The Power of Committee

Tameside Suffragist: Bertha Mason 1855 - 1939

Bertha Mason was the daughter of Hugh Mason, an MP for Ashton-under-Lyne. He was a wealthy, a member of the Liberal Party and a strong advocate for women’s suffrage. He introduced a resolution in support of women’s enfranchisement, was responsible for helping the Central Committee For Women’s Suffrage with the parliamentary conduct of suffrage bills and a member of the Manchester Society for Women’s Suffrage. Bertha Mason shared the same passion for women’s suffrage as her father and became a member of various suffrage societies. She went on to become:

• Chairman of the Manchester Society’s reincarnation, the North of England Women’s Suffrage Society
• First woman member of the Board of Guardians in Ashton-under-Lyne
• President of the Lancashire Union of the British Women’s Temperance Association
• Treasurer of the Lancashire and Cheshire Union of Women’s Liberal Associations
• Secretary of the Ashton-under-Lyne WLA

In 1900 Mason moved to London where she became the honoury secretary of the Women’s Local Government Society, was a member of the executive committee of the Central Society for Women’s Suffrage and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Most notably, Mason was also one of twenty woman suffragists in a deputation to the then Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith.

Mason gave lectures to different NUWSS societies across the country accompanied by lantern slides. Addressing the junior members of the British Women’s Temperance Association in 1903, she told her audience "You are citizens of a State, whether you know it or not" and emphasised that "You will come to realise that the housing of the poor, the protection of infant life, the safeguarding of the workers, the care of the aged, the mentally afflicted, the education of the young, are your business, your concern."

Her lectures and images from the lantern slides were collated into a book, "The Story of Women’s Suffrage" in 1912.

After the First World War, Bertha became chairman of the Women’s Local Government Society and by 1934 was a vice-president of the National Council of Women of Great Britain.

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