The smashing Rock sisters: Dorothea and Madeleine Rock, Essex Suffragettes

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, in the centenary year of some British women getting the parliamentary vote for the first time, we have been finding out about sisters Dorothea and Madeleine Rock of Ingatestone, who both spent time in prison for their part in the campaign for votes for women.

Dorothea and Madeleine were daughters of Edward Rock, an East India tea merchant, and his wife Isabella. They were born in Buckhurst Hill, Dorothea in 1881 and Madeleine in 1884, but by 1891 the family had moved to Station Lane in Ingatestone. The sisters had a middle class upbringing, with a governess, a cook, and a housemaid all employed in the household.

Sisters Dorothea and Madeline Rock of Ingatestone, left and centre. The caption on the back of the photograph does not tell us which sister is which, or the identity of the third woman, although she may be their governess, Louisa Watkins. This photograph has been digitally restored. (T/P 193/13)

In 1908 both joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a militant  organisation led by Emmeline Pankhurst. After decades of petitioning and lobbying with little result, the WSPU approach was ‘Deeds not Words’. Their tactics included smashing windows of government buildings and upmarket shops, setting fire to letter boxes, vandalising golf courses, and in extreme cases arson of unoccupied buildings.

We can track some of the WSPU activities of the Rock sisters by searching local newspapers (this is made so much easier and faster by accessing the newspapers through the British Newspaper Archive online, which allows you to search for key words. You can use the BNA for free at ERO and Essex Libraries).

The first mention of the Rock sisters’ WSPU activities that I have found so far is in the Essex Newsman of 13 March 1909. A short piece in the local news columns descibes a rummage sale held at the Rock residence, the Red House, to raise funds for the WSPU.

On Monday 6 September 1910, Madeleine presdied over an open-air meeting in the market square at Ingatestone, where, the Chelmsford Chronicle (9 September) reported, ‘There was a good attendance’. The meeting was given a ‘spirited address’ by a Miss Ainsworth. A few weeks later (reported in the Essex Newsman, 29 October 1910), Dorothea spoke on votes for women at the Ingatestone Debating Society; the meeting passed a resolution in favour of the Conciliation Bill then going through parliament which would have given some women the vote (the Bill was later defeated).

The first time the local papers mention the sisters being arrested is in late 1910. From the Chelmsford Chronicle of 25 November 1910 we learn that the Rock sisters had been arrested for taking part in a raid on the House of Commons, along with other Essex suffragettes:

Essex Suffragettes Raid

Among the 116 ladies arrested during the raid of the suffragettes on the House of Commons on Friday were the Misses K. and L. Lilley, of Clacton-on-Sea; Madeline Rock and Dorothea Rock, of Ingatestone; and Mrs Emily K. Marshall, of Theydon Bois, a daughter of Canon Jacques… The defendants surrendered to their bail at Bow-street, on Saturday, when Mr. Muskett, under instructions from the Home Secretary, withdrew from the prosecutions, and the whole of the ladies were discharged. The suffragettes regard the action of the authorities as a great triumph for the cause.

Chelmsford Chronicle, 25 November 1910

In April 1911, the sisters joined in with the boycott of the census. Instead of completing the household return with details of the occupiers, Dorothea filled the page with a message:

I, Dorothea Rock, in the absence of the male occupier, refuse to fill up this census page as, in the eyes of the law, women do not count, neither shall they be counted

The enumerator later added some details of the people who lived there – Mrs Rock, 55, Dorothea Rock, 27, described as a ‘News vendor’ (presumably distributing copies of the WSPU paper), and Madeleine, 25, along with three unnamed servants. (If Dorothea had known doubtless she would have been annoyed.)

Not everyone agreed that the census boycott was a good idea. A few days before the census was held, there was a meeting of the Chelmsford branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) at Shire Hall (reported in the Chelmsford Chronicle on Friday 31 March 1911). The meeting was addressed by Miss K.D. Courtney, honorary secretary of the National Union, who described the census boycott as ‘futile and a waste of time’. A Miss Rock (the Chronicle doesn’t specify which one) defended the boycott, saying it aimed ‘to show the Government how many women there were who would submit no longer to being treated as mere chattels’.

