Flora Drummond Pictures
4th August 1878 – 7th January 1949
Flora McKinnon Drummond (née Gibson, later Simpson), was a British suffragette. 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 an organiser for the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and was imprisoned nine times for her activism in the Women's Suffrage movement.
Drummond was born on 4 August 1878 in Manchester to Sarah and Francis Gibson. Her father was a tailor and whilst Flora was still a small child he moved the family to the Isle of Arran where her mother had her roots. On leaving high-school at the age of fourteen Flora 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 standing at 5 feet 1 inch was refused a post as she did not meet the newly introduced minimum 5 feet 2 inches height requirement. Although she went on to gain a Society of Arts qualification in shorthand and typing she still carried a resentment about the discrimination which meant that women, because of their smaller average height, were prevented from being postmistresses. Flora Drummond joined the WSPU in 1906 and moved to London and by the end of 1906 had served her first term in Holloway after being arrested inside the House of Commons.
Flora was known for her daring and headline-grabbing stunts, including in 1906 slipping inside the open door of 10 Downing Street whilst her companion Irene Miller was being arrested for knocking on the door. In 1908 Flora hired a boat so that she could approach the Palace of Westminster from the River Thames to harangue the members of parliament sitting on the riverside terrace.
Flora Drummond was a key organiser of the Trafalgar Square rally in October 1908 which led to a three-month term in Holloway along with Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst for "incitement to rush the House of Commons". Flora was in the first trimester of pregnancy when she was imprisoned and after fainting and being taken to the hospital wing she was granted early release on the grounds of ill-health.
In October 1909 Drummond was the organiser of the first militant procession in Edinburgh as a response to a critical comment from the WSPU leadership in their newsletter Votes for Women. Tens of thousands turned out on to the streets of Edinburgh to watch the parade and the event was considered by the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch to have been a success.
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.
Flora died in 1949 following a stroke at the age of 70.
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