Alice Hare, the daughter of Mary Samson (1813-1855) and Sir Thomas Hare (1806-1891), was born on 9th January 1842. She was the third of eight children: Marian (1839-1929), Sherlock (1840-1912), Katharine (1843-1933), Lydia (1844–1937), Herbert (1847–1874), Alfred (1849–1903) and Lancelot (1851–1922). (1)
Thomas Hare was a legal scholar who devised a system of proportional representation of all classes and opinions in the United Kingdom, including minorities, in the House of Commons and other electoral assemblies. (2) Hare's suggested reforms were supported by Henry Fawcett and John Stuart Mill. Fawcett thought Hare's scheme offered "the only remedy against the great danger of an oppression of minorities". (3)
In 1851 Alice Hare was living with her parents and siblings at Chestnut Cottage, Ham, Surrey. Her father, Thomas Hare, is described on the census return as a 45-year-old "Barrister in Practice." (4) On 21st October 1855, Alice’s mother, Mrs Mary Hare, died at the age of 42. (5)
In December 1859 Alice Westlake became one of the youngest members of the Langham Place Group. (6) Other members included Elizabeth Garrett, Emily Davies, Helen Blackburn, Barbara Bodichon, Sophia Jex-Blake, Louisa Garrett Smith, Frances Power Cobbe, Jessie Boucherett and Emily Faithfull. Davies refused to be secretary because she thought it was prudent to keep her own name "out of sight, to avoid the risk of damaging my work in the education field by its being associated with the agitation for the franchise." Louisa Garrett Smith agreed to take on the role of secretary and be the organisation's figurehead. (7)
Alice Westlake was therefore "at the core of the emerging mid-Victorian women's movement". (8) The group played an important role in campaigning for women to become doctors. They arranged for Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to qualify as a doctor, to give a lecture entitled, "Medicine as a Profession for the Ladies". In 1862 they formed a committee to campaign for women's entry for university examinations, initially in support of Elizabeth Garrett, in her application to matriculate at London University. (9)
In 1861, 19-year-old Alice Hare was residing with her widowed father and four of her siblings at Gosbury Hill, Hook, Surrey. On the census return, 55-year-old Thomas Hare is recorded as "Barrister not in actual practice" and as a "Charity Commissioner". Thomas Hare employed four domestic servants at his house in Hook. (10)
On 13th October 1864, at the parish church in Hook, 22-year-old Alice Hare married 36-year-old barrister-at-law John Westlake (1828-1913) who originated from Lostwithiel in Cornwall. (11) Westlake was a Christian Socialist and was a close friend of Frederick Denison Maurice. In February 1854 Maurice drew up a scheme for a Working Men's College. On 30th October 1854 Maurice delivered an inaugural address at St. Martin's Hall and the college started with over 130 students in a building in Red Lion Square. Maurice became principal and guest lecturers at the college included John Westlake (mathematics), Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes. (12)
As his biographer, Nathan Wells, pointed out: "This was a typically selfless gesture by Westlake - in so aiding his fellow human beings he was risking his career at the bar (to which he had only just been called), as Maurice and his associates were at the time popularly viewed as dangerous cranks, infected with the socialism of Louis Blanc, whose activities in the revolutionary year of 1848 were still so repugnant to the English. Westlake was also a strong supporter of the enfranchisement of women, and strongly in favour of proportional representation." (13)
Alice Westlake also became a strong supporter of women's suffrage and in May 1865, was one of those women in London who formed a discussion group called the Kensington Society. It was given this name because they held their meetings at 44 Phillimore Gardens in Kensington. It's founder members were the same women who had been involved in the married women's property agitation and who had struggled to open local education examinations to girls. (14)
Membership was by personal invitation. The secretary, Emily Davies, brought together women "having more or less common interests and aims". Many were already friends, or were relatives of members. Others had been involved in the English Woman's Journal and had supported the campaign to open the Cambridge University local examinations to girls in 1864. Some met and shared ideas at the society for the first time. (15)
On 18th March, 1865, Alice Westlake wrote to Helen Taylor inviting her to join the group. She claimed that "none but intellectual women are admitted and therefore it is not likely to become a merely puerile and gossiping Society." (16) Westlake followed this with another letter on the 28th March: "There are very few few of the members whom you will know by name... the object of the Society is chiefly to serve as a sort of link, though a slight one, between persons, above the average of thoughtfulness and intelligence who are interested in common subjects, but who had not many opportunities of mutual intercourse." (17)
