The Speaker and the Suffragettes
During his time as Speaker, Lowther saw many militant women's suffrage activities take place in Parliament between 1906 and 1914. He had little sympathy for their cause in this period, writing in his memoirs of the ‘extravagant and lawless actions of the militants'.
In October 1908, Muriel Matters and Helen Fox from the Women's Freedom League chained themselves to the Ladies' Gallery grille and men threw leaflets from the Strangers' Gallery, after which the Speaker ordered the public galleries to be closed. The galleries re-opened in 1909 under strict conditions.
The Serjeant at Arms was responsible for maintaining security but the Speaker had to agree a ‘black list' of people banned from the Palace of Westminster. Following incidents where Emily Wilding Davison hid in a ventilation shaft and broke a window in the Crown Office, the Speaker wrote to the Serjeant to confirm her exclusion in 1910. However, this did not stop her hiding overnight in Parliament on census night the following year.
Muriel Matters chained to the Ladies' Gallery Grille
7 November 1908
House of Commons Library, Illustrated London News