Suffragettes in Huddersfield

Meetings in Huddersfield

Huddersfield Women's Suffrage Society
WSPU Marsden Branch
Dora Thewlis
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The Daily Mail front page newspaper of Dora Thewlis being arrested

Dora Thewlis was one of the most famous suffragettes from Huddersfield. She was born in Honley in 1890, one of several children born to James and Eliza Thewlis. At the age of 16 she witnessed Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst make an inspirational speech to crowds at Market Cross. From then on she threw herself into an adventurous life as a Suffragette. In no time, Dora faced her first prison sentence. She has marched through London city with an army of suffragettes, demanding women had the right to vote. She then joined a Suffragette mission to break into the houses of parliament. She was thrown in jail and pictured on the front of the Daily Mail newspaper, which showed an image of her in a pleated skirt and dark hair underneath the headline 'Suffragettes storm the house' .
In a letter to her daughter in prison, where she was taunted by officers, Eliza Thewlis said: "I am very proud of the way you have acted, so keep your spirits up and be cheerful." Attempts to spirit the girl out of the tabloids' clutches were unsuccessful, but Thewlis, by now 17, was undaunted when a reporter reached her. "Don't call me the 'Baby Suffragette'," she said. "I am not a baby. In May next year I shall be 18. Surely for a girl, that is a good age?" It was her finest hour. The daily mail christened her the 'Baby Suffragette'.

Money was tight in the Thewlis family Dora's elder sister, Mary, was 10 when she joined their mother at the mill, and Dora was soon called up there herself. But she also read the newspapers avidly, and by the age of 16 was ready to fly the suffragettes' purple, white and green colours. She continued to fight for her beliefs untill 1914 when she emigrated to Australia. She married there four years later to Jack Dow and never came home to experience the suffragette she had fought for. She died in 1976.