Agnes Henderson Brown and Jessie Brown

victorian women and bicycleTheir father was interested in social and political reform and the house that the two sisters lived in, in Castle Terrace became a centre of cultural activity.

Both sisters were among the first women to be seen on bicycles in Scotland. The safety bicycle was the direct ancestor of today’s machines. With a slight adaptation they attracted thousands of women to cycling and some historians point to the safety bicycle as the beginnings of suffrage, women’s rights and feminism.

They first became active in the WFL in around 1910. Agnes was one of 6 women who walked the whole length of the Edinburgh to London suffrage march in 1912. It took five weeks and involved walking around 15 miles a day and attending a suffrage rally each evening. The marchers were dressed in russet brown and green.

Following Emily Davison's death at the Derby in 1913 a deputation of Councillors, JPs ministers, solicitors and barristers from Scotland and the North of England tried to see Prime minister Asquith, He refused to see them so they formed the 'Northern Men's Federation for Women's Suffrage' Agnes became secretary of the Edinburgh Branch.

Unlike the WSPU, the WFL welcomed male support in the struggle. They continued campaigning throughout the war years.

After the war Agnes was involved in setting up the SWRI and was an organiser from 1917-22. She was also a member of the Edinburgh Women's Citizens Association.


© 2009 Tiana@WEA Women's Forum