Sophia Jane Goulden – Centenary

April 22nd marks the centenary of the death of Sophia Jane Goulden, the Manx-born mother and early influence of the famous English political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement Emmeline Goulden Pankhurst. Sophia was a passionate feminist and began taking her daughter to women’s suffrage meetings in the early 1870s and reportedly chastised Emmeline for ‘throwing herself’ at her future husband Richard Pankhurst. Sophia was the former Miss Craine born in Lonan to Jane and William Craine. Later the family moved to Douglas.

Sophia was said to be an unusually good looking young woman, bright and attractive, who married Robert Goulden of Manchester at the age of eighteen at Braddan Church on the Isle of Man. It would appear that Sophia’s parents ran a lodging house at ‘Tynwald House, 3 North Quay, Douglas, which is where she first met Robert Goulden. He was the only son of Richard Goulden and Mary Brownridge who began his working life as an errand boy, but later rose to become a calico manufacturer. He is remembered as being an ardent Liberal and a member of Salford Town Council 1870 – 1877.

The newly married couple moved away from the Island to live in Manchester whilst Sophia’s mother went to live in Christian Road, Douglas, before finally moving to Strathallan Crescent also in Douglas.

Robert and Sophia Goulden had a large family of six sons and five daughters although the eldest child, a boy, died at the age of two. Another of their daughters, Mary Clarke, was also an active worker within the suffragist movement.  Sophia was said to have been greatly enthusiastic about securing the vote for women, giving her blessing to the important work done by both her daughters and granddaughters.

Links with the Island, however, remained strong as Robert Goulden owned a house in Douglas to which the family returned for holidays. Previous biographers comment how they spent summers exploring the lanes and glens of the Isle of Man, and visiting their grandmother ‘who plied them with soda cakes’. Their uncle, Robbie Craine, was a well known local character, learned in Manx folklore.

Sophia lived at 9 Strathallan Crescent, Douglas, for approximately forty years and it was at this address that she passed away just two days before the anniversary of her husband’s death. Robert Goulden also died here on the 24th April, 1892. She had been in poor health for some months after enduring a bout of double pneumonia, and although partially recovered Sophia’s general health was weak and she suffered a fatal relapse. Dying at the age of 75 she was laid to rest with her husband in Braddan Cemetery on the Isle of Man.
Thanks to Valerie Caine © April 2010

This is the obituary from Manx Quarterly, #9, 1910


Died April 22nd, 1910.

On Friday afternoon, April 22nd, at 5 o’clock, Mrs Sophia Jane Goulden, of 9 Strathallan Crescent, Douglas, passed away. She had been in poor health for same months. She had an attack of double pneumonia, from which she partly recovered, although it left her very weak. Unfortunately, on Thursday afternoon she had a relapse, which ended fatally, as stated above. Mrs Goulden, who was 75 years old, was the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Craine, who lived in Lonan, where she was born. They afterwards came to reside in Douglas. Miss Craine, who was an unusually good-looking young lady, was married when only 18 to Mr Robert Goulden, of Manchester, and went to live there. Her mother (Mrs Craine), who lived in Christian-road, finally went to live at Strathallan Crescent. To Mr and Mrs Goulden were born six sons and five, daughters. One son (the eldest of the family) died when 2 years old. In. the order of birth the names of the children are: — Walter R. C., of Manchester ; Emmeline, who married Dr Richard Pankhurst, the eminent barrister and jurist. Since Dr Pankhurst’s death, about ten years ago, Mrs Pankhurst’s career has been well-known as the founder and leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union, for the enfranchisement of women. The next are: Edmond B., of Manchester ; Mary, married to Mr John Clarke, of London; Herbert B., of London; Effie, married to Mr F. Bailey, Ramsey ; Robert, Manchester; Ada, married to Dr Bach, London; Alfred Harold, Manchester; and Eva Gertrude, married to Dr Brown, Flixton, Manchester. Besides Mrs Pankhurst, her daughters and Mrs Clarke are all active workers in the, suffragist movement. Miss Christabel Pankhurst, LL.D., one of Mrs Pankhurst’s daughters, is a most gifted lady and has qualified for admission as a barrister and is secretary of the movement. Mrs Goulden having herself a vote, naturally approved and was entirely in sympathy with them in the matter, and was greatly enthusiastic to secure the vote for women. Mrs Goulden has lived far about 40 years at Strathallan Crescent, and her husband died there on April 24th, 1892. She was a bright and attractive personality. Her children have all risen up and called her blessed, and it was with great pleasure they visited their mother from time to time. Mr Walter Goulden, owing to indifferent health, lived with her. — The funeral took place on Tuesday morning, at Braddan Cemetery. The mourners were: Messrs Walter Edmund, Herbert, Robert, and Harold (sons), Mrs Clarke, Mrs Bailey, and Mrs Bach (daughters), and the Misses Sylvia, and Phyllis Bailey (granddaughters) ; Mr T. Kelly, Mr James Craine, Mr A. M. Jackson, Mr W. C. Holloway, Dr Faraker (Peel), Mr S. K. Broadbent, Mr P. White, and others. The Rev C. E. Barlow officiated at the church and graveside. Many beautiful wreaths were sent by relatives and friends. — The funeral arrangements were efficiently carried out by Messrs J. and J. Spence and Co., of Athol-street.