In 1866 the Women’s Suffrage Petition was presented to Parliament and included three signatories from the Isle of Wight: Ellen Cantelo, Elizabeth Thompson and Sarah James.
Signatures were gathered across the UK and Ireland via family circles and friendship networks. Ellen, Elizabeth and Sarah must have been politically engaged and aware of the latest developments and campaigns for women’s suffrage.
Ellen lived at 69 High Street, Sarah in St James Street and Elizabeth in Carisbrooke. Ellen was a well-known artist and she and her sister Elizabeth came from a Chartist family – a working class movement for political reform in the 19th century. Little is known about the third signatory Sarah although it seems likely she knew the sisters, perhaps as a member of the extended family or a close friend.
Ellen, Elizabeth and Sarah were living in a time when women’s lives were controlled by men. First their fathers and then their husbands controlled their property, children and many other aspects of their lives. The radical politics of these women and their family would have been far from the norm in the small Island communities they lived in. These three women were at the forefront of the campaign for women’s suffrage.
Including original research conducted by Hannah Griffiths, Sundni Heritage