Jeanne Rathbone

Duval suffrage family of Lavender Sweep

Posted in Duval Suffrage Family of Lavender Sweep by sheelanagigcomedienne on April 19, 2019

Elsie and Family at 97 Lavender sweepThis is the Duval family who lived at 97 Lavender Sweep when this was taken. The back garden is the same as ours now that we have knocked down our air-raid shelter.

97 Lavender Sweep

I only recently discovered that the Duval family lived here and it is where Elsie was born. The usual address for the family was given as 37 Park Road which was renamed Elsynge Road. Elsie is sat at the front. I only found out when the suggestions for the next Wandsworth green plaque had her on the short list. Elsie is the more high profile of them with more information on her.  She was born in 1892 and I checked the electoral register in Battersea Heritage library and found Ernest Duval, her father,  was listed but, of course, it did not include his wife Emily who went on to become an active suffragette and Battersea Councillor in 1919.

Ernest and Emily Duval had six children, four girls and two boys. They,   with their children, were keen suffragists. Elsie  joined the Women’s Social & Political Union in 1907, the year after her mother. Unlike her mother, however, she did not leave the organisation to join the Women’s Freedom League when the Pankhursts changed the constitution, but the mother and daughter did work together for three years in the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement which Victor Diederichs Duval (1885–1945), Elsie’s brother, founded. Norah, Barbara and Winifred were the other three daughters who were also suffragettes. Their father Ernest was a member and regular speaker for The Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage. Tragically, of these six children four died young. Elsie, Winifred and Barbara from the devastating influenza pandemic after the WW1, and Ernest had died in 1904 aged 22.

I have been contacted by Norah’s grandson Adrian.  He writes, Elsie has the reputation of a martyr which diverts attention from the contributions of other members of the family. The grounds for that reputation are a bit shaky, I think, because there is reason to believe that she was not strong anyway; the “old mitral stenosis” mentioned on her death certificate suggests rheumatic fever in childhood, an ailment which almost certainly led to the early death of her older brother Ernest Edward, in 1904 at the age of 22. Battersea in those times was not a healthy place to raise a family.

The Duval family through marriage were connedted to two other committed women’s suffrage families as Victor married Una Dugdale and Elsie marrried Hugh Franklin.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A reference Guide 1866-1928 By Elizabeth Crawford has entries on Emily, Elsie and Hugh and Victor and Una are in  Rise Up Women by Diane Atkinson.

I will give separate accounts of Emily, Elsie and Hugh and Victor and Una.

 

Emily Duval

Suffragette Emily Hayes Duval, a prisoner at Holloway Prison in London, in prison uniform and sewing mail bags, circa 1908. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Emily Duval 1861-1924 had joined the WSPU in 1906 but left for the Women’s Freedom League and became Chair of the Battersea Branch. I assume that she was, at that stage influenced by Charlotte Despard and loyal to her local suffrage activists who also left the WSPU to join the WFL which had Charlotte as it’s President. By the spring of 1909 Emily had served two prison sentences for her part in WFL protests. In October 1908 Emily and her seventeen year old daughter Barbara were arrested when Muriel Matters chained herself to the grille in the House of Commons. Emily paid her fine and Barbara was released after promising to refrain from further militancy until  she was twenty-one. Mrs Duval was accused in court of being ‘a lady agitator who was bringing up her daughter to be a lady agitator’ In February 1909 she served six weeks in Holloway, almost all in the hospital wing suffering from acute neuritus.

She rejoined the WSPU in 1911 thus ending her four year membership of the WFL because she thought they were not militant enough and went on to break windows at the Local Government Board and was sent to prison for two weeks and Victor was sentenced to five weeks at Pentonville prison at the same time. Four members of the Duval family went on a deputation to Parliament Emily, Elsie, Barbara and Victor.. This was after the tenth ‘Women’s Parliament’ was called to Caxton Hall which was where they left from at the start of each Parliament when the WSPU would march to the House of commons and try to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister.

When Emily was sentenced to six months, in Winston Green Prison for breaking two windows in Regent Street, she told the magistrate that she had been ‘brutally knocked about and thrown on her back’.  She referred to the large numbers of young women who were driven into prostitution by poverty, she addressed the court ‘I should like to say that I shattered the glass because I wish the government to come to their senses, and money can replace broken glass, but it cannot replace the innocence of girls who are outraged daily…. I am prepared to die for Votes for Women ‘ Four months into her sentence Emily went on hunger strike and was force-fed over a two week period.

Emily gave an account of being force-fed in a statement she dictated at Birmingham WSPU office. In the hospital wing the doctor had listened to her heart and begged her to take the feeding cup rather than been fed by the nasal tube, but she told him that she would rather have her head cut off than do such a thing. They covered her with towels and held her head back and the tube was pushed up her nose,’which was most agonising – my nerves seemed to prick all the passages of my nose and some in my throat. I did not know  how to breathe, I did not struggle or flinch, just gripped the wardresses’ hand very tight’  When they finished feeding her and she got her breath back, she told them ‘Mr McKenna deserves shooting.’  The next morning the prison doctor urged her to eat but Emily refused and was force-fed once again. ‘ it seemed as though I was being suffocated. I could not breath it was simply horrible’. She was helped back to her cell where her throat bled and she vomited all over the place’.

