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Francis Gane was born about 1841 at Mells, Somerset, England.  He has the distinction of being the only man who has a full entry in this book because of his work with the women's suffrage petition.


In 1870, Francis married Belinda Gifford at Blenheim, and the couple moved to Taranaki in 1875.  Francis and Belinda settled at Patea, and then moved to Whakamara in 1879.  While at Whakamara, trouble broke out with the Maori, and along with most of the settlers they left for Whenuakura, where they stayed three months until a more peaceful outlook reigned.  Normanby was decided to be their future home, and they arrived in September 1882, and engaged in farming.


In April 1892, the Hawera Star noted that "a petition is in the course of signature by women of Hawera in favour of women's suffrage."  A few days later, the Star's Normanby correspondent (thought to be Thomas Lloyd, husband of Honorah Lloyd) said "The female franchise is being pushed in Normanby, but I hear that several ladies have refused to sign it, as they prefer leaving such matters in the hands of their husbands."


On the 7 May, Francis Gane replied in a letter to the editor; "The petition to parliament to extend the franchise to women of 21 years and upwards came into my hands with 12 signatures attached, and I witnessed the balance, viz.. 48, making a total of 60.  If the petition had been ten times the length, I have no doubt that it would have been signed with about the same variations.  One man said he should object to his wife signing, as he considered a man and his wife should be one, and if his wife had a vote it might lead to dissensions in the home.  Three women desired me to call again after they had consulted their husbands, as it was understood between them that they would not sign anything without consulting each other.  One woman's age (over 70 years) prevented her undertaking any new responsibilities; another woman said her head was so weak that she could not then see the question and all its bearings; another woman, who knew the views of her husband, decided to leave it as it was.  With the single exception, above stated, the husbands I met urged, rather than otherwise, their wives to sign, as they, in conjunction with myself, looked on a woman's right to the franchise as a man's right, for we fail to see wherein the common sense consists of any man working to place his female relations be they either mother, sister, wife, or daughters in a position above want, and then, when the man dies, the results of his lifelong endeavours are thrown into the hands of men with the slightest responsibilities having the power to pile on taxation so as to crush the person who had the misfortune to be born females instead of being born males."


The Normanby correspondent replied with "I contend that if a man is not master in his own house, the woman is the better man of the two, and it naturally follows that it is the lady's vote that is recorded although the man does the voting." 



Even though there is no mention in the Hawera Star of the 1893 Carpenter petition making its rounds in South Taranaki, Francis J Gane witnessed many of the illiterate signatories'

marks. See the 1893 Suffrage Petition.


Francis Gane died on the 29 July 1919 at Normanby aged 78 years.  His wife, Belinda died on the 3 December 1932 aged  80 years, and they are buried together at the Waihi cemetery, Normanby.



Women and the Vote - Extracts from the Hawera Star 1892 - 1893

Obituary "Hawera Star" 7 Dec 1932