Suffragettes February 27 1913





Mrs Pankhurst, head of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the militant section of the Women Suffrage movement, was at Epsom, yesterday, committed for trial at the Guildford Assizes on a charge of “having, on February 19, 1913, feloniously, unlawfully, and maliciously counseled and procured certain persons, whose names are unknown, feloniously, unlawfully, and maliciously to place in a certain building, to wit, a building situate at Walton Heath, in the County of Surrey, certain gunpowder and explosive substances, with intent thereby to damage the said building, contrary to the Malicious Injury to Property Act, 1861.”

The magisterial proceedings began at twelve o`clock, but long before that hour a large number of townspeople and visiting sympathisers with the cause assembled outside the little Court House, awaiting the arrival of |Mrs Pankhurst, who had been allowed out on bail after the formal hearing on the previous day. A strong force of police had been drafted into the town in view of any possible disturbance of spectators there was little indication of excitement, and when Mrs. Pankhurst arrived shortly before noon in a motor-car, accompanied by her sureties, Mr. James Murray and Mrs. Pott, there was no demonstration. The Court House was well filled, but the police had exercised a wise discretion in the admission of the public and the little hall was not over-crowded. Mrs Pankhurst, on entering the court, was saluted by some friends who occupied front seats in the portion allotted to the public. She immediately took her seat at the table reserved for solicitors, as she conducted her own defence, and beside her sat Mr. Marshall solicitor, representing the interests of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Mrs. Pott and Miss Brackenbury occupied seats just behind Mrs. Pankhurst, and Mrs. Bach, her sister, was present in court. Sir William Vincent presided over a full Bench of Magistrates, and the early part of the proceedings, consisting of the statement of the case on behalf of the Crown, the formal evidence as to the finding of the bomb, and the police reports of Mrs. Pankhurst`s alleged inflammatory speeches, were conducted without incident.

When the Chairman announced that Mrs. Pankhurst would be committed for trial the first and only demonstration occurred. There were cheers from the public, which were immediately suppressed. Mrs. Pankhurst offered no evidence, and reserved her defence. In declining to give a definite undertaking to abstain from taking an active part in the militant campaign as a condition of her being allowed bail, Mrs. Pankhurst displayed considerable emotion. She repressed her feelings however and was firm in her determination not to pledge her word. Unless she could have an early trial and be given bail she should take a most serious view of the circumstance, and should adopt the hunger-strike which had been adopted by other women. The Magistrates refused to grant bail without the undertaking, and the formal committal order was made.

Mrs. Pankhurst at the close of the proceedings was permitted to bid farewell to her friends and subsequently conveyed in the Chief Constable1s motor-car to Holloway Gaol. She was accompanied by Superintendent Coleman, of the Surrey County Police, an acting wardress and a police inspector, who rode by the side of the chauffeur. As the car passed through the long line of spectators assembled on either side of the road there was a distinctly hostile demonstration although a few Suffragists raised sympathetic cheers.



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