The Kensington Society had about fifty members, including Barbara Bodichon (artist), Jessie Boucherett (writer), Emily Davies (educationalist), Francis Mary Buss (headmistress of North London Collegiate School), Dorothea Beale (principal of Cheltenham Ladies' College), Frances Power Cobbe (journalist), Anne Clough (educationalist), Helen Taylor (educationalist), Elizabeth Garrett (medical student), Sophia Jex-Blake (medical student), Bessie Rayner Parkes (writer) and Elizabeth Wolstenholme-Elmy (headmistress). (18)
Members of the Kensington Society were united by the opportunity to debate issues in a private, yet formal, setting. The women wanted practice in formal debating to build confidence for future public speaking. Some of the subjects discussed included: "What are the tests of originality?", "Is it desirable to employ emulation as a stimulus to education?" and "What form of government is most favourable to women?" In November 1865 the question was debated: "Is the extension of parliamentary suffrage to women desirable, and if so, under what conditions?" (19)
Nine of the eleven women who attended the early meetings were unmarried and were attempting to pursue a career in education or medicine. (20) Ann Dingsdale points out: "The annual subscription was half a crown. Questions for debate were issued four times a year and members might speak at meetings or submit written answers. Corresponding members submitted papers that were discussed by those who could attend (and who paid a further half-crown for that privilege). By conducting its debates in a private arena, with apparently unminuted discussions, the society encouraged a frank exchange of views." (21)
Helen Taylor was an important member of the Kensington Society because she was the step-daughter of John Stuart Mill, a philosopher who fully supported women's suffrage. In an article published in 1861 he argued: "In the preceding argument for universal, but graduated suffrage I have taken no account of difference of sex. I consider it to be as entirely irrelevant to political rights, as differences in height, or in the colour of the hair. All human beings have the same interest in good government; the welfare of all is alike affected by it, and they have equal need of a voice in it to secure their share of its benefits. If there be any difference women require it more than men, since being physically weaker, they are more dependent on law and society for protection." (22)
John Stuart Mill was invited by the Liberal Party to stand for the House of Commons in the 1865 General Election for Westminster. The Kensington Society saw this as an opportunity to promote the campaign for women's suffrage. In May 1866, Barbara Bodichon wrote to Mill's step-daughter, Helen Taylor: "I am very anxious to have some conversation with you about the possibility of doing something immediately towards getting women voters. I should not like to start a petition or make any movement without knowing what you and Mr J. S. Mill thought expedient at this time... Could you write a petition - which you could bring with you. I myself should propose to try simply for what we were most likely to get immediately." (23)
Helen Taylor replied the same day: "It seems to me that while a Reform Bill is under discussion and petitions are being presented to Parliament from different classes - asking for representation or protesting against disenfranchisement should say so, and that women who wish for political enfranchisement should say so, and that women not saying so now will be used against them in the future and delay the time of their enfranchisement.... I think the most important thing is to make a demand and commence the first humble beginnings of an agitation for which reasons can be given that are in harmony with the political ideas of English people in general. No idea is so universally accepted and acceptable in England as that taxation and representation ought to go together, and people in general will be much more willing to listen to the assertion that single women and widows of property have been overlooked and left out from the privileges to which their property entitles them, than to the much more startling general proposition that sex is not a proper ground for distinction in political rights." (24)
Helen Taylor stated that "If a tolerably numerously signed petition can be got up" her father would be willing to present it to Parliament." Two days later Barbara Bodichon replied that a small group including herself, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Elizabeth Garrett and Jessie Boucherett, had already started collecting signatures. (25) On receiving Taylor's draft petition, Bodichon commented it was too long and "it would be better to make it as short as possible and to state as few reasons as possible for what we want, everyone has something to say against the reasons." (26)
On 20th May 1867, Mill made a speech in the House of Commons where he proposed that women should be granted the same rights as men. "We talk of political revolutions, but we do not sufficiently attend to the fact that there has taken place around us a silent domestic revolution: women and men are, for the first time in history, really each other's companions... when men and women are really companions, if women are frivolous men will be frivolous... the two sexes must rise or sink together." (27)
