Tax Resistance for Women’s Suffrage in Britain

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Tax Resistance.

Sale at Petersfield.

Miss Cummins, who lives in the pretty little district of Froxfield, near Petersfield, had goods sold in respect of non-payment of King’s Taxes on afternoon. Miss [C. Nina] Boyle and Miss [Jessie?] Murray attended the sale from Headquarters, and among local supporters were Miss Cummins and her sister, Mrs. Baddeley (W.S.P.U.), Mr. Powell, Mr. Roper, and others. The assistant auctioneer, to whom it fell to conduct the sale, was most unfriendly, and refused to allow any speaking during the sale; but Miss Boyle was able to shout through a window at his back, just over his shoulder, an announcement that the goods were seized because Miss Cummins refused to submit to taxation without representation, after which quite a number of people who were attending the sale came out to listen to the speeches. Perched on the parapet of the churchyard wall, Miss Murray opened the brief meeting, followed by Miss Boyle, both receiving unexpected attention. Mr. Powell then spoke a few effective words to the men present, calling upon them as voters to give effect to the women’s protest by approaching their member and warning him that Women’s Suffrage was a question to which he would be expected to give serious attention.

It would appear that, in spite of its remote position and quiet, uneventful life, Suffrage has made great way in the Petersfield district. There are some 250 Suffragists, and several influential secessions from the Liberal Association have taken place over the question.

Arrest and Release of Captain Gonne.

Captain Gonne, R.A., was arrested at his residence at Bognor, on , and taken to Lewes gaol for non-payment of Imperial taxes. Captain Gonne, whose wife is a member of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, refuses to pay his wife’s income-tax, because he supports her in the belief that there should be no taxation without representation, and because he wishes to do his share towards altering the iniquitous laws regulating the taxation of married women. He refuses to pay his own taxes as a protest against the Government’s broken pledges to women and their torture of women prisoners. The Women’s Tax Resistance League at once organised a campaign of protest, in which the Women’s Freedom League and other Suffrage societies would have joined, to hold meetings outside Lewes Gaol. On night, however, he was set free; and the Women’s Tax Resistance League is now raising serious points in regard to the legality of the arrest and the treatment otherwise meted out to him. It is well known that Captain Gonne’s health has suffered severely of late, and his serious indisposition is attributable to the excessive violence of Liberal stewards at meetings which Captain Gonne has attended on behalf of the women’s cause.

The following correspondence has been sent us for publication by the Women’s Tax Resistance League:—

To the Home Secretary, Home Office, Whitehall, S.W.

Sir, — Will you kindly inform my committee why, having decided to release Captain Gonne, R.A., from Lewes Jail, you discharged him before it was possible for his family to send for him, as they were prepared to do, rather than expose him in his delicate state of health to a cross-country railway journey unaccompanied?

Did you not state in the House of Commons that prisoners were never released without such necessary precautions having been taken? — Faithfully yours,

(Signed) Margaret Parkes.

To the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Treasury-chambers, Whitehall, S.W.

Sir, — Are you aware of the fact that on evening last Captain Gonne, R.A., was arrested at Bognor for non-payment of Imperial taxes and conveyed to Lewes Jail, and that he was released with no reason given at ? Will you kindly supply the committee immediately with answers to the following questions, as we consider that it is most important to know the reason for such apparently unconstitutional procedure?

  1. By whose authority was Captain Gonne arrested and upon what charge?
  2. Is it not usual in such cases to levy distraint upon the premises in respect of which the taxes are due?
  3. By whose authority were orders sent to the Governor of Lewes Jail for Captain Gonne’s release?
  4. If the imprisonment was a just one, for what reason was he released in less than 48 hours?

Awaiting the favour of your reply. Faithfully yours,

(Signed) Margaret Parkes.

Magistrate Compliments a Woman Tax Resister.

Miss A[gnes Edith] Metcalfe, B.Sc., ex-H.M.I., was summoned at Greenwich Police-court on , for non-payment of dog license. In a short speech she said that she refused on conscientious grounds to pay taxes while women had no vote. The magistrate congratulated Miss Metcalfe on the clearness and eloquence with which she made out her case. He regretted that the law must take its course, and imposed a fine of 7s. with 2s. costs, recoverable by distraint. The alternative was one day’s imprisonment. We would like to contrast this with Miss I[sabelle] Stewart’s case which was identical, but her sentence was £2 fine or fourteen days’ imprisonment.

Also from the same issue:

Women’s Tax Resistance League.

Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes has just returned from Ireland, where successful public meetings were held in Dublin and Cork, and tax resistance resolutions passed. She attended, as delegate for the Women’s Tax Resistance League, the Suffrage Conference held in Dublin, and spoke upon the present position of Women’s Suffrage. She also took part in the public debate with the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage, on which occasion the Suffragists won by a large majority.