Lucy Burns (1879 – 1966)

Image of Lucy Burns
Lucy Burns (1879-1966), American women’s rights advocate was a founder, with Alice Paul of the National Woman’s Party in America.
© Mary Evans / Everett Collection

On 14th September 1909, Lucy Burns was charged with breach of the peace in Bank Street, Dundee, and of breaking a glass panel in a police office. The suffragettes had tried to disrupt a meeting being held in Kinnaird Hall.

Lucy pled guilty and said they were engaged in a political campaign for women's enfranchisement, adding that they were forced to adopt unconstitutional methods of protest, for which they admitted they were legally responsible but the moral responsibility lay with the Liberal government. Bailie Robertson said that the Suffragettes would be 'well advised to get rid of the delusion of the attainment of any political object by rowdysim of this description.' He imposed a fine of £5 or 10 days imprisonment. Lucy served 3 days in prison before being released early on hunger strike.

Lucy was born in New York on 28th July 1879 to a family of Irish ancestry. She joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in London, and in August and September 1909 took part in militant protests at Glasgow and Dundee. In November 1909, she became the organiser of the WSPU's Edinburgh branch, remaining in that position until around 1913.

After her return to America she was one of the founders of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, a militant organisation. She was arrested multiple times, including once for picketing outside the White House. She was force fed via nostril after hunger striking.

After women gained the right to vote in America, Lucy retired from political life and devoted herself to the Catholic Church and looked after her orphaned niece.

She died on 22nd December 1966 in Brooklyn, New York.