Papers of Harriet McIlquham

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of papers and articles on women, mainly papers read by Mrs McIlquham, and originals of articles printed in the 'Westminster Review', c 1896-1903.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harriet McIlquham (1837-1910) was born in London in 1837. When young, she attended social and political lectures in Gloucestershire. By 1877, she had become a member of the Manchester National Society for Women's Suffrage as well as the Bristol and West of England Society for Women's Suffrage. In Feb 1881 she and Maria Colbey were the organisers of the Birmingham Grand Demonstration as well as being one of the speakers at the Bradford demonstration held in Nov 1881. That same year, she was elected as a Poor Law Guardian for Boddington in the Tewkesbury Union. An appeal was lodged to annul her election on the grounds that she was a married woman but it was found that she held her qualifying property independently of her husband and therefore remained in place. However, her attempt to be elected as a county councillor in 1889 failed. By 1889, Harriet McIlquham was a member of the Central National Society and a friend of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy. It was the latter who proposed her as president of the Women's Franchise League in Jul 1889, but two years later the pair transferred to the Women's Emancipation Union where Harriet McIlquham became a member of the council. In 1892 her first pamphlet 'The Enfranchisement of Women: An Ancient Right' was published and was widely read. Her writing continued in 1898 when the Westminster Review published a series of articles by her on Mary Astell, Lady Montague Wortley an eighteenth century journalist known as 'Sophia' and other enlightenment advocates of women's rights. Harriet McIlquham was also an active public speaker and in Feb 1893 gave a speech on women as poor law guardians; this was soon followed by an address to the Women's Emancipation Union conference held in Bedford the following year. Her audience and readers were drawn from across the spectrum of the suffrage movement. She was a member of the Cheltenham branch of the moderate National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies but also lobbied MPs in the House of Commons alongside members of the more militant Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) in Feb 1905. Later, in 1908 and 1909 Harriet donated sums to both the WSPU and the Women's Freedom League respectively. Just before her own death, she helped organise a 'Grateful Fund' to which those who wished to show their appreciation of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy's suffrage work could contribute. She died in 1910 after a short illness.

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.1970 which is when the original list appears to date from. [ Fawcett Library Accession Registers to be checked]

Other Finding Aids

Fonds Description (1 folder only)

Related Material

The Women's Library's holds letters to and from Harriet McIlquham are held in the Autograph Letter Collection (9/13). McIlquham's correspondence and papers related to the Women's Franchise League (1881-1910) and the letters she received from Wolstenholme Elmy (1889-1914) are held by the British Library Manuscript Collections (Ref. Add MSS 47449-55);