In less than a month the Kensington Society collected nearly 1,500 signatures (one important member, Dorothea Beale, refused to sign the petition. Helen replied when it was delivered: "My father will present the petition tomorrow (if that is still the wish of the ladies) and it should be sent to the House of Commons to arrive there before two p.m. tomorrow, Thursday June 7th directed to Mr Mill, and petition written on it. It is indeed a wonderful success. It does honour to the energy of those who have worked for it and promises well for the prospects of any future plan for furthering the same objects." (28)
On 7th June, 1867 Barbara Bodichon was ill and so Elizabeth Garrett and Emily Davies, escorted the great scroll to Westminster Hall and gave their petition to Henry Fawcett and John Stuart Mill, two MPs who supported universal suffrage. Mill, said, "Ah! this I can brandish with effect." (29)
Louisa Garrett Anderson later recalled: "John Stuart Mill agreed to present a petition from women householders… Elizabeth Garrett liked to be ahead of time, so the delegation arrived early in the Great Hall, Westminster, she with the roll of parchment in her arms. It made a large parcel and she felt conspicuous. To avoid attracting attention she turned to the only woman who seemed, among the hurrying men, to be a permanent resident in that great shrine of memories, the apple-woman, who agreed to hide the precious scroll under her stand; but, learning what it was, insisted first on adding her signature, so the parcel had to be unrolled again." (30)
During the debate on the issue, Edward Kent Karslake, the Conservative MP for Colchester, said in the debate that the main reason he opposed the measure was that he had not met one woman in Essex who agreed with women's suffrage. Lydia Becker, Helen Taylor and Frances Power Cobbe, decided to take up this challenge and devised the idea of collecting signatures in Colchester for a petition that Karslake could then present to parliament. They found 129 women resident in the town willing to sign the petition and on 25th July, 1867, Karslake presented the list to parliament. Despite this petition the Mill amendment to the 1867 Reform Act was defeated by 196 votes to 73. William Gladstone, was one of those who voted against the amendment. (31)
Members of the Kensington Society were very disappointed when they heard the news and they decided to dissolve the organisation early in 1868 and to establish the London Society for Women's Suffrage with the sole purpose of campaigning for women's suffrage. (32) Soon afterwards similar societies were formed in other large towns in Britain. Eventually seventeen of these groups joined together to form the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. (33)
The 1870 Education Act allowed women to vote for the School Boards. Women were also granted the right to be candidates to serve on the School Boards. Several feminists saw this as an opportunity to show they were capable of public administration. In 1870, four women, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Lydia Becker, Emily Davies and Flora Stevenson, were elected to local School Boards. As Ray Strachey, pointed out in her book, The Cause: A Short History of the Women's Movement in Great Britain (1928): "Miss Garrett secured a larger majority than any of the other Londoners or then any municipal candidates had ever had before, winning 47,858 votes in spite of the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that she was by that date that most alarming and outrageous thing, a female medical practioner." (34)
In 1871 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson opened ten beds above the dispensary as the New Hospital for Women in London. Alice Westlake was a member of the first managing committee and later acted as treasurer. Her husband, John Westlake, was one of the trustees. (35) This was the first hospital in Britain with only medical women appointed to its staff. Initially, Garrett Anderson appointed unregistered women with overseas medical degrees as house officers. Elizabeth Blackwell, the woman who inspired her to become a doctor, was appointed professor of gynecology. (36)
In 1876 Alice Westlake succeeded Elizabeth Garrett Anderson on the London school board, being elected for for her old Marylebone seat, heading the poll with a large majority. As a member she promoted Liberal Party policies. (37) Westlake stood again in November, 1879, "As there seems to be some misapprehension on the subject, will you kindly allow me to say that I intend to offer myself for re-election to the School Board in November next. I hope to have many opportunities later of meeting the electors, and I feel sure that when I am able to give a full account of my work during the last three years, to which I have devoted my whole time and strength, I shall justify the confidence that was placed in me." (38)
