Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867-1954)
Where? The gate pillar next to Lewisham House, 80 Bristol Road Lower BS23 2RS
Emmeline Pethick’s father, who owned the Weston Gazette, was a Town Commissioner (councillor) and a ‘natural born rebel’. She and her younger sister Dorothy embraced the same attitude.
When very young Emmeline had moved with her family from Bristol to Trewartha, a large house set in substantial grounds on the hillside at Weston-super-Mare.
She always wanted more from life than settling down and marrying, and so moved to London to help working-class women.
She married Fred Lawrence in 1901 and, as a sign of equality, both adopted each other’s name and so became the Pethick-Lawrences.
In 1906 she was introduced to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and soon became treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union where her organisational and financial skills brought in many thousands of pounds for the cause
She started the tradition of luncheons for women released from prison (having herself been imprisoned in 1912), organised the vast march on Hyde Park, and with husband Fred founded ‘Votes For Women’, the union’s widely circulating newspaper. She also created the suffragette colours of purple, green and white which quickly became the movement’s visual hallmark and founded the Women’s International League for Peace.
A falling out with the Pankhursts left Emmeline and Fred ostracised from the movement, but she never stopped campaigning for electoral equality.
Fred became a Labour MP, Secretary-of-State for India, and on entering the Lords his wife became Baroness Pethick-Lawrence. Emmeline’s younger sister, Dorothy Pethick, was also a noted suffragette activist.
Blue plaque Lewisham House (formerly Trewartha) 80 Bristol Road lower by Weston Town Council & Weston Civic Society