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Minnie Baldock


John Simkin
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The Women's Social and Political Union was very much a middle-class organisation. For propaganda purposes, it was very important to recruit working-class women. Minnie Baldock was born in London in about 1864. As a girl she worked in a shirt factory. After her marriage she had two sons, Jack and Harry. She was a member of the Independent Labour Party and her husband was a local councillor in West Ham. Along with Keir Hardie, her local MP, she held a public meeting in 1903 to complain about the low pay of women in the area. She was also involved in the administration of the West Ham Unemployed Fund. In April 1905, Baldock became an ILP candidate in the election for the West Ham Board of Guardians.

Baldock joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and on 19th December 1905 she joined forces with Dora Montefiore and Annie Kenney to heckle Herbert Asquith, while he was making a speech in Queen's Hall. Baldock joined with Kenney to repeat the performance when Henry Campbell-Bannerman appeared at a Liberal Party rally at the Royal Albert Hall on 21st December. They were ejected but not arrested. The following day Baldock, Kenney and Teresa Billington-Greig, called on Campbell-Bannerman at his house at Belgrave Square. He told them that he would be dealing soon with the question of women's suffrage.

On 29th January 1906, Baldock established the Canning Town branch of the WSPU. It was an attempt to recruit working-class women to the cause. Over the next few months Baldock arranged for Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Annie Kenney, Flora Drummond, Dora Montefiore, Selina Cooper, Teresa Billington-Greig and Marie Naylor to address the members of the group.

Later that year Baldock joined Annie Kenney, Mary Gawthorpe, Nellie Martel, Helen Fraser, Adela Pankhurst and Flora Drummond as WSPU full-time organizers. Baldock now began to tour the country. According to Elizabeth Crawford, the author of The Suffragette Movement (1999), Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence "sent her a postal order for 30 shillings to cover her expenses while holding meetings in Long Eaton in Derbyshire."

Minnie Baldock was arrested during a demonstration outside the House of Commons in February 1908. She was sentenced to a month in Holloway Prison. The historian, June Purvis, has pointed out: "Her anxieties about her small son, left at home with his father, were somewhat alleviated by the knowledge that union members outside would offer help." For example, Maud Arncliffe Sennett sent a parcel of toys for her two boys.

Minnie Baldock continued to work for the WSPU until July 1911 when she became seriously ill and was operated on for cancer by Dr Louisa Aldrich-Blake at the New Hospital for Women. She not only survived but lived to 1954.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WbaldockM.htm

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