She was force-fed several more times and released on 25th June before her sentence was complete and went  to  a nursing home to convalesce. (From her statement 30th June 1912 which is in a private collection.)

 

Emily Duval was elected Battersea Councillor  in 1919 along with Caroline Ganley who became MP in 1945 and Mrs Jessie Hockley who was secretary of the Battersea Railway Women’s League. Emily died in 1924. It was so sad that three of her daughters did not live to vote as they died in the awful influenza epidemic.  

 

 There is not much information on Norah but she too was imprisoned.         “On 1 March 1912, Mrs Duval was arrested again along with her daughter Norah, this time for smashing windows in Regent Street.  Norah, was sentenced to four months imprisonment at the Newington Sessions on 13 March 1912, for window smashing. She told the court, ‘I wish to say that what I did I did entirely on my own responsibility, and not, as the jury would infer, as the dupe of others. I did it because I want the same political tights as my brothers enjoy today. When asked by the judge whether she would be willing to give up breaking the law, Norah Duval replied, ‘No, certainly not. It is the only thing we can do. We cannot get redress in any other way”.

We also know that Norah stayed with the Rutters in Leeds.  Frank Rutter was an art critic and and founder member of the MPU. Their home became a sanctuary for for suffragettes to recuperate from hunger striking. There is an occasion when a baker delivery van drew up outside their home and Norah was disguised as the delivery boy while the driver dressed as a man was Leonora Cohen when Lilian Lenton 1891-1972 walked out of the house as the delivery boy to be driven off. Lilian continued to evade recapture by continuing to dress as a boy or as an old women becoming the Elusive Pimpernel she went on to lead an active life.   https://spartacus-educational.com/WlentonL.htm

Elsie DElsie Duval 1892-1919 was the most active suffragette of Emily’s daughters.  There is more information on Elsie available as she fell in love with and married Hugh Franklin who was very active in the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement which he had joined on 22 Feb 1910 which had been founded by her brother.

Elsie and Hugh’s archive which is part of the National Archive is kept at the Women’s Library at the LSE .                                https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/b0d30b35-bf00-4430-b0bf-57b8b77e6b4e

Elsie and dog

Hugh was the fourth of six siblings and had three brothers and two sisters Alice, Hugh, Helen and Ellis, along with their mother, turned from the Liberal Party tradition of the family and took the path set by Caroline’s sister Henrietta who had set up the Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage.

Alice, a staunch socialist, would later become a leader of the Townwomen’s Guild, Helen became forewoman at the Royal Arsenal, where she was forced to resign for supporting female workers and attempting to form a trade union, and Ellis became vice-principal of the Working Men’s College. Through Ellis, Hugh was also the uncle of the famous crystallographer Rosalind Franklin.

Hugh Franklin was born in 1889, the son of Arthur Franklin who was the senior partner in a banking firm. His mother, Caroline Franklin, was a member of the National Union of Suffrage Societies  Hugh was educated at  Clifton College and in 1908 went to Caius College to study engineering. After hearing the Pankhursts at the Queen’s Hall he become committed to the cause of  women’s suffrage and joined Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.

The paper written by June Marion Balshaw gives an account of political couples and chapter six is about Elsie and Hugh and their families.

Hugh Franklin

CHAPTER SIX.     More than just ‘a sporting couple’: the militancy of Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin                                                                                                                       https://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/5796/3/June%20Marion%20Balshaw%201998%20-%20redacted.pdf

This chapter will consider the political partnership of Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin who were both involved in the suffrage campaigns of the early twentieth century and yet the level and extent of their commitment has not been acknowledged in subsequent histories and accounts of suffrage.’ I will first examine their individual activities and motivation for becoming involved in the suffrage campaign and the ways in which this both created and reinforced their continuing separate identities. I shall also consider the extremities of their actions, the ways inwhich they were represented and how this subsequently affected both their personal and political activities. By taking this approach, a good insight is provided into the changing nature of the relationship between the WSPU and the MPU as militancy escalated as well as enabling a discussion of suffrage and judaism to be included .Finally, I shall explore the impact of suffrage on Hugh Franklin’s political and personal life after Elsie Duval’s premature death. Hugh Franklin and Elsie Duval were born in 1889 and 1892 respectively, making them among the younger supporters of votes for women. They were both arrested several times between 1910 and 1913 and Hugh Franklin was imprisoned on three occasions whilst Elsie Duval experienced Holloway prison twice.

