Kneehigh joins the cause of Cornish women's heritage

We were delighted to see that the wonderful people at Kneehigh, Cornwall's National Theatre, is marking this year's International Women's Day on 8 March with a great post about the women of Cornwall who have shaped our history and culture. A special thank you to Sarah Newton MP for prodding Kneehigh in this, and our, direction.

Read and comment on Kneehigh's post on Cornish Women.

Don't forget that History 51's Facebook page which is dedicated to sharing news, views and information on women's heritage in Cornwall is open to anyone to join in.

Mary Kelynack heads up Kneehigh's list of Cornish women.

Woman with a Cause. Emily Hobhouse Remembered

On 16 November, the Hypatia Trust, in association with Liskeard and District Museum, is organising a free community history workshop called Woman with a Cause to explore and celebrate the life and achievements of Cornish human rights campaigner Emily Hobhouse. Emily Hobhouse (Liskeard Museum)

She was branded “that bloody woman” by some, but Emily Hobhouse is a forgotten Cornish hero. She raised the travesty of human rights abuses in South Africa during the Boer Wars before such issues became headline news. While she was pilloried by her own townspeople in 1900 for highlighting the abuses in concentration camps, in South Africa there is a national monument to her campaigning work. More than 113 years later we are setting the record straight in her hometown.

Eleanor Tench, who will be giving the keynote presentation at the workshop said, “Emily was a fascinating woman whose work is deserving of far more recognition. I'm honoured to be helping to tell her story to more people, especially to be able to speak about her in her hometown, on the stage where she once spoke. Working on this project has been inspirational.”

Women's Memorial, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Human rights campaigner Emily Hobhouse (Liskeard Museum)

Sally Hawken, Liskeard Town Councillor, is amazed that so little commemorates Emily in Cornwall. “I am delighted the History 51 project is working with Liskeard's excellent museum to bring to public attention one of our most famous daughters. Liskeard must make more of its connection to Emily Hobhouse, an internationally important campaigner who has a public monument in South Africa and nothing in Cornwall. This workshop is a fabulous opportunity for townsfolk and visitors to find out more in the very place where Emily certainly stirred things up, our own Public Hall.”

The day will start at 9.30am by gathering at Liskeard Museum for a special view of the new Women at War exhibition, followed by the lecture at the Public Hall opposite the museum at 10am. After a break the audience will be invited to take part in a practical workshop examining sources from Emily’s time to judge whether she was treated fairly. The workshop ends at 1pm. There is an optional tour of St Ive Church, where Hobhouse was born, at 2pm.

Booking

Booking is essential and must be made with Liskeard Museum either by phone: 01579 346087, email: museum@liskeard.gov.uk using the subject Emily Hobhouse Workshop, or in person.

The Hypatia Trust’s History 51 project promotes women’s heritage in communities across Cornwall and has been made possible through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories programme. To keep in touch please join us on Facebook too. http://facebook.com/history51

Hidden History - Women in Industry

 

The Hypatia Trust and its History 51 project, to promote women's heritage in Cornwall, is delighted to support this fabulous event on 25 October at the Western Hotel, St Ives, to celebrate the women of St Ives's historical textile industries.

Please come along to this free event and support Cornish women's heritage in St Ives.

St Ives is well known for its fishing, mining, artists and tourists, but for about forty years it was the home of a vibrant textile industry based in former pilchard cellars near to The Island.

The industrial manufacture of textiles is not usually associated with a seaside town in Cornwall. The majority of the employees were women who went into the factories when they left school at the age of fourteen. Maybe for this reason the work that they did has almost been forgotten. The Town Council, by the 1970s, had removed all traces of industry from the centre of St Ives and transferred it to new industrial estates.

And the buildings themselves were demolished to make way for luxury accommodation to expand the tourist industry.

St Ives Archive is part of the wider History 51 project in Cornwall initiated by the Hypatia Trust with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the role of women in a number of key aspects of Cornish life.

What better project for St Ives than to highlight and bring to life the story of these factories and the people who worked there?

Women working at their sewing machines at Flawns, Porthmeor Road, St Ives, 1958 (credit: St Ives Archive)
Women working at their sewing machines at Flawns, Porthmeor Road, St Ives, 1958 (credit: St Ives Archive)

On Friday 25 October at the Western Hotel, Royal Square, St Ives, between 11.00am and 3.00pm volunteers from the Archive will be hosting an event and workshop to which as many employees as possible are invited from the various textile companies located Downlong between the 1930s and 1970s: Crysede, Hamptons, Flawns, Berketex and Fryers.

Members of the public and visitors to the town are very welcome to see this display of St Ives hidden history.

Let's make one giant net for St Ives!

One of the key events will be an opportunity for everyone to assist in the making of a ‘camouflage net’ of memories. These nets were originally made at home, during the war, by young women and children, based on the nets that were made by their fishermen relatives. Camouflage nets had strips of material inserted into them (scrimmed) so that they could be draped over objects that needed to be hidden from the air.

On this occasion, strips of calico with individual memories and images will be sewn into the net, and these will be a lasting reminder of this chapter of St Ives history. As the original nets were used to hide objects, the new net will remind us that women’s working lives are also often hidden.

The Archive will present this fascinating history through personal memories, photographs, memorabilia and a display of the fashions of the time. One of the companies, Flawns, was owned by John Lewis, which has been very supportive in providing images and information from their extensive archive.

The day will be filmed and refreshments will be served. It is hoped that the resulting camouflage net will be on permanent display, ensuring that this important period of St Ives history is never forgotten.

Women making camouflage nets at Hamptons factory on The Island, St Ives, during World War 2 (credit: St Ives Archive)
Women making camouflage nets at Hamptons factory on The Island, St Ives, during World War 2 (credit: St Ives Archive)

Rug Tales in Helston

The History 51 Roadshow, organised by the Hypatia Trust, is going to Helston Folk Museum on Saturday 12 October. Download the Rug Tales poster and share it with your friends (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Rug Tales will be a FREE, practical, fun-filled workshop led by Diane Cox of the Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group (and well-known We Are Not Doormats). Mesdames Myrtles have been creating seven rugs inspired by the History 51 project representing different historical Cornish women. This workshop, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will demonstrate how biographies of women in Cornwall needn’t just be written but they can also be made. Mesdames Myrtles have been creating stories of seven women as part of History 51.

