Black Friday (1910)

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Black Friday was a women's suffrage event that occurred in the United Kingdom on 18 November 1910.

The protests came in response to parliamentary proceedings regarding the Conciliation Bill, which would have extended the right of women to vote in Britain and Ireland to around 1,000,000 wealthy, property-owning women. The bill made it to a second reading, but British Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith indicated that there would be no more Parliamentary time for the reading in the current session.

In response, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) sent a delegation of around 300 women to protest, and 200 were assaulted when they attempted to run past the police. The deputation was led by Emmeline Pankhurst to petition Asquith. The delegates included Dorinda Neligan, Hertha Ayrton, Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, Anne Cobden-Sanderson, and Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.[1] The arrested suffragettes were assaulted and manhandled by the police, but the authorities refused to investigate.[1] This was not the first documented use of police force against suffragettes who had demonstrated brutality and violence towards women throughout the Suffragettes campaign for votes for women's suffrage. In the aftermath, Asquith's car was vandalized.

119 were arrested, men and women.[2]

The aftermath of Black Friday[edit]

A woman, Ernestine Mills, is on the ground with her gloved hands over her face. The man in a top hat is trying to assist her, while a policeman has removed his gloves and is stooping over her. In the background are several more police officers and a number of men and women, beyond them the walls and doorway to the Parliament buildings.

The events of Black Friday were a public relations disaster for the government; the press took the side of the Suffragettes, printing pictures of police assaulting unarmed female protesters. The actions of the police were greatly criticised.[3] After Black Friday, Asquith stated that if the Liberals were elected at the next general election, they would include a Suffrage Bill that could be amended to allow women to vote. The WSPU rejected this, believing that it was an attempt to delay reform; the events of Black Friday were damaging to the suffrage campaign as well, as they caused MPs to distance themselves from the issue.

A photograph of Ernestine Mills on the ground was published by the Daily Mirror under the headline "Violent Scenes at Westminster Where Many Suffragettes Were Arrested While Trying to Force Their Way Into the House of Commons."[4] The government asked for the newspapers to be seized and for the photograph's negative to be destroyed.[5] The true cost of Black Friday would only be known some time after the event. One woman who had been badly treated by the police and was arrested for stone throwing a few days earlier, later died after being released from prison on Christmas Day 1910 - she was Emmeline Pankhurst’s sister, Mary Clarke.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sybil Oldfield, ‘Neligan, Dorinda (1833–1914)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 14 Nov 2017
  2. ^ The Times, 19 November 1910, page 10
  3. ^ "A photo taken outside Parliament on 18 November 1910". 
  4. ^ "Daily Mirror Front Page Published Saturday 19th November 1910. Violent Scenes at Westminster Where Many Suffragettes Were Arrested While Trying to Force Their Way Into the House of Commons". Mirrorpix. Daily Mirror. 1910-11-19. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  5. ^ a b Connelly, Katherine. "The Suffragettes, Black Friday and two types of window smashing". Counterfire. Retrieved 2017-01-01.