Their militant activities were extreme and included alleged arson attacks on a house, a railway station and a train.  They met through Victor Duval, Elsie’s brother, and although they did not many until 1915, their romantic involvement had begun several years earlier.3 Nevertheless, throughout the period of suffrage militancy they continued to conduct their militant activities separately, creating very distinct identities and effectively put the personal side of their relationship ‘on hold’  choosing instead to focus on their individual political endeavours. In this sense,their commitment to the cause cannot be questioned but why they chose to function in this way warrants further discussion.There are a number of factors that determined their political activity which also reveal the complexities of being involved in the suffrage movement at this time. Membership of the MPU and the WSPU was segregated by gender and, as ‘will be seen, the evolving nature of the relationship between these two organisations and their policies would not have enabled Hugh Franklin and Elsie Duval to function as a political partnership in the same way as the Pethick-Lawrences. As relative ‘late-corners’ to the cause, not least because of their ages,their introduction to the suffrage campaigns was influenced, and to an extent dictated by, family alliances

Elsie Duval was arrested on the 23 Nov 1911 for obstructing the police. After this event, she was officially accepted by the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) as a militant protest volunteer. Whilst on remand, Elsie had her “state of mind inquired into” writing “They have got it into their heads that I am sixteen years of age. You know I refuse to give my age.”

On 27 Jun 1912, Elsie was arrested for smashing a Clapham Post Office window. Subsequently she was remanded for one week in custody ‘for the state of her mind to be enquired into’, and then sentenced to one month in the third division at Holloway, during which time she was forcibly fed nine times before being released on the 3 Aug 1912. She was arrested again in Apr 1913 for loitering with intent (with Phyllis Brady) and was again sent to prison for a month. She was forcibly fed during both remand and whilst serving her sentence, being seriously ill throughout and often resisting strenuously. Her prison diary for this year refers to ‘pain at the heart’ after one of these incidents.

Elsie letter

She was released under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, 1913, (commonly known as the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act) which allowed for prisoners to return to prison on recovery. Elsie was the first prisoner released from Holloway under the Act and the second to be released (Hugh was the first) from any prison. During her last imprisonment (according to Hugh Franklin’s biographical notes) a charge was being prepared for burning Lady White’s house at Egham, with ‘Phyllis Brady’, (Olive Beamish) for which the latter received five years’ imprisonment. Elsie also burnt Sanderstead station and other places, before her arrest, together with ‘Phyllis Brady’.

At the time of the attack, no-one was arrested. However, on the 12th April 1913 Phyllis Brady (real name Olive Beamish) and Millicent Dean (Elsie Duval) were approached by a police officer whilst walking in Croydon at 1.45am. They were both carrying leather traveling cases and claimed they were returning from holiday. They were followed by the policeman and decided to drop their cases and run but were caught and arrested for being found with inflammable material with the intention of committing a felony. According to some sources, both women had been responsible for burning Sanderstead station and other unnamed targets. They were also suspected of the burning of Trevethan house, and a case was being built against them.

However, they were not charged for this offence but instead were remanded in custody and then sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment in Holloway jail. Both went on hunger strike and were forcibly fed. While they were in prison ‘The Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913’ came into force. Commonly known as the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, this allowed prisoners who were in danger of dying to be released and then taken back into prison shortly after when they had recovered a little. Elsie and Olive were released under the act on the 28th April 1913. Both absconded after they had been released and did not return to prison.

Churchill was Home Secretary and he was widely blamed for the police excesses on display. Hugh was angered by what he had seen, began to follow Churchill to heckle him at public meetings. On the train back from a meeting in Bristol,  Hugh met Churchill and set on him with a dog whip , shouting “Take this, you cur, for the treatment of the suffragists!”

The attack was widely reported, even reaching the headlines of The Times and for the Franklin family, it was a great embarrassment. He was imprisoned for six weeks and dismissed as Sir Nathan’s secretary. In March 1911, he was sentenced for another month for throwing rocks at Churchill’s house. Hugh took part in the hunger strikes that were then being waged by the suffragettes, and was force-fed repeatedly during his imprisonment. The force feeding turned him into an activist for penal reform.

Elsie and Hugh left for France to avoid the re-imprisonment that her terms of temporary release had demanded. She spent several months working as ‘Eveline Dukes’ in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland armed with false testimonials provided by friends.

In Europe, Elsie went under the alias Eveline Dukes and had many fake references allowing her to get employed in various different countries. Using the several character references she had, all provided by people who knew her such as her brother Victor- who  she got a job in Germany as a governess for 10 months. She then spent three months in Brussels learning  French and doing office work, followed by two months in Switzerland. At first she believed she may have been able to travel with Hugh but actress and fellow suffragist Winifred Mayo warned against this. In March 1914, during her time abroad, she received a letter from Jessie Kenney writing under the alias C. Burrows which said: ‘Miss Pankhurst thinks it would be better for you to stay where you are for the time being and until you get stronger’. But when World War One began in 1914 Elsie and Hugh returned to the UK after a general amnesty was granted to the suffragettes. After this she became active in the war work of the WSPU.

