Cecilia Haig

Cecilia Wolseley Haig, the sixth daughter of James Haig was born in Barnes, Surrey, in February/March, 1861. When the 1861 Census was taken on the night of 7th April 1861, Cecilia, then un-named, was recorded as a one-month-old infant. Cecilia was baptised at St Mary's Church, Barnes, on 2nd June 1861. The family lived at 6 Barnes Villas, Lonsdale Road, Barnes, but the Haig Family also had a second home in Edinburgh, Scotland. (1)

James Haig was a barrister at Lincoln's Inn and was related to Margaret Haig Thomas and Douglas Haig. (2) Haig was a member of the Edinburgh Ladies Debating and a supporter of women's suffrage. In 1892 she joined the Central Society for Suffrage. She was a member of the Women's Tax Resistance League and the Church League for Suffrage and joined her sister Florence Haig as a member of the Women Social & Political Union (WSPU). Cecilia, Florence and Evelyn Haig had founded the Edinburgh branch of the WSPU. (3)

The Conciliation Bill was designed to conciliate the suffragist movement by giving a limited number of women the vote, according to their property holdings and marital status. After a two-day debate in July 1910, the Conciliation Bill was carried by 109 votes and it was agreed to send it away to be amended by a House of Commons committee. However, when Keir Hardie, the leader of the Labour Party, requested two hours to discuss the Conciliation Bill, H. H. Asquith made it clear that he intended to shelve it. (4)

Emmeline Pankhurst was furious at what she saw as Asquith's betrayal and on 18th November, 1910, arranged to lead 300 women from a pre-arranged meeting at the Caxton Hall to the House of Commons. Pankhurst and a small group of WSPU members, were allowed into the building but Asquith refused to see them. Women, in "detachments of twelve" marched forward but were attacked by the police. (5)

Votes for Women reported that 159 women and three men were arrested during this demonstration. (6) This included Cecilia Wolseley Haig, Ada Wright, Catherine Marshall, Eveline Haverfield, Anne Cobden Sanderson, Mary Leigh, Vera Holme, Louisa Garrett Anderson, Kitty Marion, Gladys Evans, Maud Arncliffe Sennett, Clara Giveen, Eileen Casey, Patricia Woodcock, Vera Wentworth, Mary Clarke, Lilian Dove-Wilcox, Minnie Turner, Lucy Burns, Grace Roe and Henria Williams. (7)

Sylvia Pankhurst later described what happened: "As, one after the other, small deputations of twelve women appeared in sight they were set upon by the police and hurled aside. Mrs Cobden Sanderson, who had been in the first deputation, was rudely seized and pressed against the wall by the police, who held her there by both arms for a considerable time, sneering and jeering at her meanwhile.... Just as this had been done, I saw Miss Ada Wright close to the entrance. Several police seized her, lifted her from the ground and flung her back into the crowd. A moment afterwards she appeared again, and I saw her running as fast as she could towards the House of Commons. A policeman struck her with all his force and she fell to the ground. For a moment there was a group of struggling men round the place where she lay, then she rose up, only to be flung down again immediately. Then a tall, grey-headed man with a silk hat was seen fighting to protect her; but three or four police seized hold of him and bundled him away. Then again, I saw Miss Ada Wright's tall, grey-clad figure, but over and over again she was flung to the ground, how often I cannot say. It was a painful and degrading sight. At last, she was lying against the wall of the House of Lords, close to the Strangers' Entrance, and a number of women, with pale and distressed faces were kneeling down round her. She was in a state of collapse." (8)

The Daily Mirror (19 November 1910)
The front page of The Daily Mirror showed the attack on Ada Wright (19 November 1910)

Several women reported that the police dragged women down the side streets. "We knew this always meant greater ill-usage.... The police snatched the flags, tore them to shreds, and smashed the sticks, struck the women with fists and knees, knocked them down, some even kicked them, then dragged them up, carried them a few paces and flung them into the crowd of sightseers." (9)

