1911 March of Welsh suffragists

On the 17th June 1911, 40,000 women marched through London as part of Women’s Suffrage Union’s ‘Great Demonstration’ for suffrage to mark the Coronation of George V.  Hundreds of Welsh suffragists too0k part in Welsh costume.

Mrs Edith Ruth Mansell-Moullin founder of the Forward Cymric Suffrage Union (formed 1911) and Miss Rachel Barrett of Cardiff organised the South Wales Federation of the Women’s Suffrage Union for the Welsh women from London, Cardiff, Newport and elsewhere. They were encouraged to wear old national costume or make their own or buy a modern version (from Mrs Phillips of Cardiff costing from 7/6d excluding the hat). There are brief descriptions of costume and advice on how a full skirt, apron and shawl could be adapted to the purple, white and green of the Suffrage movement as well as suggestions on how to make a Welsh hat out of buckram covered with black plush in Votes for Women. After the event, the magazine published photographs of Mrs Mansell-Moullin and others in Welsh costume.

Mrs Mansell-Moullin

Mrs Edith Mansell-Moullin as she was dressed for the Suffragists march in London, June 17th 1911. (Votes for Women’ magazine, 23.6.1911, p. 623)

The costumes made for the event were hardly traditional. As this photograph shows, a lot of light-coloured fabrics were used, and the hats were often very large and much taller than traditional examples.

Like many images of women in Welsh costume of this period (especially postcards), she is holding some knitting.



Photograph including Mr Ellis Griffith MP (in bardic costume) among the Welsh suffragists (Votes for Women’ magazine, 23.6.1911, p. 639)

Mary E Davis, treasurer of the Cymric Suffrage Union in Welsh costume

Further reading:

Anon, (1911) [before 17th June], Votes for Women [a suffregist magazine]

Tickner, Lisa, The Spectacle of Women: imagery of the Suffrage Campaign 1907-14, (1987), p. 128

John, A.V., Our Mother’s Land, Chapters in Welsh Woman’s History, (CUP, 1991), p. 11

John, A.V., ‘Run like Blazes’ The Suffragettes and Welshness, Llafur, Journal of Welsh Labour History, vol. 6, no. 3 (1994), pp. 29-43