She and Hugh  were finally married in a Jewish ceremony at the London Synagogue in September 1915. She had converted to Judaism. Hugh’s  mother attended the wedding but not her father.  Elsie had asked Emmeline Pankhurst to be one of their witnesses but she wasn’t well enough at that time.  Two years later, she joined the Pankhursts’ Women’s Party.

Sadly Elsie died on the 1st  January 1919 of heart failure, a victim of the influenza epidemic. She had, undoubtedly, been weakened by her treatment in prison when she was force-fed.

Victor Duval

Victor Duval 1885-1945 had been the secretary of the Clapham League of the Young Liberals. He resigned from it after seeing a woman thrown out of one of John Burn’s meetings – the one time socialist of Battersea was now very much seen as a renegade once he joined the Liberal Government, especially by our suffragette Charlotte Despard.

In 1909 Victor helped Marion Dunlop to stencil her petition on the walls of St Stephen’s Hall in the House of Commons and in October 1910 he had co-founded the MPU

MPUThe Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement was based at number 13 Buckingham Street. The MPU had been founded at a meeting held at the Eustace Miles Restaurant (just the other side of the Strand) in 1910. One of the founders – and the hon. organising secretary of the MPU – was Victor Duval. The premises were also, I think, the offices of his family firm, Duval & Co. Victor’s mother, Emily Duval, had been one of those who transferred allegiance from the WSPU to the WFL and would doubtless have been a regular visitor to number 18 on the other side of the street. https://womanandhersphere.com/tag/mens-political-union-for-womens-enfranchisement/

https://mitchellsgenderblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/victor-diederichs-duval-one-mans-appeal/

Victor’s book ‘An Appeal to Men’, criticises the ongoing reliance on politics as a driver for change, his reasoning being due to the ineffectiveness of the “fourteen Woman Suffrage Bills…introduced into Parliament since 1870. This saw Duval respond by provoking an urgency for radical action, with his ‘Men’s Political Union for Women’s Suffrage’ personifying this aim, being described as ‘The national bastion for male militancy

http://www.naomipaxton.co.uk/blog/suffragette-extras-up-the-men   I liked the description of their role in the WSPU 1911 Christmas Fair, where they ran the ‘Fun of the Fair’ section of the event that included a Roundabout, Hoopla, and a Shooting Gallery. This Shooting Gallery was run jointly with the Croydon branch of the WSPU and was advertised as where “Suffragists and Anti-Suffragists alike can try their skill with an air-gun” so that participants “will realise that muscular force is not the basis of all Government or even of all fights… but that skill and determination have to be taken into account.” The entertainments also included Suffrage Shies, a Suffrage Punch and Judy show written by Inez Bensusan, a member of the Actresses’ Franchise League.

Victor was was imprisoned for a week for a disturbance after he addressed Lloyd George outside City Temple. He served on the committee of the International Women’s Franchise Clubs. He published two pamphlets the other was ‘Why I went to prison’. He spent two years of the war in Salonika serving with the Royal Engineers. He rejoined the Liberal Party and stood unsuccessfully at three elections.

Una Duval

Una Dugdale, suffragette and marriage reformer. Una was a debutante daughter of Commander Edward Stratford Dugdale and his wife, who were supporters of the suffrage movement. Una was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, and later in Hanover and Paris where she studied singing. She was niece of  Arthur Peel 1st Viscount Peel, Speaker of the House of Commons. Apparently, her parents household had five servants and they had a holiday home near Aberdeen. Her sisters Daisy and Joan were  also active suffragettes. Joan wrote a play 10 Clowning Street. http://www.naomipaxton.co.uk/blog/suffragette-extras-up-the-men

In 1907, after hearing Christabel Pankhurst speak in Hyde Park, Una joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. She worked alongside Emmeline Pankhurst to campaign for women’s rights and the vote in Scotland as she accompanied her on her Scottish tours.

She was part of confrontational direct actions undertaken by suffragettes and, in 1909, was arrested and imprisoned for a month following her involvement in the raid on the House of Commons. Una was the co-founder and treasurer of the Suffragette Fellowships. I found this wonderful BBC radio recording of Una Duval. Please do listen. http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/suffragettes/8305.shtml

Una and Daisy Dugdale

Una and Daisy Dugdale

Una met Victor when he acted as best man at Frank Rutter’s  wedding on 13 January, 1912,  at the Savoy Chapel. She scandalised society by refusing to include the word ‘obey’ in her vows. She saw marriage as an equal partnership. She was advised that if she did not, the marriage would not be legal. However, at the wedding, she did not repeat obey after the clergyman spoke. He said that he hoped there would be an amended form of the service created. Her father accompanies her down the aisle but did not ‘hand her over’ to her future husband.

