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So what was special about the 1911 census?

Caravanning for the Vote

Laurence and Clemence Housman

Census resisters - right across England

Mass evasions

Manchester: census city?

Census surprises

Census homes

Book events

Census surprises

There are many census surprises: suffragettes who might be expected to boycott but who decided to comply. In the Manchester area, as well Jennie Baines Hannah Mitchell also apparently complied.

The census schedule of Hannah Mitchell, Newton Heat, the Oldham Road, Manchester.. The National Archives

The census schedule of Hannah Mitchell, Newton Heat,
the Oldham Road, Manchester.. The National Archives.
Click image to enlarge.

Why did Hannah comply? After all, she was a long-standing suffragette and WFL activist. Up in Middlesbrough, why did the Mahony sisters comply (see 1911 census web page)? There are no easy explanations - and Vanishing for the Vote explores some of the other political pressures of spring 1911 - as well as individual personal motivations.

Few suffragette minute books survive from this period: Middlesbrough WFL branch is one example. In Huddersfield in the West Riding, the WSPU minute book ends slightly earlier, but the biographical information it contains tells the story of local suffragettes (see Rebel Girls, Virago 2006). One was branch secretary Edith Key - who later went on to hide suffragette 'mice' in her attics. Yet Edith complied. Why?

The census schedule of Edith Key, Huddersfield, West Riding of Yorkshire. The National Archives

The census schedule of Edith Key, Huddersfield, West Riding
of Yorkshire. The National Archives. Click image to enlarge.

Further south, other surprise compliers are found. In London, Laurence and Clemence Housman lived in a suffrage stronghold just off Kensington High Street. There a nest of boycotters could reasonably be expected. Yet a search of the Housmans's immediate neighbourhood throws up few. It is surprising. For instance, just round the corner lived writer May Sinclair, occupying a modest three-roomed flat (studio, kitchen, bedroom). May supported the WSPU and WFL, so might be expected to boycott. Why did she not? Vanishing for the Vote suggests some possible explanations - both for May and for the other suffragette census surprises.

The census schedule of May Sinclair, Edwardes Square Studios, Kensington, London. The National Archives

The census schedule of May Sinclair, Edwardes Square Studios,
Kensington, London. The National Archives. Click image to enlarge.