Laura Evans

Laura Evans was one of five Suffragettes to be admitted to Dundee Prison on 20th October 1909. Alongside Adela Pankhurst, Maud Joachim, Catherine Agnew or Corbett and Helen Russell or Archdale, she disturbed a meeting led by Winston Churchill in Dundee and was convicted of breach of the peace. She made the protest against the Government's refusal to enfranchise women who paid their rates and taxes. The women were sentenced to a fine of £2 or 10 days' imprisonment; they all refused to pay a fine, in line with Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) policy and went to jail.

All five immediately went on hunger strike. The first forcible feedings had taken place in England in September, as newspapers reported, to 'checkmate' hunger strikes and people waited to see what the Scottish authorities would do. A telegram sent on 21st October from the Under Secretary from Scotland said 'Dundee prisoners should unless medically certified unfit be fed under medical supervision if and when necessary.' A prison medical officer determined that Catherine and Helen, who were older, were not suitable for force feeding and Adela was mentally 'peculiar' and fragile .

On the 24th October, medical officers reported that all five women should be released, including 'Miss Evans, who has given no trouble or anxiety whatever and also looks very well' on the grounds that it [force feeding] 'would expose her to a mental strain of an unjustifiable nature.'

On release, she was reported to have waved 'a cheery farewell to the prison warders' from her cab but the report continued that the women were 'feeble to a degree [and] their cheery manner seemed artificial and forced'.

A reporter from the Dundee Courier spoke to Laura and Maud who 'were the brightest of the band'. Laura said 'thank you. I'm feeling quite well...we were very kindly treated by all the prison people. Everyone was very good to us...and they were very anxious we should take the food they brought to us. They coaxed us to have the food, but we stuck to our determination not to take it. We were in determination to hunger strike and we have managed it.'

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