Our September yarn is named for Minnie Baldock, who, along with Annie Kenny, co-founded the first branch in London of the Women’s Social and Political Union.
Lucy Minnie Rogers was born in Bromley-by-Bow in 1864. As a girl she worked in a shirt factory.
Baldock married in 1888. The East End of London was known for its poor conditions and the Baldocks joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) after the socialist Keir Hardie became their member of parliament in 1892. She took charge of the local unemployment fund that was used to mitigate extreme hardship. Women were not then allowed to be a member of parliament, but the ILP chose her as their candidate to sit on the West Ham Board of Guardians in 1905.
Baldock and Annie Kenney formed the first London branch (in Canning Town) of the then Manchester based Women’s Social and Political Union in 1906. Baldock became a paid employee of the WSPU. Speakers invited to address the group included Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Baroness Pethick-Lawrence, Annie Kenney and Flora Drummond.. Baldock was arrested on 23 October 1906 (along with Nellie Martel and Anne Cobden Sanderson) for disorderly conduct during the opening of Parliament..
Baldock was again arrested after walking single file through the streets towards the houses of commons with Mrs. Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, and seven other women suffragists, in February 1908. “to present a petition from the Conference at Caxton Hall, and to the refusal of the authorities to treat suffragist offenders as first-class misdemeanants.” The women were charged with resisting and obstructing the police.
Miss Kenney and Mrs. Baldock, against whom there were previous convictions, were each fined £5, with the alternative of one month’s imprisonment in the second division. Mrs. Pankhurst and the other defendants were each ordered to find sureties of £20 to be of good behaviour for twelve months, or to go to prison for six weeks in the second division. All ten of the women chose to go to prison.”
Baldock had to leave her two boys, Jack and Harry, with their father whilst she served a month in jail, and her fellow suffragettes assisted him with looking after them.
As a suffragette who had been to jail, Baldock was given the honour of planting a commemorative tree at Eagle House (suffragette’s rest) in Somerset in February 1909.
The following year she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery performed by Louisa Aldrich-Blake. Baldock recovered but broke contact with the increasingly militant WSPU. She turned down their offer of help and went to recuperate in Brighton. She did keep in contact with Edith How-Martyn and she was still a member of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage. At the start of 1913 Baldock and her family moved to Southampton. She died in Poole in 1954.
Baldock’s 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.