Suffrage Petition


Do you have suffragist in your family tree?

Did any of your ancestors sign the 'Monster Petition'?

Merrill O'Donnell and Stephen Brooks members of the Colac & District Family History Group collected their stories and published a book  we would like to do the same.

We have started to collect information on local women. To add your story or read about a few of the women collected so far please click here

Tabled in the Victorian Parliament in September, 1891, the Women's Suffrage Petition, supported by the Premier, James Munro, contained nearly 30,000 signatures. The petition asking for women to be giving the right to vote on equal terms with men, contained signatures collected in Victorian cities and town and small settlements by women who went from door to door asking other women to sign, The original petition is 260 metres long and 200 millimeters wide and is made of paper pasted to cotton or linen fabric backing rolled on to a cardboard spindle which rests on a stand. The petition was most significant in the campaign for women's rights and, although women were not granted the right to vote in State elections until 1908, they received both the right to vote in Federal elections and to stand for Federal Parliament in 1901, the first country in the world to give these rights. (New Zealand was the firs country in the world to give women the right to vote in government elections).

Suffragist is a more general term for members of the suffrage movement. The term 'suffragette' is particularly associated with activists in the British WSPU, led by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, who were influenced by Russian methods of protest such as hunger strikes.

Read the State Library of Victoria Blog here

To download a list of names for women from Warrnambool and district who signed the Women's Suffrage Petition in 1891, please click here.

To see a copy of the origin signatures on the Parliament of Victoria web page click here


Many women from Warrnambool and District helped in the campaign to gain the right to vote by signing the 1891 Women's Suffrage Petition.

We have included a template to help you compile your story, as you can see by entries so far, there are no restrictions. Here is a page copied from the Colac book this was an amazing achievement and one for us to aspire to.

Please email or post your stories along with your contact details. We will keep you informed with our progress.

Please click here for a pdf list of their names

In 2006, through the combined efforts of the Genealogical Society of Victoria, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, Public Record Office Victoria and the Parliament of Victoria, (see Acknowledgements) the Women's Suffrage Petition was transcribed and developed into a database. The W&DHS have

We are collecting some very interesting stories. Click on their name to read about the lives of our local ladies. Thank you to those who have taken the time to compiled these stories so far, in time we will have a fascinating snap shot

Cathrine King

Ann 'Amy' Law

Elizabeth Law

Isabella Macdonald

Ellen Ponting

Fanny Ponting

Bell Swan

Maggie Swan

Isabell (ISOBEL) Saltau


Eleanor Bayer was the second daughter of Rev William Hutchinson, Mansfield. The marriage of Eleanor Hutchinson to Louis, third son of Carl Bayer, Germany on 15 August 1885 at St Paul’s Parsonage, Melbourne ‘was a fruitful marriage with children and sharing a passion in music’.7 Prior to her marriage Louis dedicated The Leura Waltz to Miss Eleanor Hutchinson, the copy of music still survives.8 Her husband earned a living as an orchestral musician and music teacher in Camperdown and Warrnambool, while composing and writing operas.9

In 1891, the year of the Monster Petition ‘The pupils of Mrs. Bayer did not permit her to leave [Camperdown] without giving her some token of their esteem and affection for their former teacher A handsome silver teapot and nicely worded address were presented by the pupils’.10

An 1896 advertisement in the Echo announced ‘Mr and Mrs Bayer having Removed from South Warrnambool beg to notify their Pupils and Public that their Present Address is now Timor Street, East. Terms on application or prospectus at BA Phillip’s’.11 Mr and Mrs Bayer taught musical instruments and languages.

Louis Bayer died on 28 October 1907. The funeral of Eleanor’s husband took place at the Warrnambool cemetery with representatives of the Warrnambool Swimming Club and the Western District Orchestral Society.12

The eldest son named Louis Carl Otto (b.1887), called Otto, resided in Launceston at the time of his father’s death. At this time the Bayers lived in a six roomed stone cottage on ‘Crown Allotment 1, Section 47 in the Town of Warrnambool’. Probate was granted on the real and personal estates on 29 April 1908 to Eleanor Bayer the widow and next of kin.13

The death of her husband meant Eleanor resumed ‘professional duties’, and her pupils were asked to ‘attend as usual‘.14 A complimentary benefit concert was tendered to Mrs L Bayer at the Warrnambool Town Hall. Musical friends organised the gratifying tribute to Louis Bayer’s memory with some performers accompanied by Mrs Bayer.15

Two sons John Hutchinson (Jack, b.1892) and Henry Louis (Heinrich Ludwig, b.1889)16 both fought in World War One. Jack the youngest son, a motor driver, died of wounds on the 9 May 1915 at the Dardenelles, Gallipoli, Turkey.17 The eldest son Louis practised as a dentist in Colac.18 Eleanor lived in Colac when Louis, an assistant surveyor enlisted in Sydney on 17 August 1914.19 He too served in the Dardenelles, but in the 2nd Infantry and survived the war.

The music teacher and widow Eleanor Bayer died on 11 July 1926, her residence then being East St Kilda.20.


7. trove/The Argus, Melbourne Saturday 22 August 18858. People who passed this way, Booklet 4, Elizabeth O’Callaghan, 2011, p89. Companion to Australian Literature 1994, viewed 29 March 201310. Unknown newspaper 10 August 189111. Echo, 28 November 189612. Warrnambool Standard 31 October 190713. www prov/wills and probate, viewed 26 March 201314. Warrnambool Standard, Wednesday 4 November 190715. Warrnambool Standard, 13 April 190816. Victorian BDM databases
17. http// Argus, Tuesday 15 June 1915
18. W&DHS Newsletter, August 1992, People who passed this way
19. Website:naa,gov,au/Mappingyouranzacs, viewed 26 March 2013
20. PROV/Wills and Probate/search viewed 26 March 2013