Hugh Frankin, he fourth of six children of Arthur Ellis Franklin (1857–1938), a senior partner in the banking firm of A. Keyser & Co., and his wife, Caroline Jacob Franklin (1863–1935), was born on 27 May 1889 at 28 Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill, London. He was educated at Clifton College and in 1908 went to Caius College to study engineering. (1)
Franklin's mother, Caroline Franklin, was a member of the National Union of Suffrage Societies and a founding member of the Jewish League for Woman Suffrage (JLWS). Eventually she joined the executive committee of the JLWS. His elder sister, Alice Franklin, was a member of this organisation. (2)
Hugh Franklin, a socialist, joined the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society. 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. (3)
On 13th January 1910, Hugh Franklin and Victor Duval, formed the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement (MPU). Duval later explained that "The society was formed as a result of a growing conviction among men, as well as women, that the delay in removal of the sex disqualification from the Parliamentary franchise was due to the determined indifference of the Government rather than to any considerable opposition in the country." (4)
In a leaflet published in 1910 the MPU pointed out that it would oppose all governments in power until such time as the franchise is granted. The MPU outlined the methods it would use: "Vigorous agitation and the education of public opinion by all the usual methods, such as public meetings, demonstrations, debates, distribution of literature, newspaper correspondence and deputations to public representatives." (5)
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. (6)
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. (7)
Sylvia Pankhurst later described what happened on what became known as Black Friday: "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)
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)
Sylvia Pankhurst believed that Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary, had encouraged this show of force. "Never, in all the attempts which we have made to carry our deputations to the Prime Minister, have I seen so much bravery on the part of the women and so much violent brutality on the part of the policeman in uniform and some men in plain clothes. It was at the same time a gallant and a heart-breaking sight to see those little deputations battling against overwhelming odds, and then to see them torn asunder and scattered, bruised and battered, against the organized gangs of rowdies. Happily, there were many true-hearted men in the crowd who tried to help the women, and who raised their hats and cheered them as they fought. I found out during the evening that the picked men of the A Division, who had always hitherto been called out on such occasions, were this time only on duty close to the House of Commons and at the police station, and that those with whom the women chiefly came into contact had been especially brought in from the outlying districts. During our conflicts with the A Division they had gradually come to know us, and to understand our aims and objects, and for that reason, whilst obeying their orders, they came to treat the women, as far as possible, with courtesy and consideration. But these men with whom we had to deal on Friday were ignorant and ill-mannered, and of an entirely different type. They had nothing of the correct official manner, and were to be seen laughing and jeering at the women whom they maltreated." (10)
Hugh Franklin attended the demonstration on Black Friday and was arrested, but not charged. He was outraged by the police tactics, and decided to target Winston Churchill, whom as Home Secretary he believed to be responsible for the large amount of violence that had taken place that day. (11) Although in public Churchill supported women's suffrage he was opposed to any general extension of the franchise. He told George Riddell: "The truth is we already have enough ignorant voters and don't want any more." (12)
Hugh Franklin and Laura Ainsworth attended a public meeting held by Churchill in Bradford on 22nd November, 1910. During the meeting Franklin constantly interrupted Churchill's speech and was ejected from the building. After the meeting Franklin and Ainsworth followed Churchill to the station and boarded the evening train to London. As the Home Secretary passed along the train on the way to the dining-car Franklin pulled a dog whip from his pocket and attempted to attack him. (13)
Two police detectives intervened before Franklin was able to deliver a blow. According to Detective Sergeant Sandercock, Franklin jumped up and drew a dog whip from his pocket, and shouted: "Winston Churchill, take that, you dirty cur!" The detectives forced him back on to the seat and Inspector Parker took the whip from him. Franklin admitted that he called Mr Churchill a cur, but said he did not use the word "dirty". (14) According to The Vote: "The shadows from Scotland Yard saved Mr Churchill – for the time being – from his well-merited castigation." (15)
On 5th December, 1910, Hugh Franklin was sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment in Pentonville Prison, for attempting to assault Winston Churchill. The magistrate characterised the assault as deliberate, premeditated, and unprovoked. He had nothing to do with politics, but had to protect the public from people who showed such behaviour as the accused. The fact that the assault was committed on the Home Secretary made no difference; he would inflict a similar penalty to anyone interfering with a person doing his legitimate business." (16) Franklin was also dismissed from employment as private secretary to Sir Matthew Nathan, then secretary to the Post Office and a prominent member of the Anglo-Jewish "cousinhood". (17)
