Suffragist Tax Resister Kate Harvey Released from Holloway

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Mrs. [Kate] Harvey’s Imprisonment.

Mrs. Harvey was released from Holloway on morning in a very bad condition of health, her imprisonment having had a serious effect on her constitution. She was met at the prison gates by Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard, Miss Harvey, and Miss Watson, and taken to Brackenhill, where she will be nursed back to health. The refusal of the Home Secretary to allow the attendance of a homœpathic doctor aroused great indignation at Bromley, and some women residents, deeply interested in her person as well as in her protest, paid the smaller fine to secure her release before actual injury should have occurred. Mrs. Harvey has served her sentence for the Insurance Act resistance, and the remaining term of imprisonment would have been in respect of the gardener’s license.

Also in that issue are a letter Harvey sent from prison to her comrades and some of the correspondence concerning her struggle to get her preferred variety of medical treatment while behind bars, and a report on an “Indignation Meeting” that includes the following:

Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes next addressed the meeting. In the first place she compared the sentences passed on persons who resisted taxation from conscientious convictions with those who resisted from selfish or dishonest motives, showing very forcibly that in the eyes of the Government the former were more worthy of contempt than the latter. Secondly, she condemned the incompetence of the officials who administered the law showing the ridiculous and dilatory methods in which the proceedings against tax-resisters were carried through, often being allowed to extend over months, and in many instances eventually dropped. Finally Mrs. Parkes drew attention to the policy followed previously in the cases of Miss [Clemence] Housman and Mr. [Mark] Wilks, as well as that of Mrs. Harvey, of waiting until Parliament was prorogued before making any attempt to bring such cases to an end, and carry out the sentences imposed. Of course, it was quite easy to see the reason for this policy. Had Mrs. Harvey’s imprisonment been effected while the House was sitting, numerous friends drawn from all parties would have been asking awkward and unpleasant questions.

More Indignation Meetings.

The usual meeting was held last week by the Women’s Tax Resistance League, in Bromley Market-square, to protest against the imprisonment of Mrs. Harvey. The chair was taken by Mrs. Beaumont Thomas, and the speakers were Mrs. Despard and Mrs. Kineton Parkes.

Mrs. Despard emphasized Mrs. Harvey’s care for neglected children, even to taking them to her home for weeks together. This, she said, was the kind of woman on whom the Government passed vindictively heavy sentences. Mrs. Kineton Parkes also pointed out the peculiar hardships of the case. At the close of the meeting the following resolutions was unanimously carried:— “That this meeting protests against the sentences passed on Mrs. Harvey, and demands equal treatment under the law for men and women.”

A large and enthusiastic mass meeting was held by the League in Hyde Park on afternoon to protest against the injustice of Mrs. Harvey’s imprisonment. The speakers were Mrs. Despard and Mr. H.W. Nevinson, and the chair was taken by Mrs. Kineton Parkes. At the close of the meeting the resolution was passed unanimously followed by prolonged cheering and applause, and the crowd manifested a great interest in this case and remained for more than half an hour to have their questions answered.

Pertinent Questions to Mr. McKenna.

The following letter has been sent by Mrs. Kineton Parkes, Organising Secretary of the Women’s Tax Resistance League:—

To the Right Honourable R. McKenna, M.P.,
Home Office, S.W.

Sir,— I am writing again on behalf of the Committee of this League with regard to the imprisonment of Mrs. Harvey. I find that an urgent letter was sent to you about this matter on , setting forth the facts of the case in detail, and that though acknowledged by your secretary, no reply of any kind had been received.

Would you kindly see that a definite answer is at once sent to the following questions, either by yourself or whoever is acting at the Home Office during your absence?:—

  1. Are you aware that one of the two months’ imprisonment to which Mrs. Harvey was sentenced is for non-payment of the license for her manservant?
    If so, can you explain why Mrs. Harvey has been treated differently from other members of this League who for the same conscientious reasons have refused to pay licenses?
  2. Can you explain why Mrs. Harvey is sentenced to a term of imprisonment in the second division instead of being placed in the first division, as Miss Housman was, who also refused to pay taxes?
  3. Will you explain why the Insurance Commissioners were allowed to make a claim for special costs of two guineas in Mrs. Harvey’s case? Such costs have never been claimed before from man or woman, and Mrs. Harvey’s court fees were already far in excess of the usual costs, viz. £4 10s. Will you explain why the Bench was allowed to grant this unusual claim?
  4. Can you explain why, if Mrs. Harvey’s imprisonment is a just one, she was not arrested immediately she refused to pay her fine instead of waiting until Parliament was prorogued, when no questions could be asked in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament about the injustice of the case?

Also in the same issue were reports from local branches, including the following:

Provinces. — Burnage.

At our last meeting Miss [Mary?] Trott addressed the members of the Branch, appealing to all to help in every possible way to secure the release of Mrs. K. Harvey and to work harder for the suffrage cause…


An interesting Branch meeting was held on , at which Miss Trott, from London, appealed on behalf of Mrs. Harvey. Printed post-cards protesting against the vindictive sentence passed upon her are now ready for signature, and may be obtained at the office.…