So if you want to have a go at rug hooking and find out more about it, this is the event for you.

photo (3)

Rug hooking is an ancient art, largely passed down through the generations by women. It is a wonderful way to make beautiful new things from old remnants and clothes, and to have fun choosing the colours you love. You don't have to be arty, already skilled or able to draw!

Date: Saturday 12 October 2013

Time: 10am-4pm

Venue: Helston Folk Museum (Old Butter Market, Market Place, Helston, TR13 8TH. Tel: 01326 564027)

Cost: FREE

Booking: Email: curator@hypatia-trust.org.uk or telephone (if leaving a message please leave your name, a return phone number or email address) on 01736 366597).

You don't have to be arty, already skilled or able to draw!

photo (2)

What's going on?

  • Learn the ancient technique of rug hooking -- a skill for life
  • Hear Diane Cox talk about this important part of women's heritage
  • All materials provided and a chance to buy your own beautifully crafted rug hook at the end so you can carry on at home (£15 on the day)
  • Bring your own sharp scissors if you  have a pair
  • Bring any old cloth fabrics whose colours you love, e.g. old T-shirts
  • Be inspired by the stunning collections of Helston Museum
  • Tea, coffee and refreshments provided
  • Bring your own lunch or break and have lunch in the ancient Cornish town of Helston

Places limited, book now!

Email: curator@hypatia-trust.org.uk or telephone (if leaving a message please leave your name, a return phone number or email address) on 01736 366597).

Olly Pickford's Cornish Land Girl rug in the making (credit: Olly Pickford)

 

Sea Women in Fowey on 7 September

Who said women stayed at home while men went to sea?

Join us in Fowey to hear expert historians talk about the women that shaped our seas and coasts and come on a free tour of historic Fowey and its harbour.

Sea Women in Fowey 7 Sep 2013

The next History 51 Roadshow FREE event will be in Fowey on Saturday, 7 September 2013.

Booking essential. Sea Women in Fowey poster (download PDF, 641KB)

Book now! Email or call Jo Schofield: Email: jschofield54@aol.com Phone: 01326 231146.

Event details

A free community history event organised by the Hypatia Trust in association with Fowey Harbour Heritage Society.

Places are limited and booking is essential.

When? Saturday 7 September, 10.30am-4pm

Where? Fowey Library (Meeting Room)

What?

In the morning from 10.30 at Fowey Library meeting room:

  • Dr Helen Doe on enterprising maritime women
  • Dr Leonie Hicks on women in the Viking world
  • Celebrate Lady Elizabeth Treffry
  • Digital display of old documents and images
  • Free tea and refreshments

Lunch from 12.30: DIY or bring your own.

In the afternoon from 2pm, for about 1.5hrs.

  • Town and harbour walking tour
  • Wear sensible shoes and keep an eye on the weather forecast

Bookings

Places are limited so please book your place with Jo Schofield by email or telephone.

You will be asked whether you want to book for the morning and afternoon tour or just the morning. NOTE: You will not be able to book only for the afternoon tour.

Email: jschofield54@aol.com Phone: 01326 231146

Location and travel

See location on map

Fowey Library and One Stop Shop Caffa Mill House 2 Passage Lane Fowey  PL23 1JS

Parking

There are 20 spaces next to Fowey library.

Other town carparks. The Fowey Town Bus operates from the Main carpark at the top of town.

Public transport

Western Greyhound buses nos. 524 and 525 from St Austell and Par railway stations.

Other public transport options.

Ferry and taxi information.

Courtney and Conybeare: Women’s suffrage campaigns in Cornwall, part 2

Continuing the story of the two most influential campaigners for women’s rights in late Victorian Cornwall….. What Courtney and Conybeare had in common was they were two of the strongest campaigners in the South West for the rights of women to vote. As such, both were invited to become honorary vice presidents of the South West Suffragist Society. Both were to surround themselves with strong and able women whom they treated respectfully and as close to equals as was possible in this era where good manners were based on an unequal behavior code that demanded gentlemanly courtesies.

conybeare img Conybeare was a highly energetic individual, who tended to take a leading position on every campaign and wait for others to catch up with him. As such, the local press discussion of his relations with women tends to be less obvious, hidden behind descriptions of his regular enthusiasms and battles. The main themes that are noticeable were his enthusiastic welcoming of women into mass political meetings and his thanks to a member of a local women’s organisation for appearing on the platform welcoming him home from imprisonment in Ireland. This particular organisation was the White Rose Society, a women’s Methodist group that it has been said were effectively a suffrage society in Cornwall. Conybeare campaigned upon his support for the women’s cause, and when one of his sisters visited, suffrage meetings were held in his local home. Knowledge about Conybeare is however limited by a lack of personal archive material and by a near complete lack of published works.

courtney img

Leonard Courtney’s involvement with a fair number of well-known female campaigners on both suffragism and other issues is better known. His sister-in-law, Beatrice Webb, was to ensure that both his letters and his wife Katherine’s diaries were to be archived at LSE, the University where he had once taught. There is also a small amount of useful published material. Leonard was considered by Joe Chamberlain (leader of the party that held Leonard's allegiance) to have thrown his career away on the cause of proportional representation and suffrage, but it is unlikely that a man that is placed such a high value on integrity and honour above party loyalty was ever entirely suited to high government role. While Joe Chamberlain was to refer to Leonard as an ass, Leonard of thought even less of Chamberlain, writing to Beatrice Webb nee Potter to warn her that should she seriously consider becoming Mrs Chamberlain she would never be able to follow her own dreams; her political and social ambitions.

The next part of this series will appear soon and will focus on Kate, the wife of Leonard Courtney

Further reading:

Bradley, Katherine, Friends and Visitors: A First History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Cornwall, 1870-1914, Hypatia Trust, Penzance, 2000.

G.P. Gooch, Life of Lord Courtney (Kessinger Publishing, 2004).

