Women's suffrage in Scotland Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_suffrage_in_Scotland

Anna Munro advertising the Scottish Women's Freedom League

Women's suffrage was the seeking of the right of women to vote in elections. It was carried out by both men and women, it was a very elongated and gruelling campaign that went on for 86 years before the Representation of the People Act 1918 was introduced on 6 February 1918, which provided a few women with the right to vote.[1]

One of the first three UK societies supporting women's rights to vote was established in 1867, in Scotland's capital, the Edinburgh National Society for Women's Suffrage.[2]

Role of different groups[edit]

Scottish suffragettes released from prison with Flora Drummond

Later Scotland's suffragettes were part of the British Women's Social and Political Union militant movement, and took part in campaigns locally and in London; for example when Winston Churchill arrived to stand for election as M.P. in Dundee in 1908 he was followed by 27 of the national leaders of the women's suffrage movements. At one point he even hid in a shed and tried to host a meeting there.[3]

Scottish women like Flora Drummond had leadership roles with the Pankhursts, in the London WSPU headquarters, and celebrated the Scottish community of activists on their release from prison.[4] Others like Frances Parker from New Zealand, were organising the West of Scotland WSPU and like others was infamously subjected to force feeding orally and rectally in Scottish [5] and British prisons.[6] Parker was also arrested when trying to disrupt David Lloyd George from giving a speech in the Music Hall in Aberdeen, and allegedly set fire to Burns Cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire.[7]

There were many Scottish women across all classes who took an active role in the movement to draw attention to the growing demands for equal right to Votes for Women.

Scottish branches of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies were active in the main cities and even in the rural and remote areas such as Dornoch,[8][9] in the Highlands, Stornoway with 27 women forming a suffrage association,[10] from the remote Western Isles (the Hebrides), as well as NUWSS Orcadian group[11] in Orkney and a Shetland suffrage society.[12]

Awareness raising educational resources and game[edit]

In 2021, as yet, no accessible images of the only (known) black Scottish suffragist Jessie M. Soga have been identified, nor is it known if there were other Scottish women of colour campaigning for the vote. Dr. TS Beall said Scotland's suffragists' and suffragettes' activities were not taught 'much' in Scottish schools, and their names were not generally known.[13]

Soga was included in a new educational game (Top Trumps-style) on Scotland's Suffragettes Trumps cards, produced by Protests & Suffragettes (an artists, activists and local history project including Dr. Beall) by crowdfunding to send 700 sets to schools across Scotland.[13] The cards were included in Scotland's Suffrage History Education Packs, 100 of which were sent to Scottish schools.[13] Women's History Scotland's Dr. Yvonne McFadden called it 'a fun and important tool to make sure these women and their stories' are included in the Scottish school curriculum, as women's history is often limited in school history teaching.[13] The impact of these materials was discussed on Borders TV, including the recognition by primary school children that 'change makers' were based in their own communities in Kelso and Stranraer.[14]

Fanny Parker being escorted out from Ayr Sheriff Court

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • King, Elspeth (1978) The Scottish Women's Suffrage Movement. Glasgow. People's Palace Museum
  • Leneman, Leah (1995) A Guid Cause: The Women's Suffrage Movement in Scotland. Edinburgh. Mercat Press.
  • Leneman, Leah (2000) The Scottish Suffragettes. Edinburgh. National Museums of Scotland. ISBN 190166340X
  • Pedersen, Sarah (2017) The Scottish Suffragettes and the Press. London. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 9781137538338


  1. ^ Grant, Jocelyn (8 March 2019). "Scotland and Women's Suffrage". Open Book. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  2. ^ "A guid cause ... The women's suffrage movement in Scotland". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  3. ^ Sharpe, Gillian (10 October 2015). "Scotland's suffragettes". Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  4. ^ Atkinson, Diane (2018). Rise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes. London: Bloomsbury. p. 179. ISBN 978-1-4088-4404-5. OCLC 1016848621.
  5. ^ madeinpe (18 May 2014). "Suffragette Movement in Perth". Made in Perth ~ Official Website ~ SC044155. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Te Papa buys rare bravery medal awarded to suffrage activist Frances Parker". Stuff. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  7. ^ Leneman, Leah (1993). Martyrs in our midst : Dundee, Perth and the forcible feeding of suffragettes. Abertay Historical Society. Dundee: Abertay Historical Society. p. 31. ISBN 0-900019-29-8. OCLC 27678731.
  8. ^ Higgins, Sue (10 April 2013). "Suffragettes!". historylinksdornoch. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  9. ^ Crawford, Elizabeth (1999). The women's suffrage movement : a reference guide, 1866-1928. London: UCL Press. p. 171. ISBN 0-203-03109-1. OCLC 53836882.
  10. ^ Katie (12 February 2018). "A Hebridean tale to remind us about the women we were". Hebrides Writer. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  11. ^ Dusty (10 March 2018). "Orkney Archive - get dusty: A Suffrage Search". Orkney Archive - get dusty. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Fighting for the right". The Shetland Times. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d Paterson, Kirsteen (6 December 2021). "Gallusness 10: The Top Trumps-style project taking suffragette stories to schools". The National. p. 19. Retrieved 6 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Education packs on Scottish Suffragettes" (video). ITV Borders. 21 December 2021.