But while politicians continued to resist women’s suffrage for a further half century or more, they were clearly happy to call on women’s help in getting elected provided that they confined themselves to cheer-leading on behalf of male parliamentary candidates.
Addressed to “Single & Married Ladies”, it promises: “Any one who may feel disposed to become Canvaser (sic), on the part of Mr. Hardy, will find it a pleasant and agreeable occupation.”
It goes on:
“To the Single, it will be of “great” importance, as every one can introduce herself into the company of any “single” young Gentlemen, offering a chance to get ingratiated into his company.”
And it continues:
“To the Married it is of equal importance, as it will screen them from any motive that is not strictly virtuous; for, if engaged with any Gentlemen, married or single, and, if any one, not expected, should intrude, it would be, Mrs. so-and-so is only canvasing.”
The poster carries the imprint of H P Clark, printer, Rye – which would suggest that it was produced for John Hardy, who took Rye from the Liberals on behalf of the Conservative Party in 1868 with a majority of just 14.
|Election results: Rye. Source: Wikipedia|
Hardy stood and won again in the general election of 1874 with an increased majority, and having changed his name to John Gathorne-Hardy in 1878 continued as a Kent MP until 1892. He later succeeded his father as the second Earl of Cranbrook.
The poster is somewhat extraordinary in its blatant suggestion to the women of Rye, married and unmarried, that canvassing in the election would provide the perfect cover for an illicit liaison. But can it be taken at face value?
Possibly this was an attempt by Hardy’s Liberal opponents to undermine his credibility and to create some sort of scandal. Perhaps he was known as something of a womaniser. Or maybe, just maybe, the poster can be taken at face value.