Cecilia Wolseley Haig died on 31st November 1911 at her home address at 7 Brook Street, London, Middlesex. (10) Sylvia Pankhurst claimed that she died because of the beatings they endured that day. "I saw Celilia Haig go out with the rest; a tall, strongly built, reserved woman, comfortably situated, who in ordinary circumstances might have gone through life without receiving an insult, much less a blow. She was assaulted with violence and indecency, and died in December 1911, after a painful illness, arising from her injuries." (11)

Cecilia Wolseley Haig  had effects valued at £4,539 and these were passed to her unmarried sisters,  Florence Eliza Haig and Louisa Evelyn Cotton Haig. (12)

Primary Sources

(1) Belfast Weekly News (24th November 1910)

Up to 6.45 pm the total number of persons in custody was 112. The following official list containing 102 names was issued at 6.30. Among the women arrested was a helpless crippled lady, who had to be driven to the station in a bath chair: - Mrs Emily Catherine Marshall (Theydon Bois, Essex), Mrs Evaline Haverfield (London), Mrs Maud J. Sennett (London), Mrs Maud J. Sennett (London), Miss Patricia Woodlock (Liverpool), Mrs Mary Leigh (London), Florence MacFarlane (Edinburgh), Miss Ada Wright (London), Miss Gladys Evans, Miss Vera Holme (London), Miss Sarah Carwin (London), Miss Garrett Anderson (London), Miss Kitty Marion (London), Miss Bertha Brewster (London). Miss Cecilia Wolseley Haig (Edinburgh), Miss Clara Given, Miss Eileen Casey, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst (leader of the Women's Social and Political Union), Mrs Lilian Dove Willcox (Bristol), Miss Grace Roe (Ipswich), Vera Wentworth, Minnie Turner, Mary Clarke and Lucy Burns.

(2) The Scotsman (2nd January 1912)

At 7 Brook Street, London, on 31 st December, Cecilia Wolseley Haig, of 87 Comely Bank Avenue, Edinburgh, sixth daughter of the late James Haig of Lincoln's Inn, barrister-at-law.

(3) Church League for Woman's Suffrage (1st February 1912)

The Episcopal Church of Scotland has lost a valiant soldier from the ranks of the Church Militant. Miss Haig was for years closely concerned with social work in connection with St. John's, Edinburgh, and was the very soul of charity organization in that city. Her knowledge of and love for the people of the slums were proverbial. Of late, however, most of her time was given to Woman's Suffrage, as the great means to great ends. To this she brought her zeal. Sympathy, and capacity. It was work for Christ – nothing more, nothing less. The CLWS has once more been visited by the "kind angel who puts the tired children to sleep." The interment took place at Highgate Cemetery on January 3rd.

(4) Sylvia Pankhurst, The History of the Women's Suffrage Movement (1931)

I saw Celilia Haig go out with the rest; a tall, strongly built, reserved woman, comfortably situated, who in ordinary circumstances might have gone through life without receiving an insult, much less a blow. She was assaulted with violence and indecency, and died in December 1911, after a painful illness, arising from her injuries. Henria Williams, already suffering from a weak heart, did not recover from the treatment she received that night in the Square, and died on January 1st.

(5) David Simkin, Family History Research (25th June, 2020)

Cecilia Wolseley Haig was born in Barnes, Surrey (now part of the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames), either in the February  or March of 1861. When the 1861 Census was taken on the night of 7th April 1861, Cecilia, then un-named, was recorded as a one-month-old infant. Cecilia Wolseley Haig was baptised at St Mary's Church, Barnes, on 2nd June 1861. At the time of her baptism, Cecilia's parents, Helen and James Haig, a practising barrister, were residing at 6 Barnes Villas, Lonsdale Road, Barnes, South London, but the Haig Family also had a second home in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Cecilia Wolseley Haig  was the sixth of seven daughters born to Helen Jane Fell (1821-1876) and James Haig (1813-1891). Her father,  James Haig, had been born in County Galway, Ireland, and had studied Law at Dublin University, but after he married Helen Jane Fell, the Scottish-born daughter of Janet and Captain Michael Edwin Fell, an army officer, in Edinburgh in 1848, he.had made his home in Scotland. As a Barrister-at-Law at London's Lincoln's Inn,  James Haig also maintained a home in London.

