Striving for a world transformed by justice and peace - a TL from 1827

Esther and Megan first made love on 11 February 1875, Megan's 18th birthday. They gave each other pleasure with their mouths and hands, stimulating each other to clitoral orgasm. Megan wanted to wait until she was 18 years old. They have been living together in the same house in Swansea since April 1879.

Megan regarded Sian Owen as a siren who seduced her brother, Aneurin, from his wife, Maire.
 
Megan believed strongly that her brother's adultery with Sian was morally wrong, but blamed her more than him. Megan loved Sian's two sons and daughter by Nye, they were her nephews and niece, and was determined not to let her animosity to Sian prevent her from visiting them at Sian's house in Oystermouth. Esther did not have the same hostility as Megan to Sian. She also loved Sian's children and enjoyed visiting them with Megan.

Esther was full of enthusiasm about the prospect of her and Megan, and their families and friends having telephones. She was looking forward to them all making mutual phone calls. Megan was cautious and told her beloved that a telephone would not be installed in their house for a few years, and they would need to have their landlord's permission to have it installed.
 
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The four government ministers who were injured in Ulster Volunteer attacks on Commonwealth Party constituency offices on 15 March 1884, had left hospital by 4 April. However Joseph Chamberlain's right arm was amputated, Thomas Rankin had to use a wheelchair, and Sarah Taylor needed to use crutches to walk. Chamberlain was the Under-Secretary at the Health and Local Government Board, Rankin was Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, Taylor was President of the Health and Local Government Board. William Chadwick, the President of the Board of Trade, had been shot in his left chest, above his heart.

When Taylor was discharged from hospital in Liverpool on Monday 31 March, she spoke to reporters. She paid tribute to the doctors and nurses who saved her life. She said that nurses were undervalued and underpaid. She wanted a professional qualification introduced for nurses, but it must not exclude working class women from entering the profession.

Press photographers took photographs of Sarah Taylor with doctors and nurses. Also as nurses eagerly wanted, professional photographers took photos of nurses with Sarah. The Victorian equivalent of selfies. She paid for these photos. When they were developed they were given to the nurses.

In the afternoon of the following day, Sarah took her seat in the House of Commons on the government front bench, between the Home Secretary and the Irish Secretary, to loud cheers from Commonwealth MPs.
 
The by-elections in Doncaster, Heywood, and Merthyr Tydfil caused by the murder of Thomas Connolly, Joseph Burgess and David Ellis respectively by the UV during their attacks on Commonwealth Constituency Party offices on 15 March, took place on 19 April 1884. They were won easlly by the Commonwealth Party. Benjamin Pickard was elected MP for Doncaster. (1)

(1) For Pickard see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Pickard.
 
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Ulster Volunteers
The divisional commanders of the Ulster Volunteers (UV) met at a secret location in Belfast on Saturday 26 April 1884. They decided that they would target the Commonwealth Party, its allies and associates in Britain and Ireland, because it was the governing party of the UK.

On 2 May, UV threw bombs into the head office of the Commonwealth Women's Fellowship in central London. 17 women were killed and 29 injured. During the night of Sunday 4 May, UV threw bombs into the print works of the Daily Beacon in London. 13 men were killed and 25 injured. Printing of London editions of the newspaper was stopped, but not the regional, Scottish, Irish and Welsh editions.

On 5 May, UV bombers and gunmen forced their way into the head office of the Good To Wear (GTW) co-operative in central Manchester. The GTW had friendly links with the Commonwealth Party. They shouted 'kill the Commie bitches' and massacred the largely female workforce. They killed 21 women and five men. 44 women and 17 men were injured.
 
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In its edition of 6 May 1884, the Beacon published on its front page, the names of all those killed in the attacks by the Ulster Volunteers (UV) at its printing works, the head office of the Co-operative Women's Fellowship, and the head office of the Good to Wear co-operative.

From 6 May for a month the workers in all the Good to Wear shops in Britain and Ireland wore black ribbons on their blouses and shirts in tribute to those who were killed in the UV attack on their head office. There was a notice prominently displayed in the shops explaining why the workers were wearing black ribbons. Lizzy Jenkins, Esther's younger sister worked in the Swansea shop.

In the House of Commons on 6 May, the Home Secretary, Donald Mackenzie read out the names of those killed by the UV in their attacks on 2, 4 and 5 May. Then the Speaker led MPs in a minute's silence for the victims of the UV, against opposition from Conservative MPs who raised points of order objecting to what they called a partisan act by the Speaker. After the minute's silence the Home Secretary called the atrocities by the UV an attack on democracy. He said that the police were doing all they could to find the perpetrators. In reply to a Commonwealth MP, he said it was not known if they all came from Ireland, or also for Britain. Angharad Griffiths said that 38 out of the 56 people murdered by the UV were women. The murderers hated women.