The sisters again took militant action in November 1911. The Chelmsford Chronicle reported:

Suffragette riot in London

Essex women arrested

A serious riot was the result of Tuesday’s demonstration by the militant section of Suffragettes in London. The women essayed to approach the House of Commons with a view to some of their number entering the House. A strong cordon of police, however, prevented the women from carrying out their object. Many disgraceful scenes took place, and 223 arrests were made. Organised bands of women appeared in different parts of the West End, breaking windows with hammers and stones, the damage being estimated at hundreds of pounds. Among those arrested were the following Essex women: – Grace Cappelow [sic], Hatfield Peverel; Marie Moore, Forest Gate; Emily Catherine Marshall, Theydon Bois; Constance Nugent, Leytonstone; Dorothy [sic] Rock, Ingatestone, Madeline Rock, Ingatestone; and Sybil Smith, Chigwell.

Chelmsford Chronicle, 24 November 1911

Madeleine at least was sentenced to a week in prison; her release was reported in the Chronicle of 1 December 1911.

The next mention I’ve found of the Rock sisters in the Chelmsford Chronicle is 23 February 1912, when Dorothea spoke at a suffrage meeting in Chelmsford:

The Suffragettes have held several successful meetings in the open air, and on Wednesday a well-attended drawing-room meeting was held at Yverdon, London Road, the residence of Alderman and Mrs. Maskell. The expected speaker, Miss Wylie, was called away to work in the Glasgow Bye-election, so Miss Dorothea Rock took her place, with Miss Grace Blyth in the chair. In the evening there was a meeting for shop assistants. Miss Chapelow [sic] recited “The Song of the Shirt,” and Miss Rock again spoke.

Chelmsford Chronicle, 23 February 1912

A few short weeks later the Rock sisters were back in London, smashing windows at Mansion House with hammers and stones. This incident led to the longest Chelmsford Chronicle article that I have come across about the Rocks:

This newspaper column was preserved along with the photograph of the sisters posted above (T/P 193/13)

At the Mansion House on Tuesday, four Suffragists – Dorothea Rock, 30, and Madelaine Rock, 27, both giving addresses at the Red House, Ingatestone, the former described as of no occupation and the latter as a poet; Grace Chappelow, 28, The Villa, Hatfield Peverel, no occupation; and Fanny Pease, 33, of 4 Clements’s Inn, hospital nurse – were charged before Sir George Woodman with wilfully breaking windows at Mansion House.

The cases of Dorothea Rock and Grace Chappelow were taken first, and a constable said that about 10.15 on the previous evening he saw the two defendants walk up to the kitchen window of the Mansion House, in Walbrook, and deilberately break eight panes of glass with two hammers and stones. He arrested them, and at the statino a hammer and two stones were found on Rock and three stones on Chappelow, whose hammer had been left on the window sill.

Evidence having been given that the damage done was to the value of £2, Chappelow said she thought that was rather a high estimate.

Dorothea Rock: This thing is not done as wanton damage – we have done it as a protest against being deprived of the vote.

The Alderman: But it was wanton damage, whatever you may call it. Are you Londoners?

Rock: no, we have come up from Essex.

The Alderman: For this little prank. (Laughter.)

Rock: No, to do our duty… We selected the Mansion House because of the insult offered to our women here the other day by the Lord Mayor ordering them to be ejected from a meeting here.

The Alderman: I cannot find any excuse for treating you leniently or differently from other people. You are either criminals or lunatics, one of the other, and you will each have two months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

In the case of the other prisoners, Madelaine Rock and Fanny Pease, evidence was given by P.c. Washer that he recognised Rock as a seller of the “Votes for Women” paper in the vicinity of the Mansion House. He saw her throw a hammer enclosed in a glove at one of the windows of the basement of the Mansion House, but the weapon rebounded off the iron protections. The other prisoner was with her, and three two stones at the window.

Rock: It was my stone with broke it.

Both prisoners made statements in their defence on the lines of the previous two women.

The Alderman said he was sorry to punish these women in this way, but they were acting under an entirely mistaken view of their case. They were violent as agaisnt the public, and that was bound to bring punishment in its train. He must punish them equally as he would do a poor wandering man in the street who broke windows, and they must go to prison for two months with hard labour.

