Jessie Boucherett – suffragette and founder of FfW – features in BBC coverage

As the UK marked the centenary of some women gaining the vote Futures for Women was proud to know that its founder, Jessie Boucherett, played a part in starting the campaign for women’s suffrage.

After establishing the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women (now known as Futures for Women), Jessie became involved in many other aspects of the women’s movement, in the process developing an impressive feminist identity. The importance of the contribution she made to that movement has been largely overlooked by historians. It was Jessie’s immediate donation (of a sum equivalent to at least £2,000 today) offered during a discussion with Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon in May 1866 which helped the campaign for women’s suffrage to get off the ground. On notepaper headed ‘Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in connexion with the NAPSS, 19 Langham Place, London’ Bodichon wrote to John Stuart Mill’s daughter Helen Taylor, suggesting that the latter should draft a petition to gain the vote for women. Bodichon wrote:

“Miss Boucherett who is here puts down £25 at once for expenses. I shall be every day this week at this office at 3 p.m. Could you write a petition – which you could bring with you.”

On 6 February the life and work of Jessie Boucherett was featured in two BBC programmes celebrating Vote100.  Dr Anne Bridger, historian and co-author of the book “Timely Assistance” which charts Jessie’s life and work, was interviewed on BBC Look North and BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

Jessie died in 1905, thirteen years before the vote was given to some women, and is buried in North Willingham churchyard in Lincolnshire.  But her legacy lives on in Futures for Women, who continue to assist women with the costs of further education and training to enable them to become financially independent and active members of our society.

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