Vote 100

The Scottish suffragettes speak up

Chrystal Macmillan and Frances Simson both address the House of Lords.

Photograph of Frances Simson, Chrystal MacMillan and Frances Melville outside the House of Lords. November 1908
Photograph of Frances Simson, Chrystal MacMillan and Frances Melville outside the House of Lords. November 1908

Because of disturbances by militant suffragettes, barriers were up and women were prevented from entering beyond St Stephen's hall.

These were removed and the three women were escorted by police inspectors to private rooms provided by Earl Marshal. They were kept waiting for four and 1/2 hours. Finally Chrystal Macmillan opened and spoke for 45 minutes. She was described in the press as a modern Portia.

Two days later the hearing continued and she spoke for 3 hours followed by Frances Simson. Frances Melville did not speak. The case was dismissed with costs against the women.

They had gained sympathy for the cause and Margaret Nairn, writing to Francis Simson to thank her for speaking says:

Two days later the hearing continued and she spoke for 3 hours followed by Frances Simson. Frances Melville did not speak. The case was dismissed with costs against the women.

They had gained sympathy for the cause and Margaret Nairn, writing to Francis Simson to thank her for speaking says:

17 November 1908

Dear Miss Simson,

I meant to have written long ago to congratulate and thank you for what you did last week. Your words and Miss MacMillan’s will go down in history! Nothing could have been more clear and convincing and if the verdict be unfavourable, it will be in the face of the clearest evidence. I feel that personally I owe you a very deep debt of gratitude.

My brother in law, who is a great student of Shakespeare, has sent me an appropriate quotation from Love’s Labours Lost. Act IV. Sc. 1

.....’ and praise we may afford to any lady that subdues a Lord!’

I hope that his quotation will prove prophetic!

With kindest regards

Yours very sincerely

Margaret Nairn

Letter from Margaret Nairn to Frances Simson
Letter from Margaret Nairn to Frances Simson, thanking her for speaking in the House of Lords and how she feels indebted to her and Chrystal MacMillan. She quotes from Love's Labours Lost. ’and praise we may afford to any lady that subdues a Lord!’. 17 November 1908

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