The union of  James Haig  and  Helen Jane Fell produced seven daughters and one son, but the boy, Robert Henry Haig (1853-1854), had died in infancy before his 2nd birthday. The surviving children were:

1) Jessie Caroline Haig (1849–1933). Born Kensington, London. Married John Graham Pollock (1842–1921) in 1876.

2)  Margaretta Charlotte Haig (1850–1921). Born Marylebone, London. Married solicitor William Norman Wightwick (1851–1902) in 1876.

3)  Florence Eliza Haig (1855–1952). Born Marylebone, London. Died unmarried. Worked as an artist. Exhibited her work between 1886 and 1929. Suffragette.

4)  Helen Maud Haig (1857–1936). Born Marylebone, London. Died unmarried.

5) Gertrude Mary Haig (1858–1931). Born Edinburgh, Scotland. Married physician & surgeon Alexander Haig (1853–1924) in 1878.

6) Cecilia Wolseley Haig (1861–1911). Born Barnes, South London. Died unmarried.  Suffragette.

7)  Louisa Evelyn Cotton Haig (1863–1954). Born Edinburgh, Scotland. Died unmarried. Studied Art in Paris. Worked as an artist under the name of Evelyn Cotton Haig. Exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1891 and 1897. Miniature Portrait Painter. Exhibited a painting entitled "Winter's Children". Suffragette.

Although born in South London, Cecilia Wolseley Haig spent most of her time in Scotland. At the time of the 1871 Census, 10 year old Cecilia was staying with a Great Aunt at 16 Lansdowne Crescent, Edinburgh, Scotland.  When the 1881 Census was taken, Cecilia, then a 20-year-old "Student", was living with her parents at  7 Merchiston Avenue, Edinburgh . From around 1895, Cecilia shared a house at 87 Comely Bank Avenue, Edinburgh , with her younger sister  Louisa Evelyn Cotton Haig   Cecilia and Louisa Evelyn Haig were residing at  87 Comely Bank Avenue, Edinburgh at the time of the 1901 Census. Both sisters declared on the census return that they were "Living on Own Means ".

When  Cecilia Wolseley Haig  died on 31st December 1911, her home address was recorded as  87 Comely Bank Avenue, Edinburgh  but the place of death was given as 7 Brook Street, London, Middlesex. Her death was registered in the London district of St George Hanover Square and her age at death was recorded as 50. According to the National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills), at the time of her death,  Cecilia Wolseley Haig  had effects valued at £4,539 and these were passed to her unmarried sisters,  Florence Eliza Haig and Louisa Evelyn Cotton Haig.

References

(1) David Simkin, Family History Research (25th June, 2020)

(2) The Scotsman (2nd January 1912)

(3) Church League for Woman's Suffrage (1st February 1912)

(4) Martin Pugh, The Pankhursts (2001) page 176

(5) Sylvia Pankhurst, The History of the Women's Suffrage Movement (1931) page 342

(6) Votes for Women (25th November, 1910)

(7) Dundee Evening Telegraph (23rd November, 1910)

(8) Sylvia Pankhurst, Votes for Women (25th November 1910)

(9) Sylvia Pankhurst, The History of the Women's Suffrage Movement (1931) page 343

(10) David Simkin, Family History Research (25th June, 2020)

(11) Sylvia Pankhurst, The History of the Women's Suffrage Movement (1931) page 343

(12) David Simkin, Family History Research (25th June, 2020)