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.
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