Frances Parker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Frances Mary "Fanny" Parker (24 December 1875 – 19 January 1924) was a British suffragette who became prominent in the militant wing of the Scottish women's suffrage movement and was repeatedly imprisoned for her actions.

Born in Little Roderick, Kurow, New Zealand, Parker came from a well off background and was a niece of Lord Kitchener. Her famous uncle would later declare himself "disgusted" by her involvement in the women's movement. She was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, receiving a degree in 1899, and subsequently spent several years working as a teacher in France and New Zealand. On her return to Britain she began campaigning for women's suffrage, initially with the Scottish Universities Women's Suffrage Union, and later with Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union, for which she became organiser in the West of Scotland in 1912.

Parker took part in increasingly militant actions, for which she was imprisoned several times. She served six weeks for obstruction in 1908 following a demonstration. Later she was sentenced to four months in Holloway Prison in March 1912 after taking part in a WSPU-organised window-smashing raid. Like many suffragettes she went on hunger strike and was subjected to force-feeding. Later that year she was imprisoned twice, once for breaking windows, and once for breaking into The Music Hall in Aberdeen with the intention of disrupting an appearance by David Lloyd George. On both occasions she was released after going on hunger-strike for several days.

By 1914 the suffrage movement was becoming increasingly violent, with many buildings around Britain being bombed and burned. In July of that year, Fanny Parker and a fellow campaigner, Ethel Moorhead attempted to set fire to Burns Cottage in Alloway. A watchman was on duty, and while Moorhead escaped, Parker was arrested. While on remand she went on hunger and thirst strike. Knowing that there was little chance of recapturing her if she was released, the prison authorities subjected her to particularly brutal force-feeding; when she was unable to hold down food, they attempted to feed her through her rectum, resulting in serious bruising. She was seriously ill when finally released to a nursing home, but was still able to escape. Before she could be recaptured the First World War broke out, resulting in an end to militant campaigning and an amnesty for suffragettes.

During the war, Parker served in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and was awarded an OBE. After the war she lived in Arcachon, near Bordeaux, where she died in 1924.

See also[edit]