Elizabeth Thomson (1847 – 1918)

Elizabeth Thomson was tried at Jedburgh Sheriff Court before Sheriff Chisholm KC and a jury on 19th May 1913 with suffragettes Arabella Scott, Edith Hudson, Agnes Colquhoun Thomson and Donald McEwan. On 5th April they had been caught attempting to set fire to the new stand at Kelso race course with firelighters and oil. At the front of the race stand was a small flag and copy of The Suffragette magazine and was taken to the local police office. On the way to the local police office, the group sang 'March On' which the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) had adopted in 1910.

At Court, Elizabeth was sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment. There were cries of 'shame' and 'never surrender' from women supporters. Elizabeth immediately went on hunger strike and was released early. Against court order she fled Edinburgh for Germany on 31st May. She spent the winter in San Sebastian, Spain, where the Police had no idea of her location, and arrived in London in May 1914.

Elizabeth was born on 14th September 1847 in Glasgow to Robert Dundas Thomson, M.D., and Margaret Agnes Thomson. The family moved to London and at the age of 11 she began to attend Queen's College, Harley Street.

In the 1880s and 1890s she travelled the world with her sister Agnes Colquhoun Thomson (also a suffragette) and they worked as teachers and missionaries in countries including India, Japan and USA.

Elizabeth returned to Britain and settled in Edinburgh. In June 1909 she joined the WSPU after listening to Emmeline Pankhurst speak at Synod Hall in Edinburgh.

On 18th November 1910 she was involved with 'Black Friday' where she was caught in the violence. Despite her increasing age, Elizabeth continued to campaign and was arrested a number of times including in 1911 for throwing stones at a government building, and imprisoned for 1 month in Holloway Jail in 1912 for involvement in a Suffragette Protest.

Elizabeth died on 12th March 1918 at 15 Hartington Place, Edinburgh, aged 70.

Further reading: Elizabeth Thomson's biography 'The Life Story of Miss Elizabeth Thomson 1847-1918'

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