2018 marked the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. On 19 September 1893 the Electoral Act 1893 was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Suffrage in Stitches was one of the activities and events that celebrated this anniversary. The 300 metre textile work matches the length of the original petition and consists of 546 individually designed fabric panels – the same number of pages in the original petition – and tells the stories of 546 women. It was a collective effort with each person being assigned a page/sheet from the petition and they could create their panel to honour one or more of the signatories on that page or a woman who influenced them. My panel honoured my great-great-great grandmother Fanny Worsdell who signed the petition along with her daughters, Kate Alberta Worsdell, Charlotte (Lottie) Worsdell and Frances (Fanny) Alice Stevens nee Worsdell ( my great-great grandmother)
Fanny Worsdell (nee Simkins), born on 16 March 1831 in Andover, Hampshire, England. She married George Worsdell in 1852 and they had ten children. In January 1875, Fanny arrived in Otago with their children; Agnes, Bess, Anne, Katie, Fanny, Edward and Lottie aboard the Wild Deer. They joined George who was a ‘Fellmonger and Dealer’. Fanny died at her North East Valley home on 8 March 1898. Her Trust Estate, of several houses and property, was later auctioned. George died at Oamaru in 1905.
Lottie, born on 11 October 1870 attended school in Dunedin and Oamaru. She joined the Salvation Army and in 1915 married Joseph McFadden, a Blenheim widower with four children. Joseph died in 1946 and Lottie died on 24 November 1960.
Frances Alice (Fanny) Worsdell was born on 26 March 1865. In 1886, she married Arthur Ernest Stevens and they had two children, Arthur and Rena. They served in the Salvation Army around New Zealand. Arthur died in 1937 and Fanny moved to Nelson where she died on 12 April 1958. In 1951 Fanny was awarded a Plunket Society Certificate of Merit, for Outstanding Voluntary Service.
Kate Alberta (Katie) Worsdell,was born on 28 April, 1863. She was schooled in Dunedin and never married. She was a dressmaker and music teacher. Katie lived in various towns and signed the Petition while staying with her sister Fanny in Marton. Katie died in the Wairau Hospital, Blenheim on 28 May 1947.