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Henria Williams

Early Life

Henria Helen Leach Williams was born in Shropshire in 1867 and grew up in Cheshire, becoming a governess and a school mistress.

Activism

Around 1905, Henria moved to Upminster in Essex, organising meetings from her cottage in Ockendon Road. Despite suffering two heart attacks, Henria  stayed active. She decided to join the tax-resistance movement and took part in the protests outside Parliament in November 1910,  Black Friday.

She was roughly treated by the police. Votes for Women described how she arrived from the protest to a room in Caxton Hall, which had been set up as a makeshift hospital, 'gasping for breath.' She was treated and then headed back to the protest. 

Henria appeared to recover, cheerfully telling some friends at church how happy she had been to receive a New Year's letter from a relative who was planning to join the cause. But the next day she was dead. Her coffin was draped in the suffragette colours with a wreath saying 'She hath done what she could.' The coffin travelled from St Pancras on the midnight train to Glasgow and suffragettes came to pay their respects.

Henria's tree, a Picea Pungens Glauca was planted by Annie Kenney on 15 January 1911 with a plaque reading In memory of Henriette Williams, imprisoned after Black Friday (18 November 1910), died 2 January 1911. However, we have not been able to find evidence that Henria was arrested or imprisoned. An inquiry did, however, conclude she had been treated with 'great brutality' by the police on Black Friday. 

Quote

One policeman after knocking me about for a considerable time, finally took hold of me with his great strong hand like iron just over my heart. He hurt me so much that at first I had not the voice power to tell him what he was doing. But I knew that unless I made a strong effort to do so he would kill me. So collecting all the power of my being, I commanded him to take his hand off my heart." Henria Williams, describing her experiences at the Black Friday protest in 1910. 

Read Zoe Kelly's short story, dedicated to Henria Williams.