Alice Clark campaigned for women’s rights

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Alice Clark campaigned for women’s rights

Anglican Chapel at Arnos Vale

We have some fascinating lives to remember at Arnos Vale, for example: Alice Clark. She was born in 1874, into a family of Quakers and was cremated at Arnos Vale in 1934. Alice’s mother and other family members had taken a leading part in the formation of an organised movement for women’s rights in the 1860s. Alice followed their example and throughout her life, she worked continuously on behalf of women’s rights, temperance and adult education.

The family business

Alice was a member of the third generation of the family shoe making business in Street. It was started by her grandfather and his brother. Then Alice’s father and his brother took over the partnership in 1889. Her parents were keen promoters of higher education opportunities for women. Her sisters went on to university, but although Alice had passed the Cambridge matriculation examinations, she chose the family firm and in 1893, joined the company. While working she was equally active in her political life. She joined the local Liberal Women’s Association and was secretary for 11 years.

Alice refused to pay her income tax

She was a member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) vigorously campaigning for women’s rights and suffrage, making many speeches and adopting non-violent methods such as refusing to pay her income tax, in 1907. In 1909 she was diagnosed with TB. She recovered but endured a prolonged period of convalescence until 1912.Even during her convalescence though, she still took part in some protest through civil disobedience, and refused to fill in the 1911 census form.

With their increasing militancy, Alice felt unable to join the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) or support its methods. So, she withdrew from the family firm for some years, in order to take a more active role in the NUWSS.

She moved to London and joined the executive committee in 1913. She also became its assistant parliamentary secretary during the period when the NWUSS were pursuing a policy of working with the Labour Party in order to put pressure on the Liberals.

As a Quaker, she worked for the Friends’ War Victims Relief Committee, notably for aid to refugees in France and the organization of post war famine relief in Austria.

During her last years she turned to Christian Science. She died at her home, Millfield, in Street, and was cremated at Arnos Vale in 1934.

Alice Clark (1874-1934)               GOR No 1

Over 300,000 people are buried or remembered at Arnos Vale and you can find out more about them by booking onto one of our amazing tours!

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