Lives of Ipswich women (1850-1950)

I worked on a book about women's lives in Ipswich for about a year.  It was commissioned by Pen & Sword and due to be published to mark the centenary of the extension of the female franchise in 1918.  Unfortunately, I was unable to complete it after I became ill in August 2017 but, now fully recovered, I am gradually putting some of my material on this website.  

Charlotte Alderton, nee Kettle, was born in Hadleigh but spent most of her life in St Clement's parish, a poor, dockside district of Ipswich.  We know something about her life because her husband, a disabled former Thames bargeman, wrote a memoir of their lives together.  It is unlikely that Charlotte herself was able to read and write fluently, if at all, and without Joseph's narrative she would be truly 'hidden from history'. As a young woman, she was a silk binder and would have been paid poverty wages.  Her married life was spent entirely in the domestic sphere, running a household and caring for her family and taking on paid work when it fitted in with these duties.  John Alderton, the actor, is one of her descendants and owns the family memoir which he is hoping to make into a film.

Mary Whitmore, nee Fletcher, was an influential Labour councillor on the Borough Council and became the first female mayor of Ipswich in 1946.  Unlike Charlotte Alderton, she spent much of her life in the public sphere.  She was born in Sproughton, a farmer's daughter.  As a young suffragette, she was one of the first members of the Ipswich branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Mary Whitmore trained as a teacher at Whitelands College near London and had a lifelong interest in education. She was a founder member of the Ipswich Workers Education Association and taught at Nacton Road Mixed School for many years. She joined the Labour Party in 1924 and was elected to the borough council in 1930.  She worked  through the Labour Party and the Borough Council to improve women’s health and education for all.  She received an MBE in 1951 for her services to public life.