Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. During the nineteenth century, Manchester experienced rapid industrialization and growth, particularly because of textile manufacturing. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, creating the Port of Manchester and linking the city to the sea.


Latitude: 53.487984891712
Longitude: -2.174656389398

Timeline of Events Associated with Manchester

Date Event Manage
8 Aug 1842

Manchester strike

Depiction of Chartist UprisingManchester strikes began on 8 August 1842. Following the rejection of the second petition, the Chartists sought to join forces with striking workers in the industrial region around Manchester, who were protesting a reduction in wages, but once again government forces moved quickly to suppress the ensuing riots. Image: Engraving depicting a Chartist riot from 1886 book True Stories of the Reign of Queen Victoria by Cornelius Brown. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.


Chris R. Vanden Bossche, "On Chartism"

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The middle of the month Winter 1867

Establishment of the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage

In the booming 1860's of Manchester, a collection of men and women saw an opportunity to mobilize local working class women by forming a society: specifically, the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage.  Their environment was one where women already had a sense of independence - the burgeoning cotton fields and textile plants were employed largely by women, and it was their callused hands and weary eyes looking over some of the first suffrage petitions to be presented to Parliament.  Originally founded by Elizabeth Wolstenholme-Elmy, Lydia Becker, and a handful of men including Richard Pankhurst (future husband of Emmeline Pankhurst, another key member in the development of the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage and more widespread campaign groups such as the Women's Social and Political Union).  While overshadowed historically by the more famous London suffrage movements, the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage survived well into the 20th century under a variety of names.  Even from the beginning, their existence was crucial to the establishment of other organizations and largely encouraging working class women to join the movement, which led to the ultimate success for suffrage.

Manchester was a notable hub for the textile industry, and held a large working-class population of men and women who were politically inclined.  While there are few online records available, there exists a series of records from the time which briefly cover the meetings.  In these, one can notice some of the names mentioned above, as well as a synopsis of the group discussions on motivation and success.  A series of examinations into the MSWS' beginnings and their lesser known players by Jill Liddington, titled "Rediscovering Suffrage History", endeavours to look at the lives of contributors whose names are seldom the focus of history: Eva Gore-Booth and her partner Esther Roper, Selina Cooper, Sarah Reddish, and so on.  

Liddington, Jill. “Rediscovering Suffrage History.” History Workshop, no. 4, 1977, pp. 192–202

"Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage". Women's Signal, vol. 6, no. 149, 1896. 

15 Jan 1879

First meeting of the Ruskin Society

Portrait of John RuskinThe first meeting of the Ruskin Society, Manchester occurred on 15 Jan 1879. The Society aimed “To promote the study and circulation of Mr. Ruskin’s writings; to exemplify his teachings; and to aid his practical efforts of social improvement.” Many of the men involved in this Society were involved with reform schemes in Manchester, including bringing art to the poor and gifting the Royal Manchester Institute to the city. Image: Portrait of John Ruskin. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.


Amy Woodson-Boulton, “The City Art Museum Movement and the Social Role of Art”

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The Merger of the MSWS into the NUWSS

Teetering at the edge of the new century, the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage found itself wanting to gain traction on a different level than before, and to discuss and share with their fellow suffragists on a more broad scale.  The invitation to join (or rather, to assist in the formation) the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies along with 500 other bustling organizations was fondly received.  The NUWSS stayed in high regard until some of the more active women - Emmaline Pankhurst, key member of the MSWS - split to start the Women's Social and Political Union.  Regardless, the MSWS and other organizations stayed, renaming themselves the North of England Society for Women's Suffrage just to return to their original name.  As such, the NUWSS continued their efforts well into the 20th century, aided by many of those original 500 or so groups that they encompassed.

John, Angela V. “New Suffrage Studies.” History Workshop Journal, no. 42, 1996, pp. 223–230. 

Owens, Rosemary. “'Votes for Ladies, Votes for Women' Organised Labour and the Suffrage Movement, 1876-1922.” Saothar, vol. 9, 1983, pp. 32–47.