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Alison Neilans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alison Neilans was the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene (AMSH) general secretary in the 1920s.
Alison Neilans was the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene (AMSH) general secretary in the 1920s.

Alison Roberta Noble Neilans (1884 – 17 July 1942) was an English suffragette. Neilans was a member of the executive committee of the Women's Freedom League, a member of the Church League for Women's Suffrage and the East London Federation of Suffragettes, where she worked with Sylvia Pankhurst. She was also a member of the board of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.


Neilans was born at East Dulwich, Surrey, on 19 June 1884. She had a good life until her father died when she was twelve and she was obliged to work as a bookkeeper. She became the financial secretary of the Women's Freedom League in 1908.[1]

Charlotte Despard and Neilans at the caravan's window in 1908
Charlotte Despard and Neilans at the caravan's window in 1908

Neilans was imprisoned three times for her activities; twice, for one month each occurrence, in 1908 and once, for three months, in 1909. Her third prison sentence was for pouring liquid into ballot boxes at a local by-election. She and Alice Chapin splashed chemicals over the ballot papers in the 1909 Bermondsey by-election.[2] Chapin was successful in damaging many ballot papers and Neilans damaged a few. All of the ballot papers were still readable and John Dumphreys was elected. However the presiding officer, George Thorley had chemicals splashed in his eye. At their trial the doctors said that Thorley may have a haze over his eyes for life.[3] The suffragettes believed that Thorley had exaggerated his injury and that damage that may have been done was due to him applying ammonia after the incident in an panicked attempt to alleviate damage.[4]

Chapin and Neilans were tried at the Old Bailey and Neilans later published an account of their defence.[5] Chapin was given a larger sentence than Neilans but she was released two days after her under the "King's Pardon".[4]


  1. ^ Julia Ann Laite, ‘Neilans, Alison Roberta Noble (1884–1942)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2008; online edn, May 2009 accessed 10 Nov 2017
  2. ^ Maggie B. Gale, ‘Chapin, Harold (1886–1915)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2015 accessed 10 Nov 2017
  3. ^ "Centenary of Bermondsey suffragette protest". London SE1. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  4. ^ a b E. Sylvia Pankhurst (1911). "The Suffragette: The History of the Women's Militant Suffrage Movement 1905-1910". New York: Sturgis & Walton. Retrieved 2017-11-10 – via Project Gutenberg.
  5. ^ Alison Neilans (c. 1910). The Ballot Box Protest, and the Trial of Mrs. Chapin and Miss Neilans, at the Central Criminal Court: Defence at Old Bailey. Women's Freedom League.
  • "Alison R. Neilans; Secretary of Moral and Social Hygiene Group Dies in London", The New York Times, July 21, 1942
  • Law, Cheryl (2000), Women, a modern political dictionary, London: I.B. Tauris, ISBN 1-86064-502-X
  • Crawford, Elizabeth B. (2001), The women's suffrage movement: a reference guide, 1866-1928, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-23926-5
This page was last edited on 2 December 2018, at 22:10
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