Appendix II: Reports of militant attacks in Scottish newspapers

DOWNLOAD – WHS Suffrage Scotland – Appendix II – reports of attacks

The period of suffragette militancy in Scotland included disruptions of meetings and intercepting politicians on golf courses, as well as smashing of windows, damage to pillar boxes, and arson attacks on both public and private property. The table below is drawn from Leah Leneman, A Guid Cause: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland (1991) and is confined to attacks on property. There will have been other incidents which led to arrests and trials, and perhaps imprisonment, so this does not represent a comprehensive list, but serves as a starting point for further research. In many of the cases listed there were no arrests, but there may have been police investigations. These attacks were attributed to suffragettes, but there was not evidence in all cases that suffragettes were responsible.

The information in the table is largely drawn from newspapers and women’s suffrage journals: the Scotsman, the Glasgow Herald, Dundee Advertiser, Dundee Courier, Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, and The Suffragette. There is likely to be more information about further incidents in other local newspapers, as well as information in police and court records.

Attacks on property attributed to suffragettes in Scotland

Date in press Nature of attack Estimated damage Arrests, if any
18 March 6 windows smashed in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow £100 Emily Green
7 September Glass case containing Wallace Sword broken, Wallace Monument, Stirling Not stated ‘Edith Johnston’ [Ethel Moorhead]
30 October Window smashed in Dundee and attempt made on another Not stated Ellison Gibb, Fanny Parker
18 November Bottles of brown fluid poured into Edinburgh pillar-boxes All letters deliverable
28 November Corrosive fluid poured into Aberdeen letter-boxes Not stated
2 December Inflammable fluid poured in Edinburgh, Leith and Kirkcaldy pillar-boxes A number of letters damaged
6 December Inflammable fluid poured into two Glasgow pillar-boxes Many letters damaged
3 February Edinburgh pillar-boxes tampered with Not stated
6 February Glasgow and Dundee pillar-boxes tampered with Not stated
10 February Telegraph and telephone wires cut in west of Scotland Suspension of services
14 February Damage to plate-glass case in Royal Scottish Museum Not stated
20 February Over twenty Edinburgh and Leith pillar-boxes tampered with Over 1000 letters damaged
21 February Two further Edinburgh letter-boxes tampered with Not stated
24 February Edinburgh pillar-box tampered with Not stated
25 February Letter-boxes in Kirklees, Glasgow tampered with Not stated
3 March Pillar-box attacks in Aberdeen and Edinburgh Not stated
8 March Telegraph wires cut between Glasgow and Kilmarnock Not stated
8 March Edinburgh pillar-boxes tampered with Not stated
7 April Attempt to set fire to Kelso racecourse stand None Arabella Scott, Agnes and Elizabeth Thomson, Edith Hudson
7 April Ayr racecourse stand destroyed by fire Reported as £2000 in Dundee Courier, and £3500 in Glasgow Herald
7 April 10 windows of Labour Exchange branch in Glasgow Not stated
7 April Attempt to set fire to Dundee lawn tennis pavilion None
7 April Glasgow pillar-box attack Not stated
9 April Edinburgh and Glasgow pillar-box attacks Not stated
10 April Dye poured into Dundee letter-box Around 30 letters damaged
12 April Glasgow pillar-box attacks Not stated
15 April Glasgow Bellahouston bowling green cut up Not stated
16 April Motor car sent by train to Montrose had screen smashed, horn indented and one tyre punctured Not stated
28 April Perthshire cricket club, Perth, destroyed by fire £1250
2 May Bomb discovered in Dundee billiard room None
3 May Ashley Road School, Aberdeen, set on fire Reported as £1500 in Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, £500 in Scotsman
7 May Edinburgh pillar-boxes attacked Not stated
11 May Farington Hall, Dundee, burnt down Reported in Dundee Courier and Scotsman as £10,000, and in the Dundee Advertiser as £15,000 – £20,000
16 May Home-made bomb found in Duke of Buccleuch’s private chapel, Dalkeith None
21 May Black oily liquid dropped in Edinburgh pillar-box Eight letters damaged
22 May Bomb exploded in Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh £100
2 June Fire at Shields Road Railway Station, Glasgow None
10 June Glasgow pillar-box attacks Not stated
13 June Stair Park House, Tranent, burned Not stated
14 June Corrosive fluid poured into five Edinburgh pillar-boxes Not stated
23 June East wing of Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St Andrews, destroyed by fire £500
27 June Extensive attack on Dundee pillar-boxes Not stated
1 July Leuchars railway station destroyed by fire Reported in Dundee Courier  and Scotsman as £2000, and in Dundee Advertiser as £1500
1 July Ballikinrain Castle, Killearn, destroyed by fire Reported in Scotsman as £70,000 and in Dundee Advertiser as £100,000
25 July Attempt to set fire to Glasgow house None ‘Margaret Morrison’ [Ethel Moorhead], Dorothea Chalmers Smith
22 August Fire at Moreland House, Grange Loan, Edinburgh £250
23 August Fire at Fettes College, Edinburgh Not stated
20 September Forty holes dug in Airthly Bowling Green, Bridge of Allan Not stated
27 September Three greens on Kilspindie golf links damaged by large circular holes cut in turf Not stated
6 December Mansion-house of Kelly on Firth of Clyde destroyed £30,000
23 January Cushions destroyed by corrosive fluids in an Edinburgh local train Not stated
26 January Bomb at Kibble Palace, Botanic Gardens, Glasgow Slight
30 January Bonnington House, Lanark, completely gutted Originally valued at £18,000
5 February House of Ross, Perthshire, destroyed by fire Not stated
5 February Allt-an-Phionn mansion, St Fillans, Perthshire, destroyed by fire £3000-£4000 ‘Rhoda Robinson’
5 February Aberuchill Castle, Perthshire, destroyed by fire Not stated
27 February Whitekirk church destroyed by fire £8000-£10,000
13 March Two plate-glass windows broken at military recruiting office, Glasgow £20 Helen Crawfurd
13 March Mansion-house of Robertland, Ayrshire, extensively damaged by fire £1600
4 April Attempt to set fire to mansion-house of Springhall, Rutherglen None Frances Gordon
4 April Attempt made to blow up  Belmont Parish Church, Glasgow None
23 May Hospital for Women, Dundee, destroyed by fire Not stated
25 May Attempt to blow up Glasgow water main pipe from Loch Katrine None
25 May Portrait of King slashed at Royal Academy Not stated Maude Edwards
6 June Attempt to bomb Dudhope Castle, Dundee None
8 June Wood plantation on Tombuie set on fire Not stated ‘Rhoda Robinson’, Jane Lynas
9 July Attempt to blow up Burns Cottage, Alloway None ‘Janet Arthur’ [Fanny Parker]
10 July Chemical poured into five Dundee letter-boxes Not stated
14 July Bomb exploded in Rosslyn Chapel, damaged window Slight
15 July Attempt to burn new school at Lanark Slight



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