Alice Westlake was also a member of the London Society for Women's Suffrage (LSWS). It held several meetings every year. According to Elizabeth Crawford, the author of The Suffragette Movement (1999): "In the year 1875-76 the London National Society appears to have held three public meetings, four at working men's clubs, and 13 drawing-room meetings." Crawford points out that at one of these meetings held at St Pancras it was made clear that "the object of the society is to obtain the parliamentary franchise for widows and spinsters on the same conditions as those on which it is granted to men." (39)
Alice Westgate was also a member of the Central Society of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. Other members included Frances Power Cobbe, Priscilla Bright McLaren, Agnes Garrett, Lilias Ashworth Hallett, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Florence Nightingale, Harriet Martineau, Lydia Becker, Helen Blackburn, Jessie Boucherett, Eva Maclaren and Helen Taylor. In 1882 she joined the central committee of the organisation. (40)
John Westlake was an equity lawyer, with an emphasis on land law, but his practice consisted largely of cases with an international flavour, and he built up a good practice at the privy council. However, his obituarist in The Times commented, "Not possessing the mental agility, pliancy, adaptability or temperament of the born advocate, he was unsuitable for the ordinary run of cases." (41)
In 1885 Westlake was elected Liberal Party MP for the Romford division of Essex, beating the Conservative Party candidate, James Theobald, by only 64 votes. However, the home-rule crisis which soon followed saw Westlake nail his colours to the Unionist mast, and in July 1886 he stood for re-election as a Liberal Unionist, but lost his seat. Six years later he contested St Austell as a Liberal Unionist. (42)
During the campaign Alice Westlake stated why she was a supporter of the Liberal Party: "I am a Liberal because I desire earnestly the advancement of the people morally, intellectually, and materially, by the redress of all wrongs that fall upon the weak, and the removal of all obstacles that stand in the way of the true happiness of men. The essence of Liberalism is to be continually pressing on towards those objects, and its existence is incompatible with a complacent satisfaction in things as they are, or even with a continued toleration of them." (43)
Alice Westlake was an amateur artist, landscape painter and engraver who exhibited three etchings at the Royal Academy in the 1870s: View in the Campine near Breda (1875), Alum Bay in 1867 (1876) and a landscape with the title Zennor, Cornwall (1877). Her biographer, Frances Hays commented that "she has frequently exhibited drawings and etchings at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon." (44) According to fellow suffragist Catherine Helen Spence Westlake was an "impressionist". (45)
There are two portraits by Westlake in the National Portrait Gallery - a pencil drawing of her father, Thomas Hare, drawn around 1885 and a portrait in oils of her husband, John Westlake, painted around 1897. She was friends with a number of artists. The English landscape artist Charles Adrian Scott Stokes (1854-1935) and his Austrian wife, the painter Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) appear to have been frequent visitors to the Westlake household. Other artist friends were the Victorian landscape artist Matthew Ridley Corbet (1850-1902) and his wife Edith Corbet (1846-1920) a painter of figures and Italian scenes. Lowes Cato Dickinson (1819-1908), an English portrait painter, Christian Socialist and founding member of the Working Men's College in London, made portraits of Alice Westlake and her father, Thomas Hare. (46)
Alice Westlake was a member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies who strongly opposed the militant tactics of the Women's Social & Political Union. On 10th December 1908, she signed a joint letter with Frances Balfour, Clementina Black, Kathleen Courtney, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Eva Gore-Booth, Margaret MacDonald, Alice Meynell, Esther Roper, Dora Russell and Beatrice Webb, objecting to the plan to disrupt a meeting where David Lloyd George was going to address the subject of women's suffrage. "We, the undersigned, wish to point out that nothing can, from any point of view, be gained by such action equal to the advantage of having a Cabinet Minister's pronouncement on this burning question. It is most important that this statement from Mr Lloyd George should, in the first instance, be heard and then reported, as it would be, all over the English-speaking world." (47)
On 14th April 1913, Alice’s husband of 48 years, John Westlake died at the age of 85. He left effects valued at £8,324 15s. 5d. to his widow. The 1921 Census records Alice Westlake, a 79-year-old widow, as being attended by two professional nurses and 3 domestic servants. (48) Westgate remained politically active into old age. This included serving as vice-president of the New Hospital for Women. (49)
Alice Westlake died aged 81 at 3 Chelsea Embankment, London, on 11th August 1923. She left effects valued at £49,124 19s. 5d. (50)
As there seems to be some misapprehension on the subject, will you kindly allow me to say that I intend to offer myself for re-election to the School Board in November next.
