She again went on hunger strike and was released after two and a half days. She went on to write that this was justified because of the "unconstitutional action of Cabinet Ministers in addressing 'public meetings' from which a large section of the public is excluded".
Davison was arrested again in early October , while preparing to throw a stone at the cabinet minister Sir Walter Runciman ; she acted in the mistaken belief the car in which he travelled contained Lloyd George. A suffragette colleague— Constance Lytton —threw hers first, before the police managed to intervene.
Davison was charged with attempted assault, but released; Lytton was imprisoned for a month. She again went on hunger strike, but the government had authorised the use of force-feeding on prisoners. The torture was barbaric". They broke one of the window panes to the cell and turned a fire hose on her for 15 minutes, while attempting to force the door open. By the time the door was opened, the cell was six inches deep in water.
She was taken to the prison hospital where she was warmed by hot water bottles.
She was force-fed shortly afterwards and released after eight days. In April Davison decided to gain entry to the floor of the House of Commons to ask Asquith about the vote for women. She entered the Palace of Westminster with other members of the public and made her way into the heating system, where she hid overnight. On a trip from her hiding place to find water, she was arrested by a policeman, but not prosecuted. A bipartisan group of MPs formed a Conciliation Committee in early and proposed a Conciliation Bill that would have brought the vote to a million women, so long as they owned property.
While the bill was being discussed, the WSPU put in a temporary truce on activity. The bill failed that November when Asquith's Liberal government reneged on a promise to allow parliamentary time to debate the bill. She was arrested and sentenced to a month in prison. She went on hunger strike again and was force-fed for eight days before being released. She remained hidden overnight to avoid being entered onto the census; the attempt was part of a wider suffragette action to avoid being listed by the state.
She was found by a cleaner, who reported her presence; Davison was arrested but not charged. The Clerk of Works at the House of Commons completed a census form to include Davison in the returns. She was included in the census twice, as her landlady also included her as being present at her lodgings. Davison developed the new tactic of setting fire to postboxes in December She was arrested for arson on the postbox outside parliament and admitted to setting fire to two others. Sentenced to six months in Holloway Prison , she did not go on hunger strike at first, but the authorities required that she be force-fed between 29 February and 7 March because they considered her health and appetite to be in decline.
In June she and other suffragette inmates barricaded themselves in their cells and went on hunger strike; the authorities broke down the cell doors and force-fed the strikers.
The idea in my mind was "one big tragedy may save many others". I realised that my best means of carrying out my purpose was the iron staircase. When a good moment came, quite deliberately I walked upstairs and threw myself from the top, as I meant, on to the iron staircase. If I had been successful I should undoubtedly have been killed, as it was a clear drop of 30 to 40 feet. But I caught on the edge of the netting. I then threw myself forward on my head with all my might.
She cracked two vertebrae and badly injured her head. Shortly afterwards, and despite her injuries, she was again force-fed before being released ten days early. I did it deliberately and with all my power, because I felt that by nothing but the sacrifice of human life would the nation be brought to realise the horrible torture our women face!
If I had succeeded I am sure that forcible feeding could not in all conscience have been resorted to again. As a result of her action Davison suffered discomfort for the rest of her life. She was condemned and ostracized as a self-willed person who persisted in acting upon her own initiative without waiting for official instructions. In November Davison was arrested for a final time, for attacking a Baptist minister with a horsewhip; she had mistaken the man for Lloyd George. She was sentenced to ten days' imprisonment and released early following a four-day hunger strike.
On 4 June Davison obtained two flags bearing the suffragette colours of purple, white and green from the WSPU offices; she then travelled by train to Epsom , Surrey, to attend the Derby. At this point in the race, with some of the horses having passed her, she ducked under the guard rail and ran onto the course; she may have held in her hands one of the suffragette flags.
Bystanders rushed onto the track and attempted to aid Davison and Jones until both were taken to the nearby Epsom Cottage Hospital. She was operated on two days later, but she never regained consciousness; while in hospital she received hate mail. The King later recorded in his diary that it was "a most regrettable and scandalous proceeding"; in her journal the Queen described Davison as a "horrid woman".
"The first humble beginnings of an agitation..." Helen Taylor, 1866.
