Dorothea Chalmers Smith or Lynas (1872 – 1944)

On 24th July 1913, Dorothea Chalmers Smith or Lynas was caught with fire-lighting equipment trying to set fire to a Glasgow mansion-house at 6 Park Gardens with suffragette Ethel Moorhead. Both women, once arrested, immediately went on hunger strike and after five days Dorothea was released under the Cat and Mouse Act, but didn't return to prison when her licence expired.

Later found at Tighnabruich, Argyll and Bute, she was brought to the High Court with Ethel Moorhead on 15th October. Both were found guilty and sentenced to 8 months' imprisonment at Duke Street prison. Women in the court shouted 'shame, shame!' and threw apples, papers and other items at the bench. Dorothea immediately went on hunger strike. On 19th October she was showing 'some degree of weakness' upon medical examination and was discharged under the Cat and Mouse Act on the 20th. She failed to return to prison on the 27th, and police kept a 24 hour watch at her home. On 19th November she escaped her house by changing clothes with a friend who was visiting and drove off in a car. She was never apprehended.

Dorothea was born in Glasgow in 1872 to William Crawford Lyness, property owner and merchant, and Lavinia Bannister. She was one of the first women graduates in medicine from Glasgow University in 1894 at the age of 22 and worked in Glasgow's Royal Samaritan Hospital for Women. On 16th June 1899 she married the Rev. William Chalmers Smith, minister of Calton Parish Church, in the East End of Glasgow. They had four daughters and two sons.

Dorothea's husband was unsupportive of her actions, and she eventually left him. After their divorce she was forbidden to see her sons who remained with their father. Dorothea enjoyed a successful career as a doctor, specialising in childcare and public health.

She died in Glasgow on 21st May 1944.

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