Christabel Pankhurst, Constance Lytton and the Pethick-Lawrences attended dressed in WSPU colours. The Mirror ran the headline, ‘The Bride Who would Not Promise to Obey.’

I found newspaper references to it in international newspapers like the Chicago Examiner and the New York Herald Jan 13th 1912. I discovered – the joys of the internet- that Victor’s best man was an actor called Ernest Thesiger http://ernestthesiger.org/Ernest_Thesiger/Chronology.html (I also found out that Ernest  was an expert embroiderer and written a book on it.  https://www.britishpathe.com/video/ernest-thesiger-expert-embroiderer and that he was Dr Septimus Pretorius in The Bride of Frankenstein with our own Notable Woman of Lavender Hill Elsa Lanchester. Elsa and Ernest were both friends of the director James Whale who was also British and used to frequent Elsa’s Cave of Harmony club in Charlotte Street.

It was exciting to discover that the renowned Duval suffrage family lived down our road and thrilled to find the photo of them in their backyard. So, they joined my Notable Women of Lavender Hill walk.

I gave a zoom talk to the Battersea W1 on 16th June 2020.  The number of notable women included has grown since I first started doing the walks. Jeanie Nassau Senior 1828-1877, first woman civil servant at Battersea Town Hall, Olive Morris Black activist, Catherine Gurney OBE 1843-1930 Police Welfare provider, Normanby House Lavender Hill (demolished),  Charlotte Despard 1844-1939 suffragette, socialist and Sinn Feiner, at 177 Lavender Hill,  Caroline Ganley CBE MP 1945-1951 lived at  5 Thirsk Road , Ethel Mannin1900-1984 prolific author lived at 28 Garfield Road,  Deaconess Isabella Gilmore 1842-1923, 113 Clapham Common Northside, Marie Spartali 1844-1927 Pre-Raphaelite artist lived at The Shrubbery Lavender Gardens, Laura Barker 1819-1905 composer Lavender Sweep House, Emily, Norah, Elsie, Winifred and Barbara  Duval Suffragettes  97 Lavender Sweep, Biddy 1871-1966 socialist/feminist and Elsa Lanchester, 1902-1986 Hollywood actress – The Bride of Frankenstein – who lived at 27 Leathwaite Road, Violet Piercy first British female marathon runner 21 Leathwaithe Road  Penelope Fitzgerald 1916-2000 author and Booker prize winner for Offshore 1979 lived at 25 Almeric Road  and Pamela Hansford Johnson CBE 1912-1971 novelist lived at 53 Battersea Rise, Farrago restaurant. jeanne.rathbone@gmail.com

I will, in due course, be applying for an English Heritage plaque for the Duval family. However, given the length of time and no guarantee of success I think there is a greater chance of getting a Battersea Society plaque to them.  Perhaps, we should consider doing some by public subscription. There is a dearth of  English Heritage plaques commemorating women. There are seventeen EH/LCC plaques in Battersea but none to women. Even if fifty percent women are receiving English Heritage plaques that is only six a year and it will take another generation before we have gender equality in blue plaques in London.

Now there are three plaques of these Notable Women of Lavender Hill. Two of them are Battersea Society plaques to  Caroline Ganley CBE MP 1945-51 at 5 Thirsk Road and Pamela Hansford Johnson 1912- 1981 novelist and critic at 53 Battersea Rise and the Battersea Labour Party honours Charlotte Despard 1844-1939 socialist, suffragette and Irish nationalist on 177 Lavender Hill Labour Party HQ since 1923 and funded by her.

Emily is shown in this cover of the Wandsworth Common Story.

It was great to be contacted by Duval descendants recently – Adrian who lives in Australia is grandson of Norah and his half sister Jenny Slaughter whose father Derek was Norah’s son and Tilly who is great granddaughter of Victor and Una.

Jenny wrote:. Adrian and I followed his history back to the Lyon district of France where the family were big into silk weaving. As well as the suffragette stories there is a treasure trove of info about his family in Bourgoin Jallieue. In 1880s, he came to England to join his mother after being educated in Germany. He was the illegitimate son of Emilie Diederichs. The name Duval was adopted at this point, perhaps so he wouldn’t be identified as her son. He had no English.

