Miss Emily Davies

Gender: Female

Marital Status: Single

Born: 1830

Died: 1921

Place of birth: Southampton, Hampshire, England

Occupation: Girton College (Cambridge) founder

Main Suffrage Society: NUWSS

Other Societies: EWC; LNSWS; CCNSWS;

Society Role: Vice president (LNSWS, CUWFA); Executive committee (CSWS, NUWSS)

1866 Petition: Yes

Petition Area: 17 Cunningham Place, London, Middlesex, England


Other sources: https://www.parliament.uk/1866
Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866?1928 (2001); Emily Davies' papers are still held at Girton College, Cambridge.

Database linked sources: https://www.suffrageresources.org.uk/activity/3203/what-were-the-suffrage-campaigners-fighting-for

Further Information:

Family information: Father was Reverend John Davies.

Additional Information: After her father's death in 1862, the family moved to London, where Emily forged closer friendships with influential reformers and suffragists such as Elizabeth Garrett (Anderson) and artist Barbara Bodichon. She acted as editor of the English Woman's Journal for about six months. In 1865, when the Kensington Society was founded, she became its secretary and thence became one of the organisers of the 1866 petition ? sitting on the Women's Suffrage Petition Committee. Along with Elizabeth Garrett, she handed the petition over to MP John Stuart Mill, who then handed it to Parliament. To publicise the petition, she arranged its printing and sent it to both Houses of Parliament and to a number of newspapers. Subsequently, she helped to arrange three further petitions, drawing on her experience. She became a permanent member of the Enfranchisement of Women Committee (EWC) when it formed in 1866. She declined to join the London NSWS when it formed in 1867, concerned that it would be too radical for her. However, she later became one of its vice presidents when its noisier members left to join the Central Committee of the NSWS (CCNSWS). She later joined when the CCNSWS itself split, signing their Declaration in Favour of Women's Suffrage in 1889. She gave a number of speeches at suffrage meetings and joined the Central Society for Women's Suffrage (1900?1906), sitting on its executive committee. Later, she joined the reformed London Society for Women's Suffrage and the NUWSS and was a member of its executive committee. Emily took part in the NUWSS 'mud march' in 1907, wearing robes denoting her honorary degree from Glasgow University. By 1912, the NUWSS were backing parliamentary Labour Party candidates at elections, via the Election Fighting Fund, as the best way forward to achieve the vote as, by then, the Labour Party had agreed to support it. Emily was Conservative and so left, joining the Conservative and Unionist Women's Franchise Association (CUWFA) and becoming vice president. In 1918, at 88 years old, she was one of many women who qualified to vote in the general election.

Other Suffrage Activities: Emily moved with her family to Gateshead in the North East and, in 1860, established and became treasurer of a Northumberland and Durham branch of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. In 1864, she also became a member of the Ladies Emancipation Society. Aside from, and sometimes above, her work for women's suffrage, she was committed to improving women's and girls' education. She was an avid supporter of women's access to education in the medical profession, writing a paper in 1862 on 'Medicine as a Profession for Women'. In 1870 she was elected to the London School Board, but did not stand for re-election due to her continuing work supporting the college that she had founded for girls at Cambridge (Girton College). The college was the first residential college to educate women to university level.

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