Sir Michael Hicks Beach, in effect the Conservative shadow Home Secretary, said that he condemned the attacks by the UV, but the men and women killed would still be alive if the cabinet had not been stubborn in its refusal to negotiate with the UV.
 
Six bombs planted by Ulster Volunteers in the Good To Wear department store in Sheffield city centre exploded at 3 pm on Saturday 10 May 1884. 176 people were killed then, or died later of their injuries. That is 108 women, 44 children under 18 years old, and 24 men. 293 people suffered non fatal injuries. The bombs were timed to explode when the store was at its busiest and teeming with men, women and children, and to cause the maximum number of casualties.

On Monday 12 May, the Prime Minister, Robert Applegarth, led the House of Commons in a minute's silence for those killed in the Sheffield bombings. Then he read out their names. He followed this with a statement on the bombings. He said that the store was in his constituency of Sheffield Central, and he knew some of the men and women murdered or injured by the Ulster Volunteers. It was a savage, brutal and callous attack on hundreds of women, men and children.
 
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After Applegarth had finished his statement, the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Stafford Northcote, rose. He said that he deplored the deaths and injuries in the Sheffield bombings, and condemned the criminal activities of the Ulster Volunteers. But these deaths would end only when the government negotiated with the UV, and accepted their just demand for Northern Ireland to be free from the jurisdiction of the Irish government and parliament.

After several backbenchers from all parties had spoken. Mrs Alice Richardson, the Conservative MP for Fulham, rose to speak. (1) She said:
My heart is full of compassion for the women, men and children murdered by the Ulster Volunteers, for those who love them and mourn for them, for those injured, some horrifically. I am appalled and disgusted by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He could not bring himself to use the word murder to describe the slaughter of innocents by the terrorists of the Ulster Volunteers. The policy of the Conservative Party of negotiation with the Ulster Volunteers is encouraging their murderous activities. Therefore I can no longer in conscience be a member of the Conservative Party. For the sake of the men, women and children murdered by the Ulster Volunteers over the last five years, those who were bereaved and those whose lives were destroyed, I now resign from the Conservative Party and join the Commonwealth Party.
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Mrs Richardson then picked up her bag, and to loud cheers from Commonwealth MPs, crossed the floor of the House of Commons, and sat with other women Commonwealth MPs on that side of the House.

[1] She is a fictional character.
 
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Mrs Alice Richardson was 59 years old and the widow of a wealthy business man. She had four adult children. She gained Fulham from the Commonwealth Party in the April 1882 general election by a majority of 142. In the House of Commons she did not speak on Irish issues. She specialised in education, health and housing. She was not particularly partisan and was an assiduous constituency MP.

After she had changed parties, she gave interviews to sympathetic and neutral national newspapers, which she could easily because she lived in London. She said that her change of political allegiance was not only because of the Conservative party's reaction to the Sheffield bombings, and its policy on Ireland. She had been moving to the Commonwealth Party over the previous months, because of seeing the government's policy of slum clearance and reducing poverty in her constituency.

As one of only five women Conservative MPs she had felt isolated in the Conservative Party. She would not be resigning her seat and seeking re-election in a by-election as the Commonwealth Party candidate. There was less than two years to go to the next general election. She had received death threats and been called a traitor and a dirty commie bitch and whore.
 
In their investigation of the Good To Wear Sheffield department store bombings, the
police found that two bombs were left in the women' s section, two in the chlldren's section, one in the men's section, and one in the restaurant on the first floor of the two storey building, where customers were having afternoon tea. So the bombs were designed to kill women and children.

The Prime Minister and the other four Sheffield MPs, two Commonwealth and two Conservative, visited in hospital those injured in the bombings. The Prime Minister and his two Commonwealth colleagues received a friendlier reception than the two Tories.
 
Just after 9am in the morning of Wednesday 14 May 1884, a man walked into a police station in Belfast city centre. He told the constable on duty behind the desk that he had important information about the Sheffield bombings, and asked to see a senior officer. He was taken to a back room where he was interviewed by an inspector. He told the inspector that his name was Paul Elliott and he was one of six Ulster Volunteers who planted bombs in the Good To Wear department store in Sheffield. He had on him the names and addresses of the other five men who planted the bombs. He said he was 43 years old, and married with two sons and two daughters. They lived in east Belfast. He worked in a shipyard in Belfast. He and his family were Presbyterians.

In reply to the inspector's question as to why he had given himself up, Elliott said that he was full of remorse for the appalling crime he had committed, after reading about the Sheffield bombings in the newspaper, and the hundreds of people killed or injured. They could have been his wife and children. He could not live with himself if he had not gone to the police and given himself up. He had prayed about it, and his wife encouraged him to give himself up. He asked if he and his family could have police protection, because if the UV discovered that he had informed on them they would kill him.