From research:-
At the time of the 1881 England census, Amelie Diedrichs [sic], native of France, 38, teacher of French, was head of household at 52 Wycliffe Rd, civil parish of Battersea ; she had a lodger, Ernest Duval, 23, corresponding clerk, native of Germany (Ernst Carl August was born in Mainz). Ernest’s age is correct, but Emilie / Amelie has understated her age by 5 years, possibly in order to appear just 15 years older than her lodger and thus (on paper) a little less like his mother.
On the 19th of September 1881, the year of the census, Ernest Charles Augustus Duval, bachelor, resident at the same 52 Wycliffe Rd, married Jane Emily Hayes, spinster, also resident at 52 Wycliffe Rd, in the presence of (among others) his “landlady”, A. Diedericks [sic]. The marriage record names Ernest’s father as “Edward Duval, merchant” ; fact or fiction?
On the 29th of June, 1904, Ernest Duval, now called Diederichs Duval, “subject of Germany”, became a naturalized Briton. Given Amilie Diederichs’ evident anxiety not to be identified as an unmarried mother, I suspect she had already returned to France ; she was by 1904, I believe, the oldest surviving member of her immediate family.
The last knowledge that I have of Amilie is a letter, written by Ernest in July 1915, to Mademoiselle Diederichs at Bourgoin, where her nephews controlled the Diederichs factories (which continued in business till 1992), which says : “As you are the only person who can, for the moment, say in what town in Alsace I was registered at birth as a Frenchman, I shall be glad if you will forward the necessary information.” Ernest’s letter, unanswered, was stamped “Decedé” (deceased) and forwarded (as Ernest had requested, if undeliverable) to Victor.
The letter contains the telling words “Since our correspondence has ceased […]”, implying a rift between mother and son ; and speaks also of his, Ernest’s, unhappiness at being shut out of the Diederichs family : “I have never intruded on any of them in my life, that is I have silently borne insult and contumely alone. I met one of your brothers at my house. I did not disclose my identity. […] In deference to you, I refrained and everything was kept in wicked secrecy.” It’s quite a heartbreaking letter, because it is evident that Amilie had loved Ernest enough to raise him herself and educate him properly, at a time when an unmarried mother was a social pariah, yet the apparent price of a comfortable retirement in France was continued denial and secrecy. Ernest seems to be at pains in the letter to underline the fact that his heirs were marrying into “society”, thus asserting that they were quite worthy to associate with the Diederichs of Bourgoin-Jallieu.

I took this photo in Wycliffe Road of this church which is now Greek Orthodox church of St Nectarios. It was built in 1901 as a C of E Church so it was not there when Ernest and Emily married as most of the Victorian housing has been replaced including number 52. Right next to it is the new John Burns School named after the former Battersea MP.

Jenny added: Thereafter, I have Emily (nee Hayes) and Ernest Diederichs Duval living at 7 Eccles Road in 1883 and Lavender Sweep in 1891. Eccles Road is just around the corner from Lavender Sweep and the houses are three bedroomed.

She also said that Emily’s grandfather was the owner of ‘Beer House’ The Queens Arms, New Road, Battersea. So the family were very rooted in the area.

New Road is now Prested Road most of which was demolished to expand Clapham Junction Station and, incidentally where John Buckmaster, who received a Battersea Society plaque on the Brighton Yard station entrance this year, lived at 2 new Road next door to the beer house. The current pub is now called The Junction but was formerly The Windsor Castle.

I was chuffed to see Duval House, opposite Clapham Junction Station in Grant Road, named after them. I had given the name to Gareth Jones who used to have responsibility for street and block names for new developments in Wandsworth Council. I have included a photo of Ganley Court nearby which is named after Caroline Ganley, Emily’s co- councillor elected in 1919. This is threatened with demolition as part of the ‘regeneration’ of the Winstanley estate. This was all terraced houses when I came to work here in 1965 in Gartons Glucose as a laboratory technician. Battersea?Wandsworth has changed so much and now has the highest proportion of young people in the country and with it the highest amount in mortages.

Duval House SW1120 floors
Ganley Court is threatened with demolition for a another tower block

If any of the Duval descendents come to London I would be very honoured to show them where their inspiring family of Duval’s lived on Lavender Sweep. I hope we will have a Battersea Society plaque to commemorate them eventually.

18 Responses

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  1. Adrian Benstead. said, on May 15, 2020 at 9:06 am

    I wish you success in getting a blue plaque erected at 97 Lavender Sweep. I hope it will be a plaque for the entire family because the cause of female suffrage was very much a family affair. Elsie has the reputation of a martyr which diverts attention from the contributions of other members of the family. The grounds for that reputation are a bit shaky, I think, because there is reason to believe that she was not strong anyway; the “old mitral stenosis” mentioned on her death certificate suggests rheumatic fever in childhood, an ailment which almost certainly led to the early death of her older brother Ernest Edward, in 1904 at the age of 22. Battersea in those times was not a healthy place to raise a family; Winifred died at 22 of tuberculosis.

    Emilys grave at Morden Cemetery (block G2, grave 6283) is unmarked, but easy to locate. If I lived in London I think I would want to do something about that.

    I believe, but cannot prove, that you have repeated a misconception about the relationship between Hugh Franklin and his father. Yes, Arthur did disinherit Hugh for marrying outside the faith, but not because of Elsie Duval who converted and appears to have been cherished by the family; Arthur was present at her death and it was presumably he who paid for the quite impressive tombstone. I think Arthur disinherited Hugh later when he married Elsie Tuke in 1923. She had no interest in converting. However, I live in Australia and have access only to those London archives which are available online.

