Peaceful Protest: Suffrage and the Great Pilgrimage in Yorkshire, 1913

Thorpe, Amy Charlotte (2021). Peaceful Protest: Suffrage and the Great Pilgrimage in Yorkshire, 1913. Student dissertation for The Open University module A826 MA History part 2.

This dissertation was produced by a student studying the Open University postgraduate module A826 MA History part 2. The research showcased here achieved a distinction.
Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.
Copyright resides with the author.


This study investigates the non-militant Great Pilgrimage of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) as it moved through four localities in Yorkshire during the summer of 1913. With much of the historiography of the suffrage movement focusing on the militant movements of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the significant contribution of the National Union’s campaign efforts have been largely overlooked, particularly on a local and regional level. This research examines the development, intention, strategy, reception and objectives of the Pilgrimage and assesses the success of this constitutional form of campaign. By exploring the existing militant, non-militant and anti-suffrage networks in the region, the origins of a march as a form of suffrage campaign and the way in which the Great Pilgrimage was received throughout the county allows for a greater understanding of the complex nature of suffragism in Yorkshire. By 1913, the campaign for women’s enfranchisement was at a critical juncture, with the NUWSS seeking a new and striking way to end the deadlock with a disinterested Liberal government. Their solution was the largest march of the entire British suffrage movement, which moved through almost every corner of England in order to demonstrate the popularity and growth of suffrage throughout the country, whilst gaining further support and cementing their right for enfranchisement. This ambitious advertisement of non-militant suffrage transected the unique formations of suffrage networks throughout Yorkshire and exposed the anti-suffrage campaign which co-existed in parts of the county. The pilgrims experienced divergent responses to their march throughout their journey through Ripon, Harrogate, Leeds and Wakefield, and this study investigates the local components which shaped their experience.

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