• March of the Women

Lady Mary Henrietta Murray (1865-1956)

Lady Mary Henrietta Murray was a vocal supporter of women’s suffrage. Despite being the daughter of George Howard the 9th Earl of Carlisle and his wife, Rosalind, and from an aristocratic family, she espoused the co-operative movement and Trades Union representation for women.

Lady Mary was born on 20 July 1865 in Cheshire, and married George Gilbert Murray, the renowned scholar and intellectual, in 1889. In 1895 they went to live at Barford House (now Barford Court), Churt, Surrey and in 1905 they moved to Oxford.

Image of Caption: Barford Court, 1987, by Elizabeth Chalmers  (SHC ref PX/66/15)

Caption: Barford Court, 1987, by Elizabeth Chalmers
(SHC ref PX/66/15)

Click on the image to see a larger copy

The Howards, Lady Mary’s family, were a prominent Liberal and temperance family. George Gilbert Murray was a renowned classical scholar and a lifelong supporter of the Liberal party and the temperance movement. He made several attempts to enter politics but never succeeded in gaining a parliamentary seat. Although Gilbert Murray was a Liberal candidate in 1924, Lady Mary joined the Labour Party that year.

Lady Mary spoke publicly in support of many causes. In 1891 she called on the leaders of the Liberal Party to include women’s suffrage in their programme. Addressing the Scottish Liberal Women’s Federation, she made it clear that she equated women’s work in the home with men’s work and believed that ‘Women should be allowed, the same as men, to take up the interests and duties of citizenship outwith their home life, and coming into collision with it’ (Dundee Advertiser, 30 March 1899). She attended meetings all over the country including a meeting of the Haslemere Women’s Suffrage Association after its formation in 1908.

A report in the Common Cause, recounts a meeting in Oxford with female shop assistants, on the 14 October 1909, where Lady Mary was one of the speakers arguing “that women were not ignorant of the cause which influenced wages” and that gaining “the vote would have a beneficial effect on the payment and status of women’s work”.

Lady Mary did not neglect her other causes, and her many engagements included addressing the Temperance Society and the Band of Hope. In 1896 she addressed the inaugural meeting of the Castle Howard and District Co-operative Society at Castle Howard.

Lady Mary died in Oxford in 1956.

Text kindly contributed by a local historian for The March of the Women project.

Sources:

Ancestry– Census returns and Electoral register’s.
British Newspaper Archive
Peasant Arts Blog-Women’s Suffrage in Haslemere 1908 – 1913
Wikipedia- George Howard
Wikipedia- Gilbert Murray

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