The inspector told him that he and family must go that day to Newcastle-on-Tyne, where there would be a safe house for them. He would be given £5 under the British government's resettlement scheme. (1) He was then arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. The inspector told him that he would not be appearing in Belfast magistrates court. The police would give the court bail. But he must appear at the murder trial at Sheffield Monthly Sessions.

Elliott said he would help the police all he could by turning Queen's evidence, and
gave the inspector a sheet of paper with the names and addresses of the other five bombers. He asked if he would be given a lenient prison sentence, or even no sentence, because of the information he had given the police. The inspector told him that decision was above his level of responsibility. If he were spared the gallows, which he so richly deserved as a murderer of many people, that would be a matter for the trial judge, and ultimately the Home Secretary.

The inspector told Elliott that a woman police officer in plain clothes would come with him to his house in east Belfast. Then Elliott left the police station with the woman police officer. They took a cab to his house.

(1) £5 was about three times the weekly wage of a skilled engineering worker.
 
Paul Elliott and the police officer, Mrs Margaret Stephenson, arrived at his house. It was a three bedroom terrace, which he rented. He went inside, followed by Mrs Stephenson. Paul introduced her and his wife, Emily, to each other. Emily Elliott was 46 years and was a seamstress. She worked at home on the kitchen table. Mrs Stephenson got the impression that Emily was the dominant partner in her marriage. She wore the trousers both literally and figuratively.

Margaret explained the situation to Emily, who told the police woman about her four children. Her nineteen year old, elder daughter, Sarah, worked in a linen factory. Her elder son, Edward, who was fourteen years old, was an apprentice in the same shipyard as Paul. Her seven year old daughter, Nancy, and five year old son, Harold, were at the local elementary school.
 
Emily Elliott told Margaret Stephenson that she and her children would not leave their house. She had friends there, a good job with a network of customers for the clothes she made. Her two elder children had good jobs, and her two younger children liked their school. She said that Emily could take Paul with her. She never wanted to see that despicable murderer again. He never told her that he was in the Ulster Volunteers (UV). As far as she was concerned he was no longer her husband. He deserved to hang for the terrible crime he committed.

Margaret warned Emily that she was at serious risk from the UV. Emily replied that she was not gping to let fear of them rule her life. Paul pleaded with his wife to come with him. He told that he was sorry for what he had done, and he loved her. But she resisted his pleas and told him that she no longer loved him, and it was over between them. She refused to let him see their children.

Emily told Paul that he must give her his house keys, which he did. Then he left the house with Margaret. They returned in a cab to the police station. When they arrived there the inspector told Paul that as his wife and children had chosen to stay in his house, the offer of a safe house in Newcastle and £5 was now revoked. Paul was taken to Belfast magistrates court, where he was remanded in custody until his trial. The court refunded the bail money to the police. Because there were UV prisoners in Belfast prison, for his own safety police took him by ferry to Liverpool then train to Manchester, where he was put in Strangeways prison.
 
In the evening of 14 May, armed police raided the houses of the five Ulster Volunteers, whose names and addresses Paul Elliott had given the police. The men were arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder and destruction of property. They were taken in a horse drawn police van to the police station, where they spent the night in police cells.

The following morning they were taken to Belfast magistrates court. They pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Their demands to be treated as prisoners of war were rejected by the magistrates. They were remanded in custody and imprisoned in Belfast prison, until their trial at Sheffield Monthly Sessions. The five men were low down in the UV hierarchy.
 
At about 7.10 pm on 17 May 1884, three armed and masked Ulster Volunteers walked up to the house where Mrs Emily Elliott and her three children lived. They shot through the lock on the front door and went in. They shot dead Emily and her fourteen year old son Edward, with bullets to the heart and head. They left a large sheet of paper on Emily' s body, which said in block capitals "all traitors to Ulster must die". Then they walked out. Seven year old Nancy, and five year old Harold were cowering in terror and hysterical with grief.

The Elliotts lived in an end of terrace house. Their neighbours, Mr and Mrs Brown, were having a social evening. Someone was playing the piano and people were singing, so no one heard anything.

Nineteen year old Nancy Elliott had gone to a music hall with her twenty-three year old fiancee, Patrick O'Neill. She arrived home, with Patrick with her, about twenty five minutes later. She had her own front door key. She saw the front door lock had been shot out and rushed in with Patrick. She saw her mother and younger brother dead on the living room floor and covered in blood, and the message from the killers. While she calmed and comforted Nancy and Harold, Patrick knocked loudly and persistently on the Brown's front door. After two or three minutes, Mr Brown opened his front door. Patrick told him what had happened, and he ran to the nearest police station. Mrs Brown went with Patrick back to the Elliott's house.
 
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