Fanny Cecilia Minet (1831-1922)

From Historical Hastings

Of Huguenot descent[1], Fanny Cecilia Minet was born in Rome in 1831 and educated in Girton College, Cambridge[1]. In 1861 she married Colonel Tubbs of the Royal Artillery and they settled in St. Leonards in 1863, making their home at Caple-ne-Ferne, Pevensey Road. The Colonel died in 1891.

Fanny Cecilia Tubbs.jpg

Though Mrs. Tubbs's interests were vast, they centred on the needs and rights of women and children. She was on many committees, including the Central Aid Council, nurses' institutions, hospitals and the university extensions association. She was especially keen on university education for women and watched their admission to Cambridge with great delight. She was passionately against what was then called the "White Slave Trade" - the trafficking of women into prostitution - and at one time, whilst ab​road​, she investigated the misdoings of one individual man involved with this, determined to bring him to justice. She succeeded, and he received two years' imprisonment.

In the 1870s Mrs. Tubbs headed a group of Hastings women philanthropists who founded a club at 55 Cambridge Road for women shop workers, based on YWCA principles. She gave educational lectures at the club and took part in the musical entertainments.

1908 postcard from Fanny to Elizabeth Blackwell

In 1880 she became the first woman elected to the Hastings school board, and it is notable that despite the overt prejudice and hostility, she was returned with the largest number of votes. Another of her great passions was poor law work and, along with Dr Elizabeth Blackwell and other progressive women in Hastings, she succeeded in getting the first woman elected to the Hastings Board of Guardians, despite enormous opposition.

About 1890 Mrs. Tubbs and her friends organised an exhibition on women's work, held at the Royal Concert Hall. This drew large crowds, and she even brought some 'sweated' women workers down from London by train to remind people graphically of the terrible working conditions of the urban poor. These 'living exhibits' were well-lodged and very well-fed by the organisers before having to return to their lives of hardship and drudgery.

Mrs. Tubbs helped found the Hastings branch of the NSPCC in 1894, when the society faced great prejudice and ridicule. Hastings did not have an inspector so members of the committee investigated complaints themselves and secured evidence to bring before magistrates. Mrs. Tubbs volunteered to act as "watch dog" and once spent many hours concealed in a house in the neighbourhood in order to give first-hand evidence of alleged cruelty to a little child.

She threw her heart into every good cause, not caring if she attracted controversy. If in her heart she believed a cause to be right, she campaigned for it. Among the most controversial issues she supported were anti-vivisectionism and women's suffrage). Mrs. Tubbs gave the prizes at the Hastings & St. Leonards Collegiate School, run by feminist Emma Fricker Hall, secretary of the Hastings Branch of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), of which Cecilia was a staunch member. Although a non-militant, Cecilia never denounced the militants.

In 1914 she and fellow suffragists suspended their campaign for the vote in order to help many Belgian and other refugees who flocked to Hastings. The Suffrage Club became a refugee relief bureau. She lived long enough to see women obtain the vote in 1918.

The Tubbs family monument. Plot AW G14

When Mrs. Tubbs died in 1922, aged 90, her close friend and fellow suffragist Jane Strickland said:

"The passing of our friend means more to the town than many of its younger citizens can realise… from the first moment of her residence here, Mrs. Tubbs placed herself, her time, her talents, and in a great measure her wealth, at the disposal of her fellow citizens... She was ever-ready to infuse her knowledge of good things into others and exhaust the stores of her intellect that others might be enriched."

Mrs. Tubbs was cremated and her ashes were laid to rest in the Borough Cemetery.

Author: Helena Wojtczak FRHistS http://

References & Notes

  1. a b c Google Books: Girton College 1869-1932 - Google Books, accessdate: 8 September 2021