In 1889 the journal Nineteenth century published a petition asking that women not be allowed the vote. All of the signatories were women. They appear in an appendix to the June 1889 issue as a “first installment” on pages 355-384. Aristocratic ladies headed the list. The text is available on Google Books.
Headed A women’s protest against female suffrage, it begins with a brief statement:
THE UNDERSIGNED protest strongly against the proposed Extension of the Parliamentary Franchise to Women, which they believe would be a measure distasteful to the great majority of the women of the country — unnecessary — and mischievious both to themselves and to the State.
I list below, with backgrounds largely drawn from the 1891 census, the 17 ladies from St Leonards on Sea who signed this petition.
Mrs SARAH M. CAVE-BROWNE-CAVE, 5 Uplands, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: age 54, wife to the Rev. Edward, four servants]
Mrs HERBERT LAKE, 22 Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea [address not in 1891 census. The 1881 census has at no. 43 George Herbert Lake, a retired solicitor, and his wife Harriet Mary Lake, 66, niece Alice Rose Wall [see next entry], 29, a 16-year-old female cousin, and two servants]
Mrs HUBERSHON, 10 Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea [not identified, address appears to be a lodging house]
Miss Alice WALL, 22 Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea [address not in 1891 census; see entry above]
Mrs G.B. IRELAND, 20 Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea [address not in 1891 census; probably widow of George Boulnois Ireland, who died in 1883, Ticehurst, a lunatic, and was buried in Hastings; two months after his death his widow Mary Susannah was of 44 Pevensey Road. In the 1901 census she was at no. 20, age 59, living on own means, with three servants]
Mrs D. HAGGOR, 33 Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: Isabel M. Hogger, 60, widow, living with a 30-year-old niece and two servants]
Miss INGRAM, 26 Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: Agnes Ingram, 48, schoolmistress, running a boys’ school at that address]
Mrs MENDHAM, 3 Uplands, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: Sophia Mendham, age 85, widow, living on own means, three servants]
Mrs ELLEN ADEY, 1 West Ascent, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: age 64, widow, living on own means, three servants; widow of Charles Augustus Adey, physician, who practised in St Leonards from 1852 until his death in 1888]
Miss C.L. HOMEWOOD, 1 West Ascent, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: Charlotte L. Homewood, 45, living on own means, sister to above Ellen Adey]
Miss ALBINIA TOLLEY, 1 East Ascent, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: 55, living on own means, three servants; daughter of a Major General]
Mrs L.T. WALTON, 23 Charles Road, St Leonards on Sea [probably an error in initials for Jane, 56, assisting her husband Thomas L. Walton in running a school at nos. 23 and 25 in the 1891 census]
Miss WALTON, 23 Charles Road, St Leonards on Sea [probably either Mary J. Walton, the 69-year-old sister helping the same Thomas L. Walton to run the school, or Thomas’ daughter Beatrice, 26, or Esther, 23, also helping to run the school; from the 1891 census]
Miss ANNE THOMSON, 3 Uplands, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: age 69, companion to above Mrs Mendham]
Mrs E.M. CAMPBELL, 8 Anglesea Terrace, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: Ellen M. Campbell, 42, widow, living on own means, daughter of Major General John R. Mein, Royal Artillery]
Miss S.S. MEIN, 8 Anglesea Terrace, St Leonards on Sea [1891 census: Selina S. Mein, 40, living on own means, also daughter to the General; her 28-year-old sister in law Ethel M.M. Mein did not sign]
Mrs BROADBUT, 10 Dane Road, St Leonards on Sea [not identified, Baines family there in 1891 census]
The fact that mostly lived with or near each other suggests that a few enthusiasts canvassed their friends and neighbours. They were all, of course, from well off backgrounds, and most did not work. Three signatories, though, were in education.
The July 1889 issue has The appeal against female suffrage: a reply, in two essays. The first on pages 86-96 was by Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the famous suffragist, and the second, on pages 97-103, by M.M. Dilke. The table of contents calls these authors Mrs Fawcett and Mrs Ashton Dilke. Dilke was Margaret Mary Dilke, also a noted suffragist.
The August 1889 issue, pages 347-354, has The appeal against female suffrage: a rejoinder, by Louise Creighton, replying in turn and opposing female suffrage. The table of contents calls her Mrs Creighton. This may be the Louise Hume Creighton who was a Bishop’s wife, but she was an enthusiast for suffrage, especially after 1901.
All of this makes very interesting reading.