(1912) 45 Albert Bridge Road, Battersea, London SW
Eagle House, Steway Lane, Batheaston, Bath and North East Somerset BA1 7EJ, UK
Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium North Ryde, Ryde City, New South Wales, Australia
Adela Constantia Mary Pankhurst Walsh (19 June 1885 – 23 May 1961) was a British-Australian suffragette, political organiser, and co-founder of both the Communist Party of Australia and the Australia First Movement. Her name and picture (and those of 58 other women and men's suffrage supporters) are on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London, unveiled in 2018.
Pankhurst was born on 19 June 1885 in Manchester, England, into a politicised family: her father, Richard Pankhurst was a socialist and candidate for Parliament, and her mother Emmeline Pankhurst and sisters Sylvia and Christabel were leaders of the British suffragette movement. Her mother was of Manx descent. Adela attended the all-woman Studley Horticultural College in Warwickshire, and Manchester High School for Girls.
As a teenager, Adela became involved in the militant Women's Social and Political Union founded by her mother and sisters. In November 1909 she joined a protest that disturbed a talk by Winston Churchill at his constituency in Dundee. She was arrested along with Helen Archdale, Catherine Corbett, and Maud Joachim. Adela had slapped a policeman who was trying to evict her from the building. Although Adela went on hunger strike there, she was not force-fed as prison governor and medical supervisor assessed her 'heart's action as violent and laboured" Adela was among the first group of suffragettes to go on hunger strike when in prison. She was being targeted by the police, as a high-profile activist. Adela Pankhurst had been given a Hunger Strike Medal 'for Valour' by WSPU.
Suffragettes Adela Pankhurst, Jessie Kenney and Annie Kenney at Eagle House in 1910
Eagle House near Bath in Somerset had become an important refuge for suffragettes who had been released from prison. Mary Blathwayt's parents planted trees there between April 1909 and July 1911 to commemorate the achievements of suffragettes including Adela's mother and sister, Christabel as well as Annie Kenney, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Fawcett and Lady Lytton. The trees were known as "Annie's Arboreatum" after Annie Kenney. There was also a "Pankhurst Pond" within the grounds. Adela was invited to Eagle House in 1909 and 1910. She planted a Himalayan Cedar on 3 July 1910. A plaque was made and her photograph was recorded again by Colonel Linley Blathwayt.
On returning to Scotland in 1908, Helen Archdale immediately joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), becoming its Sheffield branch organiser in 1910, employed Adela Pankhurst as live-in governess and in 1911 moving to London and taking up the position of prisoners' secretary.
Adela's mother's favourite was Christabel and the two of them took the Women's Social and Political Union as their own organisation. They fell out with many of their leading volunteers and supporters and this included Sylvia and Adela. Both of them believed in socialism whereas Emmeline and Chistabel were pushing for the vote for middle class women. Sylvia was ejected from the party and she set up her own splinter group in East London. Christabel is reported to have said to Sylvia "“I would not care if you were multiplied by a hundred, but one of Adela is too many.” Adela was given £20, a ticket to Australia and a letter introducing her to Vida Goldstein.
Adela emigrated to Australia in 1914, following estrangement from her family and frequent incarceration. Adela's experience of activism enabled her to be recruited during World War I as an organiser for the Women's Peace Army in Melbourne by Vida Goldstein. Pankhurst wrote a book called Put Up the Sword, penned a number of anti-war pamphlets and addressed public meetings speaking against war and conscription. With Cecilia John from the Women's Peace Army she toured Australia establishing branches of the Women's Peace Army, in 1915. In 1916 she traveled through New Zealand addressing large crowds, and again toured New South Wales and Queensland arguing the importance of feminist opposition to militarism. In August 1917, Pankhurst was arrested during a march against rising food prices in Melbourne, which had been part of a series of sometimes violent demonstrations, unusual for the time in that they were spearheaded by women. British suffragette Louie (Louisa) Cullen also now in Melbourne, was among the 5000+ who signed a petition to the Australian Prime Minister for her release. In September 1917, she married Tom Walsh of the Federated Seamen's Union of Australasia, with whom she had a son and five daughters. In 1920, Pankhurst became a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia, from which she was later expelled.
She became disillusioned with communism and founded the anti-communist Australian Women's Guild of Empire in 1927. In 1941 Pankhurst became one of the founding members of the far-right nationalistic Australia First Movement. She visited Japan in 1939, and was arrested and interned in 1942 for her advocacy of peace with Japan.
Her name and picture (and those of 58 other women's suffrage supporters) are on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London, unveiled in 2018.
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