Cumberland and Westmorland Suffragettes, 1911

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Cumberland and Westmorland Suffragettes, 1911


Women - and some men and children - photographed with banners of suffrage societies from Cumberland and Westmorland.


On 17 June 1911, suffrage societies joined together in London in a procession of some 40,000 women to demand the vote, with the date chosen as it was the coronation of King George V.

The event included an empire pageant with women representing India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies. This empire pageant related to one of the arguments that British suffragettes put forward for the female vote. The British Empire was at its height at this time and the Westminster parliament governed the colonies as well as Britain and Ireland. Some suffragettes argued that it was crucial that British women should have a vote in order to influence policies that had an impact on other women across the empire.

A group of former prisoners - women who had been imprisoned for suffragette activities - all wearing white, marched behind the leaders of the suffrage cause, and before a pageant of famous women. The procession was watched by crowds, some on specially erected stands.

According to notes held at the Cumbria Image Bank, the woman are shown as they marched from Charing Cross to the Albert Hall. A number of the women have been identified: the Keswick banner was carried by Miss Bendelack, the Penrith banner was carried by Miss Laurence. The Carlisle banner was designed by Miss Slee. The Kendal banner was designed, worked and presented by Miss Mary Benson.

The man in the middle of the photograph is carrying a board saying women do not want the vote; he was one of several 'sandwich men' sponsored by the anti suffragists to promote a view opposed to the suffragettes.
No British women has the vote until 1918, when the Representation of the People Act gave the vote to all men over 21 and some women: those over 30, and also women over 21 who were householders (owned their house) or were married to householders.


Anonymous photographer



Lancaster University


17 June 1911


Reproduced by courtesy of Cumbria Image Bank, who retain all rights over this image. No further reproduction is permitted without written permission of Cumbria Image Bank.


The procession, especially the empire pageant, is discussed on the Fawcett Society website:
A photograph of Indian women on the procession is held at the Museum of London:


Twentieth century

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Anonymous photographer, “Cumberland and Westmorland Suffragettes, 1911,” Local History Resources for Schools, accessed October 14, 2019,