Votes for women equalled votes against drink

April 26, 1996

Leading members of the temperance movement believed that the emancipation of women would bring about prohibition in Britain.

Research from the University of Manchester suggests an unusual link between teetotallers and suffragettes that spanned the world from New Zealand to Britain.

Margaret Barrow, who is completing a doctorate on the subject, has uncovered evidence that suggests the British relationship centred around the belief that a woman voter would be in favour of prohibition.

With around 100,000 members at the turn of the century, the women's temperance movement was a valuable ally to the "constitutional" suffragettes who rejected militant action. For a number of years the two movements even shared a common leader in Rosalind Howard, Countess of Carlisle.

The association of temperance and suffrage weakened with the onset of the first world war when new laws were introduced to restrict the sale of alcohol.

Barrow says that 19th-century middle-class liberals were attracted to a whole range of social puritan movements.

Guided by the "liberal ethic", their interests ranged from the peace movement to protecting the poor laws.

Barrow announced her findings at "Seeing Through Suffrage", a conference held at Greenwich University last week.

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