Vote 100

The House of Lords

The University of Edinburgh suffragettes head to the House of Lords.

Letter from E. J Haldane to Frances Simson
Letter from E. J Haldane to Frances Simson congratulating her on the conduct of the case and for doing something great for the cause. 13 November 1908

They were gaining support and letters they received were like this one in our collections to Francis Simson:

13 November 1908

Dear Miss Simson,

Our best congratulations on the conduct of your case. Whatever the result this will do great things for the cause & makes one proud of one’s sex.

Very much yours

E. J. Haldane

My mother is most interested.

National newspapers were also now taking an interest. The editor of the University student newspaper The Student approved publicly and a female journalist from The Guardian Newspaper wrote to Francis Simson to ask for biographies for a piece they were doing on them. This letter is part of our exhibition in the Main Library in Autumn 2018.

5 November 1908

Dear Madam

May I ask you to be good enough to allow us to publish your portrait in the next issues of the women’s supplement of the “Guardian” and to send us a photograph (which will be returned) for reproduction. I am anxious to have one also of Miss Chrystal MacMillan, but unfortunately I have not her address. Would it be possible for you to communicate with her and to make this request for me. Or would you kindly send me her address on a postcard so that I may write to her myself without loss of time. Would you also be good enough to give me one or two particulars of your own career & refer me to some biographical notice that has already appeared.

You probably know the “Guardian” as it is an old – established paper of very good standing. The Women’s supplement was edited by Mrs Arthur Lyttelton until her death nearly two years ago.

Believe me Yours Truly Agnes M. Hitchcock

Letter from Guardian journalist Agnes M. Hitchcock
Letter from Guardian journalist Agnes M. Hitchcock to Frances Simson, requesting photographs of her and Chrystal MacMillan for an article for the women's supplement. 5 November 1908

This was a dramatic new gesture, without the use of violence.

This was made even more so as the women decided to present the case themselves. Chrystal Macmillan as principal speaker and supported by Melville and Simson. In our exhibition the letters around this case that were sent to Francis Simson can be seen. Digital versions can be seen here. At the core of the collection is a telegram from Chrystal Macmillan to Francis Simson:

6 November 1908

Tuesday almost certain come tomorrow with morning train that we may have time to discuss wire me and I will dine with you at Berners Hotel possibility that only one appellant may be heard lawyers have written you particulars.


Telegram from Chrystal MacMillan to Frances Simson
Telegram from Chrystal MacMillan to Frances Simson stating that their appearance in was almost certain and that she should come by the morning train tomorrow. This was to discuss who should speak if only one was going to be allowed. She mentions that the solicitors will be writing. 6 November 1908

The letter from the solicitors Chrystal MacMillan mentions survives and says:

6 November 1908

Dear Madam,

Nairn & others vs University of St Andrews & others

We received this morning your letter of the 4th inst. And we have applied for passes at the Judicial Office, but they will not issue them there until they receive the names of your friends: kindly let us have these by first post on Monday morning.

We think it is probable that only one Appellant will be allowed to address the House but this will not be decided until the case comes on for hearing. We therefore think that you should be prepared to address the House in the event of the Lords permitting it. We understand that Miss Macmillan is to open the Case.

The list will not be fixed definitely until Monday afternoon about 4 o’clock, but, as far as can be seen at present, the Nairn Appeal will be heard on Tuesday next the 10” inst at 10:30am, or, in the event of one of the Cases in the List for Monday not being quite finished, at a somewhat later hour. As arranged we shall send you a telegram on Monday afternoon as soon as we know definitely what cases are in the paper for Thursday, i.e. about 4:30 p.m.

Your Faithfully

Neish Howell & Haldane

Letter from Solicitors Neish, Howell and Haldane
Letter from Solicitors Neish, Howell and Haldane, legal counsel, to Frances Simson informing her it may be that only one appellant might be allowed to speak and the timescale for when they might be heard. 6 November 1908

Part Three: The Scottish suffragettes speak up