Adela Pankhurst

Adela Pankhurst

WSPU organizer

26

Single

45 Marlborough Road, Sheffield

WSPU

Resists

Adela (1885-1961) was the youngest daughter of WSPU founder Emmeline Pankhurst and her husband Richard. Hence, Adela was embroiled in WSPU life from the society's earliest days. In 1906 (whilst working as an elementary school teacher) Adela was arrested along with Hannah Mitchell in Manchester for taking part in a WSPU demonstration and imprisoned for one week. Afterwards, she became WSPU organizer for Yorkshire, but also carried out work in Aberdeen, Cardiff and Bristol, where she was described by Emily Blathwayt as 'a dear little thing' who 'except when she speaks looks like a timid child'. Whilst campaigning in Dundee in 1909, Adela was arrested and imprisoned with Helen Archdale - with whom she later lived - among others for breach of the peace. Adela went on hunger strike and was described by the Scottish prison authorities as of 'the degenerate type' thus unsuitable for forcible feeding - a brutal practice sanctioned by the government and carried out on hunger striking suffragettes by prison authorities. Adela was released after just a few days. In 1911, Adela was organizing in Sheffield and living at Helen Archdale's family home. There the two women took part in the suffrage boycott of the 1911 government census on the evening of the 2nd April. Adela and Helen 'resisted' the census, but also hosted a mass evasion. That night almost 60 people slept over, strewn across various rooms in Helen's home - though press reports indicate there was much more partying that night than sleeping! (see Helen Archdale). By 1912, ill health and perhaps a dislike of the way the WSPU's militant and political tactics were going (Adela disagreed her mother and sister Christabel's loosening of ties with the Labour Party) meant that Adela gave up work for the WSPU. In summer that year, she attended Studley Agricultural College in Worcestershire, gained a Diploma, and afterwards worked as head gardener for Mrs Batten Pooll at Road Manor near Bath. However, Adela struggled to find work and so in 1914, she emigrated to Australia to take a post as organizer for the Women's Political Association in Melbourne. During the War years, it became the Women's Peace Army. Adela was a committed pacifist and socialist and in 1917 married fellow socialist Tom Walsh, a widower with three children. The couple went on to have four surviving children of their own. Shortly after marrying Tom, Adela spent nine months in prison for leading processions for the Women's Socialist League. She went on to perform key roles in the Australian Communist Party and later, in the antithetical Australian Women's Guild of Empire. She was interred in 1942, for supporting Japan's position during WWII. Afterwards, she worked as a nurse for children with learning difficulties. For more on Adela's life in Australia see: https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/the_home_front/stories/adela_pankhurst and for her husband see: https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/the_home_front/stories/tom_walsh. General sources: Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928 (London: 2001); Jill Liddington, Vanishing for the Vote: Suffrage, Citizenship and the Battle for the Census (Manchester: 2014).

Files

Adela Pankhurst. Source The London School of Economics (LSE) Library..png
45 Marlborough Road, Sheffield.png
adela pankhurst helen archdale sheffield census GBC_1911_RG14_27735_0155.jpg
Adela's husband Tom Walsh, 1925. Source Fairfax Syndication.png
Adela circa 1920. Source Ahe March of the Women CollectionMary Evans Picture Library.png

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“Adela Pankhurst,” Mapping Women's Suffrage, accessed November 21, 2019, https://www.mappingwomenssuffrage.org.uk/items/show/159.

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