The inquest into Davison's death took place at Epsom on 10 June; Jones was not well enough to attend. Davison's purpose in attending the Derby and walking onto the course is unclear. She did not discuss her plans with anyone or leave a note. In a Channel 4 documentary used forensic examiners who digitised the original nitrate film from the three cameras present. The film was digitally cleaned and examined. Their examination suggests that Davison intended to throw a suffragette flag around the neck of a horse or attach it to the horse's bridle. Sotheby's , the auction house who sold it, describe it as a sash that was "reputed" to have been worn by Davison.
The seller stated that her father, Richard Pittway Burton, was the Clerk of the Course at Epsom; Tanner's search of records shows Burton was listed as a dock labourer two weeks prior to the Derby. They measured Tanner considers that Davison's choice of the King's horse was "pure happenstance", as her position on the corner would have left her with a limited view. The contemporary news media were largely unsympathetic to Davison,  and many publications "questioned her sanity and characterised her actions as suicidal".
The WSPU were quick to describe her as a martyr, part of a campaign to identify her as such. In it, she had written "To lay down life for friends, that is glorious, selfless, inspiring! But to re-enact the tragedy of Calvary for generations yet unborn, that is the last consummate sacrifice of the Militant". On 14 June Davison's body was transported from Epsom to London; her coffin was inscribed "Fight on. God will give the victory. The coffin was taken by train to Newcastle upon Tyne with a suffragette guard of honour for the journey; crowds met the train at its scheduled stops.
The coffin remained overnight at the city's central station before being taken to Morpeth. A procession of about a hundred suffragettes accompanied the coffin from the station to the St. Mary the Virgin church; it was watched by thousands. Only a few of the suffragettes entered the churchyard, as the service and interment were private. Davison's death marked a culmination and a turning point of the militant suffragette campaign.
The First World War broke out the following year and, on 10 August , the government released all women hunger strikers and declared an amnesty. Among the changes was the granting of the vote to women over the age of 30 who could pass property qualifications. Crawford sees the events at the Derby as a lens "through which Collette also sees a more current trend among historians "to accept what some of her close contemporaries believed: that Davison's actions that day were deliberate" and that she attempted to attach the suffragette colours to the King's horse.
Davison was a staunch feminist and a passionate Christian   whose outlook "invoked both medieval history and faith in God as part of the armour of her militancy". Purvis writes that Davison's committed Anglicanism would have stopped her from committing suicide because it would have meant that she could not be buried in consecrated ground. In the New Testament, the Master reminded His followers that when the merchant had found the Pearl of Great Price, he sold all that he had in order to buy it. The Cat and Mouse Act of enabled the police to release women in poor health from prison and then re-arrest them when they recovered.
Her death focused public attention on the Suffrage Movement.
Statue of suffragette Emily Davison unveiled - BBC News
When war was declared in Emmeline and Christabel instructed women to stop their campaign and help with the war effort. The important role played by the many women who entered the workforce during the war helped persuade the government to grant them the vote in Start your trial for FREE today! Access thousands of brilliant resources to help your child be the best they can be.
Who were the Suffragettes? It used only peaceful means of protest. Its tactics were more violent and were viewed by many as unfeminine. Emmeline and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia were from a wealthy family but women from middle-class and working-class backgrounds were also involved in the fight for the vote. Many people, including many women, did not believe it was right for women to have the vote.
They campaigned against the extension of suffrage. Some Suffragettes handcuffed themselves to railings and broke shop windows in order to get the police to arrest them. When imprisoned women went on hunger strike the police attempted to force feed them. This led to allegations of police brutality and created sympathy for the Suffragettes. The so-called Cat and Mouse Act of enabled the police to release women from prison when they became ill and then to re-arrest them when they had recovered their strength. The crucial role played by women during the First World War persuaded the Prime Minister David Lloyd George to grant female householders over thirty the vote in It has been debated ever since whether her actions on Derby Day were deliberate or an unfortunate miscalculation.
She was prone to actions that endangered her safety, such as throwing herself over railings twice whilst in Holloway Prison. In this respect she played into the hands of prejudice but also gained much needed attention for a cause that was so fundamental to the basis of a proper democracy. A tribute to Emily Wilding Davison. Emily Wilding Davison portrait. Sign up for our newsletter Enter your email address below to get the latest news and exclusive content from The History Press delivered straight to your inbox.
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