Webb, B, The Diary of Beatrice Webb: 1873-1892,: Glitter around and Darkness Within (Virago, 1982). Images from: Furniss, Harry, M. P.'s in Session From Mr. Punch's Parliamentary Portrait available at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29560/29560-h/29560-h.htm

History 51 Roadshow dates

Did you come to Heartlands on 26 May for our very first History 51 Roadshow event Wise Women? If not, this short video gives you a flavour of the energy and enthusiasm the Hypatia Trust has for promoting women's heritage in communities across Cornwall and Scilly. And the huge amount of interest shown in it. Remember women's heritage belongs to all of us, it's about the history of the majority of our people!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5GkamI_C4A

Roadshow dates

We have planned four more History 51 Roadshow events. The dates and subjects are as follows. We are still on the trail of an event in North Cornwall and one on Scilly. We have a small amount of funding to publicise, promote and organise the events and those who volunteer to help run the event will have their expenses paid.

Sea Women in Fowey

Women in Cornwall were not left on shore while the men went to sea, nor were they absent from the many maritime industries and trades that were vital to the Duchy's economy and culture. Special guests Dr. Helen Doe, a maritime historian and Dr. Leonie Hicks, a medieval historian, will talk about women and the sea across time, including Jane Slade, the inspiration for Daphne du Maurier's first novel, The Loving Spirit. There will follow an afternoon tour of the the ancient and picturesque port town of Fowey, still an active harbour for the China Clay industry.

Date: Saturday 7 September 2013.

Venue: Fowey Library.

Places: FREE but places limited. Booking will open soon.

Rug Tales in Helston

A practical, fun-filled workshop led by Diane Cox of the Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group. It will show us how biographies of women in Cornwall needn't just be written but they can also be made. Mesdames Myrtles have been creating stories of seven women as part of History 51 and it is hoped some of these may be on display. So if you want to have a go at rug hooking and find out more about it, this is an event for you.

Date: Saturday 12 October 2013.

Venue: Helston Museum.

Places: FREE but places may be limited.

Women in Industry in St Ives

Women working at sewing machines at Flawns, St Ives (St Ives Archive)

St Ives is not normally associated with industry. But did you know it was until the 1970s a hive of activity for hundreds of women especially in dress-making and military clothing. An open day organised jointly with St Ives Archive. Following an overwhelming response to the archive's call for women who made clothes for department stores such as Flawn's we hope to show you displays, conduct interviews, share photographs and even have a go at knitting string vests!

Date: Friday 25 October (11-3pm) Venue: The Western Hotel Places: FREE. Drop-in basis.

 

 

Woman with a Cause in Liskeard

Emily Hobhouse was a pioneering campaigner who brought to the world's attention the horrors on both sides of the Boer (or South Africa ) Wars. Hobhouse is a national hero in South Africa but hardly known in her native Cornwall and indeed was reviled by several town worthies from Liskeard who attempted to discredit her. This workshop will introduce you to several important issues about how we understand history, and more importantly, what we remember. Our very own Eleanor Tench will give a keynote address after which we will have a small debate. Afterwards you will have the chance to be a historian by working on primary sources from Emily's time and understanding for yourself why she is so poorly represented in Cornish history. Organised jointly with Liskeard and District Museum, there will also be opportunities to visit the brand new exhibition on Hobhouse both before and after the event.

Date: Saturday 16 November 2013 (9.30-1pm).

Venue: Liskeard District Museum (for the exhibition) and Public Hall (for the talk, debate and activity).

Places: FREE but strictly limited. Booking will open soon.

Alice de Lisle's family

This is a first attempt at reconstructing Alice de Lisle's family tree and to examine her historical context. Alice was Lord of the Manor of Alverton, Penzance's economic centre in the Middle Ages, from 1327 until her death in 1347, and petitioned for the town's first permanent market and fairs in 1332. This grant also permitted a permanent fair in Mousehole. Download Alice de Lisle's Family Tree (showing Lords of the Manor of Alverton, Penzance) (PDF, 565KB)

The Tyeys

Alice came from the Tyeys family whose Cornish roots began with her great-grandfather Henry de Tyeys who was born in the estate/manor of Tywarnhaile (Tywarnhayle), on the north coast near Perranporth, around 1205. It seems, however, that Henry Tyeys was awarded the lordship of Tywarnhaile at some point around 1221 (yet to be cross-checked). He is documented to have accompanied Richard of Cornwall to Gascony in 1225. The Tyeys' previous roots were in Norfolk.

He and his wife Isabel had a son, also Henry (c.1235-c.1282). It is this Henry de Tyeys that connects the Tyeys to the manor/estate of Alverton.

It seems Henry of Tywarnhaile (c.1205-c.1240) was in the king's service as a mercenary (King John, famous for Magna Carta, then King Henry III--brother of Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall) and was awarded various estates to sustain him and his household and retinue. He and his wife Isabel had a son, also Henry (c.1235-c.1282). It is this Henry de Tyeys that connects the Tyeys to the manor/estate of Alverton. Henry Tyeys was apparently born in Alverton and was part of Richard, Earl of Cornwall's expedition to Germany in 1262. He married Joan Foliot of Fritwell, Oxfordshire which brought in a new estate to the family. He died around 1282 in Wales.

Their son was a third Henry de Tyeys (c.1263-c.1307), Alice's father, who inherited the family estates in Cornwall, Oxfordshire and elsewhere in 1284. Like his forebears he worked closely with Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in the king's service at home and abroad and is documented to have served in Wales in 1287 and 1292, Flanders in 1297 and against the Scots in 1299-1306. He fought at the battle of Falkirk on 22 July 1298, and was present at the siege of Carlaverock in July 1300. In 1307 he was made a baron and took the title 1st Baron Tyeys. He was  married in 1285, to Hawise de Neville (c.1265-1332) who came from Laceby in Lincolnshire.

Alice was born in Fritwell, Oxfordshire, an estate inherited from Alice's grandmother, Joan.

Henry and Hawise had two children, Henry, 2nd Baron Tyeys (1285-1322) and Alice de Tyeys (c.1297-1347). Henry was born at a family estate in Chilton Foliot (or Foliat) in Wiltshire and Alice was born at another in Fritwell, Oxfordshire (an estate inherited from Alice's grandmother, Joan). Around 1316 Henry married Margaret de Thiebot (c.1303-1349) who came from Salisbury, Wiltshire. They had no (surviving) children.

He was hung, drawn and quartered at the Tower of London and his family's estates, including Alverton, were forfeited.