Pease: We are not afraid.

The Alderman: I can’t talk to you. You must remember that you are dealing with Englishmen, who are not to be driven to do that which they will not do of their own free will.

Interested spectators of the proceedings were the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, who were seated in the counsel’s seats.

So began two months in Holloway prison for the Rock sisters, along with several other fellow Suffragettes arrested in the March window smashing campaign. Many of the Suffragette prisoners went on hunger strike as a protest, and the prison authories responded by forcibly feeding them. This involved restraining the woman and pushing a rubber feeding tube through their nose or mouth into their stomach. Emmeline Pankhurst, in her book My Own Story, wrote that ‘Holloway became a place of horror and torment… I shall never while I live forget the suffering I experienced during the days when those cries were ringing in my ears’.

The Rocks appear in the volume of poetry published by the imprisoned campaigners, Holloway Jingles. Madeleine is described in some documents as a poet, and one of her poems was included in the book (you can read more about this in this preview of Glenda Norquay’s book Votes and Voices). Dorothea, meanwhile, is believed to be the subject of a poem, “To D.R.”, written by Joan Baillie Guthrie under the pseudonym Laura Grey.

While in Holloway Dorothea met Zoe Procter, who was to become her lifelong partner. Zoe had become involved in the WSPU in 1911 when her sister took her to a meeting, and she joined the Chelsea branch, running the lending library. An impassioned speech by Christabel Pankhurst inspired Zoe to take part in the window smashing campaign on 1 March that year, and armed with a hammer concealed in a large muff she smashed her window, and was sentenced to six weeks in Holloway.

However unpleasant their experience in Holloway, the Rock sisters were undeterred from pursuing further militant activitie. In July 1913 Madeleine was arrested for allegedly attempting to protect Sylvia Pankhurst from arrest:

INGATESTONE SUFFRAGIST ARRESTED.

“TOOLS OF THIS TYRANNY.”

Among the persons arrested at the Suffragist gathering at the Pavilion on Monday, and who appeared before Mr. Denman at Marlborough Street in Tuesday on charges of obstruction and assault, was Madeleine Rock, 30, described as a poet, of Ingatestone.

Inspector Riley stated that after he had arrested Mrs. Pankhurst the defendant, with two others, attempted to prevent him leaving the theatre with her.

Defendant Rock said she did nothing, but she felt Sergt. Cox’s stick. It came down on her head when she was not doing anything.

One of the defendants, Francesca Graham, was discharged.

Mr. Denman said the other two defendants must enter into recognisances to keep the peace for six months.

Miss Rock: I will not keep the peace; how long will you be the tools of tyranny?

Mr. Denman said if defendants were not willing to be bound over they must find two sureties in £20 each, or in default go to prison for twenty-one days.

Eventually the defendants found sureties.

Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday 25 July 1913

With the outbreak of the First World War in the following year, most militant campaigning activity ceased.

Madeleine continued to write poetry and published two volumes of her work, Or in the Grass in 1914 and On the Tree Top in 1927. She lived until 1954, leaving the residue of her estate to Marjorie Potbury, her cousin and a fellow suffragette.

Dorothea lived with Zoe Procter at 81 Beaufort Mansions, Chelsea, and Shepherds Corner, Beaconsfield. She wrote plays, in some of which Zoe performed. Zoe died in 1962 aged 94, leaving a substantial estate to Dorothea. Dorothea herself died in 1964, leaving bequests to Grace Chappelow and to Marjorie Potbury.

Music in the archives


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For this year’s Heritage Open Days we are celebrating creativity in the archives, including a chance to experience the sound of the music that would have been enjoyed at Thorndon Hall and Ingatestone Hall in the sixteenth century.

Thorndon and Ingatestone Halls, both near Brentwood, were owned by the Petre family. A number of surviving sources tell us about the musical instruments owned by the family and the music being performed in the household. Visitors to ERO on Heritage Open Day will be treated to something of the experience of the Petre family and their guests with live performances throughout the day.

