A leading suffragette is to be given the Freedom of the City for her work campaigning for women’s rights.

Mary Clarke will be bestowed the honour posthumously having been a pioneering member of the women’s rights movement in the early 20th Century.

She helped to organise the National Women’s Social and Political Union in Brighton up until her death in 1910 having spent time in prison for her campaigning.

Councillor Bella Sankey, Leader of the council said: “It would be an honour to posthumously dedicate the Freedom of the City award to Mary Clarke, whose extraordinary vision, dedication and strength helped shape the fabric of our city and the society we live in today.

“Mary’s story, along with stories of other women who fought alongside her to achieve equality and emancipation, often go unrecorded, forgotten or hidden from history.


“A hundred years later, in times when women’s rights must still be fought for, Mary’s sacrifice continues to resonate and needs to be amplified.”

Mary Jane Clarke, the younger sister of leading suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, was the organiser for the WSPU between 1909 and 1910.

Her role also included calling for general elections and speaking to crowds on Brighton seafront.

She was one of 300 women who were beaten by police outside of the Houses of Parliament and was arrested three times.

In Holloway Prison, she was subjected to forced feeding after going on hunger strike.

She died on Christmas Day in 1910 and is believed to be the first suffragette to have died for women’s right to vote.

The award will be bestowed upon Mary Clarke shortly before a meeting will also consider whether or not to strip the Freedom of the City from former leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi.

Other people to have been given the Freedom of the City include Brighton and Hove Albion after reaching Europe for the first time in the club’s history earlier this year. Albion chairman Tony Bloom and former manager Chris Hughton were also given the honour in 2017.