Frances Gordon

On the evening of 23rd June 1914, Frances Gordon was admitted to Perth Prison after being given a 12 month sentence for attempting to set fire to a mansion house in Lanarkshire on 3rd April. Despite having taken no food or water, Frances was vomiting. The medical officer, Dr Ferguson Watson, did nothing until 25th June when Frances was force fed. He noted that she was 'hysterical and unstable.' It was reported that over the next couple of days she was nervous and spoke in her sleep about feeding tubes. Frances had been vomiting much of what she was fed and the order came to treat her 'per bowel.' An egg and milk 'nutrient enema' was given to Frances and, as this proved successful, she was forcibly fed rectally for 10 days.

Frances' treatment in prison led to a furore amongst the public when it was discovered how she had been treated. A report was written which led to questions being asked in the House of Commons. On 3rd July, her appearance was described as 'appalling. Like a famine victim - the skin brown, her face bones standing out - her voice a whisper, her hands quite cold, her pulse a thread.'

Known during her campaigning for women's suffrage as Frances Gordon but born as Frances Graves around 1874. Historian Leah Leneman notes that she was a little woman of about 40 years of age when arrested in 1914, with a pronounced English accent.

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