A surprise discovery has been made at the Brampton Museum, in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Officers came across a large scroll when carrying out a full inventory of the museum’s historic collections, which on closer inspection turned out to be an 1872 petition in support of women being able to vote.
The Bill to Remove the Electoral Disabilities of Women, found among some posters from the 1920s, is approximately 40 feet long and was signed by more than 1,000 male and female Newcastle residents. Subsequent contact with the Parliamentary Archives has revealed there are two recorded pro-suffrage petitions from Newcastle-under-Lyme – submitted by Mr Allen in 1871 and 1873.
In 1918 some women were given the right to vote in national elections in Britain for the first time and the discovery at the museum comes as the centenary year of women’s suffrage draws to a close.
Cllr. Mark Holland, Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “The Brampton Museum is an amazing treasure trove of objects which relate to the history of the borough. The collections contain more than 28,000 items but this one is a complete surprise.
“Once petitions were submitted to Parliament they were recorded and then destroyed, which makes the survival of this one remarkable and a mystery. It raises many questions – particularly why was it never submitted to Parliament even though it had the most support by far? One thing is for certain – museum officers will take good care of it.”
Museum volunteers are currently transcribing the petition and are hoping to base a future research project around it.