On 8th March 1911, Hugh Franklin was arrested and charged with throwing stones outside the home of Winston Churchill in Eccleston Square. In court Franklin "said his motive in going to the Home Secretary's house was because of the treatment a friend of his was undergoing in Pentonville Prison. His friend was in prison because he refused to be bound over and was not being accorded special treatment. The friend had refused food, and was possibly being forcibly fed. He thought a protest should be made." He was sentenced to a month's imprisonment." (18)
In Pentonville Prison he went on hunger strike. On his release Frederick Pethick-Lawrence and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence arranged for him to go on holiday with them to Cornwall. Thereafter he travelled the country speaking on behalf of women's suffrage, particularly protesting against the treatment in prison of male suffragists. (19)
Hugh Franklin now decided to take part in the WSPU arson campaign. His friend, Charles Gray, pointed out that Franklin "who, so placed that he might have passed his life in leisured comfort and ease, has chosen rather to endure unatterable anguish for the honour of womanhood... he has been forcibly fed some eighty times, yet every time only after a sickening struggle between the band of officials and the single will, only after the poor broken body could no longer resist. In short, a deliberate attempt is being made to smash up this man simply because of the attitude he has adopted with regard to Women's Enfranchisement." (20)
Hugh Franklin became engaged to Elsie Duval, a member of the Young Hot Bloods. They both carried on with their arson campaign. In February 1913, Hugh Franklin set fire to an empty Great Central Railway carriage at Harrow Station. He went into hiding above Henderson's bookshop at 66 Charing Cross Road. He was arrested later that month. (21)
On 8th March 1913 Franklin was found guilty and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment. The Sunderland Daily Echo reported "When sentence was pronounced he informed an uninterested bench that he would not take any food. He will get it nevertheless, and no section outside the prison will make any fuss because a man is forcibly fed without nice consideration for his feelings. A man who sets fire to a railway carriage, imperilling the lives of innocent people, should be condemned to a long term of hard labour if two doctors cannot certify him to be a fit inmate for a lunatic asylum." (22)
Hugh Franklin immediately went on hunger-strike and on 22nd April 1913, Keir Hardie, the leader of the Independent Labour Party, took up his case with Reginald McKenna, the new Home Secretary. Hardie asked whether he had been informed that Franklin's "nervous system is so seriously impaired that his reason is endangered". McKenna replied: "Mr Franklin's mental condition cannot, in view of the crimes he has committed, be regarded as normal, but it has not in any way deteriorated during his imprisonment. As he had lost weight to the extent of 121bs., he was examined a fortnight ago by a specialist, since then there has been no further loss of weight, and there appears to be no necessity at present for a further consultation. There is nothing in his condition to render immediate release necessary." (23)
The case was raised again a few days later in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party MP George Touche asked the Home Secretary if he "forcibly fed upwards of one hundred times". McKenna confirmed this but added he "could not say whether that constituted a record". The Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement (MPU) held a protest meeting against the forcible feeding of Franklin, in the Kinsway Hall. Speakers included Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Henry Nevinson, Israel Zangwill and Henry Harben. (24)
Elsie Duval and her friend, Olive Beamish were also believed to be responsible for burning Sanderstead Station. (25) On 3rd April 1913 Elsie Duval and Olive Beamish were approached by a police officer whilst walking in Croydon at 1.45am. They were both carrying leather travelling cases and claimed they were returning from holiday. They were followed by the policeman and decided to drop their cases and run but were caught and arrested for being found with inflammable material with the intention of committing a felony. Both women gave false names: Elsie (Millicent Deane) and Olive (Phyllis Brady). Nine days later they were each sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment. (26)
Duval and Beamish joined Franklin on hunger-strike, who had endured 100 force-feedings. They all became seriously ill and on 28th April became the first people to be released under the Cat and Mouse Act. (27) On 16th May it was reported by The Daily Herald that they "had failed to return to prison on the date named, and the police are now searching for them." (28)
Franklin now escaped with his girlfriend, Elsie Duval 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." Elsie got a job in Germany as a governess for 10 months. She then spent three months in Brussels learning French and doing office work, followed by two months in Switzerland." (29)
