Miss Florence McFarlane

Florence McFarlane recuperating in the grounds of Dorset Hall, Merton, South London[1]
Miss Florence G. McFarlane, 65, (1867-1944) was an active suffragette, nurse, and traveller, imprisoned with fellow table guests Winifred Mayo and Charlotte Marsh. The Hon. Secretary of the Six Point Group, she ended her days in Los Angeles.


My suggested plan for the table: Abbott, Slimon, McFarlane, Helen Archdale, Mayo, Marsh, Betty Archdale and Moore would see her alongside the young Scottish suffrage campaigner Frances Slimon, and with Helen Archdale, fellow suffragette.


She perhaps is looking forward to reminiscing, as well as thinking what next needs to be done to promote the cause – and probably ready to inspire the next generation to keep the flame alive. Perhaps this was another opportunity to promote the activities of the Six Point Group and organise signatories to letters to The Times etc.


Florence Geraldine McFarlane, was born on 5th October 1867, in Leith, Midlothian, the fourth of twelve, possibly fourteen[2] children of Marian Elizabeth Newton and husband John McFarlane (fourteen children born over a 20 year period). In 1871 she was living in Leith, Edinburgh, one of six siblings at home then. In 1881 she was living at Glen Caurne, Oswald Road, Newington, Leith.

In 1901 Florence Geraldine McFarlane, age 33, was a hospital matron in an Edinburgh private hospital at 2 Archibald Place. In 1920 Florence G. McFarlane, born 1868, lodger, magazine journalist, in US Census, having immigrated to the US in 1915 – listed in the ship’s register on 15th May 1915 as a mental healer and citing her sister Mrs Begbie of 107 The Ridgway, Wimbledon, Surrey. In 1919 “At the home of Truth I4I5 L Street Sacramento Miss Florence G. McFarlane of Edinburgh, Scotland, will speak Sunday evening at 11 o’clock.” .. getting into metaphysics etc?[3] On 16th January 1923, Florence G. McFarlane, a nurse, born 1868, arrived in London from Beira, then living at 26 Frognal Lane, Hampstead, with USA as last place of permanent residence. Her widowed sister Edith also travelled from Beira in March 1932 with her son and daughter. Florence the nurse does travel a fair bit.

Imprisoned as a suffragette and known as Dundee’s hunger striker, she became Hon. Sec. of the Six Point Group founded by Lady Rhondda and others in 1920. Florence McFarlane was arrested on the infamous WSPU Black Friday on 18th November 1910, along with Winifred Mayo, and Kitty Marshall and 80 others – and imprisoned. Florence, a hospital nurse, was also imprisoned in 1912 for breaking a window in High Street Kensington. She gave her address then as 61 Nethergate, Dundee.[4] Florence can be seen in a 1912 photograph convalescing in the garden of Dorset Hall, the home of suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates. Florence is reading in the chair on the right, Rose’s only son Paul is seen playing on a mat, Florence’s widowed sister Edith Marian Begbie (left), and Mrs Gertrude Wilkinson (centre) had been in jail for smashing windows, where they had opted to hunger strike. By the time they were released they were both very frail.[5]

Florence and other suffragettes at Dorset Hall, Merton
Dorset Hall, Merton

In 1932/33 Florence was out demonstrating with two other table members, Betty Archdale and Frances Slimon.  In the photograph below, Florence takes centre stage here, flanked by, from the left of the photograph, the suffragists, Monica Whately (far left), Betty Archdale, Ruby Rich, the American Betty Gram Swing, and Frances Slimon on the far right. They are demonstrating against the car maker Sir Herbert Austin’s views that women should go back to the home (see Frances Slimon’s page for the full story).  The source for this photograph lists her as Florence McFarland, but I suspect I am correct and she did of course develop strong links with US suffragists, moving there in 1939.



On 23rd June 1933 an article in Vote reproduced a letter to The Times that Florence had co-signed as Hon. Sec. of the Six Point Group[6] In 1933 there is considerable correspondence in University of Liverpool Archives on the Six Point Group getting involved in the case of female staff losing their jobs upon marriage. In one letter she is inviting a Dr Miller to an upcoming Suffragette Dinner and suggesting meeting with Charlie Marsh (Charlotte Marsh)[7] In 1934 she was the Hon. International Secretary of the Six Point Group, at the Maison Internationale, Geneva. Then she was living at 31 Brookfield, West Hill, N6.[8] After WW2, in 1946, Florence was living at 62 Barcombe Avenue, Streatham.

Was she related to hunger striker Margaret McFarlane, also from Dundee? – though Margaret is not a sibling. Florence died at the age of 77 on 28th October 1944 in Los Angeles having travelled there in 1939: her doctor’s record saying she suffered from “extreme restlessness and nervousness” – her most recent address being the Penn Club in London (a Quaker linked club in Bloomsbury, still there), and citing her youngest sibling Noel McFarlane in Manaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

Florence McFarlane arriving in Seattle from Canada 1939


[1] Merton Archives, Suffragettes in the garden of Dorset Hall, accessed online 24.3.2018

[2] We can find 14 children listed with her parents, but with access to the original census they could be nieces or nephews too.

[3] California Digital Newspaper Collection, accessed 9.2.2018. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SU19191108.2.143

[4] West London Observer, 8.3.1912 and 29.3.1912

[5] Merton Archives, Suffragettes in the garden of Dorset Hall, accessed online 24.3.2018

[6] Women and the Anomalies Act, Vote, 23.6.1933 p3

[7] University of Liverpool Archives 

[8] Florence G. McFarlane, Hutchinson’s Woman’s Who’s Who 1934, Hutchinson & Co. London.

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