Miss Zoe Procter

The sister of the headmistress of Surbiton High School, Zoe Procter, was an admired and influential presence in the school.

In early 1912 Zoe Proctor was inspired by hearing Christabel Pankhurst make an impassioned appeal to volunteer to take part in the 1st March ‘symbolic’ window smashing campaign. Zoe had apparently lost faith with the slowness of the campaign for women’s rights. She signed up.

suff1On March 12th, a fellow suffragette Nina Boyle loaned Zoe a large muff in which she concealed a hammer. She broke a window, was remanded in Holloway Prison and eventually was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment.[1] She stood alert in St Martins-in-the-Fields. “I heard the clock strike six… immediately afterwards there sounded the crash of shattered glass from the direction of the Cunard Company’s office, and I hastily turned the corner and swung my hammer against several of the small panes of an old-fashioned silversmith’s shop.”[2]

An uncle hired a lawyer to defend her, but Zoe refused to cooperate and went proudly to jail in Holloway Prison for six weeks. Alice brought her sister baskets of fruit whilst in prison.

Article from the Illustrated London News, 9 March 1912. Entitled ‘Glass-Smashing for Votes! Suffragettes as window-breakers’, the page is printed with illustrations showing suffragettes smashing shop front windows in the West End of London.[3]

suff2

Broken windows at Pontings 123-127 Kensington High Street, smashed by suffragettes, 4 March 1912. These windows were broken during the suffragette window-smashing campaign of March 1912.[4]

[1] Women’s Suffrage Movement, Elizabeth Crawford

[2] Z. Procter, Life and Yesterday, 1960.

[3] From the Museum of London collection.

[4] From the Museum of London collection.

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