Helen Millar Craggs (1888–1969) was a suffragette and pharmacist and later Baroness Pethick-Lawrence.
Helen Millar Craggs
|Occupation||Suffragette and pharmacist, also a teacher|
|Organization||Women's Social and Political Union|
|Known for||suffragette activism|
Life and activism
Craggs was born Helen Millar Craggs in Westminster, London in 1888, daughter to Sir John Craggs, an accountant, who donate money for tropical medicine research, and she had seven siblings. Craggs was educated at Roedean and wished to study medicine, but her father refused that idea and Craggs went to teach science and physical exercise at her formed school for a time. Although Craggs' mother supported suffragism and was a lead committee member in the national and Kensington Conservative and Unionist Women's Franchise Association, she deplored activism.
Craggs used a pseudonym 'Helen Millar' (perhaps to protect her family and her teaching post) when she joined the Women's Social and Political Union activists during the Peckham election in 1908. She was chalking pavements and handing out campaigning literature on the women's suffrage. Craggs assisted Flora Drummond with the aim of ousting Winston Churchill in the successful campaigning wiping out his majority on this and other equality themes during the election in Manchester. Churchill was then put forwards for the Dundee seat, where WSPU were ready to challenge him again
Within two years, Craggs had to leave an unsympathetic home to become a full time WSPU organiser at 25 shillings per month, living in rented property in Bloomsbury. Craggs was joined at the Women's Press shop by Mary Richardson who spoke about the obscene abuse whispered by male 'bystanders' and others who came in to tear up the suffrage materials.
Craggs was close to Emmeline Pankhurst's son Harry, who suffered from polio, and visited his nursing home throughout and was with him when he died in January 1910. Craggs became organiser, after Grace Roe, at Brixton WSPU branch, and later at Hamstead. Within the movement, Craggs befriended Ethel Smyth, Evelyn Sharp and Beatrice Harradan. Craggs also spent time with Marie Newby in Devon influencing the campaign there. Craggs was also in Wales and identified as the protester who jumped out at the Home Secretary at Llandaff Cathedral during a Royal Visit at Cathays Park saying 'it was a shame he was going about the country while suffragettes where starving in prison'
In November 1910, Craggs went to the Paragon Theatre, Whitechapel at 2a.m. to hide in the freezing roofspace overnight before Lloyd George was due to speak. Craggs broke through the crowd from her hideout shouting at the Chancellor about women's rights, and was thrown brutally down a stone staircase. A bystanding man who said 'women pay taxes too' was beaten.
In 1912, Craggs was imprisoned in Holloway Prison for smashing windows and went on hunger strike. Later Craggs was arrested for carrying materials for causing arson, near Nuneham Courtney, the home of Government Cabinet member, Lewis Harcourt. WSPU insisted Craggs was acting alone, as this was the first threat to property. The incident was described in detail in court about two women hiring a canoe, and surprise encounter with a policeman, to whom Craggs said they were camping nearby and had come to 'look around the house'. The constable later identified Craggs, but the second woman (Norah Smyth) escaped and police found food and WSPU flag colours (white green and purple) and phone numbers of the property and the Oxford Fire Station. Craggs wore ' a striking costume prominently displaying the suffragist colours' when she appeared in Bullingdon Petty Sessions court the next day and admitted her intent would not give her name. Craggs was held in remand due to the seriousness of the crime (as 8 people were in the house) and sentenced at the Assizes court in Oxford, bailed at £1000, half was provided by Ethel Smyth. Craggs was sent for 9 months with hard labour in Oxford Prison, and wrote thanking Hugh Franklin for allegedly getting photographs of the property. Craggs was moved to Holloway Prison, again went on hunger strike and was force fed five times in two days and suffered internal and external brusing for 11 days then released due to her health. Lewis Harcourt gave £1000 donation to the League for Opposing Women's Suffrage.
Craggs moved to Dublin where she trained at the Rotunda Hospital as a midwife, married a London East End General practitioner, Duncan Alexander McCrombie, from Aberdeen. Her parents did not attend the wedding in 1914. Craggs trained as a pharmacist to support her husband's practice. Craggs was widowed in 1936, at a young age, starting in business making jigsaws as a means of earning income for her two children, Sarah (Sallie) (born in 1923) and John Alexander Somerville (born in 1925).
After World War II, Craggs and her daughter emigrated to North America, settling in Canada, and saw Christabel Pankhurst sometimes in Los Angeles Craggs returned to London became private secretary and then the second wife to Lord Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, a long-standing suffrage movement leader and sponsor from Surrey, three years after his first wife suffragette Emmeline had died, on St. Valentine's Day, 14 February 1957.
- Atkinson, Diane (2018). Rise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 93, 189, 228–9, 335, 407, 532. ISBN 9781408844045. OCLC 1016848621.
- Crawford, Elizabeth. (1999). The women's suffrage movement : a reference guide, 1866–1928. London: UCL Press. ISBN 0203031091. OCLC 53836882.
- Sanghani, Radhika. "'Suffragettes lost husbands, children and jobs': The heavy price women paid". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "A 'press cart' outside the Woman's Press, Charing Cross Road, London, July 1911. Artist: Unknown # 1192433 – Heritage Images". heritage-images.com. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Newby, Mrs Marie du Sautoy". Devon History Society. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- Dray, Judith (19 August 2015). "A story from the archive: A Royal Visit and the Suffragette". Cardiff University. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Spirited". Spirited. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Laugh a Defiance". Laugh a Defiance. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Helen Millar Craggs Pethick-Lawrence". Find a Grave. Retrieved 30 October 2019.[non-primary source needed]
- "The women's suffrage movement in Surrey". Exploring Surrey's Past. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- Cook, Shirley (14 June 2018). "My Tickner family in Holmwood Surrey". Shirley Anne Cook's Writing World. Retrieved 30 October 2019.