Miss F Barry

Florence in 1925[1]
Miss Florence Antoinette (or Antoinita) Barry, 37, (1885-1965), Hon. Sec of the St Joan’s Alliance, a Catholic feminist group, for half a century, from 1912 to 1962 and International Secretary from 1937 for St Joan’s Social and Political Alliance. “The tireless and much-missed Florence Barry, International Secretary for several decades, was awarded the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” Cross for her work with the Alliance.”.[2]  The most likely convener/organiser of this table.


A table of four allows all to participate in the same conversation: if we have the right four the topics of conversation may have ranged from the role of women in the workplace, Josephine Collier having researched the subject, Hilda Ewart and manager herself, Thomas Cole very involved in managing people I would assume and Florence Barry the networker. Did being a Catholic make a difference to their work and lives? – a subject for research perhaps.


I would imagine that Florence was keen to network with as many people as she could at the dinner.


Florence was born in Birkenhead, of Roman Catholic of Persian descent, on 4th May 1885 (at 66 Park Road Birkenhead in 1912), the daughter of Austrian charity worker Frances Jane Shroder, and Persian born Zacharie Balthazar Bahri, a merchant.[3] She had three brothers and three elder sisters.[4]

She is listed as the Hon Organising Secretary of the Liverpool Branch of the CWSS, in the 1913 edition of the Suffrage Annual.[5] Florence may also have been the author of a suffrage song.[6] In 1927 Florence co-signed a letter to The Times regarding votes for women at 21, as Hon. Secretary, St. Joan’s Social and Political Alliance. Other signatories also at this dinner included Lady Rhondda, Winifred Cullis, and Eva Moore – as well as Gabrielle Jeffrey as the Hon. Treasurer of the St. Joan’s Social and Political Alliance, with whom Joan was sharing a house in Hampstead.[7]

In 1925 she and others, including Lady Rhondda and Dr Louisa Martindale, met with Alice Paul, the American suffragist, conferring with English members of the newly formed International Advisory Committee of the National Woman’s Party – an American Woman’s Club – in London: pictured below:[8]

Florence was also an initial member of the Open Door Council when it was founded on 5th May 1926.  Being a Catholic, or at least working for a Catholic organisation, did matter it seems to Virginia Wolff, who refused to let Florence have a review copy of her new book “Three Guineas”, due, it would seem, to Virginia’s agnosticism.[9] 

Left to Right – Seated – Alice Paul, Elizabeth Robins, Viscountess Rhondda, Dr. Louisa Martindale, Mrs. Virginia Crawford, Dorothy Evans – Standing – Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence, Alison Neilans, Florence Underwood, Miss Barry.


In the 1939 census Joan was recorded as an Organizing Secretary, Social and Political Organization, living at 5 Holly Place, Hampstead – where she had been living at least since 1924 with Gabrielle Violet Jeffrey, in 1939 a clerk in the local govt., maternity and child welfare section (also mid ‘50s, born 21st October 1886). Gabrielle was the founder of the Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society and Florence succeeded her as Hon. Secretary. Also in Holly Place was the 22 year old journalist and writer Christine M. L. Spender (born 23rd December 1907, and who died late 2000 at 93) the only daughter of Harold Spender, journalist and friend of Lloyd-George who wrote an early biography of the prime minister.

Florence Antoinita died in Hammersmith Hospital on 27th January 1965, when living at 64 North End Road, Golders Green, Hendon, her probate going to Frances Marie Cheux, her niece.[10] [11] [12] [13]

There may well be more we can learn about Florence. But from what we know we can be sure this is the Miss F. Barry on the list, having signed that 1927 letter with Lady Rhondda and other fellow table guests. The tireless worker.


[1] Florence in 1925, meeting with English members of the newly formed International Advisory Committee of the National Woman’s Party RCOG Blog, Pioneers: Louisa Martindale (1873-1966) FRCOG 1933, posted 8.6.2017 accessed 2.2.2019

[2] Anne Marie Pelzer, Brussels 1977 St. Joan’s International Alliance, a short history 1911 – 1977 published in The Journal of St. Joan’s International Alliance, 1992, pp. 1-16, English translation by Françoise Awre, Bath (UK). Accessed 20.1.2018

[3] Details on her parents (though inaccurately stating Florence founded the CWSS) from Krista Cowman, Mrs Brown is a Man and a Brother: Women in Merseyside’s Political Organisations 1890-1920, Oxford University Press, 1.4.2004, p112

[4] Barry, Florence Antoinette, in Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928, Routledge, 2.9.2003

[5] The Suffrage Annual and Women’s Who’s Who 1913, S. Paul and Company.

[6] Carolyn Christensen Nelson, (ed), Literature of the Women’s Suffrage Campaign in England, Broadview Press, 2004, p175

[7] Votes for Women at 21, Letter to the Editor. The Times, 4.2.1927 p10

[8] RCOG Blog, Pioneers: Louisa Martindale (1873-1966) FRCOG 1933, posted 8.6.2017 accessed 2.2.2019

[9] This anecdote from Alice Staveley, “Marketing Virginia Wolff and Public Relations in “Three Guineas”, in Book History Vol. 12 (2009) pp315,325, Johns Hopkins University Press.

[10] Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995, year first suggested in Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement, A reference guide

[11] She is listed as Antoinita in Cheryl Law’s Women: A modern political dictionary (as well as in the probate records).

[12] JISC Archives Hub https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/f2ac9086-f5b7-3867-82b4-ae056737e98b?component=66f4d39e-0b79-3ef8-84f9-ea1b75e696cf

[13] Nancy Stewart Parnell, Florence Antoinita Barry,   The Way of Florence Barry 1885 – 1965 https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/way-Florence-Barry-1885-1965-Nancy-Stewart-Parnell/B0017CW7F6

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