ONE hundred years ago this month the suffragette movement secured votes for women and Clackmannanshire played its part.

The English and Scottish Reform Acts of 1867 and 1868 were going through Parliament when John Stuart Mill, philosopher and Liberal MP, put forward a women’s suffrage amendment, as only men had the right to vote. It was defeated leading to the rise in suffrage societies in the UK.

More than two million signatures had been gathered in Scotland between 1867 and 1876, supporting women’s right to vote, but the Third Reform Act of 1884 ignored their plea.

At the close of the 19th century, however, they had gained some rights. They could own property, run a business or become a professional, such as a doctor or teacher.

It was Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel who pioneered the way women fought for the vote when they formed the Women’s Social and Political Union in Manchester in 1903, but the movement became increasingly militant, unlike the suffragists, who advocated peaceful means of gaining the vote.

By 1909, Scotland had established the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies under the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies umbrella, with Edinburgh doctor Elsie Inglis being its first president.

At this time, Alloa and Dollar had formed their own, and now well-established, suffragist committees.

In the early 1870s the Alloa movement had the support of local Alloa and Tullibody minister Rev Alexander Bryson and his wife Julia, as well as Miss Janet Moir of Fenton House in Alloa.

The Dollar branch was supported by banker Patrick Dickson, who became its first secretary in 1872, and later included Mrs Maria Murray of Dollarbeg and two of her daughters.

In the 1881 census, all three of her daughters, Agnes, Mary and Martha, who were in their twenties, wrote their occupation as Women’s Suffrage Committee.

In 1913, the society was a member of the Scottish Federation, with Mrs E Millar of Dollar, acting as secretary.

Additionally, an Alva branch had been established in the early years of 20th century, with Mary J Lodge as secretary.

In February 1914, the president of the Alloa society called on the county council to support the political enfranchisement of women, although the Earl of Mar and Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire Walter Erskine stated it was out-with their remit.

Ex-provost Grant moved that the council give their ‘hearty sympathy and moral support’ to the women’s movement and the vote was carried nine to four. However, history had already been made.