Mary Hare (1866-1945)

Mary Hare – suffragette

“Women don’t count therefore they will not be counted!” with these words scrawled across her 1911 census return Hove resident Mary Hare showed she was a woman prepared to take a stand for her beliefs. An active suffragette, by the end of her life Hare had founded a Brighton women’s police force and a pioneering school for deaf children still running today.

Mary Hare
Mary Hare

Born in London in 1866, one of 9 children of an engraver father, Hare moved to Hove aged 29 in 1895, living first at 17 St Michael’s Place, then 19 Goldsmid Road (from 1901), then at 8 San Remo (on Kingsway, Hove seafront).

Spoiling her census return was just one way in which she demonstrated support for the Votes for Women movement. The Brighton Gazette of 1908 reports that she chaired a Women’s Social & Political Union meeting on Queen’s Road where she ‘boasted’ that suffragettes ‘were going to rouse Brighton’. In 1913 she became secretary of the Brighton Women’s Freedom League, which campaigned for sexual equality.

In 1915 Hare took the law into her own hands and set up a uniformed women’s police force – against the wishes of the local constabulary – as she felt there was a need for a female force to assist Brighton and Hove’s vulnerable women and children. An article in the Brighton, Hove & South Sussex Graphic titled ‘Bobby – the Woman Policeman’ gives a sympathetic account of her work and describes Hare as looking ‘particularly smart in her uniform and bowler hat’.

However, Mary Hare’s main cause was pioneering the education rather than asylum of deaf children. She established the Private Oral School for Deaf Children in Hove in 1895 taking mixed pupils of all ages from across the country. In 1916 the school moved to larger premises in Sussex, then Berkshire, where the Mary Hare Grammar School for the deaf still operates in her name. Mary Hare died in 1945.

Anna Kisby, Brighton History Centre

8 Responses

  1. Victor Markham

    I was interested in reading about Mary Hare.
    For the record she started her school in Upper Norwood in 1889 before moving to Brighton. Her details are in the book ‘The Lady in Green’ by Anthony Boyce and Elaine Lavery.

  2. Anthony J. Boyce

    What a fantastic piece of news about Mary Hare’s suffragettism!
    Please see “The Lady in Green” book which details the life of Mary Hare.
    Now I can see why I could not get the information that I wanted from the Hove Library when I tried to find her name in the constabulary record book, but it was not there. Because she was living in San Remo at Hove that time, I assumed that Hove Library must have the info in that it was an unusual step for a woman to become a policewoman during the war times. You mentioned that Mary Hare’s idea was very much against the local constabulary. Ah well, that explains it all. Well done on your efforts!

  3. Dr Lisa Townsend

    Oh, my goodness! How lovely to see a photo of a young Miss Mary Hare! Like so many other ex-pupils, my enduring image of her is the rather terrifying portrait of her as an older woman that hangs in Arlington Manor’s front hall…. I’m also thrilled to see this article: I have a doctorate in women’s history, so it’s lovely to read about Miss Mary Hare’s involvement in the suffragette movement and see another side to my school’s founder.

  4. Alison Spear (@sneezy7purple)

    I think Mary Hare was one of TEN children, Ada Catherine, Sophia Louisa, Margaret E L, Constance Sara, Thomas Leman Matthews, Harold Edward, William Loftus, George Montague, Ethel Madeline.

  5. IHadSomeHomework

    I love to hear about all these women finding ways to receive equality. Of course, there are some dumb girls saying that they don’t need feminism because ‘they respect men, so men respect them’. To them I say, ‘Well, go back a hundred years to the time when you couldn’t vote and thought to only think about getting a husband, dresses, babies and what to cook for dinner. Have fun!’

  6. Linda Lees-weir

    It was very interesting to learn history of Mary Hare. I often wondering why her name Mary Hare Grammar school for the deaf called. Thank you for the information. Well done for your effort

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