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Public help provide fresh insight into life of Norfolk suffragette Caprina Fahey

PUBLISHED: 12:31 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 09 January 2018

Historians have been provided with a fresh insight into the life of a Norfolk suffragette thanks to help from the public. The photo is of a certificate found in Rose Cottage.
Photo: Norfolk County Council

Historians have been provided with a fresh insight into the life of a Norfolk suffragette thanks to help from the public. The photo is of a certificate found in Rose Cottage. Photo: Norfolk County Council

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Historians have been provided with a fresh insight into the life of a Norfolk suffragette thanks to help from the public.

A bookstand found in the former home of Caprina Fahey with the wording 'Votes for Women'. Photo: Norfolk County CouncilA bookstand found in the former home of Caprina Fahey with the wording 'Votes for Women'. Photo: Norfolk County Council

In November, Norfolk Museums Service (NMS) appealed for information into the life of women’s rights campaigner Caprina Fahey.

While it was known that she was an active campaigner for women’s suffrage and had been imprisoned twice, there were large gaps in what was known about her life.

But now, two people have come forward with information about her work as a midwife, as well as the date and place of her birth and death.

They helped historians establish that Caprina lived in the Norfolk village of Hainford, in a home called Rose Cottage.

Some of Caprina Fahey's medals shown by Andy Bowen of the Norfolk Museums' Service. Photo: Norfolk County CouncilSome of Caprina Fahey's medals shown by Andy Bowen of the Norfolk Museums' Service. Photo: Norfolk County Council

She was born on September 13, 1883 in Capri, Italy, and her given first name was Charlotte.

Her father Alfred Gilbert was a sculptor whose work included the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus.

Her mother Alice Gilbert was Alfred’s cousin and they eloped to Paris.

Caprina married Alfred Edward Fahey and gave birth to Dennis Montiford Fahey in 1905.

Shortly afterwards she sued Alfred for adultery and desertion and divorced him, which was very unusual at the time. Caprina was awarded custody of Dennis.

During the First World War, Caprina served with the French Red Cross as a masseuse. This may be how she came to meet her second husband Edward Knight in France.

She then trained as a midwife, qualifying on May 7, 1917

Caprina and Edward moved to Rose Cottage, Hainford, at some point during the Second World War. There, they hosted at least one evacuee between 1939 and 1945.

Rose Cottage was demolished around 1975. The building was derelict at the time, but contained items including furniture, books, a certificate and bookstand with the wording ‘Votes for Women’.

Caprina died at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on October 26, 1959. Her funeral took place at All Saints’ Church, Hainford on October 29.

Her death notice makes no mention of her activities as a suffragette, but acknowledges her service with the British Red Cross, as a state-certified midwife, an ARP warden, and member of the Women’s Institute.

Museum staff have nominated Caprina Fahey for a project which recognises ordinary women who did extraordinary things to win the vote for women

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