Born in Springhead in September, Seventy-nine
Started at the mill when she was ten
She lost a finger in a bobbin soon after
Couldn’t complain, jobs scarce even then.
After twelve-hour shifts as a tenter
In a harsh cotton mill amidst murl
She still had to help with the washing
Not much time to be just a girl.
Enfranchisement of women was what drove her
Fought the Cat and Mouse Act for the vote
To prison oft times for not paying the fines
Not an ordinary woman, one of great note.
She was once compared to Joan of Arc
The way she took such a principled stance
When women over thirty finally gained the vote
A more normal life for her stood a chance.
Hunger strikes and prison took a toll though
Wore her down and left her so weak
Diabetes in the end was what killed her
Her courage, with others, does still speak.
That the Suffrage Movement existed
Was a terrible indictment of those times
Though I speak of the courage of a woman – Annie Kenney
One couldn’t do her justice in mere rhymes.
©Joe Wilson – The bitter struggle…2014
A tenter was an assistant to the weaver, the one who had the highly dangerous job
of keeping the bobbin loaded and in line with the shuttle. The tenter also had to
feed the loose cottons back in. All highly dangerous, especially for a small child.
There were many brave women who struggled for enfranchisement.
Annie Kenney was just one. There were those who gave their lives
to the rightness of the struggle.