Old Thondon Hall Walker map

Map showing Thorndon Hall by John Walker, 1598 (D/DP P5)

Ingatestone Hall

Drawing of Ingatestone Hall (undated) (I/Mb 196/1/30)

We are fortunate to have two music books from the household of John, 1st Baron Petre (1549-1614), which include sacred church music and secular music such as songs and dances. They are known as part books, as they only show one part of the composition, in this case the part for the bass singers.

John, 1st Lord Petre

John, 1st Lord Petre (1549-1614), owner of the music books Gaudeamus will base their performance on – from the Ingatestone Hall website

In this post we will share some sneak previews of some of the choral music which will be performed at our open day, and in another post soon we will investigate the musical instruments owned by the family.

John Petre music book

Both books have the name John Petre embossed in gold on their front covers (D/DP Z6/1 and D/DP Z6/2)

The sacred music included covers the whole Tudor period, from the reign of Henry VII (1485-1509) all the way through to the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1601) and beyond into the early Stuart period. This music is all in Latin, the language of the Roman Catholic Church. This perhaps reflects the fact that the Petre family remained staunchly Catholic throughout the upheavals of the English Reformation (and somehow all managed to keep their heads). Despite writing in Latin, several of the composers featured in the part book served as Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal, the sovereign’s own choir. Despite being a Protestant, Elizabeth I is known to have a fondness for Latin church music.

To give you a little taster of this beautiful music, we thought we’d share a few previews of some of the pieces that Gaudeamus will be performing:

Ne irascaris Domine is by William Byrd (c.1540-1623), the best known composer associated with the Petre family. Like several other pieces which will be performed, it is a motet – a piece of choral music with several parts to it. Dating from 1589, its Latin title means ‘Be not angry O Lord’. The piece may have contained a political message for Protestant England, as it turned away from the Catholic church. (Read more about this motet here.)

William Byrd

Byrd was born in London, but his family had origins in Ingatestone. He was a pupil of the great composer Thomas Tallis, and became a major figure in the world of Elizabethan music. From the 1570s he became increasingly involved in the world of English Catholics, and at times was suspended from his position at the Chapel Royal, his movements were restricted and his house subject to search.

Byrd moved to Stondon Massey in Essex in about 1594, apparently to be nearer his patron, Sir John Petre. He lived the last 30 years or so of his life there, and it is thought he was buried there alongside his wife in 1623. His motet Ne irascaris Domine is included in the Petre part books, and was performed for a special recording for us a few months ago by Southend-based chamber choir Gaudeamus:

Ave Dei Patris filia is by Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521), one of the foremost composers of the early Tudor period. Its title means ‘Hail, daughter of God’, is typical of music before the Reformation, made up of complex, interweaving parts. You can get a little taste of it by listening to the extract from track 7 here.

Fayrfax played an important role in the music of the royal court, as well as in noble households. He was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal by 1497, and led the Chapel Royal in Henry VIII’s state visit to France in 1520 known as the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’.

 

Lamentations is by Robert White (c.1538-1574), much of whose music was probably written for a young Elizabeth I. The 5 part Lamentations is a good example of the sort of intellectual Latin music that appealed to Elizabeth, a substantial composition lasting 22 minutes in all (Gaudeamus will be singing the first and last parts only).

White was probably born in Holborn, London, and was the son of an organ builder. As a child he was a chorister at Trinity College, Cambridge, and he stayed there as an adult singer. He took a Bacherlorship in Music from the University of Cambridge, before becoming Master of the Choristers in Ely and then at Chester Cathedral. In 1570 he was appointed organist and master of the choristers in Westminster Abbey. He died aged only about 36, along with the rest of his family, during an outbreak of plague in 1574.

Join us for our Heritage Open Day on Saturday 10 September 2016, 10am-4pm, to enjoy performances of all of these pieces and lots more, including a chance to see some of the treasures of our art and photography collections, and for fun family activities. You can find all of the details here.

Document of the Month, November 2015: Ingatestone and Fryerning’s fire engine

In an era when wooden houses were common and heating was provided by open fires, the danger of a conflagration was never far away.  The parishes of Ingatestone and Fryerning were aware of these dangers and provided a remedy – a fire engine. The two parishes jointly paid towards the expense of the engine and a team of 8 firemen.  It was housed in the south porch of Ingatestone church. 

