Helen Crawfurd (1877 – 1954)

Image of Helen Crawfurd
Election manifesto of Helen Crawfurd, Communist Candidate for the Govan Ward, Glasgow Municipal Election, 1921 © Gallacher Memorial Library - Glasgow Caledonian University Library/ SCRAN

Helen Crawfurd began to attend suffrage meetings and joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1910. She was first arrested and imprisoned in Holloway for breaking the windows of the Liberal Minister of Education's residence. Helen was again arrested and sentenced at Glasgow Stipendiary Magistrate Court on 12th March 1914 to 10 days imprisonment for breaking the windows of an army recruiting office, but was released 3 days early after going on hunger strike. Helen was twice imprisoned, on 7th April and 10th July, and released under the Cat and Mouse Act.

In total, Helen was arrested five times and endured three hunger strikes. She was robust in character and physique. Her close relationship to Emmeline Pankhurst ended when Emmeline adopted a pro-war stance in 1914.

Born on 9th November 1877 at 175 Cumberland Street, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Helen was the fourth child of a family of seven to William Jack, a master baker, and Helen Kyle. Helen spent the early part of her life in Ipswich and London, when her father bought a bakery. Upon their return to Glasgow in 1894, she met the Reverend Alexander Montgomerie Crawfurd, almost 50 years her senior. They married on 19th September 1898 in Stirling.

During World War One Helen helped to establish the Women's Peace Crusade. She served as Dunoon's first woman councillor 1945-1948 and retired there.

Helen married a second time at the age of 66, on 13th March 1944, to George Anderson, a Blacksmith (her first husband, Alexander, died in 1914). She left an unpublished biography upon her death on 18th April 1954.

Helen's case can be examined in a file held by National Records of Scotland. Within this file Helen’s second name is spelt incorrectly as ‘Crawford’. This is reflected in the file title.