Henry, 2nd Baron Tyeys, continued the family tradition of working in the king's service but became embroiled in baronial factions during the reign of King Edward II (1284-1327) and the political instability caused by the so-called Reign of the Despensers (a family that the longer-standing barons resented because of their undue influence and rewards from the king). He also sat in Parliament and was also made Controller of the Isle of Wight. But Henry's story is for someone else to write. Henry met a sticky end on 3 April 1322 along with many other barons who ended up on the wrong side of the power vacuum caused by the Despenser controversy. He was hung, drawn and quartered at the Tower of London and his family's estates, including Alverton, were forfeited. He was buried in the church of the Carmelites in London. That was the end of the Tyeys.

The Lisles

Warin de Lisle was executed (hanged) at Pontefract, Yorkshire in March 1322.

The Despenser war of 1321-22 was to deal a double blow to Alice. Alice married into the de Lisle family in about 1310/11 at the de Lisle or L'isle (Latin de Insula = of the Island) family estate in Kingston Lisle, near Sparsholt in Berkshire. Her husband was called Warin de Lisle (c. 1276-1322). Between around 1305 (when Alice was about 18 years old) and around 1314 they had five children, Henry, Gerard (later 1st Baron de Lisle) Mary, Alice, Warin and Margery.

Warin fought in wars in Scotland during the reign of King Edward I and was later made Governor of Windsor Castle and Warden of the Forest. In 1320-1 he joined the forces of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster against the Despensers. It is likely that Alice spent most of her time at Kingston Lisle during this time. Along with his rebel leader Earl of Lancaster, Warin de Lisle was executed (hanged) at Pontefract, Yorkshire in March 1322. His estates, including Kingston Lisle, were also forfeited.

1322-1327: The mystery years and the inspiration of Isabella

Could Alice's extraordinary achievement in regaining the Tyeys and de Lisle family estates in 1327... have in any way been inspired by the strength of character shown by Isabella of France?

14th-century manuscript illustration depicting Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella in the foreground (credit: British Library/Wikimedia Foundation)

So Alice, mother of five, multiple estate manager in lieu of her brother and husband, was left theoretically homeless, without an income by the spring of 1322. And what of all the inhabitants of Alverton, Penzance? We don't really know much of what became of disenfranchised widows in such a situation. No doubt Alice's ties with extended family may have come to her aid. This period needs more research from a Cornish perspective.

Edward II's favourite Piers Gaveston had got his hands on the earldom of Cornwall in 1307 shortly after the king's succession, a title and privilege usually reserved for the monarch's male heirs (even before the creation of the Duchy in 1337). He was executed following a dubious trial orchestrated by various barons in 1312. It is possible that the Tyeys withdrew support from the earl of Cornwall at this time and joined the growing discontent against him and Edward II. In 1316 the earldom was restored to the monarchy and the title Earl of Cornwall given to John of Eltham, Edward II and Isabella of France's second son in 1316 (until 1330). By this time both the Tyeys and de Lisles, having taken sides against supporters of Edward II, may have fallen out of favour with John as well.

Isabella reached the end of her tether when Hugh Despenser took Gaveston's place as the king's favourite after 1312, at which point baronial discontent bubbled up into out-and-out war.

But perhaps we might take a lead from another strand in the turbulence of political life in the 1320s. Isabella of France was colloquially known as the She-wolf. Having tolerated her husband's machinations with Piers Gaveston she reached the end of her tether when Hugh Despenser took Gaveston's place as the king's favourite after 1312, at which point baronial discontent bubbled up into out-and-out war.

So the story goes that Isabella returned to France and started an affair with Roger Mortimer in 1325 who had been exiled in France while the Despenser controversy carried on. He promised to return to England with a small mercenary army to depose Edward II. The king was duly ousted in 1326 and Isabella became Regent on behalf of her young son Edward III.

 

Berkeley Castle has another significance in the story of Alice de Lisle as her great-grand daughter Margaret de Lisle was to become the next female Lord of Alverton, her husband being Thomas "The Magnificent" de Berkeley

It is alleged that Edward II was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle and murdered by agents of Isabella and Roger Mortimer in October 1327. Berkeley Castle has another significance in the story of Alice de Lisle as her great-grand daughter Margaret de Lisle was to become the next female Lord of Alverton, her husband being Thomas "The Magnificent" de Berkeley, of which more in a future post. Indeed, several archives which may give us more clues to Alice's life are kept in the Berkeley Castle muniments.

...in Edward III's first parliament in 1327 all proceedings against Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and his followers were annulled, paving the way for the disenfranchised Alice (amongst others) to restore their estates.

Isabella retained a close role in the management of England in Edward III's early years. Isabella's own influence was apparently unpopular, particularly peace-making in Scotland (which meant a good excuse for profit-making war was lost for many of the old barons). Nevertheless the young king's reign saw the beginnings of a series of reforms, legislation and stability in the English parliament in which Cornish aristocrats also took part. And in Edward III's first parliament in 1327 all proceedings against Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and his followers were annulled, paving the way for the disenfranchised Alice (amongst others) to restore their estates.

Could Alice's extraordinary achievement in regaining the Tyeys and de Lisle family estates in 1327, petitioning and receiving a charter for markets and fairs in Penzance and Mousehole in 1332, restoring her husband's body to the family chantries in Wiltshire (in 1334), and much more besides, have in any way been inspired by the strength of character shown by Isabella of France?

In my next post I will discuss the Return of Alice de Lisle and follow the trail of her achievements after 1327 in more detail.

...to be continued.

Researching Emily Hobhouse

In the autumn, I will be doing a workshop for History51 on Emily Hobhouse. Although my current research is during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the role of women was starting to change, and many of my protagonists were strong supporters of women’s rights, this is one of my first forays into looking at a woman as a primary subject. Hobhouse2 Although I knew the basics of her story, and knew a lot about one of her most influential mentors, Leonard Courtney, I am learning a great deal about Emily. This includes using her friendship with the Boer leaders to try to support Gandhi's work while he was living in South Africa. She was also to use this influence in an attempt to convince the Boers to alter their attitudes towards black South Africans. Although her meddling was to cause a rift, she was remembered as a hero by the Boers. Her ashes are interred at the Women's Memorial in Bloemfontein, that she helped design. The significance is that she is one of only 3 people to be honored in this way; remembered alongside their first president and their greatest general. This gives a very stark contrast to her native Cornwall, where none of the local newspapers published an obituary upon her death.

