MAPPING WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE 1911
A Snapshot in time
Clerk to fine art publisher
5 Blenheim Place (now 37 Bath Parade) Cheltenham
Agnes Bales was the only child of a respectable upper-working class family - her father being a domestic gardener but affording a large terraced house near the middle of the town. It is not known when she became involved in women's suffrage activities. She isn't named locally until being pictured alongside other key suffrage activists and the Mayoress, at a Sale of Work at the Town Hall - although she had written a letter to the London Daily News in February 1907, lamenting the lack of courtesy of 'gentlemen'. Agnes evaded the 1911 government census survey as part of the suffrage boycott and was probably with either Miss Eamonson and Miss Boult in College Road, or, at Miss Bardsley's Food Reform Guest House - both nearby and sheltering evaders. Agnes' claim to fame was her arrest in February 1913 for placarding a pillar-box in central Cheltenham and she is listed as one of only two Cheltenham prisoners in the Suffragette Fellowship Roll of Honour. She and Miss Boult and Miss Eamonson had been seen by a policeman sticking placards on a street lamp and pillar-boxes and were all prosecuted under a section of the Post Office Act. In court, Agnes had the confidence to point out that their act had not been destructive like those of the 'very militant' section of the movement (Cheltenham Examiner, 6 March, 1913). She was found guilty, refused to pay the 10s. fine and said she had 'no special property' to be distrained as she lived with her parents. Therefore, she was imprisoned for 14 days. Presumably, Agnes continued in her career, as the 1939 Register lists her as a retired publisher's secretary. She also retained her friendship with Ruth Eamonson as she and her widowed mother moved to a house next door to her in 1927. Agnes later moved back to Norfolk where she had been born, apparently with the help of the considerable legacy of £1,200 left to her in 1933 by a wealthy friend in the theosophy movement. She died in Norfolk in 1939. Researched and contributed by Sue Jones author of 'Votes for Women: Cheltenham and the Cotswolds' (The History Press, 2018).
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