Papers of Hugh Franklin and Elsie Duval

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of notes for speeches, correspondence, press cuttings, Women's Social & Political Union papers, family records including photographs and objects, papers related to the arrest and imprisonment of both Franklin and Duval.

Administrative / Biographical History

Hugh Franklin (1889-1962) was born on 27 May 1889 at 28 Pembridge Villas, Paddington, the son of Arthur Ellis Franklin, JP, a senior partner in the banking house of A Keyser and Co, and a director of several companies. The Franklins were practising members of the Jewish faith and were sufficiently prosperous to own property in the country, Chartridge Lodge, Chesham. Hugh Franklin was educated at Clifton College and in 1908 he went up to Caius College, Cambridge, where he read engineering. After his first year at Cambridge he made a break with the family tradition by declaring in a letter to his father his lack of religious belief that remained in some question for the next two years. In 1909 he attended with friends a suffrage meeting at the Queen's Hall, London, addressed by Mrs Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst and Mrs Pethick Lawrence, which was his first contact with the militants. During the summer he took part by selling papers in the processing from Kingsway to Hyde Park. From this he took up the suffragette practice of chalking pavements and sold papers for open-air WSPU meetings, in the Chesham area. At the beginning of the October term, 1909, Franklin decided to abandon the idea of a career in engineering that his father had intended for him and neglected his engineering studies for economics and sociology, which provoked further bitter family controversy. His interest in politics was growing and several drafts for speeches and debates exist for his years at Cambridge. Already a member of the Fabian Society and the ILP and the Cambridge Men's League for Woman Suffrage (for which he arranged meetings for Mrs Fawcett and Lady McLaren), he joined the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement on 22 Feb 1910. He provoked further dispute with his family by finally abandoning religious observance and by declaring his intention of not returning to Cambridge. After persuasion Franklin did return to Cambridge, but devoted all his energies to organising a meeting for Mrs Pankhurst in May at the Cambridge Guildhall and he was disciplined by his College authorities for his attempts at publicising it. On 26 May 1910 he joined the Young Purple White and Green Club. He took little trouble over his final examinations and missed some papers, as he was helping the MPU in London to organise for a Suffrage Procession from the Embankment to the Albert Hall and 'came down for good' from Cambridge at the end of June. In the following months, Franklin took an even more active part in WSPU and MPU meetings, both speaking and organising. He accepted reluctantly (after an initial refusal), an offer from Sir Matthew Nathan, Secretary to the Post Office, to be his private secretary (his uncle, Herbert Samuel, was Postmaster-General at the time). He gave evidence at the trial of Victor Duval, arrested in connection with an attempted protest at a meeting of Lloyd George's, at the Temple in October. He was among those present and was himself arrested during the events of 'Black Friday' (18 Nov 1910), at which large scale brutality by the police was alleged to have taken place when members of the WSPU attempted a mass lobby of Parliament. Franklin was among those who were discharged but he considered Winston Churchill, Home Secretary, personally responsible for police orders and was determined to make his protest. He was among those who interrupted Churchill's meeting at Highbury on 22 Nov 1910 and at Bradford on 26 Nov 1910, being ejected on both occasions. On the same train as Churchill returning from the Bradford meeting, Franklin approached Churchill with a dog whip and attempted to strike him, saying 'Take this, you cur, for the treatment of the suffragists'. For this offence, Franklin received six weeks imprisonment, the first of the three terms which he was to receive during the next three years for militant protests and which also caused his dismissal as Sir Matthew Nathan's Secretary. Franklin's activities were, from November 1910-1913 directed exclusively towards work for the Men's Political Union, as Honorary Assistant Organiser, while in Nov 1911 he resigned from the NUWSS affiliated Men's League for Women's Suffrage, being in disagreement with the League's reliance on a suffrage amendment to the Government's Reform Bill.

