Annabel Huth Jackson (1870-1944) written by Sheila Triggs
Annabel Grant Duff was born into an upper class Liberal family and spent some very happy childhood years in India when her father, Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff was Governor of Madras. She was known as “Tiny” as she weighed only three pounds at birth, and was mainly educated at home, finally attending Cheltenham Ladies College, whose head was then the famous Miss Beale.
At eighteen Tiny “came out”. That meant for young women of her class entering “society”; being presented at court, and then experiencing the social round of balls and parties during the London “season”, and thus becoming available to marry. She met and engaged in discussions with many famous literary and political men, (from Karl Marx to Matthew Arnold), when they were guests at her parents’ homes. She was a lover of everything German from a young age and her children had German governesses and spoke German and French, virtually before they spoke English.
In 1895, when she was 24, Tiny married Fritz Huth Jackson, a partner in a private family Bank, Frederick Huth and Company. Her literary, artistic and political interests continued after marriage when she became a society hostess and was painted famously by John Singer Sargent in 1907. Fritz died in 1921 by which time he was a director of the Bank of England.
During the First World War Tiny “….became a vociferous pacifist, a member of the Independent Labour Party…” She attended a mass rally in the Albert Hall to celebrate the Russian Revolution in 1917. Unlike most early Women’s International League (WIL) women whose activism developed from the suffrage movement, Tiny described herself as ”passionately anti-suffrage”. She believed, however, that “having got the vote, even the women who dislike it must use it.” As children, her daughters, Anne and Clare canvassed in the first election in which women could stand, shouting, “Vote, vote, vote for Mrs Despard! Throw the old Tory down the drain!”
The Huth Jackson family spent much of the First World War at their Gothick mansion at Possingworth in Sussex built in over two thousand acres of land. In spite of the constraints of war, and the attempts of the family to live there off the land, they still had a household of servants. (The 1911 census recorded 12 servants at the Huth Jackson home at 64 Rutland Gate)
Bertrand Russell came to the Huth Jacksons for his first meal after being released from jail where he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector, going on hunger strike and being forcibly fed during the war. Tiny believed that the war would not stop while the munitions makers got their dividends.
Mrs Huth Jackson’s name first appears in the second Annual Report of the Women’s International League as member of the Executive Committee (EC), and she was a regular attendee at EC meetings. She continued in that role until 1919.
The Armistice of 11th November 1918 is engraved on our collective memories as marking the end of the First World War. There was great bitterness against Germany and the war blockade of German ports continued. The result was starvation especially among children, and mothers were unable to feed their babies.
In addition to demonstrating in Trafalgar Square against the blockade, the WIL was one of the organisations that supported an appeal to send rubber teats to Germany to help feed the starving babies. At the end of the EC of 16th January 1919 Tiny promised £100.00 for WIL funds and £50.00 for rubber teat fund. In February she offered her room and garden for a possible summer concert if Miss Hilda Saxe would play as a fundraiser for the WIL.
Different campaigns developed out of the conditions at the end of the war: Fight the Famine, the Save the Children Fund and the Fellowship of Reconciliation the last of which Mrs Huth Jackson was a founding member.
In January 1919 the Allied Powers met in Paris to discuss the treaty that would end the war. There were several months of discussions before the very punitive Versailles Treaty was signed in June 1919. The WIL second Congress in May 1919 met in Zurich and Tiny, who was still on the EC, and bitterly opposed to the terms of the Versailles Treaty, was a member of the British delegation.
The British WIL women who travelled to Zurich would have just acquired the vote in 1918 because of their age and status. They also had the means to pay for themselves, but to run an International Campaigning organisation the support of wealthy women like Annabel Huth Jackson
was as important as that of the mill “girls” of Bolton.
She retained her membership of WILPF into the 1920s, and was on the British delegation to the Vienna Congress in 1921 and the Dublin Congress in 1926.