WSPU hunger strike force feeding medal

Contributed by Johnny

WSPU hunger strike force feeding medal

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Mabel Capper was a young Suffragette in 1909, living near the Pankhursts in what was then known as Chorlton on Medlock, now Manchester. Along with other members of the Women's Social and Political Union, she was a militant campaigner for the right of Women to vote.

With accomplices, she took part in various actions intended to force the Government to give Women the vote. This included acts of sabotage against the 1911 Census, disruption of political meetings and polling stations, window breaking and an attempt in Dublin to target Prime Minister Asquith with a bomb.

She was imprisoned, at least once in Holloway.

The Medal records that she went on Hunger Strike. On the reverse of a small bar on the medal, are the words "Fed by Force" and the date 17.9.09

The authorities later ceased forcible feeding of hunger strikers and introduced the 'cat and mouse' policy of temporarily releasing and reimprisoning after the strikers had recovered.

The medal appears to be silver and the ribbon is coloured green, white and purple; for Spring, Purity and Royal Blood.

Like most of her fellow campaigners, Mabel was educated and middle class.

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  • 1. At 22:11 on 16 October 2010, psso wrote:

    Very nice piece, Johnny. One more detail for you: I've always heard that the colors are green, white, and violet (*not purple*), so that they spell G-W-V, signifying Give Women the Vote.

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  • 2. At 08:56 on 17 October 2010, Johnny wrote:

    You could be right. On the other hand Green for Hope, White for Purity and 'Purple' for Dignity. Anyway those girls knew their colours. Thanks for the feedback.

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  • 3. At 09:44 on 20 October 2010, Elizabeth wrote:

    More information about Mabel Capper's suffrage activity may be found in E. Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement: a reference guide, published by Routledge.

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  • 4. At 17:05 on 20 October 2010, Johnny wrote:

    Yes Elizabeth the book you cite is an excellent reference on the movement. It points out that Mab's father; William Bently Capper was Secretary of the Manchester Branch of the Men's League for Womens Suffrage. He was a Chemist; it was reported in the Guardian that Mab set off explosive material at the Royal Theatre in Dublin when Asquith was there.... Mabel Capper was amongst the first of the Suffragettes to be forcibly fed in Winson Green and she was just 21 years old. Elizabeth Crawford writes that an aunt of Mab's was president of the Women's Liberal Association; it would be interesting to know who it was. Thanks for your comments

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  • 5. At 20:42 on 20 October 2010, Elizabeth wrote:

    Re. Mabel Capper's was not that she was a past president of the Women's Liberal Association - but of a Women's Liberal Association - i.e. a local association. I suspect I took that information from a piece written by Mabel Capper that is amongst other such material held in the Suffragette Fellowship Collection in the Museum of London. If it was not there, it would have been something published about her in the WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women. Hope this helps. Elizabeth

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  • 6. At 23:41 on 20 October 2010, Johnny wrote:

    That is helpful Elizabeth and it is clear in the book. Still, it was news to me and I do wonder which of her Aunts it was.
    Incidentally, Mab kept a diary of her experiences in prison with illustrations of the techniques and equipment used to force feed her. She told me that the process was extremely painful and brutally executed.

    Also you might like to know that when her husband, Ceceil Chisholm died most of his quite substantial estate was put in Trust for the Womens charity, The Fellowship Houses Trust. Presumably this was done with Mab's agreement, although it left her in rather strapped circumstances for the rest of her life.

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July 30th 1909


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