Augustus Wykeham Clifton on Suffragettes, 1909
Newspaper report on part of the speech given by Augustus
Wykeham Clifton (1829-1915) at the Rose Queen Crowning Ceremony,
Lytham, 1909. This is followed by another article in which a local reporter interviews
MR. CLIFTON AND THE SUFFRAGETTES.
His Growing Hatred.
Mr. Clifton was allowed to intervene at another point of the performance, to
"have a shy at the Suffragettes as a reward for his services in crowning the Rose Queen. He
supposed the Suffragettes had been trying to proselytise Lytham, but hoped they would be
unsuccessful. “I hate Suffragettes—except one whom I like very much—but all the others, I hate
them," Mr. Clifton exclaimed with increasing vigour.
Having said he would subscribe to having them put down, he called their
attention to what happened the previous day, when no less than a hundred were apprehended by the
police. Only think of that, and Mr. Asquith, whom they wanted to see, was obliged to go home in a
small motor car following his own. The Prime Minister, in order to avoid a crowd of incensed
viragoes—(laughter) —had to do that. He (Mr. Clifton) did not know what to suggest but the stick
and that every Suffragette should be placed in
A Straight Waistcoat.
(Laughter). The making of these would employ
much unemployed labour and insertion of the woman therein would employ a great deal more.
(Laughter) He was afraid his views could not be carried out, but he really thought something
ought to be done. Whenever a Member of Parliament spoke in public no matter what politics he
was, they interrupted. One girl rang a bell when Mr. Winston Churchill spoke—not that he
admired the latter. She ought to have been killed or chained up so that she could not ring her
He wished he could carry his ideas into effect. He declared he would use his
stick (brandishing it in the air). He was a very old man—over 80—and would not be able to crown the
Rose Queen much longer, but as long as his legs would carry him, he would be happy to place them at
their service. (Applause.)
The exception Mr. Clifton referred to, was, we believe, Mrs. Dr. Rigby, of Preston, with whom he
had an interview as a result of a correspondence in our columns nearly two years ago, and of whom
he subsequently wrote a high appreciation, though still dissenting from her views.
Newspaper report from July, 1909
SUFFRAGETTES' LOCAL CAMPAIGN.
Interview with Mrs. Rigby.
By "Will -o'-the-Wisp
During the opening of the Suffragette campaign in Lytham last week, I took the
opportunity of interviewing Mrs. Rigby, wife of Dr. Rigby, a Preston doctor, whose correspondence
with Mr. A. W. Clifton almost two years ago will be remembered by our readers.
With Mrs. Rigby.
I was especially pleased to meet Mrs Dr. Rigby, of Preston, and can nay, must
endorse the opinion expressed by Mr. Clifton that she is a very charming woman indeed. Having been
permitted to ask her a few questions, I boldly but not unkindly inquired:
"What would you have been doing if you had not been engaged in this movement ?"
With just one moment's hesitation, she answered: "Possibly playing golf or bridge."
"It is argued that married women should stick to their homes."
"That is the ideal. But they don't. Take the ordinary quiet woman, and see the kind of thing she
does with her time. Look at what she reads. What does she know, for instance about the care of
children in the workhouse. Politically she is quite ignorant."
"What has prompted this visit to Lytham?"
"Well, we want to influence the people who have leisure—people who have come from the manufacturing
towns to live here. We feel they should take their share in the movement. We who live in towns have
"So that the people who have come here to rest are not to be allowed to rust, as the saying
"They're not to be allowed to forget that they belong to the places they left behind them."
"What is the plan of campaign here?"
"It is proposed to form an organization, and carry on propaganda."
"How, did you become associated with the movement?"
"I happened to be in Liverpool at the time Miss Gawthorpe was addressing open-air meetings at the
mill gates, and I sent in my name."
"So the subject always appealed to you?"
"No. Six years ago I had the usual notion that it was not woman's sphere"
"You have been to prison?"
"Yes. For a fortnight, two years ago, and a month last February."
"How did you come to be arrested?" "Through trying to get into the House of Commons."
"What were your impressions of prison?"
"Well, I did not find it so disagreeable as I had expected. What really brought me into the
movement was this I was secretary of a Mill Girls' Club in Preston, to provide good educational and
social classes. I went to the University Setlement in Manchester, and the Warden, a very fine
woman, to whom many of us owe so much, put into my hands a book which set up new lines of thought
about woman's duties and, capabilities. One finds the rest for oneself."
Interview with Miss Johnson, our Lady Guardian (a local Fylde Poor Law
“So you're an out-and-out Suffragist, Miss Johnson?”
“Yes. I don't like the fighting and unseemly scenes, but if it came to a question of making a
sacrifice for principle, I would not mind going to prison, because I believe strongly in the
justice of the movement.
I am used to fighting as you know from my work on the Fylde Board of Guardians. The Women's Union
would be glad for me to take more active part in their propaganda, but I have my business to attend
If it was off my hands I should devote the whole of my time to public work. That's my ambition in
life. However, one of the leaders of the Votes for Women movement assures me that I am doing good
work as a Lady Guardian."
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