In the first of Podio Preston’s ‘Preston’s Famous Places and Faces’ series, we find out about Edith Rigby – one of Winckley Square’s famous residents.
Edith Rigby is a well-known suffragette born in city of Preston on the 8th October 1872. Rigby was one of seven children to the surgeon Dr Alexander Rayer. Dr Alexander Rayer treated many working class families; as a young child, Rigby developed an awareness of the inequalities between the working and the middle class.
In 1893, Edith Rigby married Dr Charles Rigby and moved to Winckley Square. The pair later adopted a two year old child, Arthur, in 1905. During this time in 1899, Edith Rigby also provided women with an opportunity to extend their education past the age of 11 with a night school at St Peter’s School.
Later on in 1907, Rigby formed her own branch of the Woman’s Social and Political Union after joining the WSPU a few years prior. Then on the 13th Febuary 1907, Rigby joined three other women and travelled to London to go to the first ‘Woman’s Parliament’. The WSPU planned to march from the Caxton Hall to Parliament. Rigby along with many other suffragettes was arrested and spent a month in prison where she took part in the hunger strikes.
In 1911, Rigby joined in on the boycotting of the census. Next in 1912, Rigby arranged the tarring of Lord Derby’s statue after he opposed votes for women, but she herself did not participate. One year later, one of the most recognisable actions of Rigby took place, as she placed a bomb in the empty Liverpool Cotton Exchange in 1913. Rigby handed herself into the police and was sentenced to nine months hard labour in prison.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, many suffragettes halted their movements. During the war, Rigby joined in with the country’s war effort but also continued her campaigning and in 1916, she joined the Independent Woman’s Social and Political Union.
When the war ultimately ended in 1918, some woman received the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act in 1918 only gave women who were over the age of 30 and met a property qualification. This vote was still not equal to men, so women continued to campaign and eventually obtained the equal right as men to vote in 1928.
After Edith Rigby’s husband passed away, she moved to Wales in 1926. Later on in her life, she developed Parkinson’s Disease and eventually passed away in the 1950s.