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Photo of Joan Wickham

Joan Wickham

Member of the Welfare Department
Birthplace Greater London London EnglandPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna 18 U East Date of Birth: December 1, 1888 Date of Death: December 8, 1966


Alice Joan Wickham

Known as ‘Joan’

Date and place of birth: 1 December 1888 in London

Date and place of Death: 8 December 1966 at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
Nationality: British

Joan had a very privileged upbringing along with her sister Mary Ethel Wickham.
Parents:  Major Henry Wickham and Lady Ethelreda Caroline Gordon married 16 September 1884 in Peterborough District, Northamptonshire

Major Henry Wickham

Parents occupation Major Henry Wickham was a soldier with Scots Guards for a while but as a member of a wealthy family, he had private means. The Wickham family were the owners of the Low Moor Iron company in Yorkshire
Schools Universities attended and years of attendance – Not known
Place of residence at Gretna:
Marital status

Joan married John Lawrence Hodgson in Oundle District Northamptonshire 1918

Mary Elizabeth Hodgson 1919 and Ruth Hodgson 1922.  Although secondary source Elizabeth Crawford states Joan had three children, extensive searches to find a third child were unsuccessful.
Job title at Gretna: Welfare Supervisor
Travels –
Awards/recognitions: Nil known
Trivia/any other information

Joan Wickham  –  From Elizabeth Crawford, suffrage historian: ‘a young woman associated with Mrs Pankhurst before and during the First World War.’

Elizabeth Crawford summary of Joan’s life:

[Alice] Joan Wickham ( 1888-1966) was the younger daughter of Henry Wickham, a member of a wealthy Yorkshire family (owners of the Low Moor Iron Company) and sometime army officer, and Lady Ethelreda Caroline Gordon, daughter of the 10th Marquess of Huntly. Joan lived with her family at Cotterstock Hall, Oundle, Northamptonshire, tended by about 12 indoor servants, and was educated at home by a succession of French and German governesses, learning to speak both languages. In the early years of the 20th century Joan was much in demand as a bridesmaid, filling that role at the fashionable weddings of number of her cousins. She was presented at Court in May1908 and over the years appeared on the guest list of balls and charity fetes as well as on the hunting field. However, despite this way of life, entirely conventional for a young woman of her background, Joan’s grandson described how ’she continued her studies of history and literature and became involved in the activities of the Fabian Society…She was much influenced by the writings of Ruskin, Morris, Beatrice and Sidney Well, Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and others. She began to contrast the lifestyle of her parents’ rich friends with those who worked to provide their income.’ At some point, certainly by 1912, perhaps earlier, she left Cotterstock Hall in order to live in London, probably in Chelsea, because it is as a member of the Chelsea Women’s Social and Political Union that we first encounter her, making a donation to the WSPU in March 1912. By June she was appearing locally as a speaker for the WSPU and in the summer devoted four weeks to suffrage campaigning for the WSPU in Scotland. In January 1913 she had an article, ‘Evolution and the Cause of Women’, published in the left-leaning Daily Herald; a week earlier she had been out hunting in Northamptonshire. The following month, at a time when WSPU militancy was increasing and more and more suffragettes were being arrested and imprisoned, she was appointed ‘Prisoners’ Organiser’, working from WSPU headquarters in Lincoln’s Inn House. She continued as a speaker for the WSPU in and around London, in March meeting a fusillade of eggs, earth and stones at one meeting in Hyde Park. In April she was appointed secretary for the WSPU Summer Festival and appears to have carried out this post with aplomb, the Festival considered a great success. She was Group Captain of one of the sections in Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral procession through London and one of the few WSPU members to accompany the coffin on the train to Morpeth. Joan’s commitment and efficiency was clearly appreciated, her station in society perhaps adding to her appeal, for in September 1913 it was as the agent/secretary for Mrs Pankhurst that she sailed to America. Mrs Pankhurst followed a little later, after Joan had arranged a series of lectures for her across the US. They sailed back together on the White Star liner, Majestic, arriving off Plymouth on 4 December, where Mrs Pankhurst was arrested under the Cat and Mouse Act. During the journey from New York to Plymouth Mrs Pankhurst and Joan had been accompanied by an American journalist, Rheta Childe Dorr [entered on the Majestic’s manifest as Eliza Child-Dor], who had been commissioned by W.F.Bigelow, /editor of Good Housekeeping, to gather material from interviews with Mrs Pankhurst (she had also travelled with her on ship to New York in October) with the intention of ghosting her autobiography. This was serialised in Good Housekeeping, in issues running from December 1913 to July 1914. Among the small number of first-class passengers also travelling on the Majestic was a
British engineer, John Lawrence Hodgson [entered on the Majestic’s manifest as ‘Lawrence Hodgson], who engaged Mrs Pankhurst in conversations during the voyage, afterwards writing them up as a lengthy ‘report’ of them. This lies at the heart of the Wickham collection. Hodgson had been staying with Poultney Bigelow at his house at Malden-on Hudson [‘Bigelow, Malden-on-Hudson, Mrs Pankhurst, Majestic, 1913’is written, presumably in Hodgson’s hand, on the front of a folder than accompanies the collection. I am not sure what Poultney Bigelow’s connection was with William Bigelow, editor of Good Housekeeping] not long before his departure from the US, and the photographs he took on the Majestic were taken with a camera given to him by Bigelow. He was present at a WSPU meeting in London a few days later (on, I think, 7 December), which used the fact of Mrs Pankhurst’s arrest as another fund-raising opportunity – a means of raising a ‘Great Collection’ – at which Joan spoke from the platform. In early 1914 Joan went to Ireland as a WSPU organiser, based in Dublin, speaking at meetings across Ireland. In June, with Dorothy Evans, she infiltrated Sir Edward Carson’s house and confronted him in his dining room, before being ejected by servants, and on 31 July, with others, set a bomb that caused an explosion in Lisburn Cathedral. She was arrested, sent to Crumlin Road Prison, went on hunger strike but was released without being sentenced under the general amnesty offered to suffragettes after the outbreak of war. During the war Joan continued working with the Pankhursts, was one of the speakers at the War Work Procession in July 1915, in September 1915 accompanied Mrs Pankhurst on a recruitment drive in south Wales, and in January 1916 sailed with Mrs Pankhurst to New York, again as her secretary, although this time the cause was ‘Serbian Relief’ rather than ‘Votes for Women. According to her grandson, she was involved in the organisation of the female work force when the new munitions factory was set up in Gretna; there certainly is at least one photograph associated with Gretna in the collection. In June 1918 Joan Wickham married John Hodgson, settled in Eggington, Bedfordshire, and eventually had three children. Immediately before and after her marriage Joan befriended Olive Schreiner, whom John had first met in 1911 when he was working in South Africa and with whom he renewed acquaintance after she came to live in England in 1914. Joan Hodgson contributed a short memoir of Schreiner to Cronwright Schreiner’s Olive Schreiner (1924). In the 1920s and 1930s Joan was a member of the Labour Party, standing for election at least once (1931) as a Labour candidate in the Bedfordshire County Council elections. And was a friend of Sylvia Pankhurst. John Hodgson died in 1936, after which Joan moved to a house she had built – ‘Journey’s End’, near Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. During the Second World War she worked in a munitions factory in Wales’

Joan pictured as part of the Welfare Department at HM Factory Gretna

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