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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aeta Adelaide Lamb (1886–1928) was one of the longest serving organizers in the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the leading militant organization campaigning for Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom.[1]


Lamb was born in Demerara in British Guiana, and named after a palm that her father, the botanist William Davis Lamb, had discovered there. Her father died when she was a child, and Aeta, her two siblings and her mother Adelaide, daughter of General Henry Nicoll, CB returned to live in England. She attended Notting Hill High School between 1898-1899.[2] She joined the WSPU in 1906 - she was noted to be very eloquent and she wrote some of Christabel Pankhurst's speeches while working in its information department, even being said to be the 'real brains' behind some of her best known rhetoric.[1] In October 1906 she took part in a deputation to the House of Commons and was arrested, but ultimately released after her mother paid her fine. Despite this she took part in another deputation in February / March 1907, and another in October 1908, resulting in prison terms of a week, then a month, served in Holloway Prison.[2][3][4][5][6] In July 1907 she assisted with by-election campaign in North West Staffordshire alongside Annie Kenney and August 1907 in Bury St Edmunds alongside Emmeline Pankhurst,[4] following which she was appointed as a national WSPU organizer in October 1907[7] whilst working with Miss Kenney in Bristol.

In 1911 at Eagle House Aeta Lamb planted a tree to celebrate her imprisonment. The picture was taken by Colonel Linley Blathwayt
In 1911 at Eagle House Aeta Lamb planted a tree to celebrate her imprisonment. The picture was taken by Colonel Linley Blathwayt

In January 1908 she was again assisting Emmeline Pankhurst, this time at the Mid-Devon by-election,[8] and then at the Herefordshire (Ross) by election.[9] From there she was one of the main organizers the first meeting of the Bath branch of the WSPU in April 1908. It was here also that she got to know the Blathwayt Family of Eagle House, Batheaston which they operated as a home of refuge for suffragettes between 1908 and 1912. In 1911 Lamb was one of the last WSPU members to go there, planting a commemorative tree in their arboretum which they had named the 'Suffragette's Rest', before the Blathwayts withdrew their support due to the militancy of the organization.[1][4][10][11][12] In April 1908 she helped Mary Gawthorpe in the Kincardineshire by-election campaign,[13] after which she went on to help in the Montrose Burghs,[14][15] Dundee[16] and Stirling Burghs[17][18] by election campaigns in May, and then another in Pudsey in June 1908.[2] After these campaigns, her health and stamina began to fail, so she returned to London to work at the WSPU headquarters at Clements Inn until the outbreak of the Great War, becoming one of its longest serving organizers.[1][19] One of her last duties was to draw up a list of suffragette prisoners for use in the campaign - by the time of its completion it contained over 1,200 documents relevant to the arrest of over 450 suffragettes.[1]

She remained loyal to the WSPU throughout its campaign, despite developing increasing misgivings of its policies of violent protest over the course of her time with them.[4][10]

During the War she worked in War Depots, and afterwards was largely unsuccessful in finding gainful employment, despite learning shorthand, typing, and even cookery. She died of cancer at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital at the age of 41 years.[2][20]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cowman, Krista (2000). Women of the Right Spirit: Paid Organisers of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), 1904-18. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0719070037.
  2. ^ a b c d Crawford, Elizabeth (2000). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415239264.
  3. ^ Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners 1905-1914 in The Papers of Annie Lacon, London Metropolitan University, The Women's Library 7LAC/2 c.1960
  4. ^ a b c d Boyce, Lucienne (2013). The Bristol Suffragettes. SilverWood Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1781321065.
  5. ^ "Suffragettes All Released". London Daily Mail. 22 Apr 1907.
  6. ^ The National Archives, UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Suffragettes: Amnesty of August 1914: index of women arrested 1906-1914
  7. ^ Pankhurst, Christabel (17 Oct 1907). "The National Women's Social and Political Union - Yorkshire". Votes for Women.
  8. ^ "The By-Elections - Mid-Devon". Votes for Women - Supplement. Jan 1908.
  9. ^ "Programme of Events". Votes for Women. 23 Jan 1908.
  10. ^ a b Records of the Blathwayt family of Eagle House, Batheaston, near Bath in Records of The Blathwayte Family of Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire Archives D2659/19-29
  11. ^ Hammond, Cynthia (2012). Architects, Angels, Activists and the City of Bath, 1765-1965: Engaging with Women's Spatial Interventions in Buildings and Landscape. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1409400431.
  12. ^ Plates 035, 036, 037, 096 & 136 Glass plate negatives collection of Col Linley Blathwayt, Bath Central Library
  13. ^ Gawthorpe, Mary (23 Apr 1908). "The By-Elections - Kincardineshire". Votes for Women - Supplement.
  14. ^ Gawthorpe, Mary (30 Apr 1908). "The By-Elections - Montrose Burghs". Votes for Women.
  15. ^ Crocker, Nellie (7 May 1908). "The By-Elections - Montrose Burghs". Votes for Women.
  16. ^ Gawthorpe, Mary (7 May 1908). "The By-Elections - Dundee". Votes for Women.
  17. ^ "The By-Elections - Stirling Burghs". Votes for Women. 21 May 1908.
  18. ^ "The By-Elections - Stirling Burghs". Votes for Women. 28 May 1908.
  19. ^ Dobbie, Beatrice (1979). Nest of Suffragettes in Somerset: Eagle House, Batheaston. ISBN 978-0950539010.
  20. ^ England & Wales, Death Index: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England

Other sources

  1. Pankhurst, Silvia (1935). The Suffragette Movement - An Intimate Account Of Persons And Ideals. Lovat Dickson & Thompson. ISBN 978-1409400431.
  2. Aeta Lamb biography (by Vera Douie) in The Suffragette Fellowship Collection, Museum of London
This page was last edited on 8 June 2018, at 12:38
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