Edith Rigby

Edith Rigby

Edith Rigby (1872 - 1948) was an English suffragette. She was a contemporary of Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst.


Born Edith Rayner in 1872 in Preston, Lancashire, she was one of seven children of Dr. Charles Rayner and was educated at Penrhos College in North Wales. [cite book
last = Crawford
first = Elizabeth
title = The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928
publisher = Routledge
date = 2001
pages = 598–599
url = http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=giffod3v0FsC
isbn =0415239265
] She married Dr. Charles Rigby and lived with him in Winckley Square in Preston. From an early age she questioned the differences between working-class and middle-class women and after she was married she worked hard to improve the lives of women and girls working in local mills. In 1899, she founded St. Peter's school, which allowed these women to meet and continue their education which otherwise would have stopped after the age of 11.cite web
last =Roberts
first =Marian
title =Biography of Mrs Edith Rigby
work =WinckleySquare.org.uk
url =http://www.winckleysquare.org.uk/biography/mrs_rigby.html
accessdate =2007-05-31
] cite book
first = Elizabeth
last = Ashworth
title = Champion Lancastrians
year = 2006
publisher = Sigma Leisure
id = ISBN 1-85058-833-3
pages = 79–82
url = http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HdqTrpjcbXsC
] At home, she was critical of her neighbours' treatment of their servants. The Rigbys had servants themselves, but allowed them certain unconventional freedoms such as being able to eat in the dining-room and not having to wear uniforms.cite book
last = Oldfield
first = Sybil
title = This Working-day World: Women's Lives and Culture(s) in Britain, 1914-1945
publisher = Taylor & Francis
date = 1994
pages = 29
url = http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZnHIb6AQfm0C
isbn =0748401083


In 1907 she formed the Preston branch of the Women's Social and Political Union. [cite web
title =Avenham Walks - Stop 7 - Edith Rigby
work =Avenham Walks
url =http://www.avenhamwalks.co.uk/short7.htm
accessdate =2007-05-31
] Also this year, she took part in a march to the Houses of Parliament in London with Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst. 57 women, including Rigby, were arrested and sentenced to a month in prison. During this time (and her subsequent sentences — seven in total) Rigby took part in hunger strikes and was subjected to force-feeding. Her activism included planting a bomb in the Liverpool Corn Exchange, pouring acid on a local golf course and committing arson at Blackburn Rovers Football Club. In 1913, Rigby was responsible for the burning of Lord Leverhulme's bungalow at Rivington Pike. Afterwards she said:

Later life

According to Elizabeth Ashworth in "Champion Lancastrians", Rigby was the first lady to ride a bicycle in Preston. During the World War 1, she bought a cottage near Preston and used it to produce food for the war effort. With short hair and wearing men's clothes, she grew fruit and vegetables and kept animals and bees, following the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. She had a happy marriage with her husband, who retired and lived with her at her cottage. They adopted a son called Sandy. In the 1920s Rigby was a founding member and the president of the Hutton and Howith Women's Institute.

In 1926, shortly after the death of her husband, Rigby moved to North Wales. She continued to follow Steiner's work, forming an "Anthrophosophical Circle" of her own, and visiting one of his schools in New York. Into old age she enjoyed a healthy lifestyle, bathing in the sea, fell walking and meditating in the early hours of every morning. She eventually suffered from Parkinson's disease and died in 1948 near Llandudno, Wales.


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