    In case you are wondering, Norah is my grandmother.

    Cheers.

    Adrian Benstead.

    • sheelanagigcomedienne said, on October 11, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      Adrian, It would be great to hear more about Norah and her life afterwards. I presume Victor also has descendants. Thank you for endorsing the suggestion for a plaque celebrating and commemorating all of the family as they were very special in the campaign for female suffrage. All best wishes, in these strangest of times which must resonate in your family because of the Spanish flu pandemic.

      • Jenny Slaughter said, on April 13, 2021 at 4:09 pm

        Hello Jeanne
        I have only just seen this and am thrilled to read some things I did not know about the Duvals. I am the granddaughter of Norah, Adrian’s half sister. Adrian and I shared the same father, Derek Benstead, who was Norah’s son. Unfortunately neither of us were brought up with Derek so we had limited contact with Norah and her husband. I visited their family farm as a child and the issue of suffragism was never mentioned. However, Adrian was told that Norah was a suffragette and it is largely due to his research that we have become acquainted with the family history. Adrian and I went to France together to investigate our great grandfather roots. He was actually Ernest Diederichs Duval and came to England at age 18 to be with his mother Emilie Diederichs who taught French and Music in London. I am fascinated by Ernest who must have been a very supportive husband and father of all these activist women. My mother met him in 1946 and he gave her some paintings for a wedding present which he took off his wall. One is an original chalk drawing of George Eliot and I would love to know it’s provenance. After our trip, Adrian entrusted me with the mission of getting a blue plaque for the Duval family as he lives in Australia and I live in Yorkshire. I got as far as a session with Jill Liddington who lives near me and has experience of getting plaques for suffrage pioneers. I’m ashamed to say it has remained on my ´to do’ list so I am overjoyed that you have the case in hand.

  2. McKenzi Christensen said, on October 1, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Hello, I’m doing research on the Duval family’s suffrage activity for a dissertation on youth suffrage. Do you know what age your grandmother Norah joined the suffrage movement? Also, who was the youngest sister of the Duval family? I would love to ask you some other questions some time if possible. My email is kenzi.christensen@gmail.com.

    Thank you,

    McKenzi Christensen

    • sheelanagigcomedienne said, on October 11, 2020 at 7:03 pm

      Hi McKenzie, I hope that you can get further information from Adrian, Norah’s grandson. I believe that Barbara was the youngest of the family.

  3. fintrytilly said, on April 13, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    I’m a great granddaughter of Victor and Una (my aunt just sent me the link) and I can’t begging to describe how exciting it would be to have a blue plaque – particularly to show my daughter who is named after Elsie! Good luck with it 🤞

    • Tilly said, on April 13, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      *begin!

      Sorry, typing on my phone!

    • sheelanagigcomedienne said, on June 30, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Tilly, I have realised that I haven’t been in touch with you since you introduced yourself as a great grandaughter of Victor and Una Duval. If you are ever in this part of London it would be lovely to meet and for you you to see the Duval’s two homes in Battersea. You mentioned your aunt who sent you the link to my blog. I have been contacted by two women. Is it Victoria grand daughter of Victor and Una or Jenny who is descended from Norah Duval?

      • Jenny Slaughter said, on June 30, 2021 at 3:16 pm

        Hi Jeanne
        I’m not sure if comments can be shared but I hope Both Victoria and Tilly can see that I am still interested in our remarkable family history. We share the same great grandfather Ernest Charles Diederichs Duval, who my mother did meet in 1946. Adrian and I followed his history back to the Lyon district of France where the family were big into silk weaving. As well as the suffragette stories there is a treasure trove of info about his family in Bourgoin Jallieue. In 1880s, he came to England to join his mother after being educated in Germany. He was the illegitimate son of Emilie Diederichs. The name Duval was adopted at this point, perhaps so he wouldn’t be identified as her son. He had no English.