The British government declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914. Two days later, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the leader of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies declared that the organization was suspending all political activity until the conflict was over. Fawcett supported the war effort, but she refused to become involved in persuading young men to join the armed forces. The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) took a different view to the war. It was a spent force with very few active members. According to Martin Pugh, the WSPU were aware "that their campaign had been no more successful in winning the vote than that of the non-militants whom they so freely derided". (30)
The WSPU carried out secret negotiations with the government and 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. Christabel Pankhurst, arrived back in England after living in exile in Paris. She told the press: "I feel that my duty lies in England now, and I have come back. The British citizenship for which we suffragettes have been fighting is now in jeopardy." (31)
Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin were now free to returned to England. Duval applied to work with Louisa Garrett Anderson and Flora Murray in a hospital in Claridge Hotel in Paris. The offer was not accepted and she took part in the "Woman's Right to Serve"procession in July 1915. (32) On 28th September 1915 she married Hugh Franklin in the West London Synagogue. During the war he supported anti-war groups such as the No-Conscription Fellowship. (33)
In 1918 the Qualification of Women Act was passed in February, 1918. The Manchester Guardian reported: "The Representation of the People Bill, which doubles the electorate, giving the Parliamentary vote to about six million women and placing soldiers and sailors over 19 on the register (with a proxy vote for those on service abroad), simplifies the registration system, greatly reduces the cost of elections, and provides that they shall all take place on one day, and by a redistribution of seats tends to give a vote the same value everywhere, passed both Houses yesterday and received the Royal assent." (34)
The Act extended the franchise in parliamentary elections, to men aged over 21, whether or not they owned property, and to women aged over 30 who resided in the constituency or occupied land or premises with a rateable value above £5, or whose husbands did. At the same time, it extended the local government franchise to include women aged over 21 on the same terms as men. As a result of the Act, the male electorate was extended by 5.2 million to 12.9 million. The female electorate was 8.5 million. Women now accounted for about 39.64% of the electorate. (35)
As Elsie Duval was only 25 years old she did not get what she had fought so hard to achieve. She was also in bad health. This was partly due to her experience of force-feeding in prison but also because of heart problems caused by septic pneumonia which she contracted during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Elsie Duval died of heart failure at her father-in-law's home on 1st January 1919. (36)
In 1921 Hugh Franklin married Elsie Constance Tuke. According to his biographer, David Doughan: "This marrying out of the Jewish faith may explain why Franklin's father cut him out of his will. Despite being disinherited, he does not seem to have needed to work for a living, and in 1931 he gave up business for writing." (37)
Hugh Franklin, a member the Labour Party unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seats of Hornsey in 1931 and St Albans in 1935. In one speach: "Mr Franklin said there was no doubt that over the last generation or so the standard of life of all had risen, but the difference between that of the fortunate 10 per cent, and the other 90 per cent, had become greater still. Socialism was the only cure for this differential standard. It was just possible that capitalism might be worked so as to increase the absolute standard, but capitalism would still be subject to its inevitable boom-crisis-slump cycle, and the effect of the slump would be seen in the cutting of wages, as in 1931 and 1933, with its effect on, the worker's standard of living. At present, the workers' wages were dictated by prices and the employers profits, and unless such a system were changed it would be impossible to hope for an assured standard of living." (38)
Franklin was treasurer of the National Council for Civil Liberties from 1934 to 1939. He also held office on committees of the London county council, the Metropolitan Water Board, the New Fabian Research Bureau, the Labour Party national executive council, and on boards of governors of schools and on hospital management committees. He also won a seat on the Middlesex county council in 1946. (39)
Hugh Franklin died of heart failure at New End Hospital, Hampstead, on 21 October 1962, leaving no issue. He was survived by his second wife.
Mr Churchill, returning from Bradford on Saturday night, encountered Mr Hugh Franklin, a member of the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement, who, incensed at the Home Secretary's conduct, went for him with a dog-whip. The shadows from Scotland Yard saved Mr Churchill – for the time being – from his well-merited castigation.
The male suffragist, Hugh Franklin, who is alleged to have attacked Mr Winston Churchill with a whip in a train on his way to London from Bradford, was charged with assault at Bow Street on Monday.
Franklin, who is twenty-ne, is of independent means, and lives at Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill. He is stated to be a nephew of Mr Herbert Samuel, the Postmaster General.
