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Alice Singer
Alice Singer

Overview of Alice Singer

She lived at 18 Reynolds Close

Mrs Alice Singer (1873-1955) - married to Julius Singer, believed to be a founder of Singer and Friedlander merchant bank.

She and husband Julius were both Census evaders. In 1911 they were living at 18 Reynolds Close, but only two servants were at home. There is no trace elsewhere in the Census of the Singers.

Mrs Singer had kept a diary which, revealed a good deal of her involvement with the Women’s Social and Political Union. Alice Singer joined the WSPU after attending one of their meetings on 18 February 1907. Julius also became a supporter at fundraising events.

In February 1908, she was involved in the ‘Suffragette Raids’ on Parliament which followed meeting of WSPU’s ‘Women’s Parliament’ at Caxton Hall. Processions made their way from Caxton Hall, but access to the House of Commons was barred by large numbers of policemen. When the women tried to force their way through, many were arrested. Alice’s success in access the Houses of Parliament and evading arrest was reported in several newspapers:

Morning Post - Wednesday 12 February 1908  describes two women, one of whom was Alice Singer ‘outwitting’ the police “actually with the assistance of the inspector of the police, secured admission to the sacred precincts. But their journey was quite fruitless. They wrote their names on a card, which was sent to the Prime Minister, whose private secretary replied that Sir Henry could not see them”.

Another newspaper gives a little more detail. Alice’s companion eventually agreed to leave but, Mrs. Singer remained, as she said she desired to speak to Mr. Macdonald. The hon. member for Leicester subsequently saw her, and then she, too, took her departure from the Palace. (This was Ramsey Macdonald, Labour MP elected in 1906).

Julius gave frequently and generously to appeals and also ‘donated’ his vote to Mrs Pankhurst generating nationwide publicity in newspapers:
MRS. PANKHURST SECURES THE VOTE. Mr. Julius Singer, of Gloucester Place, London, has presented Mrs. with his two Parliamentary votes one for Marylebone and the other for the Basingstoke Division of North Hants which he promise to use under her direction “until the women Britain receive their political liberty."

Alice Singer bought a Suffragette Doll probably in August 1908 when she had attended the WSPU breakfast honouring Edith New and Mary Leigh on their release from Holloway. (Suffragette prisoners commonly spent time embroidering when in Holloway and some items were sold to raise funds. Rare items were homemade suffragette dolls dressed in prison uniform – this one made by Edith New).

In March 1912 Alice Singer was arrested during the WSPU window-smashing campaign. When arrested she had a hammer in her hand and when charged said of the windows, ‘I thought it was only one, they seemed like marble, not going to break.’ Alice had chosen to break three windows in the West Strand Telegraph Office, close to Trafalgar Square.

She was remanded in Holloway until a court appearance on 13 March. She was charged under the Malicious Damage to Property Act and in court declared, ‘I only did it as a political protest. I admit I did it, but not for malice. I plead not guilty to malice.’ She agreed to be bound over – that is, not to commit any other such acts – for 12 months.

Only one other woman also agreed to be bound over – all the other women (over 100 had been arrested) were sentenced to prison – their sentences varied, but some repeat offenders got as long as six months. Most of the other women were either single or with older families. Alice’s daughter Christabel was only 2 years old and probably Alice felt unable to be away from home/in prison for an extended period. Julius was very supportive while Alice was on remand; he visited her, but was kept waiting for 2 hours before seeing her for a very short time.

Alice Singer continued to work actively for the WSPU, in 1913 becoming treasurer of the Hendon and Golders Green branch.

Return to Suffragists and Suffragettes here

Document, SUFL31