The Fryerning vestry minutes for 5 April 1796 (D/P 249/8/2) show that two men were paid £1 per year to look after the engine and 18d was allowed to each of six men for assistance in working the engine.  In 1796 John Hogg junior and William Whichard were appointed to look after the engine, including washing it every quarter day.  A church warden from each parish was required to go along and witness the washing of the engine to ensure that it was done carefully.

D-P 249-8-2 watermarked

The fire engine was moved to the Market Place when the south porch was dismantled during the Victorian renovation of the church.  Then it was housed in the old waterworks in Fryerning Lane and eventually moved to a new fire station in the High Street.

Unfortunately this particular record does not tell us what kind of fire engine the parishes had (a bit more digging required), but it would likely have been a hand-pump fire engine with handles worked by men on each side to pump a continuous stream of water. It may have been drawn by horses to help get it to the scene of a fire as quickly as possible.

The vestry minute book will be on display in the Searchroom throughout November 2015.

How to run your manor

Following our recent posts on what a manor was, and the records produced by manorial courts, today we have the final instalment in our manorial mini-series from Archivist Katharine Schofield. Running a manor produced all sorts documents, which record boundaries, customs and obligations owed between tenants and lords – read on for just a few examples. You can find out more about manorial records and how you can use them in your own research at Essex through the ages: tracing the past using manorial records on Saturday 12 July 2014.

Imagine you are lord of a medieval manor. You might even own several manors, and they might be scattered around a county, or indeed the country.

To make sure you are making the most of your manors (and getting the most from your tenants), you are going to need to establish how much and what type of land your manors include, how much your manors cost to run, and how much income you can expect to get from them.

All of this took a great deal of estate management, and has left us with a rich archive of administrative records. This includes extents, surveys and custumals, accounts or compoti, and later maps, rentals, perambulations and terriers. Handily for the modern researcher, they were often produced in English from as early as the 15th century.

Custumals

Custumals record the customs of a manor; that is, the labour services and rents owed by tenants in return for their lands, and any obligations owed to or by the lord. The famous Dunmow Flitch ceremony, for example, has its origins in a custom of the manor of Little Dunmow.

The extent and custumal of 1329-1330 from the manor of Stansgate in Steeple (which survives as a copy of c.1450 (D/DCf M34)), records a number of customs, including the obligation of all tenants resident in Ramsey Island, Steeple and Stansgate with their own boats or barges to take the Prior of Stansgate (the priory owned the manor), monks and servants by water to and from Maldon market every Saturday with their food. In return the Priory would give them dinner on the following Sunday.

Surveys, maps, terriers and perambulations

These are all different types of document that establish the boundaries of a manor, and which bits of the manor were held by which tenants.

The survey of the manor of Ingatestone of c.1275 (D/DP M150) is stitched into a rental and names the tenants, with a brief description of their holdings and a more detailed list of the service they owed the lord. For the tenants the survey recorded the extent of their liabilities and offered the assurance that the lord could not demand more work from them. This document was known as the ‘Domesday of Barking’ (Barking Abbey owned the manor) and appears as such in a court roll of 1322-1323 where it was produced as evidence in a dispute about a customary fine.

Title page of the ‘Domesday of Barking’, for the manor of Ingatestone, here called ‘Gynges’

Title page of the ‘Domesday of Barking’, for the manor of Ingatestone, here called ‘Gynges’

The ‘Domesday of Barking’ records that Juliana Strapel (you can make out her name at the beginning of the first full line shown here) held one messuage and 10 acres. Her obligations from this landholding included the payment of 5s 3d. annually, 9d. ‘lardsilver’ (a payment to the larder of Barking Abbey), and payment of one ploughshare at Michaelmas. She was also obliged to plough twice a year, hoe and harrow each for one and a half days, make hay, reap one acre in the autumn, and provide a man to work for three days. She also owed pannage, where pigs were allowed to roam in the wood to feed off acorns, and was obliged to collect nuts

