Our August yarn is named for Flora Drummond, nicknamed The General for her habit of leading Women’s Rights marches wearing a military style uniform with an officers cap and epaulettes, and riding on a large horse.
Drummond was born on 4 August 1878 in Manchester. Whilst she was still a small child the family moved to Pirnmill on the Isle of Arran, where her mother had her roots. On leaving school at the age of fourteen Drummond moved to Glasgow to take a business training course at a civil service school where she passed the qualifications to become a post-mistress but since she was 5 feet 1 inch tall was refused a post as she did not meet the newly introduced minimum height requirement of 5 feet 2 inches. Although she went on to gain a Society of Arts qualification in shorthand and typing Drummond resented this discriminatory rule which meant that many women were prevented from being postmistresses. After her marriage to Joseph Drummond she moved back to Manchester.
Flora Drummond joined the WSPU in 1906, having attended the Liberal Party election meeting at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester at which Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney were imprisoned for pressing the candidate, Winston Churchill, to answer the question ‘If you are elected, will you do your best to make Women’s Suffrage a government measure?’. When the two women were released the WSPU held a celebratory rally in Manchester where Flora, who had witnessed their arrests, was persuaded to join the movement. Shortly afterwards Flora moved to London and by the end of 1906 had served her first term in Holloway after being arrested inside the House of Commons.
Drummond’s terms in prison, including several hunger strikes, took a physical toll on her and in 1914 she spent some time on Arran to recover her health and after her return to London on the outbreak of the First World War concentrated her efforts on public speaking and administration rather than direct action, thus avoiding further arrest. She remained prominent within the movement and in 1928 she was a pall-bearer at the funeral of Emmeline Pankhurst.
This portrait of Flora Drummond by Flora Lion can usually be seen at the Scottish national Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.