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Sarah Jane Baines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sarah Jane Baines
Postcard, printed, cardboard, monochrome photographic studio portrait of Jennie Baines, head and shoulders, circular, outlined in black, white background, printed inscription front: 'MRS BAINES. Photochrom Co., Ltd. National Women's Social & Political Union, 4, Clements Inn, WC'. 1907-1912.
Postcard portrait of Jennie Baines, 1907-1912.
Born30 November 1866
Birmingham, England.
Died20 February 1951
Port Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Cause of deathCancer
Other namesJennie Baines
Known forSuffragette and social reformer
Political partyIndependent Labour Party

Sarah Jane Baines (30 November 1866 – 20 February 1951) was a British-Australian feminist, suffragette and social reformer.[1] She was the first suffragette to be tried by jury.[2]

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Early life

Sarah Jane Baines was born in Birmingham, England, in 1866 to Sarah Ann (née Hunt) and James Edward Hunt, a gun maker.[1]

She began work at Joseph Chamberlain's ordnance factory[3] aged eleven.

At age fourteen, she joined her parents in working with the Salvation Army. Upon attaining the rank of lieutenant, now aged twenty, she was sent to work as an evangelist in an independent working men's mission in Bolton.[1] In this role, she was also called upon to act as a police court missionary caring for women who had been arrested.[3]

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence receiving a bouquet of flowers from Jennie Baines, Flora Drummond and Frederick Pethick Lawrence watching.
Emmeline Pethick Lawrence receiving a bouquet of flowers from Jennie Baines, Flora Drummond and Frederick Pethick Lawrence watching.

On 26 September 1888 in Bolton she married George Baines, a boot and shoemaker,[2] and the couple had five children between 1888 and 1899[4][3] three of whom survived childhood.[1]

Between motherhood and working as a sewing machinist, there was little time for public activities. Yet her commitment never wavered. She joined the Independent Labour Party,[5] the feeding of school children committee and the unemployed committee.[1]

Campaigning for women's suffrage

In October 1905, she read about the arrest of suffragists Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst for assault and this motivated Sarah to join the Women's Social and Political Union.[4][1] Initially this was as a voluntary basis but in February 1908 she was made a paid organiser on a wage of £2 a week,[3] organising open-air rallies, disrupting meetings and establishing new branches of the WSPU in the North of England and the Midlands.[1]

Later this same year, in November 1908, Sarah was to be tried of unlawful assembly at the Coliseum in Leeds,[1] the first ever member of the WSPU to be tried by jury. Refusing to be bound over, she was convicted to six weeks imprisonment because "she did ‘not recognise the laws of this Court administered by men".[1]

One of the first to advocate militant methods, Sarah was imprisoned some fifteen times for her part in protests.[3] In July 1912, she was part of an attempt, along with Gladys Evans and Mary Leigh, to burn down the Theatre Royal in Dublin the night before a scheduled visit from then prime minister, H.H. Asquith.[1] For this she was sentenced to seven months hard labour.[1] Joining her fellow suffragette prisoners on hunger strike, she was released after five days.[1]

The next year, on 8 July 1913, with her husband and son Wilfred, she was accused of attempting to bomb railway carriages at a Lancashire and Yorkshire railway siding.[1] As a result, Sarah was re-arrested under the 'Cat and Mouse act' and imprisoned at Holloway Prison. She again went on hunger strike, refusing food and water, and was released in a 'very serious condition'.[1]

Sarah suffered from St Vitus’ Dance brought on by emotional stress.[2] WSPU leaders determined that Sarah's health could not endure another stint in prison so Sarah and her family were smuggled into Wales as the 'Evans' family and set sail aboard the Ballarat, bound for Australia,[3] a reward for all she had done as Australia had achieved the federal vote in 1902.[2]

Later life in Australia

After being smuggled out of England, Sarah arrived in Melbourne, Australia in December 1913.[2] She was forty-seven years old.

Adele Pankhurst would later arrive in 1914.[2]

Upon settling in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy,[3] the Baines family joined the Victorian Socialist Party and the Labour Party while Sarah busied herself working with the Women's Political Association as early as January 1914[3] and co-founded the Women's Peace Army.[5] With Adele Pankhurst, Sarah campaigned against World War I conscription in 1916-1917 and against the spiralling cost of living.[2] Both were sentenced to nine months imprisonment but both were freed on appeal on a legal technicality.[1][3]

Sarah was again jailed in March 1919 for flying the prohibited red flag on the Yarra Bank[3] and became the first prisoner in Australia to undergo hunger strike. A special Federal Cabinet meeting was held[5] and her release was secured on the advice of the Attorney-General.[1]

In 1920, she helped establish the Communist Party in Victoria. Five years later, she would be expelled and this saw her rejoin the Labour Party.

In 1926, the family relocated to Port Melbourne and Sarah was appointed special magistrate to the Children's Court there from 1928 to 1948.[2]

Death and legacy

Although her post Second World War activities were curtailed by her failing sight,[3] Sarah Jane Baines continued her "fiery eloquence on the hustings" until her death from cancer, only giving up public speaking a few months before her passing on 20 February 1951 in Port Melbourne.[1]

Survived by her husband and her three children,[1] Sarah's legacy could perhaps be summed up in her own words:

To fight for that which is better and nobler in this world is to live in the highest sense, but to submit and tolerate the evils which exist is to merely vegetate in the sewers of iniquity. Jennie Baines quoted in The Socialist, 11 April 1919.

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Smart, Judith (2004). Sarah Jane Baines, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56217.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McLeavy, Lyn (8 March 2016). "Jennie Baines – Suffragette". Retrieved 2017-05-14.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Smart, Judith. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  4. ^ a b Melbourne, National Foundation for Australian Women and The University of. "Baines, Sarah Jane (Jennie) - Woman - The Australian Women's Register". Retrieved 2017-05-14.
  5. ^ a b c "Sarah Jane Baines - oi".
This page was last edited on 26 November 2018, at 12:51
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