Suffragette Tax Resister Constance Andrews Imprisoned

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Imprisonment of Miss [Constance E.] Andrews at Ipswich.

Our Hon. District Organizer for East Anglia has been sent to prison for one week in the second division as a consequence of her plucky and conscientious fight against taxation without representation. Miss Andrews was sentenced a month ago, but was only arrested morning. Our prisoner will be released on from Ipswich Prison, and every member in the district should be there to welcome her. A public meeting will be held in the evening, and will be addressed by Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard and Miss [Marguerite A.] Sidley.

Sale at Woodbridge.

Our report is taken from The East Anglian Daily Times:—

“Do you want a waggon?” seemed to be a sort of catch phrase at Woodbridge yesterday, and the explanation was a huge farm waggon, to be seen in the centre of Market Hill. It bore the names of Knight and Lane, of Cowslip Dairy, Witnesham, and stood there a silent witness to the enthusiasm of two ladies, Dr. Elizabeth Knight and Mrs. [Hortense] Lane, in the cause of “Votes for Women.” The preliminary stages, leading to the seizure of the waggon by the police, have previously been related in our columns. The two ladies named are joint occupiers of a farm, but each separately owns a dog and a governess-car. The law requires “persons” who own such luxuries shall pay a tax for the privilege, and the ladies say, “No, we are not persons in the eyes of the law when the law says certain persons shall have a Parliamentary vote, and therefore if the State won’t have our vote it shall not have our money.”

There was many a sharp contest of wits over the subject of Women’s Suffrage, and from these it was quite evident that there was no real hostile feeling amongst the men present. On the other hand, there were many admissions of belief in the principle that a woman owning property should have a vote for a Parliamentary candidate, but there seemed to be a consensus of opinion against women entering Parliament.

Miss Alison Neilans, the chief star in the local Suffragette firmament on Thursday, stood with her back to one of the waggon wheels and “held her own” with all the half-serious, half-chaffing comment from farmers and merchants’ representatives on the cause of women’s rights.

At length the time for the sale arrived, and the business was very quickly over. Miss Neilans obtained the auctioneer’s permission to give a two-minutes’ speech in explanation of the proceedings, and she occupied 59½ seconds. Then Mr. Arnott mounted the waggon for the purpose of selling it. The bidding started at £3, and mounted quickly to £8, when by slower degrees it reached £9 10s., at which figure the waggon was knocked down to Mr. Rush.

Thereafter the Suffragettes again took possession of the waggon, and Miss Neilans led off in a very capable speech dealing with the well-known arguments about representation and taxation going together, in a bright and original manner. The happy and successful home, she said, was where the man and the woman each took a share in its affairs, and not where one had the upper hand. She disapproved of the nagging woman as much as of the man who beat his wife. The politics of the State was the housekeeping of the nation, and women should have their share in the work.

Mrs. [Isabel] Tippett also addressed the meeting.

The waggon was then decorated and driven to Ipswich, where a demonstration had been well advertised for 8 p.m. Miss Andrews took the chair and was well received, but the crowd of rowdy youths had considerably increased their forces before Mrs. Tippett, who was the next speaker, had finished, and when Miss Neilans had been speaking a few minutes, the singing and shouting made it quite impossible for the audience to hear a word. As, however, the noisy element were quite few in proportion to those genuinely interested and anxious to hear, Miss Neilans turned her back on the rowdies, and for over half an hour held the serious attention of quite a large section of those around, in spite of the din behind. A collection could not be taken, but many men and women came near and pressed money into the speaker’s hand, and when the meeting ended, it was felt that much sympathy had been gained.

Mrs. Tippett and Miss Andrews gave great help with speaking, and an excellent sale of The Vote was made, both at Woodbridge and Ipswitch.

―Edith How Martyn.

Another article from the same issue concerns a meeting at Caxton Hall and includes this note:

Mrs. Despard, who was in the chair, spoke in cheerful, anticipatory vein of the trend of events. A sense of hope, a sense of expansion, a sense of exhilaration, she said, was in the air; yet, in spite of our confidence, we must not relax our efforts, for it was sometimes in the last stages of work, just before reforms were accomplished, that obstruction became strongest. She spoke of the activity of the Women’s Freedom League at the present time in the direction of Tax Resistance. During the past week she had attended several auction sales of goods of members of the Women’s Freedom League, who were following the example of John Hampden and fighting for a great principle — the right to exercise the duties of citizens and to resist the payment of taxation while their citizenship was unrecognised. Her own goods were to be sold on the morrow, and she would not allow them to be bought in. When they had taken everything she possessed they would have to again imprison her; but she ventured to think that before that day arrived the Conciliation Bill would have passed, and women would begin to come into their own.

Alongside that report was one about the auctioning off of Despard’s property:

Sale of Mrs. Despard’s Goods.

A scene which was probably never equalled in the whole of its history took place at the Oxenham Auction Rooms, Oxford-street, on . About a fortnight before the bailiffs had entered Mrs. Despard’s residence in Nine Elms and seized goods which they valued at £15. Our President, for some years past, as is well known, has refused to pay her income-tax and inhabited house duty on the grounds that taxation and representation should go together; and this is the third time her goods have been seized for distraint. It was not until the day before —  — that Mrs. Despard was informed of the time and place where her furniture was to be sold. In spite of this short notice — which we learn on good authority to be illegal — a large crowd composed not only of our own members but also of women and men from various Suffrage societies gathered together at the place specified in the notice.

When “Lot 325” was called Mrs. Despard mounted a chair, and said, “I rise to protest, in the strongest, in the most emphatic way of which I am capable, against these iniquities, which are perpetually being perpetrated in the name of the law. I should like to say I have served my country in various capacities, but I am shut out altogether from citizenship. I think special obloquy has been put upon me in this matter. It was well known that I should not run away and that I should not take my goods away, but the authorities sent a man in possession. He remained in the house — a household of women — at night. I only heard of this sale, and from a man who knows that of which he is speaking, I know that this sale is illegal. I now claim the law — the law that is supposed to be for women as well as men.”

The whole assembly listened in respectful silence to our President’s dignified protest, upon the conclusion of which all Suffragists present, and many other sympathisers left for the Gardenia where a very successful meeting was held.