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Norah Ussher

In 1979, Alexis Taylor was sorting through her Great Aunt Norah’s belongings after her death. In a chocolate box titled ‘A present from Weymouth’ she discovered treasures from Norah’s early 20s when she campaigned for the Vote in Devizes.

This ‘gentle Christian woman with a good sense of humour’ had been part of a committed band of women who, occasionally broke the law.

You can see some of Norah’s mementos here that Alexis has kindly lent to us. The information they contain has really helped us piece together the story of the Devizes’ Suffrage movement and we are very grateful to Alexis for this.

About Norah
Eleanor Hannah Ussher was born in Middlesex in 1891 to a respectable middle class family. Her father Percival was the Secretary of the Wiltshire United Diary and also became president of the Devizes Chamber of Commerce. Norah was the second of three daughters.

In the census of 1911, the family was living at ‘Eversley’ on the Potterne Road. Twenty year old Norah was a teacher, possibly in a school for domestic servants. She had joined the Devizes group of the WSPU the previous year. This group contained a good number of other women teachers.

In 1911, she was listed as one of three Devizes women who took part in a demonstration in London with 50,000 other marchers. Norah is described as helping to carry their ‘Moonrakers’ branch banner. Perhaps she also helped to sew it – beautiful, hand-sewn banners were items of much pride for campaigners.

In 1911, Norah was part of the small band of brave women who illegally evaded the census in Devizes. You can find out more about that in the lift lobby by the door into the lecture room at the top of the stairs.

Norah was a teacher of young women who wished to become domestic servants. Later, she worked for the Charity Societies’ Organization which trained social workers and established the first Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.
Norah’s boyfriend was killed during the First World War, and she remained a spinster for the whole of her life. She was involved with her local church and sang in the church choir.

Image courtesy of Alexis Taylor.

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