However, I was thinking earlier about her return to Cornwall. As the daughter of a vicar, from a ‘good’ family, she had been comfortable but not rich. However she lost almost everything during the Great War. The money to purchase a small property was raised for her by her friend, Mrs Steyn, wife of President Steyn. My feeling is that there is a reasonable comparison to be made in the Boer veneration of Emily and the veneration of  Oskar Schindler, although not an exact comparison. She was fighting to save the Boer civilians from incompetence rather than deliberate malice.

I also wanted to ask if anyone knows enough about St Ives in the 1920s to say why Emily chose there to live. My best guess at the moment is that it was the most cosmopolitan place in Cornwall at the time, and a woman with a reputation for being difficult, who had become a national anti-hero despite being proven right, would be more welcome there, than in many other places. Or at the least less unwelcome. However, my knowledge of the history of artistic communities can be written on the back of a stamp, so if you think I’m wrong in this, please let me know.

As I continue on this journey through Emily’s life, I will be sure to keep you updated. I will also be speaking at the Institute of Cornish Studies conference this autumn. Their theme this year is ‘Daughters of Cornwall’ which should prove very interesting.

Further reading:

B. Roberts, Those Bloody Women: Three Heroines of the Boer War (John Murray, 1991).

T. Pakenham, The Boer War (Futura, 1982).

Courtney and Conybeare: Women's suffrage campaigns in Cornwall part 1

Eleanor Tench, Cornish historian, on the politics of two Cornish politicians and their views on women's suffrage. 

The Third Reform Act of 1884 was a watershed event in British politics that got a large proportion of the working class men the vote. Although when Gladstone pushed for reform, he was told that the working classes, particularly in London, would likely vote Tory, he followed the Liberal shibboleth of ‘trust the people'. A proportion of MPs wanted to go further. Not only to enfranchise the rest of the working class men, but to also enfranchise women.

Two of the strongest supporters of women’s rights in parliament were representatives of Cornish constituencies, Leonard Courtney and C.A.V. Conybeare.

Leonard Courtney

He believed that parliament should avoid legislating on any major issues until after those had been achieved, because only then, could the true will of the people be known.

Courtney was from a Penzance family, middle class, but not hugely well off. His father worked for Bolitho’s bank, where Leonard also worked while waiting for a place at university. Leonard was to become a barrister, a statistician and later a professor of politics at LSE, there are rumours that the quote, ‘there are lies, dammed lies and statistics’ can be originally attributed to him.

Although he was generally Whiggish in his politics, he was, like many of his contemporaries, radical in one area. As a disciple of John Stuart Mill, he promoted Universal adulthood suffrage and proportional representation. He believed that parliament should avoid legislating on any major issues until after those had been achieved, because only then, could the true will of the people be known.

"Proper self-sufficiency" Caricature of Courtney by "T" (Théobald Chartran) in Vanity Fair, 25 September 1880.

C.A.V. Conybeare

The rights of women were always going to be one of his major platforms.

On the other hand, Conybeare never met a cause he wouldn’t campaign for. An exceedingly energetic and intelligent man, he had inherited enough family wealth to ensure working was not a necessity for him.

As such, he became a campaigning barrister, and even before he stood for parliament, he was known as a troublemaker. His 1885 election campaign in Camborne  against the Whig incumbent Arthur Pendarves Vivian caused ructions throughout Cornwall.

He was unable to resist a cause, anything from mining reform, suffrage reform, Irish land rights and independence, to the gating of local common land. The rights of women were always going to be one of his major platforms.

One of his publications was on the need for and the effect of the Married Women’s Property Act, that gave women the right to hold their own property after marriage. When he married a women’s suffrage campaigner, he was to gift her half of his inherited estate, an almost unheard of act during this era.

More to follow…

 

Further reading

Bradley, Katherine, Friends and Visitors: A First History of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Cornwall, 1870-1914, Hypatia Trust, Penzance, 2000.

Deacon, B. Conybeare For Ever, in Knight, T., Old Redruth: Original studies of the town's history. Redruth Old Cornwall Society, Redruth, 1992.

Votes for women in Cornwall

Votes for Women rally poster, Penzance, 1911 To join the commemoration and celebration of the Women's Suffrage movement, particularly the centenary of the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage of 1913, we are publishing a series of articles on the women's suffrage movement in Cornwall.

Starting with this retrospective, based on The Cornishman newspaper's archives, we will then be hosting guest posts from historians about the impact of this movement on Cornish politics and culture.

By 1913 there was a clear difference between the tactics of the Suffragettes, led by Pankhurst (Women’s Social and Political Union) who favoured direct action to force the issue of votes for women, and the Suffragists (National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies) who championed the continuation of non-violent protests and petitions which had started in the 1870s.

This is a slightly extended version of an article I wrote for The Cornishman which came out today [Errata: The Cornishman mis-edited my original article suggesting that the Suffrage Pilgrimage as being organised by the Suffragettes. Correction sought. Ed.] It also highlights the work of other projects, notably Dreadnought South West's play, Oxygen and the forthcoming social history exhibition at Penlee House, which are marking this momentous event which changed the lives of tens of thousands of women.

The first thing to note is that although the Suffragettes have remained in popular consciousness as the face of Votes for Women, there were in fact two movements campaigning for broadening the franchise (i.e. reforming the law so all women could have the vote) and other issues of social justice such as child poverty, poor working conditions and bonded white labour (slavery).

The Great Suffrage Pilgrimage was initiated by the Suffragists who prided themselves on their peaceful tactics: rallies, marches and petitions. Millicent Fawcett was the face of the Suffragists and their colours were red, green and white.

The Suffragettes who came to be known through names such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison (who died tragically at on Derby Day 1913) took direct action. Their cause was to  use drastic measures to draw attention to the appalling injustice that allowed the law to be based on the decisions of men only. Their colours were purple, green and white.