Mr Bodkin said Franklin had provided himself with a dog whip, and as the Home Secretary passed along the train on the way to the dining car Franklin pulled the whip from his pocket, addressed some violent language to the Home Secretary, and would have struck him if he had not been seized promptly by Detective Sergeant Sandercock.
Detective Sergeant Sandercock, who was attached to the Home Secretary said Franklin was ejected from the meeting at Bradford from which Mr Churchill was returning. Franklin was sitting with a woman suffragette (Miss Laura Ainsworth) in a third-class compartment. When Mr Churchill passed through the corridor, Franklin jumped up and drew a dog whip from his pocket, and shouted: "Winston Churchill, take that, you dirty cur!" The witness forced him back on to the seat, and Inspector Parker took the whip from him. Franklin admitted that he called Mr Churchill a cur, but said he did not use the word "dirty". He was remanded till Monday without bail. Permission was given for her mother to visit him.
At Bow Street, yesterday, Hugh Arthur Franklin, a supporter of the suffragette cause, was sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment in the second division for assaulting Mr Churchill, Home Secretary, by attempting to strike him with a dog whip in a train from Bradford to London recently.
The magistrate, Sir Albert de Rutzen, characterised the assault as deliberate, premeditated, and unprovoked. He had nothing to do with politics, but had to protect the public from people who showed such behaviour as the accused. The fact that the assault was committed on the Home Secretary made no difference; he would inflict a similar penalty to anyone interfering with a person doing his legitimate business….
Cross-examined, Mr Churchill admitted that during the past five years interruptions at his meetings from supporters of the suffrage movement were frequent. He did not want to press the case unduly.
Defendant, giving evidence, said his action was of a political nature in connection with the suffrage movement.
At Bow Street today, Hugh Franklin, a member of the Men's Political League for Women's Enfranchisement, was charged with throwing stones outside the residence of Mr Churchill in Eccleston Square last night….
Defendant said his motive in going to the Home Secretary's house was because of the treatment a friend of his was undergoing in Pentonville Prison. His friend was in prison because he refused to be bound over and was not being accorded special treatment. The friend had refused food, and was possibly being forcibly fed. He thought a protest should be made.
The Magistrate bound Franklin over in sureties, but he declined to find them, and went to prison for one month.
Throwing stones at Mr Churchill's House at Bow Street Police Court yesterday, Hugh Franklin, a member of the Men's Political League for Women's Enfranchisement, was charged with throwing stones outside the resistance of Mr Churchill in Eccleston Square last night. The Magistrate bound Franklin over in sureties, but he declined to find them, and went to prison for one month.
Mr Hugh Arthur Franklin, who was on Saturday (8th) sentenced to nine months' imprisonment in the second division for setting fire to a Great Central Railway carriage in the name of "Votes for Women," must learn to distinguish, if, indeed, nature has endowed him with the necessary capacity. When sentence was pronounced he informed an uninterested bench that he would not take any food. He will get it nevertheless, and no section outside the prison will make any fuss because a man is forcibly fed without nice consideration for his feelings. A man who sets fire to a railway carriage, imperilling the lives of innocent people, should be condemned to a long term of hard labour if two doctors cannot certify him to be a fit inmate for a lunatic asylum.
Asked by Mr Keir Hardie whether he is aware that the relatives of Mr Hugh Franklin, who is hunger striking at Pentonville, have been informed that his nervous system is so seriously impaired that his reason is endangered.
Mr McKenna, in a printed reply issued yesterday, states that such information is incorrect, and its communication unauthorised. Mr Franklin's mental condition cannot, in view of the crimes he has committed, be regarded as normal, but it has not in any way deteriorated during his imprisonment. As he had lost weight to the extent of 121bs., he was examined a fortnight ago by a specialist, since then there has been no further loss of weight, and there appears to be no necessity at present for a further consultation. There is nothing in his condition to render immediate release necessary.
In the House of Pretence yesterday, in answer to Mr George Touche, Mr Mckena said Mr Hugh Franklin, the Suffragist prisoner released on Monday morning, had been forcibly fed upwards of one hundred times.
He could not say whether that constituted a record.
The Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement held a protest meeting against the forcible feeding of Mr Hugh Franklin, in the Kinsway Hall, last night, Mr H. W. Nevinson presided, and the speakers included Mrs Pethick Lawrence and Mr Israel Zangwill.
