Constance Andrews (born 1864) and the Ipswich Suffragettes
Constance Andrews was the most prominent of the Ipswich women who campaigned for Votes for Women. She was a social reformer in the town, involved in the Women's Trades Union movement, and served on a School Board as a member of the Independent Labour Party. In 1909, she founded the Ipswich branch of the radical suffragette organisation, the Women's Freedom League (WFL), and held many public meetings and events to educate people about women's suffrage.
After briefly having an office at Friars Street, the WFL moved to Arcade Street in 1911. Constance organised an action next door at the Old Museum Rooms (now Arlington's Brasserie) on Census night, 3rd April 1911.
Up to 30 women stayed away from home and partied throughout the night to avoid filling in their Census forms (If women don't count, don't count women). The next month, Constance was sentenced to one week's imprisonment in Ipswich gaol for refusing to pay for a dog licence (this was part of a national tax resistance campaign - No Vote, No Tax). She was met out of prison by national and local suffragettes, and a large crowd joined their procession through Ipswich for a celebratory breakfast at their Arcade St office.
Their sister radical organisation, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), had their local branch office at 4a, Princes St, and a shop selling merchandise at 2 Dial Lane. Grace Roe came to Ipswich from London in 1910 to start the branch. She was a life-long committed suffragette, imprisoned many times for her beliefs, and later she became one of the Pankhursts' most trusted activists.
Who spent the night at the Old Museum Rooms on 3rd April 1911?
The following women were mentioned in press reports as being at the Old Museum Rooms in order to evade the Census:
Constance Andrews, Isobel Tippett, Lilla Pratt, Mrs Hossack, Lillie Roe, Catherine Bastian, Margaret Fison, Miss Elvey, Evelyn King.
Other women who were mentioned as being active in the run up to the event were Mrs Stansfield, Miss Milano, Alice Mayhew, and they may also have been there.
Some of the husbands of the women were probably there (for example Mr Bastian and Mr Tippett), offering them protection if needed.
One hundred years after the event, the Census schedules have been made available to the public. We do not have the addresses of many of the women, but here are some examples of those which have been found:
*Constance Andrews and her sister Lilla Pratt are not mentioned on their household Census schedule, but the enumerator has written: There were two female suffragists in this family who went to some place unknown for the night. The female servant went with them.
*Mrs Hossack's schedule shows only her husband, James, (a hospital consultant), and their children at home that night.
*Mrs Bastian is not on her household schedule, which shows only the name of her husband, and a note from the enumerator: In accordance with instructions received from the Census office (Mr Bastian having declined to give any information).
*Neither Isobel Tippet nor her husband appear on their schedule, which shows their two young sons at home with their grandmother (one of these sons would become the famous composer Michael Tippett)
The event was seen as a success not so much in terms of the Census information which was withheld from the Government, but on account of the enormous publicity about Votes for Women which the action generated.