Hugh Frankin, the son of Arthur Franklin, the senior partner in a banking firm, was born in 1889. His mother, Caroline Franklin, was a member of the National Union of Suffrage Societies. He was educated at Clifton College and in 1908 went to Caius College to study engineering. After hearing Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence at the Queen's Hall he become committed to the cause of women's suffrage.
Franklin joined the Men's League For Women's Suffrage. Other members included Henry Nevinson, Laurence Housman, Charles Corbett, Henry Brailsford, C. E. M. Joad, Israel Zangwill and Charles Mansell-Moullin. The organisation had been formed "with the object of bringing to bear upon the movement the electoral power of men. To obtain for women the vote on the same terms as those on which it is now, or may in the future, be granted to men." Evelyn Sharp later argued: "It is impossible to rate too highly the sacrifices that they (Henry Nevinson and Laurence Housman) and H. N. Brailsford, F. W. Pethick Lawrence, Harold Laski, Israel Zangwill, Gerald Gould, George Landsbury, and many others made to keep our movement free from the suggestion of a sex war."
Hugh Franklin was arrested during the demonstration in Parliament Square on 18th November 1910 but was released without charge. Eight days later he took a whip to Winston Churchill, whom as Home Secretary, he held responsible for the police brutality. He was found guilty of assault and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment. Franklin went on hunger strike in Pentonville Prison but served the whole sentence.
On 8th March 1911 Franklin was arrested after smashing windows in Eccleston Square and was sentenced to a month's imprisonment. He went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed. On his release Frederick Pethick-Lawrence and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence arranged for him to go on holiday with them to Cornwall.
In November 1912 he joined with Inez Bensusan, Henrietta Franklin, Lily Montagu, Edith Zangwill and Israel Zangwill, to form the Jewish League for Woman Suffrage. The main objective was "to demand the Parliamentary Franchise for women, on the same terms as it is, or may be, granted to men." One member wrote that "it was felt by a great number that a Jewish League should be formed to unite Jewish Suffragists of all shades of opinions, and that many would join a Jewish League where, otherwise, they would hesitate to join a purely political society."
In February 1913, he was arrested for setting fire to an empty train in Harrow. Franklin was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed over 100 times until he was released under the Cat and Mouse Act. He escaped with his girlfriend, Elsie Duval, who was wanted for taking part in the WSPU arson campaign, to Belgium and stayed in Brussels. She received a letter from Jessie Kenney that said: "Miss Pankhurst thinks it would be better for you to stay where you are for the time being and until you get stronger."
On 4th August, 1914, England declared war on Germany. Two days later the NUWSS announced that it was suspending all political activity until the war was over. The leadership of the WSPU began negotiating with the British government. On the 10th August the government announced it was releasing all suffragettes from prison. In return, the WSPU agreed to end their militant activities and help the war effort. Duval and Franklin now returned to England.
During the First World War Franklin served as a clerical officer at the Ordnance Factories at Woolwich and on 28th September 1915 he married Elsie Duval. Although they were married in the West London Synagogue, his father disinherited him for marrying out of the Jewish faith and never saw him again.
On 1st January 1919 his wife died in the influenza epidemic. It is believed that her heart had been weakened by the treatment she received in prison. He was married again in 1921 to Elsie Constance Tuke. He entered the timber trade and as a member of the Labour Party he won a seat on the Middlesex County Council. He was also honorary treasurer of the National Council for Civil Liberties.
Hugh Franklin died in 1962.