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Minnie Baldock

Minnie Baldock

Early Life

Lucy Minnie Rogers was born in London’s East End in 1864, working in sweat shops. She married Harry Baldock in 1888 and, with her husband, joined the Independent Labour Party, her husband becoming an ILP councillor. Keir Hardie was her local MP and in 1903, Minnie jointly chaired a meeting with him to protest the low wages of women. Minnie worked with Charlotte Despard (also a suffragette) on social rights issues, taking charge of a local unemployment fund. In 1905, Minnie was selected as the ILP’s candidate on the West Ham Board of Guardians.  She had two sons, Jack and Harry, born in 1890 and 1896.

Activism

In 1905, Minnie and Annie Kenney heckled speeches by both Herbert Asquith and Henry Campbell-Bannerman as the liberals were campaigning for Parliament. They also demonstrated outside Campbell-Bannerman’s home in Belgrave Square. In 1906, Minnie set up the first London branch of the WSPU, in Canning Town, East London. Minnie, then 42, worked alongside the 26 year old Annie who had recently moved from Manchester, where the WSPU had been based, and stayed with Minnie in Eclipse Street, Canning Town. During this period both women worked closely with Sylvia Pankhurst.  Later in 1906, Minnie was arrested for disorderly conduct during the opening of Parliament, shouting ‘Votes for Women’ through a megaphone.  Around this time she recruited a young cigarette worker, Daisy Parsons to the WSPU. Daisy later became the first female mayor of West Ham. In 1907 she tried to speak at a meeting in Baldock, but was ‘instantly put out onto the street.’ She was also arrested in 1908, along with Annie Kenney and Emmeline Pankhurst, and imprisoned for a month. Suffragettes sent toys to her younger son Jack who wrote in a thank you letter that he was proud of his mother. In 1909, Minnie worked with Annie Kenney again on the West of England campaign.

Minnie planted a tree in February 1909. Later Colonel Blathwayt sent Minnie cuttings from the garden at Eagle House for her garden.

Later Life

In 1910, Minnie was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery performed by Louise Aldrich-Blake. After her recovery, she broke ties with the increasingly militant WSPU. However she remained a member of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage and tellingly, does not appear in Plaistow along with her family in the 1911 census, suggesting she joined the boycott.  In 1913 her family moved to Southampton. She died in Poole in 1954, aged 90.

Quote

“The first time in 18 years, dear, that anything has come between the sacredness of our married life…You understand how much I miss you and Jack. A lady from America visited us the other day and promised she would write to Jack…Tell him I will make it up." Minnie Baldock, letter to husband, whilst she was in prison, 1906.