A Man's Arguments against 

Women's Suffrage



Resolution on the Enfranchisement 

of Women


It is interesting to note the arguments made by an opponent of women's suffrage.   In 1906, Keir Hardie, leader of the Labour Party, had tabled a resolution trying to get the House of Commons to agree in principle that women ought to have the vote.   Samuel Evans was one of those who tried to 'talk out' the resolution (i.e. keeping talking until there was no longer time to take the vote).


Sir Samuel T Evans (1859-1919) was a High Court Judge.   He was the last QC appointed by Queen Victoria , and he rose to become Solicitor-General (1908-10) and President of the Divorce, Probate and Admiralty Court (1910-18).   As a judge his two most famous decisions were:

1.    When the famous criminal Dr Crippen murdered his wife Cora, Crippen appointed his lover, Ethel Le Neve, as executor of his will, intending that Ethel should get his wife's fortune.   Samuel Evans was judge in the case which ruled that a murderer cannot benefit from the death of the person he murdered.

2.   In the Divorce court, in the case of Browning v Browning, [1911] Samuel Evans ruled that a person could get a divorce if their spouse had knowingly given them a venereal disease (on the grounds that it was the same as a physical assault).

As Solicitor-General, he acted to protect government ministers against the Suffragettes, and – as Liberal MP for Mid-Glamorgan, 1890-1910 – he was well-known as an anti-Suffragist.

General William Booth, of the Salvation Army, found him a kindly and ‘very capable’ man.




This speech was made in Parliament on 25 April 1906.

Mr Samuel Evans (Mid Glamorganshire)

…The House should not decide upon this important question after only just an hour’s discussion.   This was a question of far-reaching importance…   By his proposal the hon. Member [i.e. Kier Hardie] was endeavouring to more than double the number of voters in this country at one stroke….  


There had been no sign of any real and genuine agitation in favour of such extension [of the franchise].   He knew that there were some who had asked for it in quite an irregular way, but there was no evidence on the part of women as a body that they desired that the franchise should be extended to them…


He thought the view of all really sensible men who had considered the subject, was that they did not desire or require the assistance of women in the House of Commons, and that they did not seem it fitting that women should come down into the arena of politics and engage generally in public affairs.   They thought that women had their own honourable position in life, that that position had been accorded to them by nature, and that their proper sphere was the home, where they might exercise their good and noble influence in the scared circle of the family and the home.   Women would be neglecting their homes if they cam into the House of Commons, and when they would be compelled to attend public meetings and to read all the newspapers and Blue-books and other dry documents, so as to fit themselves for the franchise.   In no country in the world except in some of our Colonies had women enjoyed such rights and privileges of citizenship.   His view was that all the public duties of citizenship ought to be imposed upon man and man alone.   If women were to be entitled to the privileges of citizenship, they ought to share its responsibilities, and to perform its duties.   Would it be desirable that women should have to go out to battle?...  


If all women were enfranchised, as it was proposed by the Resolution, they would at once swamp the votes of men.


Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) 4th Series, Vol.155, March 30 to April 25, 1906 , cols 1582-1587.

The speech was greatly interrupted, including such an outcry from the Ladies Gallery ‘which completely interrupted the proceedings’…   Some voices were heard to shriek out “We Will not have this talk any longer,” “Divide, divide”; “Vote, vote, vote;” “Vote for Justice for women,” “We refuse to have our Bill talked out,” “You do not believe in equality and justice.”   The Speaker ordered the Ladies Gallery to be cleared, and Mr Evans continued speaking until the end of the hour.




Another speaker in the same debate placed the emphasis on 'women's problems':


There were times and periods in women’s lives when the required rest not only for mind but for body, and to drag them into the political arena under those conditions would be cruel indeed.


This speaker - Mr Cremer -  insisted that he was not a 'women hater':


He was too fond of them to drag them into the political arena and to ask them to undertake responsibilities, duties, and obligations which they did not understand and which they did not care for.