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Vera Wentworth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vera Wentworth
Vera Wentworth 1909. Blathwayt, Col Linley.jpg
BornJessie Alice Spink (incorrectly attributed to as 'Spinks')
June 1890
St. Margarets, Westminster, London, Middlesex
Died5 August 1957
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital
ResidenceHendon, Middlesex, Cromer Street WC1
EducationSt Andrews University
Partner(s)Daisy Ethel Carden
RelativesHarry Laing Spink (Father), Rachel Amanda Spink (nee Goode - Mother), William Wilfrid Spink (Brother)

Vera Wentworth born Jessie Alice Spink (1890 – 1957) was a British suffragette. She went to jail for the cause and was force fed. She door stepped and then assaulted the Prime Minister twice. She wrote "Three Months in Holloway"


Wentworth was born in 1890. After leaving school she found work in a shop going on to become an active trade unionist.

In 1908 Wentworth joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), having formally changed her name to 'Vera Wentworth' in 1907.[1] Soon afterwards she was arrested during a demonstration outside the House of Commons. She was sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment. On her release she became a close friend of Mary Blathwayt. In 1908 she joined the Women's Social and Political Union. She was quickly arrested demonstrating outside parliament.[2] Her sentence was six weeks in prison and she had to stay an extra day because she had carved votes for women into her cell wall. She and others were met by Mary Blathwayt and the two of them became friends.[3] Following her release, Vera threw herself into things and joined a secret spin-off group called the Young Hot Bloods, pledging to undertake “danger duty” in the name of women’s suffrage. Of the older suffragettes, only Emmeline Pankhurst was permitted to sit in on their meetings at a tea shop on London’s Strand. Indeed, elder suffragist Emily Blathwayt found Vera so charming but wayward that she affectionately referred to her as “the young hooligan we know”. In June she was arrested again for demonstrating outside the House of Commons. This time she was given a three month sentence. After her release she published "Should Christian Women Demand the Vote" and "Three Months in Holloway".[2] Wentworth was a writer with an ambition to attend university. She joined the Women Writer's Suffrage League which was founded in 1908.[4]

Wentworth was then based in Bristol with other suffragettes including Annie Kenney, Violet Bland, and Elsie Howey. She gained another three month prison sentence when she and Elsie Howey were arrested for demonstrating outside H. H. Asquith's house.[2]

Vera was invited to Mary Blathwayt's home at Batheaston where the leading suffragettes met. Significant visitors were asked to plant a tree to record their achievements on behalf of the cause e.g. a prison sentence.[5]

She and Jessie Kenney were jailed for assaulting the Prime Minister. On 5 September 1909 Wentworth, Elsie Howey and Jessie Kenney had assaulted Prime Minister H. H. Asquith and the Home Secretary Herbert Gladstone during a golf match. Elsie Howey and Wentworth then tried to contact Asquith at his church.[2] These actions proved too much for the Blathwayt family. Emily resigned from the WSPU and Linley wrote letters of protest to Christabel Pankhurst, Elsie Howey and Wentworth. Pankhurst was told that Howey and Wentworth could not visit their house again. Wentworth sent them a long reply expressing regret at their reaction but noting that "if Mr. Asquith will not receive deputation they will pummel him again".[2]

During this period her brother,[6] an eighteen year old journalist who had been the leader of an unsuccessful unofficial strike of women workers in the East End of London, introduced her to Fenner Brockway,[7] who called 'Wilfie Spink' his 'explosive friend' [8] and stated that she became his girlfriend.[9] However, as the WSPU increased in the use of more violent action he distanced himself from them (he was a pacifist) and all personal acquaintances appear to have died by around 1910.

Wentworth achieved her ambition of attending a university when she started at St Andrews University in 1912 and she was there until 1914.

New York, August 1913. "Suffragettes on hike to Boston." Front to back - Elsie McKenzie, Elisabeth Freeman, Vera Wentworth and 'Colonel' Ida Craft (with sash). 'Asquith' the horse pulled the caravan. According to contemporary reports he needed much urging, hence his name!
New York, August 1913. "Suffragettes on hike to Boston." Front to back - Elsie McKenzie, Elisabeth Freeman, Vera Wentworth and 'Colonel' Ida Craft (with sash). 'Asquith' the horse pulled the caravan. According to contemporary reports he needed much urging, hence his name!

On the 6th August 1913 she, with Elisabeth Freeman and Elsie McKenzie were in America to support 'Colonel' Ida Craft of the Yankee Corps on a suffrage hike [10][11][12] from New York to Boston, via Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Milford, New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, New Britain, Hartford,[13] Marlboro, Waltham to Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts arriving on 30 August. Finally, on Labor Day, 1st September 1913, they departed at 11 am with other suffragists, to hold a meeting on Boston Common at 12.30 pm.

On 4 August 1914 the First World War began. The WSPU did a deal with government and they agreed to end all protests in return for having all of their prisoners released. Wentworth respected this line and ceased work with the WSPU.[2]

From 1914 to 1918 she joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) as a nurse (a common occupation for suffragettes during this time) then became an administrator in the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (1918–1920),[14] following which she resided in Hendon, Middlesex with Daisy Carden. During the Second World War she worked in London in the Air Raid Precautions.

Wentworth died in Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in 1957 and bequeathed all her assets to her partner in her will.[15]


  1. ^ Wilfrid reputedly said that this was undertaken on the orders of their Father so that the family name wasn't brought into disrepute. The Spinks were wealthy established chemists in Holborn and Westminster, London. The name carried weight.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Vera Wentworth". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  3. ^ Elizabeth Crawford (2 September 2003). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928. Routledge. p. 704. ISBN 1-135-43402-6.
  4. ^ "Suffrage Writers & Directors | The Suffragettes". Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  5. ^ Simkin, John (September 1997). "Mary Blathwayt". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  6. ^ Wilfrid is recorded as Willie as a child, and is listed as William Wentworth in the 1911 census.
  7. ^ Brockway had been her brother's best man at his wedding in December 1911.
  8. ^ TOWARDS TOMORROW : The Autobiography of Fenner Brockway
  9. ^ Quoted as Vera Spink - Private enquiry by way of a letter in the Brockway papers - Churchill College, Cambridge
  10. ^ "New York, August 1913 - "Suffragettes on hike to Boston" coloured plate taken from a different angle".
  11. ^ "New York, August 1913 Suffragettes on hike to Boston (Another picture)".
  12. ^ "Asquith and Ragtime Suffragettes Due in Boston Next Week" (PDF).
  13. ^ "SUFFS PUT UNDER BAN IN HARTFORD Militant Women in Wagon, Ordered to Station, Takes Their Own Time" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Medal Card - National Archives".
  15. ^ "Probate Details".
This page was last edited on 27 August 2018, at 14:43
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