Land's End to London, 1913 (credit: Jill Morison)

In the 19 June 1913 edition of The Cornishman, sandwiched between a report on the output of black tin from Botallack Stamps and a physician’s advice about curing indigestion, was a short notice headlined MRS. PANKHURST RELEASED.

Emmeline Pankhurst was a Suffragette leader and had been on hunger strike, enduring the torture of force-feeding, while incarcerated at Holloway Prison for conspiracy to commit property damage. Emily Davison had also tragically lost her life while trying to pin Suffragette colours to the King’s horse at the Epson Derby barely a week before.

By 1913 there was a clear difference between the tactics of the Suffragettes, led by Pankhurst (Women’s Social and Political Union) who favoured direct action to force the issue of votes for women, and the Suffragists (National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies) who championed the continuation of non-violent protests and petitions which had started in the 1870s. Cornish activists enjoyed widespread support, from the dominant Liberal political class and influential religious groups such as Quakers headed by families such as the Foxes of Falmouth.

“There is a rumour that at Camborne they may be pelted with stale eggs"

The Cornishman 21 June 1913 (credit: The Cornishman)

The tragedies of Pankhurst’s treatment and Davison’s death rallied peaceful Suffragists into action and on Thursday 19 June an amazing thing happened. Seven women gathered at Land’s End to start the Suffrage Pilgrimage, a gruelling march through Cornwall and up country to London. The Cornishman reported:

“There is a rumour that at Camborne they may be pelted with stale eggs; but surely, when it is realised that not one of the marchers has been guilty of breaking the law or inciting others to break the law, they will be treated with as much respect as would be a procession of Oddfellows or Freemasons.”

Scenes at Penzance

“This little band of zealots comprised Miss Misick (organising secretary), Mrs. Ramsay (Plymouth), Miss Raby (Exeter), and Miss Helen Fraser (London). Mrs. Robins Bolitho, who is actively interested in the non-militant movement, gave the party a hearty send-off, whilst a number of men who had assembled raised a cheer. Along the route to Penzance literature was left at the houses, and the idea of the movement explained.”

Suffrage Pilgrimage van on Market Jew Street, Penzance 100 years ago today (credit: Penlee House Gallery and Museum)

The march came to Penzance and paused at Trereife crossroads. The report continued, “Quite a crowd of people had assembled to witness the junction, and the numbers were constantly added to as the procession neared Penzance. Being market day, the processionists did not parade the main streets, but simply marched up Clarence-street and dispersed at the Pig Market.”

A rally led by Fraser took place on a makeshift stage in the Pig Market where a large crowd gathered, including the “hobble-de-hoy.” Fraser’s eloquence was complemented by the reporter, “few orators of the masculine gender could have held and swayed an audience in the open air as did Miss Fraser.” A scuffle broke out after her rousing speech as she had apparently been kicked in the ankle. The leaders had to be escorted by police to a safe-house on Clarence Street.

“…and if anything like the same success can be achieved in the various towns en route, they will have materially helped their cause to victory ere—like the “twenty thousand Cornishmen” of Trewlany’s spirited days—they summon London town to surrender.”

The march resumed on the Friday morning from Clarence Street, “up Alverton, through the Green Market, and on their way to the station, on the second stage of their long, self-imposed tramp to London.”

Land's End to London, women from Cornwall marched for six weeks (credit: Penlee House Gallery and Museum)

Invoking the last great march of Cornish people to London in 1497, the report ends, “…and if anything like the same success can be achieved in the various towns en route, they will have materially helped their cause to victory ere—like the “twenty thousand Cornishmen” of Trewlany’s spirited days—they summon London town to surrender.”

It took a further ten years for universal franchise to be granted to all women in 1928.

A small number of women were finally given the vote after World War 1 in 1918 as part of the Representation of the People Act. About 8.4 million enfranchised women (related to status and property holding) over the age of 30 voted.

It took a further ten years for universal franchise to be granted to all women over the age of 21 in 1928. That was a full 15 years after the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage and the height of Suffragette action.

Further reading

Katherine Bradley, Friends and Visitors: a History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Cornwall 1870-1914 (2000, The Hypatia Trust). Available from the Hypatia Trust Online Bookstore. £5. 

We are not doormats

The first public showing of Mesdames Myrtles and We are not doormats rug exhibition, some of which are History 51-inspired, is taking place in St Just this week! Please come and support this innovative and deeply creative way of recording women's lives. Here's Diane Cox:

Come and have a cosy time surrounded by fabric and cakes.

An exciting exhibition of contemporary rag rugs by the 'We are not doormats' and 'Mesdames Myrtles' hooking groups. All in aid of a women's refuge.

Where?

St Just, W.I.Hall

When?

Friday 7 June to Sunday 9 June ,10.30am - 4pm.

What else?

Vintage tearoom with lots of homemade cakes, craft stall, and a rug raffle in aid of buying craft materials for the Women's refuge.

There will be a big frame set up for people to have a go.

Come and have a cosy time surrounded by fabric and cakes.

Rug biography, inspired by History 51 and Hypatia

History 51 Roadshow gets off the ground

Heartlands, Pool during Kernow Fest On the gloriously sunny Sunday 26 May we put on our first History 51 Roadshow event called Wise Women. It was part of a huge festival of Cornish culture called Kernow Fest and took place in Heartlands in Pool.

Wise Women just before we got started

As a series of ongoing demonstrations, show and tell and an opportunity for the public to come in and chat, perhaps also take part in one of our activities such as writing charms and recipes with quill, handle historical objects--kindly lent to us by English Heritage from Pendennis Castle--or talk to a medieval household about their herbal apothecary--thanks to the brilliant Annie, Kay and Steve of People of the Past. Visitors also had the opportunity to view a rolling digital exhibition all about women, healing and medicine through time presented through Cornish sources. We dressed the room with fresh herbs and aromas of the past. We included in this exhibition photographs from what used to be the West Cornwall Women's Hospital, later Camborne-Redruth Hospital, which was just down the road from Heartlands, giving the event a bit of a local flavour. You can view this exhibition below.

Nurses at Camborne-Redruth Hospital in 1954 (credit: Cornwall Record Office X436/46)

The Wise Women

I was in awe of my co-organisers who each brought a different dimension to the event. Steph Haxton, an historian and educational consultant, who came up with the original idea for Wise Women, was dressed as an authentic 1520s Lady of the Manor, a stunning costume made by her own hand. She presented visitors with historical handling objects and a selection of ingredients that were used by 16th century households. Her responsibility was for the health and welfare of her household, including her servants.

