Arabella Charlotte Scott

Arabella Charlotte Scott was born in Dunoon on 7th May 1886. Her father, William Scott was a conductor in the Bengal Army and her mother, Harriet Buchanan, was a teacher. Arabella graduated from The University of Edinburgh with a Master of Arts before living at 88 Marchmont Road with her sister Muriel, (who also campaigned for votes for women), and working as a teacher.

Arabella spoke at open-air meetings in various parts of Scotland. As a member of the Women's Freedom League (WFL) she took a petition to Downing Street in July 1909, was charged with obstruction of the police and sentenced to 21 days at Holloway Prison.

In 1912 she decided that the WFL's tactics were going to be ineffective and more militant action was required. On 19th May 1913 she was convicted of attempting to set fire to Kelso racecourse stand and sentenced to 9 months' imprisonment in Calton Gaol. She immediately went on hunger strike and on 24th May was liberated under the controversial 'Cat and Mouse Act'. Based on her release Arabella calculated that to serve her full sentence, she would need to go to prison 65 times.

Whilst in prison, she was force-fed for an extraordinarily long time. The notes of Dr Ferguson Watson give a chilling account of the process. Throughout her incarceration the doctor made sure that Arabella received no letters or visits from her friends or relatives; she was unable to write to request a lawyer, or to send a petition to the Secretary for State; and that she would not receive a copy of the prison rules. These restrictions were imposed on the basis that access to any of these would cause unnecessary 'excitement' and hinder treatment. Even her mother was not informed of where her daughter was imprisoned.

When she was released, The Dundee Courier reported that her 'good bodily health is, from the Suffragettes point of view, an unfortunate ending to the "performance" at this stage.' During imprisonment she had been walking almost every day and given up hunger striking two days before being released.

When the First World War began, a truce was called between the government and the Suffragettes and campaigning for the women's vote ceased. On 10th August 1914 the Secretary of State for Scotland announced the mitigation of all suffragette sentences passed in Scottish courts including Arabella's.

Arabella's case can be examined in a file held by National Records of Scotland.