Frances Slimon, 19, (1913-1993) was a suffragist, at the time of the dinner living with three other women at 19A Eccleston Street, London SW1 (Maggie and Margaret Little and Nellie Carpenter) – the Littles probably relations. Only Nellie was there in 1932. Frances’ family tell us that she was lobbying at the House of Lords around this time and we know from her photograph that she was demonstrating for women’s rights at the time, with two other members of her table on this occasion – Florence McFarlane and Betty Archdale (see full photograph below). Elizabeth Abbott, also on this table, two years earlier was making an Open Door Council presentation at the Lords, as described on her page – perhaps the young fellow-Scot Frances was assisting her.
On our suggested line up of Abbott, Slimon, McFarlane, Helen Archdale, Mayo, Marsh, Betty Archdale and Moore, she would be with fellow Scots Elizabeth Abbott and Florence McFarlane. But it is perhaps also possible that if she was an invitee of Betty Archdale, her contemporary, they might have sat together. Quite a strongly Scottish line up, extending to Helen Archdale as well.
WHAT’S ON HER MIND?
This is very much a Six Point table, Millie Moore doing the accounts while the others campaigned. Perhaps they were planning their next moves and celebrating past outings.
FRANCES’S STORY SO FAR
Frances Anne Eadie Slimon was born in Scotland on 28th June 1913, daughter of Mrs Mary Hamilton Slimon née Irvine and Andrew Little Slimon. In 1923 her father, an upholsterer, emigrated to the US with his wife, leaving Frances and her brother Douglas to be raised by their father’s three unmarried sisters, all very independent-minded women, making Frances’ involvement in the suffrage movement very understandable. The family tells us she played the piano and The Scotsman of 23rd May 1929 recorded Frances playing the piano (in a duet) at the Edinburgh Festival in an under 18 category.
In 1933 Frances Slimon was living with Maggie and Margaret Little and Nellie Carpenter. The Littles were perhaps related to a friend of her grandfather (who had a friend called Little – it is not otherwise a family name). The 1933 Electoral Register ran from October 1933 to October 1934, during which period she would have become eligible to vote (21 in June 1934) so, along with the Little clue, this is almost certainly her.
Frances was active in suffrage activities, and is pictured below with members of the Six Point Group demonstrating against Austin cars, undoubtedly due to the views being expressed by the Chairman of the car company, Sir Herbert Austin (see below). Particularly intriguing is that she is joined in the demonstration by two of her dinner guests, Betty Archdale, second from left. Florence McFarlane, centre, and Frances on the right. The other three, alternating from left, are Monica Whately, Ruby Rich and Betty Gram Swing, all suffrage campaigners, Betty Gram Swing being from the US. In the background you can see a hoarding for a Motor Exhibition. I am not clear where this was taken: the major motor exhibitions at the time were in Olympia and one in the Albert Hall – this is more like central London. The source of the picture lists Florence as MacFarland, but I suspect it is our McFarlane. From the date of Sir Herbert’s major comments it is most likely April/May 1932.
So what did Sir Herbert Austin have to say that drew the attention of the suffragists? The Manchester Guardian of 14th April 1932 reveals all:
MACHINES PREFER GIRLS
The New Accountancy
MORE ACCURATE THAN MEN
Sir Herbert Austin, speaking at a luncheon at the Waldorf Hotel, London, yesterday in connection with an exhibition of British accounting and tabulating machines, said that it was an interesting human point in connection with those highly intelligent machines that they revealed girls to be much better operators than men.
“In the new accountancy women have a capacity for concentration which makes them far more accurate than men. It may be that here we a have a hint of a growing division of labour, in which men will more and more be employed making machines, while women are engaged to work them. Men may be satisfied with their own superiority, but the machines are not. They prefer girls. I do not know whether they prefer blondes, but, at any rate, they are worked better by girls.
“I do not favour female labour in the factory,” added Sir Herbert. “Prior to the war there were very few women engaged in our factories, but now they dispute the positions with men, and certainly we do find that they are more satisfactory than youths. They are more attentive to their work when it is of a monotonous character, as very often it must be in a factory. The one disadvantage of female labour is that under the Factory Acts they are not allows to work on night shifts.”
For Sir Herbert, accountancy skills for women were an ability to type numbers into a machine: Minnie Moore, the pioneering accountant on this very table, might have suggested it went rather further than that.
He wasn’t giving up, as this article from The Scotsman six months after the dinner reminds us:
WOMEN IN INDUSTRY
Sir Herbert Austin Urges Withdrawal
The suggestion that Hitler’s idea of removing women from industry should be adopted in this country was made by Sir Herbert Austin at a conference of works directors, managers, and foremen held, at Oxford yesterday, when he opposed Mr Will Sherwood of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers in a debate on the 40-hour week. “Let us try to devise some system whereby there is no need for women to remain in industry,” he said. “In this country women have grown up and built round themselves a position which they did not hold before the War, of being able to live decently on their own earnings. But, personally, I do not think woman’s place is in industry and I am confident if all the women were taken out of it – except perhaps the cotton industry – the unemployment problem would be solved.” 
Well, I suppose it might reduce male unemployment!
WHAT FRANCES DID NEXT
On 6th October 1934 Frances Anne Eadie Slimon, 21, no profession stated, daughter of Andrew Slimon, retired actuary, married James Leonard Conleith Dillon, 25, wine merchant, son of Michael Dillon, farmer, deceased, (FMP and GRO record obtained) in Paddington, both Frances and James living at 37 Lansdowne Crescent, Kensington. James was born on 15th May 1909 and Irish records of 1911 suggest that James was born in Kildare, son of Michael and Annie with a sister Maggie. Frances and James had two sons: Michael, the eldest born in 1935, and Shaun with grandchildren and great grandchildren of Frances living today.
Frances and James were at Lansdowne Crescent in 1936, with Annie Dillon and Margaret Josephine Dillon (the latter witnessed her wedding) who were there in 1934 and 1935 and several others. In 1938 they were living at 3 Crescent Mansions, Elgin Crescent, Kensington, and Annie Dillon also living with them – perhaps his mother? Frances and James later divorced and with her future partner she had a third son.
Frances Anne Eadie Slimon, mother Irvine, died aged 80 in Haymarket, Edinburgh, in 1993 (In the Scottish records women are listed under their maiden and married names). There are grandchildren and great grandchildren of Frances living today.
 Ancestry war records and Scotland’s People records
 Manchester Guardian, 14.4.1932 p12
 The Scotsman, 25.9.1933 p11s
 With many thanks to Frances’ family for providing us with many personal details, and the critical information that Frances was working at the House of Lords, all helping her to secure a firm claim to her seat at the table.