14 December 1918: Broadway Women Vote in a UK General Election for the First Time

Votes for Broadway Women

On 14 December 1918, women in Broadway, providing they were over 30 and they or their husbands were an occupier of property, were able to vote in a general election for the first time. The 1918 election had been called by the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War.

Eight and a half million women in the UK were eligible to vote following the extension of the franchise in the Representation of the People Act 1918. This amendment to the Act had followed 50 years of campaigning by suffragettes across the world for suffrage or ‘Votes for Women’.

Broadway Suffragette who “Affronted the King by Creating a Scene in the Throne Room” (Daily Mirror, June 1914)

In Broadway, Rose ‘Eleanor’ Cecilia Blomfield (1890-1954) and Mary Esther Blomfield (1888-1950), daughters of Sir Arthur and Lady Sarah Louisa Blomfield of Springfield, were members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Eleanor and Mary established a branch of the Non-Militant National Union Suffrage Society in the village and were founding members of Broadway Women’s Institute.

Mary Blomfield made the headlines in June 1914 when she fell to her knees before HRH King George V and Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace. Mary begged their Majesties to stop the force-feeding of suffragettes who’d gone on hunger strikes in prison, and was forcibly evicted from the Palace by the police.

Mary and Eleanor Blomfield
Mary and Eleanor Blomfield, 1914

 

Polling Day, 14th December 1918

The first polling day for women in Broadway passed without incidence. It was reported in The Evesham Standard on 21 December 1918 that:

Polling day at Broadway passed off with very little excitement. A gentle stream of voters made their way to the polling station during the day, and at no time was there any rush, in fact the last hour was the quietest of the day. It is believed the women polled as strongly as the men. Cars and carriages belonging to Commander Monsell’s supporters were busy, especially during the afternoon, and they are very confident of the result of their efforts at Broadway.

Voter turnout for the election across the country was low, however, the British Conservative Party candidate, Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell, retained his Evesham seat in the election and continued as a Member of Parliament until October 1935.

 

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Broadway History Society

Broadway History Society, Broadway, Worcestershire

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