Names of first 45 suffrage pioneers published

Women who successfully campaigned for the right to vote and changed our public and political landscape forever have been commemorated in a new list of more than 100 pioneers, with the first names being unveiled today.

The first female councillors, magistrates and mayors are among those highlighted from across the country who made a lasting impact in their areas, to coincide with today’s centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which first extended the vote to certain women.

The Women’s Local Government Society (WLGS) has been working alongside the Local Government Association to help gather nominations and draw up the list, to celebrate the lives of the many suffragists and other campaigners who were active in the extension of the franchise, and who went on to use their extra rights in a positive way locally including running for public office.

The first 45 pioneers have been published today, with the remainder to be announced on International Women’s Day on 8 March. Among those due to be named on the full list is Lincolnshire’s Margaret Wintringham, who became the first British woman to take her seat in the House of Commons where she continued the campaign after 1918 to expand the vote to all women.

Others include Catharine Alderton, the first Lady mayor of Colchester and first female member of Essex County Council, who in 1913 led a ‘pilgrimage’ of suffrage supporters from all over Eastern England to a rally in Hyde Park. Reading’s Phoebe Cusden went on to make a significant mark in her town and beyond as a councillor and campaigner for nursery schooling, later leading on the development of town twinning when moved to help the children of Dusseldorf affected by Second World War bombing. Lifelong women’s rights campaigner Jessie Stephen became the first female president of the Trades Council and served as a borough councillor for Bermondsey in London and later as city councillor in Bristol.

Mother and daughter Sarah and Marjorie Lees from Oldham helped advance the suffrage movement, with the former part of the suffrage pilgrimage and who established the Council of Social Service, while Sarah was Mayor and Freeman of the Borough as well as being a dedicated activist. Alice Collinge, another nominee, was an early candidate for Bolton Town Council and chaired the local Women's Peace Crusade.


'Suffrage Pioneers' logo designed by Becki Rana who is studying for a Graphic Arts (BA) Hons at Buckinghamshire New University

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