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Did your ancestors take a stand for women?

Did your ancestors take a stand for women?

Saturday 15 June 2019

Did your ancestors take a stand for women?


Islanders are being asked to identify their ancestors from a list of historical petition-signers in a bid to give life to those who stood up for women's rights almost 100 years ago.

At the centre of the States Assembly's 'Are you related?' campaign are two nearly century-old petitions pushing for equal civil rights for women and for women to be eligible to stand for elections as politicians.

At a time when women's rights were severely restricted, the 1924 petitions were signed by hundreds to allow for new laws to arise such as allowing women to become lawyers, allowing women to stand for election and allowing all women to vote.

Ahead of their '100 Years of Votes for Women' exhibition at the Old Magistrate's Court between 9 and 20 July, the States Assembly wants to know as much as possible about those who signed the petitions - whether through anecdotes, photos or mere snippets of information.

The full list of signatories, who could range from mothers to grandmothers, aunties and neighbours, can be viewed and searched by clicking here.

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Pictured: Hundreds of Islanders signed the petition when women's rights were severely restricted.  

Deputy Louise Doublet commented: “This is the first time the States Assembly has ever run an appeal like this. We want to honour those strong and courageous individuals who bravely campaigned at a time when women’s civil and political rights were severely restricted. It is in part, due to those individuals, that women such as myself are in the position they are today, and we owe it to them to remember them."

The States Assembly are asking that: "If you knew one of the signatories and feel comfortable doing so, please come forward with any personal stories, information, documents and never-before-published photos that you feel comfortable with sharing.”

Many women took part in the signing of the petitions, one particular women being Caroline Trachy, who led the Women's Jersey Political Union (WJPU), and who was proposed and seconded for Deputy in the parish of St Helier in 1922 but was disallowed because, although women were able to vote and nominate state elections, they could not stand.

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Pictured: Caroline Trachy: first female election candidate 

A law was passed in 1924 which then allowed women to stand for the positions of Deputies, but only if they were separated. So when Ms Trachy ran for Deputy again in 1925, she was disqualified by the Royal Court as she wasn't separated.

The law was then changed again which made Ms Trachy an eligible candidate, but she didn't become a Deputy as she ranked last in the polls.

Although laws had been passed and petitions signed, no women was successfully elected until 1948 when Ivy Foster took a seat in he States of Jersey. She was also the first female to top the polls when she was re-elected in 1951, eventually losing her seat in 1954. 

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Pictured: Ivy Foster, Jersey's first female politician.

If you have any information about anyone who signed the petition, please send it to Kelly Langdon (kellylangdon1991@ymail.com)

CLICK HERE to find out if your ancestors signed the petitions to stand up for women.

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