I hope to have many opportunities later of meeting the electors, and I feel sure that when I am able to give a full account of my work during the last three years, to which I have devoted my whole time and strength, I shall justify the confidence that was placed in me.
I am a Liberal because I desire earnestly the advancement of the people morally, intellectually, and materially, by the redress of all wrongs that fall upon the weak, and the removal of all obstacles that stand in the way of the true happiness of men.
The essence of Liberalism is to be continually pressing on towards those objects, and its existence is incompatible with a complacent satisfaction in things as they are, or even with a continued toleration of them.
Improvement in human affairs can only be attained – nay, deterioration can only be prevented – through the unremitting exertions of the best, the most clear-sighted, and the most hopeful of the community. But such exertions, applied fearlessly in doing always the work which lies nearest may be treated to bring about a future both better than, and different from either the present or any state of things that can be imagined. I am a Liberal, because, in addition to concurrence in particular opinions, I believe that the Liberal Party includes more of the men, and works more in the spirit, thus indicated, than the Conservative Party.
The question of Free Trade versus Protection has divided the Women's Liberal Unionist Association. Lady Frances Balfour, Mrs Fawcett, Miss Flora Stevenson and Mrs Alice Westlake, members of the Executive, have declared for Free Trade, and secession from the organisation is anticipated.
The promise of a speech from Mr Lloyd George for Women's Suffrage, announced for the meeting of the Women's Liberal Federation at the Albert Hall on December 5 th , has aroused a great interest and expectation among women of all shades of political opinion who desire the Parliamentary vote.
One section of the women seeking enfranchisement (the National Women's Social and Political Union, whose settled policy is opposition to any Government which refuses support to their demand for the vote) intends to break up the meeting, and to prevent Mr. Lloyd George from speaking, as part of their usual tactics.
We, the undersigned, wish to point out that nothing can, from any point of view, be gained by such action equal to the advantage of having a Cabinet Minister's pronouncement on this burning question.
It is most important that this statement from Mr Lloyd George should, in the first instance, be heard and then reported, as it would be, all over the English-speaking world.
Alice Westlake is the daughter of Thomas Hare, Esquire., barrister, a bencher of the Inner Temple, Inspector and Assistant Commissioner of Charities, and author of the well-known system of Proportional Representation. Mrs Westlake has taken a prominent part in the movement for the better education of a women, and their admission to different employments and to the suffrage. She has been, from its commencement, hon. Treasurer of the new Hospital for Women in the Marylebone Road, of which the medical staff is entirely composed of women.
Mrs Westlake has represented the division of Marylebone in the School Board for London since 1876, when she was returned to the head of the poll.
She is married to John Westlake, Q.C., barrister, of Lincoln's Inn, and she has frequently exhibited drawings and etchings at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon.
Marian Andrews's second sister, Alice Westlake [née Hare] (1842–1923), suffragist and artist, was born at 1 Pelham Place, Brompton, London, on 9 January 1842. On 13 October 1864 she married John Westlake (1828–1913), a barrister (and briefly in 1885–6 a Liberal MP) who in 1888 became professor of international law at Cambridge. They had no children. An enthusiastic supporter of women's rights, she was a member of the Langham Place Group and a signatory to J. S. Mill's 1866 petition for women's suffrage. In 1870 she and her husband supported Elizabeth Garrett Anderson's successful candidacy in the London school board elections, and worked closely with Garrett Anderson to establish a London hospital for women. In 1876 Alice Westlake succeeded Garrett Anderson on the London school board, being elected for Garrett Anderson's Marylebone seat, heading the poll with a large majority. During nine years as a member, she was one of the most frequent attenders at school board meetings, where she pursued Liberal party policies and instituted centres for teaching cookery. By 1882 she was on the central committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. She was also an artist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon. She died at 3 Chelsea Embankment, London, on 11 August 1923.
