Woman Rooke, Jessie Spink (1845 - 1906)

London, England
Suffragist and Temperance activist

Written by Patricia Grimshaw, The University of Melbourne

Jessie Rooke was a leader in both the temperance and suffrage campaigns in Tasmania, where the legislature enacted the women's vote in 1903, the year after the passage of the Commonwealth Franchise Act. The leading women who drove the Tasmanian suffrage campaign were activists in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), of whom Jessie Rooke was the most prominent.

Born in 1845 in London, she migrated to Australia and in 1867 married in Melbourne. After her husband's death in 1883 she remarried a doctor, Charles Rooke, in Holbrook in New South Wales. In Sydney Jessie Rooke became heavily involved with the British Women's Bible and Prayer Union and the WCTU. When she and her husband moved to Burnie in Tasmania in the early 1890s she formed the Burnie branch of the WCTU; she became president of the colony's WCTU in 1894. Rooke played a vital role in the development of the Tasmanian Women's Suffrage League and served as a speaker for the suffrage, travelling around Tasmania collecting signatures for petitions to parliament. She worked with Vida Goldstein in the campaign of the United Council of Women's Suffrage for the suffrage at federal level, and in 1902 attended the International Council of Women conference in Washington as a WCTU delegate. She became Australian president of the WCTU in 1903 and president of the Women's Political Association at Launceston in 1905. Rooke died in 1906.

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