Stroud Auction Rooms recently received a 1912 hunger strike medal engraved with the name Frances Outerbridge and the date March 1, 1912.
The accompanying case has a typical gilt inscription Presented to Frances Outerbridge by the Women’s Social & Political Union in recognition of a gallant action, whereby through endurance to the last extremity of hunger and hardship, a great principle of political justice was vindicated.
Frances Outerbridge, a nurse born in Cardiff in 1847, does not appear in any Suffragette records but it seems she used her mother’s maiden name Williams when arrested. A Frances Williams is mentioned in press cuttings following a window smashing on March 1, 1912 and in subsequent court records at the London Bow St Sessions. ‘Williams’ was believed to have been imprisoned and went on hunger strike.
Outerbridge lived in Bow with fellow hunger striker Caroline Lowder Downing who was arrested on numerous occasions including on March 1, 1912.
However, it seems her interest in the cause of women’s suffrage may have come from further afield. Her uncle was Bermudan businessman and political figure Thaddeus Outerbridge who at the behest of his daughter, Anna Maria Outerbridge, petitioned the Bermudian parliament for suffrage in 1895-96. Although the bill was passed in the house of assembly, it was defeated in the legislative council and the women of Bermuda had to wait until 1944 for the right to vote.
Stroud Auction Rooms (soon to be Harper Field) will offer the medal, case, hair lock and lorgnettes on January 12-13 with an estimate of £2000-5000.