HISTORIC MALDON: Story of suffragette Myra Sadd – Blue Plaque to be unveiled tomorrow

By The Editor

13th Nov 2022 | Local News

Myra Sadd’s descendants will join the Town Mayor and others at the ceremony in Maldon.
Myra Sadd’s descendants will join the Town Mayor and others at the ceremony in Maldon.

Myra Sadd, a Maldon-born women's rights campaigner, will be commemorated with a blue plaque tomorrow (November 14), outside her family home in West Chase, Maldon, at 11.30am.

Held by the Maldon Society, the ceremony will be attended by The Lord Lieutenant, Jennifer Tolhurst; Deputy Lord Lieutenant, James Bettley; Maldon Town Mayor, Andrew Lay; and Chairman of Maldon District Council, Robert Boyce.

Lady Diana Dollery, Myra's granddaughter, is also set to attend, along with several other members of the Sadd family.

Born on 3 October 1872, Myra was one of eleven children born to John Granger Sadd, whose family was a major employer in the building and timber trade, starting with a small business at Fullbridge in 1729.

Until 1832, a few wealthy women had been allowed to vote in Parliamentary elections, but the 1832 Reform Act barred them from doing so.

A similar Act in 1835 prevented them from voting in local government elections, though this was gradually relaxed from 1869 onwards.

At the time, women were seen to be best-placed working behind the scenes to support their husbands.

Clearly, this did not appeal to Myra Sadd, who was already a convinced campaigner for the vote before her marriage to Ernest Brown in 1896.

The couple married in Maldon's Congregational Chapel (now the United Reformed Church) and decorated the venue in purple, white and green, the colours of the Women's Social and Political Union.

Furthermore, they merged their surnames to become 'Sadd Brown', a century before this practice became fashionable.

Myra Sadd Brown, supported by her husband, set off on the long and painful journey which led, after many trials, to the Representation of the People Act in 1918 which gave the vote to women householders, or the wives of householders, aged 30 and over.

As part of Emily Pankhurst's East London Federation of Suffragettes, Myra hosted busloads of women from the East End in her house near Maldon.

She was arrested in 1912 for throwing a brick through a window at the War Office and did two months' hard labour in Holloway Prison together with prominent activists, including Emmeline Pankhurst.

Like them, Myra went on hunger strike and was force-fed through rubber tubes.

Letters to her family, scribbled on toilet paper and smuggled out of prison, are still available, and make poignant reading.

To her young children she writes, "I have such a funny little bed, which I can turn right up to the wall when I don't use it. I am learning French & German so you must work well, or mummy will know lots more than you." She never shows the slightest sign of flinching from the cause.

World War 1 saw the suffrage movements suspend their actions and support the war effort.

Women's contributions to jobs traditionally done by men made the old arguments against women's suffrage very difficult to support, and women gained the vote in 1918.

Myra Sadd Brown went on to become a leading figure in the international women's suffrage movement.

     

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