Debate 1908. ”That in the opinion of this House, Female Suffrage would be beneficial to this country.”

N.St. J. Buxton, the Hon. Proposer, said that votes were at present given to tax-payers, property holders, and to Universities. But women, too, often paid taxes and held property, while Mrs. Pankhurst –the well-known Suffragette – had taken a University Degree. Though the fate of nations depended on physical force, and men could fight for their country; yet women often felt the losses of war themselves. Men fought on behalf of the whole community of the country, which was composed of women as well as men.  Why then should they be refused a vote?  The women of the Ancient Greeks and Romans were only refused a hand in politics, because they were uneducated and accustomed to be treated almost as slaves.  But English ladies were· certainly educated, and many took a considerable interest; in the country’s affairs, and were beginning to read the papers much more than they used.

They frequently showed their ability in connexion with Local Committees, and Mission Work.  Often a Member of Parliament was President of such Committees and directed the women, and yet the latter were not allowed to take any part in electing that  man for  Parliament.  In view of this, they clearly deserved the privilege of voting.  Too many men were allowed to vote, as it was.  If votes were given to the women, the country would see the advantages at once

C. G. Lonsdale, the Hon. Opposer, said that from the earliest ages  man and  woman  had had their respective duties  allotted to them.  Women should realize that they  have  quite  different functions to perform.  They would undoubtedly never take sufficient interest in State and Foreign Affairs, to justify their privilege of voting.  Most women, if  they  did look  at  the  papers,  nearly always  looked  at  unimportant  things  such  as “Births and Deaths” and” Accidents,”  And few would read politics any the more, if granted a vote, or a seat in Parliament, which latter must inevitably follow on a vote, it was more than  probable that women would become far  too masculine  in  their habits, if their requests were granted,  while they would have to put up with all the abuse and criticism of the country, which Public  Speakers  have  to endure.  Why did they, then, need a vote, when they had other much more important things to do which could not be neglected?  It was no argument, that women had been granted votes in South Australia, which country had nothing to  lose by it. England could not say what would be the result, if such a measure were granted.  This country should follow the example of the United States, which had recently crushed down Suffragette demonstrations.

From the  events of the past year it was evident that  many of those  who demanded a  vote,  were totally unable to  control  themselves.  Should such people be allowed the privilege of voting?  It was quite clear that physically and  mentally  women were incapable of voting or having It share in the country’s government.

E. Bryans, Esq., speaking against the motion, pointed out that women had their domestic duties to occupy their time, instead  of spending it in  elections and in  Parliament.  The speeches that had been made lately against Sufflragettes, besides the illustrated pictures of their doings, were sufficient to cause most men to oppose the idea.  There were three good reasons why votes should not be granted. These were: first, the vast majority of women were not anxious  for  the  votes;  secondly,  men were determined they  should not have them;  thirdly, women were women!

The motion was lost by 14 votes to 6.

The speakers:

Noel Buxton left school in 1908.  He studied at University College Hospital and became a surgeon.  He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Macedonia during WW1, being mentioned in despatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre. After the war he specialised in orthopaedic surgery, eventually becoming a lecturer in surgery for London University, President of the British Orthopaedic Association, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and Hunterian Professor of Surgery.

ACG Lonsdale, Radley College Prefects 1909

Arthur Lonsdale was a Junior Scholar, Prefect.  Left in 1910 and went to Trinity College, Cambridge.  Joined up on the outbreak of WW1 and was killed in France on 13th March 1915.  WW1 commemoration
Ernest Bryans was an Exhibitioner of Merton College, Oxford. He joined Radley as an Assistant Master in 1882, eventually holding the posts of Tutor of G Social (1884-1919), Bursar (1897-1913), Sub-Warden (1914-1919). A room in the Senior Common Room is still named after him.  He was a keen member of the Debating Society

Ernest Bryans at the centre of the Debating Society, 1904 (Back row)