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Arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst in Glasgow

Emmeline Pankhurst visited St Andrew's Hall in Glasgow on 9 March 1914 to address a large meeting of the Women's Social and Political Union, the more militant suffragette organisation that she helped to found in 1903, knowing she was subject to re-arrest under the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’. Mrs Pankhurst was smuggled into the hall inside a laundry basket and appeared on stage before the police rushed in. Rioting followed, the police drew batons and several suffragette supporters, including Mrs Pankhurst, were hurt and arrested.

Members of the audience were appalled by the behaviour of the police and wrote letters of complaint to the Lord Provost of Glasgow and the local newspapers. The Chief Constable of Glasgow interviewed his officers and on 26 March 1914, he submitted his report to the Under Secretary for Scotland denying the accusations. The Town Council called a Special Meeting of the Magistrates Committee to gather evidence and investigate the alleged ill treatment of women. Male and female witnesses provided their accounts of events. In the end, the Committee decided that there was no cause for complaint against the police and Walter Scott, the Secretary for Scotland, refused to appoint a Commissioner to conduct a public enquiry into the arrest of Mrs Pankhurst.

The sources are statements made by two men who were present at the public meeting.

Link to background information on Scottish suffragettes.

Source 1:
Statement by
Mr William Thomson

Detail from typed statement by Mr William Thomson, National Records of Scotland reference: HH55/336/57

Source 2:
Call for a
public inquiry

Detail from a typed call for a Public Enquiry, National Records of Scotland reference: HH55/336/1




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