Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Mrs Pankhurst at the Family Records Centre (FRC)

On 10 October 1903, the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) was founded by three remarkable women: Emmeline Pankhurst (nee Goulden) and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia. This online exhibition and the associated display of documents at the Family Records Centre have been launched to celebrate the centenary of this momentous event.

The aim of the WSPU was to secure for women the same voting rights as were enjoyed by men – an aim which was not fully realised until 1928 – the year of Emmeline’s death.

The Goulden & Pankhurst families both had a long tradition of radical politics. Emmeline’s father, Robert Goulden, was born into a working class family in Manchester but rose from these humble origins to manage his own printing works in Pendleton near Salford while Emmeline’s husband, Richard Marsden Pankhurst, was a radical lawyer with political aspirations who was instrumental in drawing up the legislation which led to Married Women’s Property Act (1882). This is of great significance to family historians as before the passing of the Act married women did not have the right to own property and therefore did not, as a rule, leave wills.

The Pankhursts have another interesting connection with the world of family history research. Following the death of her husband in 1898, Emmeline was forced to find work and took up employment as Registrar of Births & Deaths for the Chorlton district, a position which she held until 1907.

As well as commemorating the centenary of the founding of the WSPU, this exhibition is intended to illustrate the main sources for family historians which can be seen at the FRC and elsewhere.


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