Five of the prisoners released temporarily under the "Cat and Mouse Act" have failed to return to prison on the date named, and the police are now searching for them. They are Hugh Arthur Franklin, Annie Bell, Phyllis Brady, Elsie Duval (alias Millicent Dean) and Ella Stevenson (alias Ethel Slade).
The futility of what has earned the name of the "Cat and Mouse Act" is already demonstrated. Four Suffragist prisoners who were released after hunger striking have not returned to prison on the expiration of their period of grace. The names of the missing prisoners.
The Special Branch of Scotland Yard has circulated the following description of Franklin: "Wanted for failing to return to Wormwood Scrubs Prison on May 12 th as required by the conditions of an order under the Prisoners' Temporarily Discharge for Ill-Health Act. Hugh Arthur Franklin, aged twenty-six years, height 5ft 8ins, sallow complexion, hazel eyes, dark hair, slight dark moustache, of Jewish appearance, wearing pince-nez.
A house, the Highlands, at Sandgate, near Folkestone, was set fire to during Tuesday night (13 th May 1913), and damaged to the extent of £500. An entrance was made by breaking a window at the back, and the staircase was first set alight… Postcards addressed to "The Dishonourable Prime Minister" and "The Dishonourable McKenna" were found, and one was inscribed "Hope this is not a poor widow's house.
The police are searching for Hugh Arthur Franklin (a nephew of Mr Herbert Samuel, the Postmaster-General) who was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment for setting fire to a train, and who, while in prison, was forcibly-fed over 100 times. He was temporarily released under the powers obtained recently by the Home Secretary, and has failed to return under the conditions of the licence… Three older hunger strikers, Elsie Duval, Phyllis Brady, and Ella Stevenson (alias Ethel Slade), are being similarly sought for.
The coming Saturday will mark the commencement of the seventh week of the imprisonment of Mr Hugh Franklin, the bravest fighter of the Men's Political Union. For an act he hoped would help to break down the barrier between women and their emancipation, he was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, and that notwithstanding the small damage actually done. Surely we need not be militant Suffragettes before we can see that it is a bastard justice which passes upon such a man a sentence three or four times as heavy as that which is often meted out to one who has ruined a baby girl.
Although this is a movement in which names and acts must inevitably be soon forgotten, it will be remembered that, on the magistrates' refusal to bail, Mr Franklin at once refused to take food, with the result that, even before his committal, he was in a state of collapse. Since then he has been forcibly fed some eighty times, yet every time only after a sickening struggle between the band of officials and the single will, only after the poor broken body could no longer resist. In short, a deliberate attempt is being made to smash up this man simply because of the attitude he has adopted with regard to Women's Enfranchisement.
We have in London today a man who, so placed that he might have passed his life in leisured comfort and ease, has chosen rather to endure unatterable anguish for the honour of womanhood, notwithstanding the fact that there is but a small handful of people in the country who seem to care what awful fate may overtake him…
The death of the body when the mind is active is an awful thing, but the death of the mind when the body is active is a tragedy before the profundity of which the other seems as nothing. But the Home Secretary has yet to prove that it is not such an outrage that even now he is making to perpetrate through his underlings.
FRANKLIN, Arthur. Society: M.P.U.W.E. born May 27th, 1889 in London; arrested Black Friday (Nov. 18th, 1910), but discharged with the others; sentenced and served six weeks in the second division for whipping the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill on Nov. 26th, 1910; sentenced and served one month in the second division for throwing a stone at the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill’s house, in protest against forcible feeding; fed by force twice a day throughout the month. Olub: I.W.F. Address: 35, Porchester Terrace, Hyde Park.
An address was given on Tuesday at St Albans Hall, Golders Green, by Mr Hugh Franklin prospective Labour candidate for St Albans on "Labour and the standard of life." This was the second meeting of the series of six arranged by the Garden Suburb Labour Party for its autumn campaign. The chairman was Mr Percy Arnold.
Mr Franklin said there was no doubt that over the last generation or so the standard of life of all had risen, but the difference between that of the fortunate 10 per cent, and the other 90 per cent, had become greater still. Socialism was the only cure for this differential standard. It was just possible that capitalism might be worked so as to increase the absolute standard, but capitalism would still be subject to its inevitable boom-crisis-slump cycle, and the effect of the slump would be seen in the cutting of wages, as in 1931 and 1933, with its effect on, the worker's standard of living.
At present, the workers' wages were dictated by prices and the employers profits, and unless such a system were changed it would be impossible to hope for an assured standard of living.