Kay and Annie of People of the Past represented Cornish women and girls in the Middle Ages. Also in authentic clothing based on sources from the period, they showed visitors the range of herbs, ingredients and some implements used in treating and diagnosing people. Annie was a thoroughly brilliant advertisement for Wise Women and History 51 and went out amongst the crowds to draw in more visitors. This made a huge difference as from an expectation of 40-50 people we had at least 120 people come through our door--and those were the ones we managed to count!

Polly Attwood, the new Director of the Hypatia Trust, and I acted as introducers to people coming in. We were dressed in more modern garb, emulating the clothes of the 19th century masses. In theory I was meant to be a 'pellar' - a Cornish white witch - but no one came to me for charms or advice and I was happy to waft around in my overly long skirt and apron, but feeling quiet pride at representing a Cornish ancestor.

http://youtu.be/JC2F_O0c1cI

Another fruitful playday

The latest from our friends at Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group. [Thanks Diane and all for the updates and photos. Keep 'em coming Ed.] We now have 7 females under way.....my domestic lady, a balmaiden, a fishwife, a dairymaid, a flower picker, a midwife and a land army girl.

As yet, Alice de Lisle has not been attempted but do not despair..she will, eventually! [If you can wait until June we will have information and some contemporary pictures to send your way--not of her but the kind of clothes she would have probably worn.]

26 May: Wise Women at KernowFest, Heartlands

What did we all do before the NHS and professional medical practice? We turned to the women in our communities to help us, cure us and treat us.

History 51 Roadshow: Wise Women

Download Wise Women poster (PDF, 102KB)

When? Sunday 26 May (bank holiday weekend), 12-4.30pm. Where? Chi an Bobel (upstairs), Heartlands, Pool (between Camborne and Redruth). How to find us. What?

  • FREE
  • Create your own charm
  • Smell and handle ingredients and implements
  • Lady of the Manor and her servants’ ailments
  • Medieval housewife and nature's medicine cupboard
  • Meet the "Pellar of Pool"
  • Bring family recipes and old wives' tales
  • Write in the History 51 Cornish Remedy Book

History 51 Roadshow

Women and medicine is the theme of our first History 51 Roadshow FREE event. It will take place at Heartlands on Sunday 26 May 2013 and is part of KernowFest, a massive celebration of all things Cornish, especially food and culture. We obviously come in the culture bit even though some of the medical ingredients on show are edible too.

Wise Women will be a series of continuous demonstrations, digital displays of historical sources, costumed interpretation, and hands-on activities suitable for all ages, including kids, all based on real Cornish sources about the knowledge held by women as healers of their households and communities. We will be dressed up in period costume including a medieval housewife, an aristocratic lady from the 1520s and a Victorian-era white witch or 'pellar' in Cornish.

It is apt this event takes place in Pool, very near to what used to be the West Cornwall Women's Hospital, near Redruth.

History 51 Roadshow is a series of events taking place in 2013 to promote different aspects of women's heritage in local communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

History 51 Remedy Book

As part of the event we are inviting people to bring with them their old family cures, treatments and old wives' tales, especially those passed down to them from their mothers, grandmothers and other women in their families and communities.

By collecting these remedies we hope to preserve an important part of our community history which might otherwise be forgotten.

Disclaimer

We will be filming the event for the History 51 archives, some of the footage will be turned into a film about our project.

No prescriptions! Please don’t ask us for cures or treatments for your own ailments as we are not trained medical professionals.

Thanks

Penlee House Gallery and Museum for lending us historical costume for our Pellar character.

Cornwall Record Office for images of Cornish sources.

Heartlands for welcoming us to KernowFest and giving us a free venue.

Steph Haxton for coming up with the idea and helping bring it all together.

Myrtles playday: Ancestors in rugs

The Myrtles are back with an update before their next playday and a sneak peek at some of their work. Here's Diane Cox: The Myrtles are having another Playday this week to work on our individual figures of Cornish women. Here is a pic of mine in progress....she will represent domestic tasks and also several of my husband's female ancestors,all ordinary working class women from the Newlyn area.

I am enjoying how much this project has stimulated my mind, and how I have discovered many little gems of information along the way, and met some wonderful people too!

Inspired by Newlyn ancestors (credit: Diane Cox)

Constructing life stories of women

Archaeolgists, Mr and Mrs Mallett at Harlyn Bay, c. 1900 (credit: R. Ashington Bullen, "Harlyn Bay and the Discoveries of its Prehistoric Remains" 1902). How do you write the life-story of a woman? Are biographies of women different to those of men?

Biography as a genre has a field of study all of its own. But for History 51 we are very much starting from scratch and most of our subjects are having their biographies written or constructed for the very first time (e.g. through art, craft, photographic journeys, film and oral history).

The history of the great and the good?

Contributors to History 51 have asked if the women we want to record have to be famous or have done something outstanding in the conventional sense of the male dominated narratives we're used to that promote the achievements of 'great men' especially if they are kings, princes and politicians.

The simple answer is No.

History is about understanding change over time. The acts of women, good and bad, have contributed hugely to those changes which have affected the lives and men and women alike.

We also have hundreds of thousands of female ancestors about whom nothing is written.

The Elizabeth Treffry Collection documents the lives of women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from all walks of life and will continue to do so. We do not privilege one kind of achievement over another.

We can learn so much about the past and about our own attitudes today if we listen more to the everyday stories of ordinary people. And very often we will find that they were not that ordinary at all.

We also have hundreds of thousands of female ancestors about whom nothing is written. Archaeologists are experts at reconstructing lives and lifestyles from the remains of past societies, and Cornwall and Scilly are blessed with some of the the richest, most fascinating archaeology in the world.

Cornish Women's Index data entry form

Documenting lives in the Cornish Women's Index

As part of History 51 we are developing a pioneering digital project to record and gather together the life-stories of as many women as possible. The Cornish Women's Index will be a Wikipedia-style online database that contributors can add to from anywhere they have an internet connection.

We'll shortly be offering training to our contributors so if you'd like to take part and add your story, please register your interest.

