Law Hall of Fame logoBorn In England, she was home-schooled until studying law at Victoria University in Manchester, where she received her LL.B. law degree.

She became an active leader of the women's voting rights movement, adherents then known as suffragettes. In fact, it was an article of the London Daily Mail, reporting on her arrest, that dubbed the term suffragette.

But her mother Emmeline (1858-1928) had founded the movement, and ended up being jailed on 12 occasions (the image below is of mother and daughter sporting prison garb, circa 1908).

Her father Richard Pankhurst was a barrister. In 1904, she applied to Lincoln's Inn for membership to the same bar that had accepted her father.

She was refused because she was a woman!

But her legal training was invaluable to the women rights cause her and her mother administered through the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Pankhurst: Christobel and EmmelineChristabel wrote:

"The inferiority of women is a hideous lie which has been enforced by law and woven into the British constitution."

In 1905 and 1906, she won prizes for her writings in international law but still could not get into the bar.

in 1912, her own government threatened her with criminal charges of conspiracy. She fled to France and returned to England in 1913.

She ran for Parliament in the first election that women could be candidates: 1918, but she lost, albeit narrowly.

In 1916, England gave the right to vote to women over 30 (and to men over 25).

In 1919, further laws disallowed gender-based prohibitions in regards to the practise of law. But Pankhurst had left any dream of being a lawyer behind.

In 1921, she followed her mother who had left for America in 1913.

Christabel moved to California, joining the church of Second Advent.

Then, in 1926, her and her mother tried to open a tea-house in France but it was a failure.

They retreated to England where her mother died in 1928.

Christabel was grief-stricken. She adopted a little girl, Betty and undertook a popular religious-bent speaking tour.

In 1940, she followed Betty to the United States.

In 1949, a wealthy English widow (Olivia Durand-Deacon) died and in her will, she had made a provision for Pankurst. This annual payment left Pankhurst comfortable for the rest of her days.

She died in Los Angeles in 1958.

REFERENCES:

  • Adamson, L., Notable Women in World History (London: Greenwood Press, 1998), page 266
  • Commire, A., Women in World History, Vol. 12 (London: Gale Group, 2001), page 273-279
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, John Haigh: Vampire
  • Smith, B., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, Volume 3 (Oxford: University Press, 2008), page 408