His second militant protest in Mar 1911 was that of throwing a stone at Churchill's house in Eccleston Square, for which he received a further month in prison and was forcibly fed throughout his term. The third and most dramatic of Hugh Franklin's acts of militancy consisted of setting fire to a railway carriage at Harrow station on 25 Oct 1912, for which he was sentenced to nine months in prison. Refusing food during his imprisonment, he was forcibly fed over 100 times and was the first suffragette prisoner to be released, in May 1913, under the Prisoners (Temporary Release for Ill-health) Act, 1913, more familiarly known as the 'Cat and Mouse Act'. Breaking his parole, Franklin escaped to the Continent, where he stayed under the alias of 'Henry Forster' until shortly after the outbreak of war. Franklin was disqualified for war service on grounds of eyesight and served on the staff of the Ordnance Factories, Woolwich. On 28 Sep 1915 he married Elsie Duval, sister of his MPU colleague Victor Duval, but she died only months after the War ended, on 1 Jan 1919, from heart failure, partly the result over the years of her own experience of forcible feeding. After the War he entered the timber trade and took no further part in politics until 1931 when he left business for writing and rejoined formally the Labour Party. In the 1931 General Election he contested Hornsey and in 1935, St Albans, unsuccessfully on both occasions. After standing in a number of local government elections, he won a seat on the Middlesex County Council in 1946. From 1934-1949 he held various co-opted and elected positions on committees of the LCC, Middlesex County Council and Metropolitan Water Board. He also held office in the New Fabian Research Bureau, the National Executive of the Labour Part and on boards of governors of schools and on hospital management committees. Franklin's imprisonment for his militant suffragette offences led him to a deep and abiding interest in penal reform. In addition to membership of the Howard League, he submitted a memorandum to his uncle, Herbert Samuel, when Home Secretary in 1932, and wrote a play 'On Remand' which he endeavoured to have produced in the theatre or filmed, but without success. In 1921 Hugh Franklin married a second time, Elsie Constance Tuke at Lewisham Register Office. He died 21 Oct 1962.

Elsie Duval (1892-1919) was born in 1892, the daughter of Ernest and Emily Duval who together with their children were keen suffragists. Duval joined the Women's Social & Political Union in 1907, the year after her mother. Unlike her mother, however, she did not leave the organisation to join the Women's Freedom League when the Pankhursts changed the constitution, but the mother and daughter did work together for three years in the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement which Victor Duval, Elsie's brother, founded. The younger female Duval was arrested on the 23 Nov 1911 for obstructing the police. After this event, she was officially accepted by the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) as a militant protest volunteer. On 27 Jun 1912, Duval was arrested for smashing a Clapham Post Office window. Subsequently she was remanded for one week in custody 'for the state of her mind to be enquired into', and then sentenced to one month in the third division at Holloway, during which time she was forcibly fed nine times before being released on the 3 Aug 1912. She was arrested again in Apr 1913 for loitering with intent (with Phyllis Brady) and was again sent to prison for a month. She was forcibly fed during both remand and whilst serving her sentence, being seriously ill throughout and often resisting strenuously. Her prison diary for this year refers to 'pain at the heart' after one of these incidents. She was released under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, 1913, (commonly known as the 'Cat and Mouse' Act) which allowed for prisoners to return to prison on recovery. Duval was the first prisoner released from Holloway under the Act and the second to be released (Hugh Franklin) was the first) from any prison. During her last imprisonment (according to Hugh Franklin's biographical notes) a charge was being prepared for burning Lady White's house at Egham, with 'Phyllis Brady', (Olive Beamish) for which the latter received five years' imprisonment. Duval burnt also Sanderstead station and other places, before her arrest, together with 'Phyllis Brady'. Duval narrowly avoided arrest on her final release, instead, she and her fiancé Hugh Franklin left for France to avoid the re-imprisonment that her terms of temporary release had demanded. She spent several months working as 'Eveline Dukes' in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland armed with false testimonials provided by friends. She was only able to return to Britain at the outbreak of the First World War when a general amnesty was granted to suffragettes. After this she became active in the war work of the WSPU. She and Hugh Franklin were finally married in a Jewish ceremony at the London Synagogue in Sep 1915. Two years later, she joined the Pankhursts' Women's Party, but died on the 1 Jan 1919 of heart failure, a victim of the influenza epidemic.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Unknown. Deposited c.1975; the latest date in the archive is 1974, although this item may have been deposited later than the bulk of the archive which dates pre 1959. [Fawcett Library Accession Registers to be checked]

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Surrogate documents provided for some fragile pieces. Some fragile items restricted - Please contact Archivist to obtain permission to view in the Reading Room.

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the papers of Hugh Franklin's sister, Helen Bentwich (7HBE). The records of the Women's Social & Political Union are held at the Museum of London. Franklin family papers are held at Southampton University Library (MS 120).