You can also find out more in our Cornish Women's Index guide in the History 51 resources section.

Myrtles playday

More news from Mesdames Myrtles rug hookers, History 51 contributors.

Our 'playday' on Friday was really fruitful.

Talking, using different media, letting ideas flow freely, drinking tea and eating cake allowed us to finally make a decision on our communal project, which is great.

It will be fairly large hooked pieces, possibly with some embroidery, depicting Cornish women's occupations, starting with Alice De Lisle [Yes, yes, yes! Ed].

Our individual projects seemed to come together too...more about these at a later date, but one of them involves eggs, dressing up,and following in someone's footsteps...!

Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group of Penzance discuss representing Cornish women's history (credit: Diane Cox)

 

Inspired by Cornish women's history (credit: Diane Cox)

Cornish women 100 years ago

What will historians of the future say about the lives of women of Cornwall and Scilly in 2013?

To mark International Women's Day today, we wanted to share some stories that were in our newspapers 100 years ago. They say good women don't make the news (or history) and judging by the following we agree! What will historians of the future say about the lives of women of Cornwall and Scilly in 2013? In 2113 what will historians of the future say about the lives of women of Cornwall and Scilly in 2013?

Woman arrests woman for stealing fuel

Turf-stealing at Alternun, 30 April.

Elizabeth Williams of Alternun was charged with having stolen 100 tabs and 100 turfs belonging to William Hooper. The parties were reported as being poor cottagers who lived near a common from where they cut turf for fuel. They each had a rick of turf on the common. It was the daughter of the prosecutor whose suspicions were aroused when she saw Elizabeth visit her father's rick instead of her own on 25 February. On seeing Elizabeth take from Hooper's rick, she went up to her and charged her with the theft. This was denied by Elizabeth who protested her innocence and said she had taken from her own rick. Although Elizabeth, described by the reporter as 'the prisoner', had no witnesses she retained that the turf was her own. She was acquitted.

Four Falmouth Madams fined and imprisoned

Houses of ill-fame at Falmouth, 30 April.

Catherine Mitchell was found guilty of keeping a brothel, or house of ill-fame, in Falmouth. She was sentenced to imprisonment for two months and made to pay a £10 fine. She was to be kept imprisoned until she could pay.

Elizabeth Tresidder was accused of committing a similar offence in Budock (also in the Falmouth area) and was sentenced to a fortnight's imprisonment and fined one shilling.

Ann Lampshire was found guilty of keeping a disorderly house in Budock and was imprisoned for one month as punishment, and fined a shilling.

Matilda Lisle was charged with frequenting houses of ill-fame and reprimanded by the chairman and then discharged.

Desperate St Agnes couple die collecting samphire rather than claim poor relief

Gathering samphire on the cliffs, 11 June.

A man named Mark Thomas and his wife (unnamed in the story) were the parents of four infants. Desperate to earn money they went to the cliffs at Perran to collect samphire. He clutched the cliff rocks, pulled out samphire and passed it to his wife below. He lost his footing as part of the rock gave way and he fell onto his wife and then both fell down 100 feet and landed three yards from each other. They took these desperate measures to earn money so they wouldn't have to go to the parish for poor relief.

Milk theft incurs severest punishment

Stealing milk from a cow, 16 July.

The Cornwall Quarter Sessions heard the case of Ann Holman. She was found guilty of stealing milk from a cow belonging to James Grey. She was harshly sentenced to two months imprisonment as the Bench wanted to make an example of her and her crime, as milk theft was becoming too common.

Woman who sets fire to a man's corn is hanged

Cornwall Assizes, 20 August.

Elizabeth Osborne was convicted of setting fire to a mow of corn belonging to John Lobb and sentenced to be hanged.

Unknown young pregnant woman takes her life with arsenic

Buried where four roads meet, 20 August.

The body of a young woman was buried at a place where four roads meet in the parish of Morvah. She was pregnant "in consequence of an illicit intercourse" and committed suicide by poisoning herself with arsenic.

The burial of people who committed suicide usually happened under cover of darkness and were not allowed in church graveyards until a period of 14 years had passed, and then without a service. Madame Catalini visited Truro in 1813.

Italian Diva to delight Truro music festival

The Cornwall Music Festival, 27 August.

Madame Catalini, a celebrated singer, was due to feature in the Cornwall Music Festival in Truro Assembly Rooms, having "completely charmed the good people at Exeter." It was to be attended by nearly all the gentry of Cornwall.

 

These excerpts are paraphrased from a compilation of news items in the West Briton, 1810-1835 selected by R.M. Barton and reproduced in Life in Cornwall (Dyllansow Truran, 1997).

Mesdames Myrtles, Penzance (rug) hookers

An example of Myrtles rughooking work (credit: Diane Cox)

Guest blog post by rug hooker, Diane Cox, History 51 Contributor

The Mesdames Myrtles hooking group has been together for many years in different hooking groups, but formed 2 years ago as a small group who wanted to stretch ourselves creatively and have unusual projects on the go! We spent an afternoon throwing names around and the Myrtles just seemed to fit! We are all in the Penzance area.

After the initial meeting at the Hypatia Trust we met to discuss how we would approach a visual response to acknowledging unsung Cornish women.We had a great afternoon chatting,but it became obvious that we all had differing ideas,and so the decisions made afterwards were...to visit Helston museum to get a feeling and a sense of ordinary women's lives,and that the whole subject was so enormous that the project wouldn't be as easy as we initially thought !

Yesterday we had our visit,and were so impressed by the museum..a real gem!

Over lunch we threw ideas about,and it seems right that we do one communal project,with the option of each of us,should we wish,responding with other more personal pieces.

We all agreed on 2 things...we wanted to emphasise the hard work and sometimes sheer drudgery of domestic work over the centuries,with the aim of showing how women have held everything together,and that we need to simplify our ideas for them to be effective in a textile work.

Work by Diane Cox

We realised that a written piece and a piece that is purely an image have to be approached totally differently!

So,we are having a creative day next week to play with ideas and hopefully end the day with the beginnings of our communal piece!

View a gallery of Diane's rug hooking work

[Thank you Diane and Mesdames Myrtles for your guest post, we can't wait to hear more about your progress! Ed]