Henriette Dugdale in 1845 (from Wikipedia Commons).

Formed the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society in 1884, the first Australian women’s suffrage society

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Amazing Women in History
The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-century Australia
Australian Women’s Register

Sir,-At best the bill to secure property to married women is but a poor and partial remedy for a great and crying evil. It is, of course, highly proper to prevent wicked men from squandering the means of their wives, and throwing them a burden on society. But can society do nothing more than that? If a man is unfit to take care of his property, is he not unfit to take care of his wife ? And if he is totally unable or unwilling to love, cherish, and protect her, is it possible that she can love, honour, and obey him ? Is the marriage bond not a perfect sham under such circumstances? If so, why does not Mr. Higinbotham lay the axe to the root of the tree ? If the marriage tie is a contract based on certain conditions, why is one party to be held bound if the other violates these conditions ? I know, and no doubt so do you, Sir, cases in which women have been deserted by their husbands, and husbands by their wives, under circumstances which give them no relief, as the law stands at present. But there they are, bound by an invisible tie to some person they have not seen for years, whom they may never see again, who may be on the other side of the world altogether, and yet by an abominable legal fiction, for it is no reality, this person is deemed to sufficiently sustain the most intimate human relationship, and the injured and deserted party is bound by the strong arm of law to remain an isolated individual under the heaviest penalties the law can inflict. This is a piece of the grossest injustice, and being unjust the consequences can only be evil. In the case of a young woman so deserted it is three to one but she either falls a victim to some vile seducer, and ultimately ends her shortened career in Bourke-street or the River Yarra, or she forms some other connexion which may or may not turn out happy, but which, under the best conditions, the law does not recognise. If it be a man who is deserted, how can he help feeling that society makes no provision for his occupying an honourable relationship towards the female sex, and, with a deep sense of injustice, he throws himself headlong into the whirlpool of licentiousness, Sir, I do not send my name, because my letter contains no statements requiring to be sustained, and the anonymity of the press may be properly extended to me ; but I sincerely hope that you will not merely insert this letter, and then let the matter drop into oblivion. Please bring your own powerful pen to bear on the subject, and, if you have any influence with Mr. Higinbotham, try and induce him to take a wider view of the married relationship, and make his remedy complete-
Yours, ADA.
The Argus, 13 April 1869

On May 7 a numerously attended meeting of ladies was held at Ajmere South Yarra, to inaugurate a suffrage society intended to advocate the extension of voting power to women. The chair was taken by Mrs. H. A Dugdale. The purpose of the meeting having been declared it was determined on the motion of Mrs. McKay seconded by Miss Simmons that the association should be called “The Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society.” Mrs. Lowe proposed, Mrs. Ricketts seconded, and it was resolved that all the ladies and gentlemen present should be included in a general committee with power to add to their number. The executive committee was appointed, on the motion of Mrs. Stevenson, seconded by Mrs. Webster as follows:– Mrs. Lowe Mrs. Dugdale, Mrs. McKay, Mrs. Elliott, Mrs. Ricketts, Miss Simmons, Mr Johnson, and Mr Brunton. It was resolved unanimously that Mrs Rennick be requested to act as secretary and treasurer. A committee was then appointed to draw up a constitution and bye-laws for the society consisting of Mrs. Rennick, Mrs. Dugdale, and Mr. Jones. The membership subscription for ladies or gentlemen was fixed at 5s. per year, it being understood that donations would also be invited. Nearly all those who were present became members and paid their subscriptions besides which several donations were handed in and many letters which were read to the meeting expressed sympathy with the movement while regretting the inability of the writers to attend. Public meetings are to be called shortly to invite general co-operation for the objects of the society.
The Argus, 19 May 1884

A meeting convened by the Mayor of Melbourne, on requisition, was held in the Town-hall on the evening of the 16th inst., primarily to celebrate the passage of the Uniform Franchise Bill through the Federal Parliament, and incidentally to impress upon the Victorian Parliament the desirability of falling into line. With the Mayor (Sir Samuel Gillott), who presided, there were on the platform : Mrs. Lowe and other leading members of the Victorian Women’s Franchise League ; Miss Spence, of Adelaide; the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Deakin); Senators Dawson and Ewing, Messrs. Watson and Higgins, Ms.H.R., Godfrey, M.L.C., Maloney, M.L.A., and J. S. Butters. Greetings from Miss Rose Scott, secretary of the New South Wales Women’s Franchise League, and Mrs. H. A. Dugdale, of South Yarra, one of the pioneers of the movement in Victoria were read. Mrs. Dugdale wrote:-“I grieve at not having sufficient strength to be with you to-night. It would have been so fitting that my last public words should have been those addressed to a Parliament conscientious enough to have passed this act of justice to women.”
The Mercury, 20 June 1902

Bacchus Marsh Express, 20 June 1903
Bacchus Marsh Express, 20 June 1903

Queenscliff Sentinel, 29 June 1918
Queenscliff Sentinel, 29 June 1918

Mrs Dugdale-Johnson, who would be better known to Queenscliff’s older residents as Mrs H. A. Dug dale. The deceased lady had reached the great age of 91 years. She came to Queenscliff with her husband, Capt Dugdale, of the ship ‘Duke of Bedford’ in 1853. After having resided here for about 10 years, she removed to Camberwell, where she interested herself in various social reforms; on which question she was the most able lady writer of her day in Melbourne and, -although at times quite against policy, no editor ever re fused her letters or made alterations. She was a trenchant and forceful writer relying upon the justice of all she advocated. Mrs Dugdale took a special interest in the suffrage for women–of which she was the pioneer of Victoria–commencing in the sixties when the whole question was very unpopular, by writing to the papers; afterwards becoming chairwoman of the first Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society. Though age subsequently compelled her to retire from active work, she lived to see the fruits of her pioneer work be come the law of the land. After, Mrs Dugdale married Mr F. Johnson, for many years managing clerk to Lynch and McDonald, solicitors, of Melbourne. After Mr Johnson’s death which occured five years ago, Mrs Dugdale-Johnson again returned, to the old place, after an absence of 54 years, thus passing the remainder of her days with Mrs Jordan-an old friend of over 60 years. Being an invalid, she was under Miss Jordan’s care for the past four years, and her days have been prolonged by the care she has received.
Queenscliff Sentinel, 29 June 1918

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