On 3rd June 1908 a group of some 50 or 60 men and women met at the Portland Cafe, Portland Street, Manchester to hear Professor Samuel Alexander (1859-1938), Professor of Philosophy in the University of Manchester, speak about the work of the London Men's League for Women's Suffrage. It was decided to form a Manchester branch and its first formal meeting was held on 9th July in the same year. It was to remain affiliated to the head branch until 1911 after which it was to be independent until its dissolution in 1918. Its aim was to promote the enfranchisement of women on the same terms as the enfranchisement of men.
Throughout the 10 years of its existence its Presidents were: Canon Edward Lee Hicks (1843-1919), Lord Bishop of Lincoln; Professor Samuel Alexander; Mr A.M. Langden, KC; and Dr H. Thiselton Mark. The bulk of its work, however, was probably carried out by its successive Chairmen and Secretaries, particularly prominent amongst whom was John Beanland who wrote the pamphlet Christian Chivalry published by the League.
The League cooperated with other Suffrage Societies; its own activities involved public meetings of a propagandist nature, correspondence in the press, interviewing candidates in local and parliamentary elections, sending resolutions to the government and the dissemination of suffrage literature. In common with other suffrage societies, propagandist activity was suspended during the war, a time when conscription caused the League severe personnel problems.
After the war, the Representation of the People Act, which received royal assent on 6 February 1918, was the partial realisation of the League's aims, enfranchising some 8,000,000 new voters, around 6,000,000 of whom were women. The Act gave the vote to women, over the age of 30, who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property of an annual value of £5 or who had graduated, or passed the qualifications for graduation, at a British University.
Many women were still without the vote but the League felt that sufficient women were now in possession of the vote to fight effectively for full enfranchisement on equal terms with men and, in view of the personnel difficulties which conscription had caused the League, the decision was taken to disband in April 1918. Individual members of the League were encouraged to join other suffrage societies.
A more detailed history of the League is given in MML/1/2/3 written in 1918 by the then Chairman of the League, Mr D.M. Humphreys.