Annie Kenney

Annie Kenney, picture form US Library of Congress  LC-DIG-ggbain-02661In 1905 Annie went with her sisters Jessie and Jane, to a meeting in Oldham where Christabel Pankhurst spoke about women’s suffrage. Annie was soon organising and speaking at many different meetings and became a firm friend of Christabel Pankhurst who wrote of her: Evening by evening, after her day’s work, and on Saturday afternoons, she would take a train to Manchester, make for our house and join in whatever work needed doing for the cause.

Annie joined the recently formed Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). She and Christabel Pankhurst attended a Liberal rally at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 13th October 1905, to ask of Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey If you are elected, will you do your best to make women’s suffrage a government measure? When they received no reply, they unfolded a banner with the slogan “Votes for women” and were thrown out of the meeting. In the ensuing struggle, a policeman claimed the women had kicked and spat at him. They were arrested and charged with assaulting the police and also causing an obstruction in South Street Manchester.

The outcome of the court case which was that for assaulting the police Miss Pankhurst must pay a fine of 10s.6d. and costs, or seven days in prison, and for causing an obstruction in South Street each of the defendants must pay a fine of 5s., or three days inprisonment.

When asked by the Clerk of the court Have you any goods which may be distrained upon? they both answered  - NO,  realising the value of the publicity of the two women being imprisoned, rather than simply paying a fine. They were taken below. A little later they were taken in a cab to Strangeways Gaol.

It was the first of 13 times that Annie Kenney was sent to prison.

On 21st June 1906, she was arrested during a demonstration outside the house of Herbert Asquith, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Cavendish Square in London, and sentenced to six weeks in prison for refusing to be bound over to keep the peace.