Mrs Westlake was friends with a number of artists. The English landscape artist Charles Adrian Scott Stokes (1854-1935) and his Austrian wife, the painter Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) appear to have been frequent visitors to the Westlake household. [Mr and Mrs Stokes were staying with John and Alice Westlake at the time of the 1891 census of Zennor in Cornwall and when the 1911 census was carried out in Chelsea]. Catherine Helen Spence in a diary entry dated 9th July 1894, notes that while in London “Mrs Westlake took me to call on Mr and Mrs Corbet, married artists.” This artist couple would have been the Victorian landscape artist Matthew Ridley Corbet (1850-1902) and his wife Mrs Edith Corbet (1846 -1920) a painter of figures and Italian scenes. Lowes Cato Dickinson (1819-1908), an English portrait painter, Christian socialist and founding member of the Working Men's College in London, made portraits of Mrs Alice Westlake and her father, Thomas Hare. John and Alice Westlake had a home in Zennor, Cornwall, and it is likely they had contact with the artists' colony at St Ives.
In 1876, Mrs Alice Westlake was elected to the London School Board and held that post for the next 12 years. She also served on the London School Board Election Committee and used her position to support other women candidates for the London School Board.
When the census was taken in April 1881, John and Alice Westlake were residing at 16 Oxford Square, Paddington, along with four servants. On the 1881 census return, 39-year-old Alice Westlake is described as a “Member of the School Board” in London. When the next census was carried out in April 1891, John and Alice Westlake were at their country home at Tregerthen Cottage in the Cornish village of Zennor. Visiting ‘Tregerthen Cottage’ at this time were the artist couple, landscape painter Charles Adrian Scott Stokes and his Austrian wife, the painter Marianne Stokes. Another visitor staying at Tregerthen Cottage’ in Zennor at the time of the census was the feminist and suffragist Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929). Making up the Westlake household were two servants and 17- year-old Elizabeth Bone, a young woman learning her trade as a dressmaker.
The 1901 Census recorded John and Alice Westlake at No.3 Chelsea Embankment (also known as ‘The River House’). On the census return, 73-year-old John Westlake is described as a “Barrister (K.C.)” and “Professor at Cambridge University” (between 1888 and 1908, John Westlake was Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge). No profession is given for 59-year-old Alice Westlake. The Westlakes were employing 5 domestic servants at their Chelsea home. At the time of the 1901 Census, Alice’s brother Alfred Richard Hare, his wife Alice, and their children, were visiting the Westlakes at ‘The River House’.
Ten years’ later John and Alice Westlake were still living at No.3 Chelsea Embankment. On the 1911 Census form, 83-year-old John Westlake declared that he was a Barrister, K.C. but was no longer practising. No personal occupation is given for Alice Westlake, his 69-year-old wife. Five domestic servants were still employed at The River House on Chelsea Embankment. On the night of Sunday, 2nd April, 1911, the Westlakes had three guests – their 23-year-old niece, Eva Hare, the daughter of Alice’s younger brother Alfred Hare (1849-1903), and the artist couple, Charles Adrian Scott Stokes, A.R.A., and his wife Marianne Stokes.
Two years after the 1911 Census, on 14th April 1913, Alice’s husband of 48 years, John Westlake of The River House, Chelsea Embankment and of Lincoln’s Inn, Middlesex, died at the age of 85. He left effects valued at £8,324 15s. 5d. to his widow. The 1921 Census records Alice Westlake, a 79-year-old widow, at No. 3 Chelsea Embankment. She was attended by two professional nurses and 3 domestic servants.
Mrs Alice Westlake, a widow of 81, died at The River House, No. 3 Chelsea Embankment, Middlesex, on 11th August 1923. Mrs Westlake left effects valued at £49,124 19s. 5d.