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Suffragette smashes British Museum cases with meat cleaver
The British Museum, where the, as yet, unnamed Suffragette wreaked havoc today Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Suffragette smashes British Museum cases with meat cleaver

Published: 9 April 1914

A woman wielding a meat cleaver smashed ten cases in the Asiatic Section of the British Museum in London today.

The woman, who declined to give her name, was arrested at once by police and is being held at Tottenham Court Road Police Station. She is expected to be brought before Bow Street Magistrates Court tomorrow.

At the time of the incident, the Asiatic Section of the museum was deserted. The sound of breaking glass attracted the attention of two members of staff who witnessed the woman repeatedly striking cases with a butcher’s cleaver. It is thought that the woman smuggled in the cleaver under her skirt.

A valuable porcelain saucer was destroyed.

Meanwhile, two members of the Women’s Social and Political Union have appeared in court in Belfast charged with having in their possession dangerous and explosive substances under suspicious circumstances.

Dorothy Evans and Maud Muir, supported by a huge number of fellow activists who crowded into and around the courtroom, disrupted the proceedings of the court by making speeches in which they contrasted the prosecutions of suffragettes with the manner in which Sir Edward Carson was allowed to go free.

As was the case with many of those arrested for militant suffragist activity, Dorothy Evans and Maud Muir both went on hunger strike.
L: An extract from a medical report for the Dorothy Evans and 'Madge' Muir which says '...forcible feeding is undesirable. I recommend their immediate release on medical grounds'. R: The release statement dated 12 April 1914, four days after the pair were remanded. Click to enlarge. (Images: National Archives of Ireland, GPB SFRG 9)

Miss Muir asked why the Ulster Unionists were being allowed to openly arm for the purpose of rebellion while the suffrage protesters were being brought to court.

The presiding Magistrate, Garrett Nagle, said he would have to have the court cleared, to which Miss Evans responded: ‘We are the only true Ulster militants here.’

Eventually, police constables dragged the women from the court amidst scenes of uproar. When the case eventually proceeded, attempts were made by both women to throw missiles at the magistrate, first a book and then a walking cane.

Both women were refused bail and were remanded in custody until next week.


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.