Anne] Cobden Sanderson, Miss Gertrude Eaton, Mrs. Mustard, Mrs. Tanner, Miss [Sarah] Benett, and many others.
To vary the proceedings Dr. Patch offered this time to make an affirmation, and answer any questions which seemed to her to merit a reply. These were not very numerous. Dr. Patch then stated her position:—
I do not acknowledge the authority of the Court, for it is being employed by the Crown not to fulfill its proper function of adjusting equitably the claims of creditor and debtor, but to enforce an unconstitutional demand, as did the Court of the Star Chamber 250 years ago.
It is to the British Constitution that the British Empire owes its place among the leading nations of the world, and it is the duty of her children to whom her honour is dear to keep her true to those principles. I was a tax resister before the outbreak of the war. The political truce with the Government was tacitly accepted by suffragists, and this would have prevented me from beginning tax resistance after war broke out. I have paid no taxes for many years, and it is a breach of faith of the Government to have just started proceedings against me now. By taking my money which is at my bank you only prevent me from putting it into War Loan, as I intended to do.
As regards the money left to me by my brother, who fell a few months ago, gallantly fighting for our country, I do not know whether you wish to take this from me. I am a suffragist, I love my country, but I claim the right to give to my country in my own way what she has no right to take from me by force until women are represented in the Councils of the nation. I ask that the judgment of bankruptcy against me be annulled.
The Court adjourned the proceedings for another fortnight, pending the receipt of the signed statement of particulars from Dr. Patch, which the authorities are so anxious to add to their documents. Further developments will be announced.
Luncheon to Dr. Patch at Headquarters
After the proceedings at Bankruptcy-buildings, Dr. Patch was entertained at headquarters to luncheon, for providing which the Minerva Cafe added to its crown of laurels. Mrs. Despard presided over a large gathering of supporters. She expressed, amid applause, the warm appreciation and admiration of all for Dr. Patch’s service to the great cause of Votes for Women. Dr. Clark praised the ability she has displayed in her plucky action, and declared that no class which possesses power gives in without a struggle. Mrs. Kineton Parkes pointed out the heavy cost at this time of her sacrifice for conscience’ sake, and hoped that a memorial would tell future generations of Dr. Patch’s service to the cause of Votes for Women. After short speeches from Miss Evelyn Sharp and Mrs. Mustard, Dr. Patch thanked everyone for their support, and used the words of the late Professor Kettle as expressing the attitude of unenfranchised women:
Bound in the toils of hate we may not cease,
Free, we are free to be your friends.