Emily Davison
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Emily Wilding Davison (1872 - 1913)

Emily Wilding Davison
Born in Greenwich, London, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Died in Epsom Cottage Hospital, Surrey, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 2 May 2014
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Emily Davison was a part of the Suffragette Movement.

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Emily Wilding Davison was a militant activist who fought for women's suffrage in Britain. She was jailed on seven occasions and force-fed 49 times. She is best known for stepping in front of King George V's horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1913, sustaining injuries that resulted in her death four days later.

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Emily Wilding Davison

Emily Wilding Davison, the daughter of Charles Edward Davison and his second wife, Margaret (Caisley) Davison, was born on October 11, 1872 at Greenwich in London, England.[1] She was baptised on December 9, 1872 at St Alphege, Greenwich.[2]

After attending Kensington Prep School, Davison took classes at Royal Holloway College[3] and at Oxford University, but she couldn't officially earn a degree from either institution. Women were prohibited from doing so at the time.

In 1895 she began teaching at the Church of England College for Girls at Edgbaston. The following year she found employment at Seabury School, Worthing (1896–8). Eventually she raised enough money to return to university education. After graduating from University of London she obtained a post teaching the children of a family in Berkshire.[4]

Emily joined the Women's Social and Political Union in 1906. She gradually became more and more involved in WSPU activities and in June 1908, was one of the chief stewards at a WSPU demonstration in London. The following year Emily gave up full-time teaching so that she could devote more of her time to the WSPU. Emily also became involved with the Workers' Educational Association.[4]

Emily became a natural follower of the Suffragettes. She took part in attacks on property. She became a leading member of the Suffragettes and was imprisoned and force-fed. On one occasion she barricaded herself in a prison cell to escape force-feeding. Her cell was flooded with ice cold water which drenched her while workmen broke down the cell door. Such treatment only made her even more determined.[4]

On another occasion while in prison, she threw herself off of a prison upper gallery floor.[4] She was badly injured but realised that a Suffragette dying in prison would look bad for the authorities - who were to respond to this real threat by the introduction of the Cat and Mouse Act.[5]

Prison Record
Date Offence
1909Mar30 One month in prison for obstruction
1909Jul30 Two months in prison for obstruction
1909Sep04 Two months for stone throwing at White City, Manchester
1909Oct20 One month for stone throwing at Radcliffe near Manchester
1920Nov19 One month for breaking windows in the House of Commons
1912Jan10 Six months for setting fire to postal boxes at Holloway, London
1912Nov30 Ten days for assaulting a vicar who she mistook to be David Lloyd George

It is unclear what exactly Davison had in mind on June 4, 1913. She attended the Epsom Derby with the intent of advancing the cause of women's suffrage, bringing with her two suffragette flags. After the race began, Davison ducked under the railing and strode onto the track. She put her hands up in front of her as Anmer, a horse belonging to King George V, made its way toward her. King George V and Queen Mary were watching this spectacle unfold from their royal box.

The horse crashed into Davison and struck her in the head. The jockey riding Anmer was also injured, but the horse was unhurt. Davison was taken from the track and brought to a nearby hospital. Never regaining consciousness, she died four days later on June 8, 1913 at Epsom Cottage Hospital.[6]

A public funeral was held in London on 14 June 1913. Emily Davison's body was taken from Epsom and escorted, by a large and spectacular procession, from Victoria to St.George's Church, Bloomsbury, where a memorial service was held, and afterwards to King's Cross where the body was entrained for Northumberland for burial at the parish church of St Mary's, Morpeth, on 15 June.[4]


  1. "England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837-1920", index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/2XHF-7XP : accessed 02 May 2014), Emily Wilding Davison, 1872.
  2. Ancestry.com. London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 [database on-line]. Original data: Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906 and Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1906. London Metropolitan Archives, London. Citation: London Metropolitan Archives, Greenwich St Alphege, Register of Baptism, P78/ALF, Item 022. Emily Wilding Davison; 9 Dec 1872.
  3. London University: Royal Holloway. College Archives and Special Collections. Royal Holloway College, Egham, Surrey, register of students, RHC AR/200/1, p. 14
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Vera Di Campli San Vito, ‘Davison, Emily Wilding (1872–1913)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37346, accessed 2 May 2014)
  5. Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913. 1913 Cat and Mouse Act. Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1913/3&4G5c4.
  6. "Emily Wilding Davison," The Biography.com website, http://www.biography.com/people/emily-davison-9268327 (accessed May 02 2014).

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Emily by comparing test results with other carriers of her ancestors' mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage (beta) of DNA with Emily:

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Hi Michele, thanks for such a wonderful profile. The England Project has a Suffragists and Suffragettes topic, and would love to co-manage this profile with you. See Project Managed Profiles Help for more information. I'll send you a trusted list request explaining how to add the England Project account as manager for the profile. Please contact me if you would like to discuss. Regards, Gillian, Leader, England Project.
posted by Gillian Thomas