Ellen Pitfield

Ellen Pitfield (died August 1912) was an English midwife, suffragette and member of Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union.[1][2] Pitfield was arrested five times in relation to her suffrage activities, and was force-fed in 1909 after going on hunger strike in prison. After being released in 1909, she is reported to have said: "There are only two things that matter to me in the world: principle and liberty. For these I will fight as long as there is life in my veins. I am no longer an individual, I am an instrument."[2]

Pitfield had been given a Hunger Strike Medal 'for Valour' by WSPU.

On 18 November 1910, Penfield was injured during the police attack on women at the Black Friday protest outside the House of Commons; according to Sylvia Pankhurst, she sustained a wound on her thigh that did not heal. She was later told she had cancer and that it was incurable. As a result, wanting to be useful to the suffragette movement, she set fire in 1912 to a basket of wood shavings in a post office, broke a window, and gave herself up to the police. She was sentenced to six months in prison on 19 March 1912 after being carried to the court from the prison hospital.[3] According to Pankhurst, she was released in May, after the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement started a petition on her behalf, and was cared for at Pembroke Garden nursing home by Nurses Catherine Pine and Gertrude Townend,[4] and died three months later.[1][2]



  1. ^ a b Morrell 1981, p. 49.
  2. ^ a b c Pankhurst 1984, pp. 421–422.
  3. ^ "Six Months for Suffragette". St Albans Weekly Messenger. London. 28 March 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 13 June 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Atkinson, Diane (2018). Rise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes. London: Bloomsbury. p. 302. ISBN 9781408844045. OCLC 1016848621.

Works citedEdit

  • Morrell, Caroline (1981). "Black Friday": Violence Against Women in the Suffragette Movement. London: Women's Research and Resources Centre Publications.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Pankhurst, E. Sylvia (1984) [1931]. The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals. London: Chatto & Windus.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)