Miss Katherine Rowton

She was an elected  Poor Law Guardian in Manchester.   Katherine  and four  other women were employed by the North of England Suffrage Society in the summer of and autumn of 1900 to gather signatures from women cotton mill workers for a suffrage  petition to Parliament. They gathered over 29,000 signatures and the petition was presented to  a small number of sympathetic MPs in the House of commons on 15th  March 1901. Katherine,  Esther Roper and 15 cotton workers accompanied the petition to London.

In July 1902 Katherine and other radical suffragists worked hard to raise the issue of women’s suffrage  during a parliamentary by-election in Rossendale in which the Labour Representation Committee candidate  was David Shackleton, President  of the Darwen Weavers’ Association. They pointed out that women weavers (who were majority in the various weavers unions in Lancashire)   were supporting  his candidacy and Labour MPs  with their  union subscriptions, but did not have the right to vote themselves.

In 1903 Katherine was still being paid a small salary by the North of England Society and along with Sarah Reddish spoke at a series of union meetings in Lancashire, urging them to support Votes for Women by balloting their members on the question on whether to support the campaign. When  they did hold a ballot, the result was “yes”.

The North of England society now concluded an agreement  with  the Central  Suffrage  Society, who agreed to pay the salaries of  speakers to visit  other industrial areas and speak to women workers . Katherine, along with Mrs. Green, Eva Gore Booth and Esther Roper addressed over one hundred meetings, peaking to meetings of pottery workers  in the Midlands  and hosiery workers in Leicestershire. 

On 11 October 1904 she resigned from the MSWTUC along with Christabel in support of Sarah Dickenson and Eva Gore Booth.

There were growing tensions within North of England Society over this campaign amongst working women and the fact that the radical suffragist had links with the labour Party, rather than the Liberal party. In late 1905  Katherine, Esther Roper , Eva Gore Booth, Sarah Dickenson, Christabel,   Pankhurst and others resigned from the Executive Committee of the Society and now pursued their campaign through the Lancashire  and Cheshire Textile  and Other Workers’ Representation Committee of which Katherine was an active member and on the Committee.

In late 1909 she was one of a group of radical  suffragists who went up to Rossendale during a parliamentary by-election  to campaign on belaf

Further reading

Jill Liddington and Jill Norris, One Hand  Behind Us: the Rise of the Women’s Suffrage  Movement (1978, reissued 2000)