The ‘Domesday of Barking’ records that Juliana Strapel (you can make out her name at the beginning of the first full line shown here) held one messuage and 10 acres. Her obligations from this landholding included the payment of 5s 3d. annually, 9d. ‘lardsilver’ (a payment to the larder of Barking Abbey), and payment of one ploughshare at Michaelmas. She was also obliged to plough twice a year, hoe and harrow each for one and a half days, make hay, reap one acre in the autumn, and provide a man to work for three days. She also owed pannage, where pigs were allowed to roam in the wood to feed off acorns, and was obliged to collect nuts

Originally, records dealing with boundaries used written descriptions of the land in question.  During the 16th century these written descriptions developed into maps and some of the earliest local maps in the Essex Record Office were produced by manors. In 1592 Israel Amyce produced a written survey of the manor and lordship of Castle Hedingham (D/DMh M1). In order to make the written descriptions clearer he included marginal sketch maps and larger pull-out maps.

Pull-out map of centre pf Castle Hedingham in survey of manor and lordship of Castle Hedingham by Israel Amyce, 1592 (D/DMh M1)

Pull-out map of centre pf Castle Hedingham in survey of manor and lordship of Castle Hedingham by Israel Amyce, 1592 (D/DMh M1)

A survey of manor and lordship of Castle Hedingham by Israel Amyce, 1592, using a combination of written descriptions and  maps (D/DMh M1)

A survey of manor and lordship of Castle Hedingham by Israel Amyce, 1592, using a combination of written descriptions and maps (D/DMh M1)

Maps were costly to produce as it usually required the employment of somebody with the cartographical skills of Amyce or Walker. Terriers and perambulations (where the boundaries were walked) and a written description was produced, continued as a cheaper alternative to describe the bounds of a manor.

Rentals

After the Black Death of 1348-1349 and the estimated loss of between a third and half of the population, lords of the manor found it much more difficult to enforce labour obligations on their tenants. This made it much less profitable for lords of the manor to farm the land themselves and increasingly the lords commuted the labour services into a rent.  At Thaxted in 1393 the survey (D/DHu M58) lists all of the labour services which had been due from each tenant and then concludes ‘now pays to farm’. The rent payable quit the tenant of any further labour obligations and from the 15th century onwards rentals or quit rentals are found among manorial records. Rentals name the tenants, and often give a description or even names of the copyhold premises they occupied, with the amount that they owed to lord.

Accounts (compoti)

When lords of the manor farmed the lands of the manor themselves, detailed bailiff’s accounts or compoti (from the Latin computare to calculate or estimate) were produced. The parchment membranes of accounts and rentals are usually stitched together end to end to produce an effect like a giant till roll. When unrolled they can be several feet long.

D/DBw Q1, which is about 18 feet long

D/DBw Q1, which is about 18 feet long

A compotus usually runs from Michaelmas to Michaelmas and there is a set pattern, beginning with the cash amounts to be charged and then discharged, the corn and stock (in a specified order) and then labour services. The compotus for the manor of Terling, 1328-1330 (D/DU 206/22) is the record kept by the bailiff William Knott. He accounted first for all of the money and goods coming in, including the sale of produce and purchase and birth of livestock. He then continued by listing every charge on the lord’s income including shoeing horses, making wheels, wages for work including ditching the park and roofing and repairing the gutters of the hall, chapel and dovecot. Knott also accounted for every loss of livestock, including deaths from the ‘murrain’ (a catch-all word used to describe unidentifiable animal diseases) and payments of eggs to the lord’s household and to the church. One of the biggest items of expenditure was bringing a watermill from Prittlewell (£10). There were further payments for the mill including digging the pond for it and removing the earth, buying nails and tiles and timber from Boreham and paying a carpenter.

Extract from the compotus for the manor of Terling, 1328-1330 (D/DU 206/22), which records the purchase of a watermill [molend’ aquatic] from Prittlewell [Priterewelle] to be moved to Terling.

Extract from the compotus for the manor of Terling, 1328-1330 (D/DU 206/22), which records the purchase of a watermill [molend’ aquatic] from Prittlewell [Priterewelle] to be moved to Terling.

Whether you are interested in using manorial records in your own research, or just want to enjoy hearing experts talk about them, join us for Essex through the ages: tracing the past using manorial records on Saturday 12 July 2014 to find out how you can discover centuries of Essex life using these fascinating documents. There are more details, including how to book, here.