        From research:-
        At the time of the 1881 England census, Amelie Diedrichs [sic], native of France, 38, teacher of French, was head of household at 52 Wycliffe Rd, civil parish of Battersea ; she had a lodger, Ernest Duval, 23, corresponding clerk, native of Germany (Ernst Carl August was born in Mainz). Ernest’s age is correct, but Emilie / Amelie has understated her age by 5 years, possibly in order to appear just 15 years older than her lodger and thus (on paper) a little less like his mother.
        On the 19th of September 1881, the year of the census, Ernest Charles Augustus Duval, bachelor, resident at the same 52 Wycliffe Rd, married Jane Emily Hayes, spinster, also resident at 52 Wycliffe Rd, in the presence of (among others) his “landlady”, A. Diedericks [sic]. The marriage record names Ernest’s father as “Edward Duval, merchant” ; fact or fiction?
        On the 29th of June, 1904, Ernest Duval, now called Diederichs Duval, “subject of Germany”, became a naturalized Briton. Is anyone able to tell me whether he was ever known as Diederichs Duval before this date? Given Emilie Diederichs’ evident anxiety not to be identified as an unmarried mother, I suspect she had already returned to France ; she was by 1904, I believe, the oldest surviving member of her immediate family.
        The last knowledge that I have of Emilie (to date) is a letter, written by Ernest in July 1915, to Mademoiselle Diederichs at Bourgoin, where her nephews controlled the Diederichs factories (which continued in business till 1992), which says : “As you are the only person who can, for the moment, say in what town in Alsace I was registered at birth as a Frenchman, I shall be glad if you will forward the necessary information.” Ernest’s letter, unanswered, was stamped “Decedé” (deceased) and forwarded (as Ernest had requested, if undeliverable) to Victor.
        The letter contains the telling words “Since our correspondence has ceased […]”, implying a rift between mother and son ; and speaks also of his, Ernest’s, unhappiness at being shut out of the Diederichs family : “I have never intruded on any of them in my life, that is I have silently borne insult and contumely alone. I met one of your brothers at my house. I did not disclose my identity. […] In deference to you, I refrained and everything was kept in wicked secrecy.” It’s quite a heartbreaking letter, because it is evident that Emilie had loved Ernest enough to raise him herself and educate him properly, at a time when an unmarried mother was a social pariah, yet the apparent price of a comfortable retirement in France was continued denial and secrecy. Ernest seems to be at pains in the letter to underline the fact that his heirs were marrying into “society”, thus asserting that they were quite worthy to associate with the Diederichs of Bourgoin-Jallieu.

        I wonder if you are familiar with any history of 52, Wycliffe Road, Battersea?

        Thereafter, I have Emily (nee Hayes) and Ernest Diederichs Duval living at 7 Eccles Road in 1883 and Lavender Sweep in 1891.

        Incidentally, Emily’s grandfather was the owner of ‘Beer House’ The Queens Arms, New Road, Battersea. So the family were very rooted in the area.

        If you can give me any other leads to follow I would be very appreciative.

      • Tilly said, on July 1, 2021 at 2:59 pm

        Hi Jeanne,

        Victoria is my mother. Her sister, my aunt, emailed us all to tell us about your blog 😂. You’ve been inundated!

        Tilly

  4. Victoria Alice Mickle Buurman said, on April 14, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Hi I’m Victoria, I was named after Victor Duval my grandfather who I never met. He died before I was born, during an election campaign in Lancashire where is he was standing. He had stomach ulcers and sadly died from a hemorrhage. Una and her brother and sisters were actually brought up in Scotland because their father was stationed in Aberdeenshire, so not really a holiday home. The family home in Aboyne was sold when my great aunt Daisy died. I visited it many times when I was a child. Joan also spent years in Aboyne but had a really interesting life, including spending time in India and knowing Ghandi personally.
    A blue plaque would be fabulous. I hope you are successful.

    • sheelanagigcomedienne said, on June 30, 2021 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Victoria, I realise that I hadn’t responded to your comment. It is always lovely to be contacted by descendants of these notable Battersea folk like the amazing Duval family. A recent illustrated book on 150years of Wandsworth Common includes the iconic prison photo of Emily Duval. If you are ever in the Battersea/Wandsworth area it would be lovely to meet up and for you to see the two houses that the Duvals lived in.

    • Jeanne Rathbone said, on May 2, 2022 at 10:10 pm

      Hi Victoria, I am launching my booklet Inspiring Women of Battersea at Battersea Arts Centre on 7th June 2022 at 6.00. it includes a chapter on the Duval Suffrage Family.

  5. Charles Noble Whittaker said, on October 26, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    My great aunt was Barbara Duvall and she married Denis gerald barry. I have no idea how they met. I would be interested in any information. Thank you

    • Jenny slaughter said, on November 4, 2021 at 10:41 pm

      Barbara Duval was my great aunt too so we share the same great grand parents. Unfortunately I don’t have much information about her. Who were your grandparents?

      • Charles Noble Whittaker said, on November 30, 2021 at 1:38 am

        My grandfather was geoffrey barry. Denis was his half brother. Barbara is related to me by marriage.

      • Jenny Slaughter said, on December 2, 2021 at 6:54 pm

        My grandmother was Norah Duval, sister of Barbara.

  6. kenzichristensen said, on June 2, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    Where is this source from? I can’t seem to find it anywhere else: “On 1 March 1912, Mrs Duval was arrested again along with her daughter Norah, this time for smashing windows in Regent Street. Norah, was sentenced to four months imprisonment at the Newington Sessions on 13 March 1912, for window smashing. She told the court, ‘I wish to say that what I did I did entirely on my own responsibility, and not, as the jury would infer, as the dupe of others. I did it because I want the same political tights as my brothers enjoy today. When asked by the judge whether she would be willing to give up breaking the law, Norah Duval replied, ‘No, certainly not. It is the only thing we can do. We cannot get redress in any other way”


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