women's suffrage league south australia
By posting materials on this site, you represent that you have all necessary rights in and to such materials and that such materials will not infringe any personal or proprietary rights of any third parties, nor will such materials be defamatory, unlawful, threatening, obscene or otherwise objectionable. Mary Lee was born in Monaghan, Ireland in 1821 and married organist and vicar-choral of Armagh Cathedral George Lee in 1844. Charles Cameron Kingston who held the position of Premier during the Women’s Suffrage campaign honoured Lee publicly and in 1896 the government appointed her Official Visitor to the Lunatic Asylums, a position she held for twelve years. Register, ‘Women’s Vote in Australia’, 8 December 1906, p13. After George’s death in 1879 Lee immigrated to South Australia by way of the steamship ‘Orient’ on its maiden voyage with one of her daughters Evelyn (then 19 years old) to care for her son John who was already settled in the colony. As a primary source of income she housed boarders in her home in North Adelaide. The Women's Suffrage League, founded in 1888, spearheaded the campaign for women's right to vote in South Australia. Little is written about McLennan’s contribution to the women’s suffrage movement, but he is recorded in the local papers as contributing to the debates. She was the third and held that position for nine years. Their campaign was successful in 1885 when the age of consent was raised from twelve to sixteen years. After much debate Stirling proclaimed that, “In the opinion of this House, women, except under coverture, who fulfil the conditions and poses the qualifications on which the parliamentary franchise for the Legislative Council is granted to men, shall, like them, be admitted to the franchise for both Houses of Parliament.”, The Bill proposed was a somewhat soft entry to the idea of universal female suffrage and, at least initially, proposed for single and widowed women who owned property to the same qualification as was required to stand for election to the Legislative Council, South Australia’s upper house. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lee-mary-7150, Government, politics, rights and citizenship, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Australia License. That the moral, social and industrial interests of women would be advance by women's political enfranchisement; 2. Together they had seven children. The failure of the South Australian Parliament to act upon this issue was the main reason behind the formation of the Women’s Suffrage League in South Australia. In 1891 the League got its first female President, Lady Colton, who succeeded Edward Stirling. Discover the people who have shaped Adelaide, Explore the city's built environment and famous Parklands, Find the stories behind the city's public artworks, monuments and memorials, Browse some of the themes that contextualise the city's history, Learn about the organisations that have made the city tick, Find out what's drawn people into the city's streets, Explore some of the early maps, plans and panoramas that trace the development of the city, Discover the city's history through a rich collection of museum objects, Explore Adelaide by following a themed tour, Share your memories, stories and pictures with the Adelaidia community. Mary Lee was born in Monaghan, Ireland in 1821 and married organist and vicar-choral of Armagh Cathedral George Lee in 1844. The League worked for six and a half years under their explicit constitution to influence the public and Parliament. Evening Journal, 'Women's Suffrage Meeting in Adelaide,' 21 July 1888, p6. The makeup of the executive promoted the fact that the Women’s Suffrage League was, “a tightly run, well-organized body of both women and men.”. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Australia License, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lee-mary-7150. Materials posted by users do not necessarily reflect the views of Adelaidia or History Trust of South Australia. Respective presidents Elizabeth Webb Nicholls and Augusta Zadow were both extremely influential. Dr Stirling was appointed ‘chairman’. D. Jaensch (Adelaide, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 1996). Respective presidents Elizabeth Webb Nicholls and Augusta Zadow were both extremely influential. The League worked for six and a half years under their explicit constitution to influence the public and Parliament. Her obituary, years later in 1911, claimed that she was “one of the most active workers in South Australia in the interests of young women.” In an interview with the Toronto Daily Star in 1906, many years after Women’s Suffrage was achieved, Birks was recorded saying:  It may not have accomplished all we hoped for it … but it has taught women to think. Let every woman who can influence an elector see that he seizes his vote as a sledgehammer and goes to the poll resolved to dash from its pedestal of authority this hoary injustice to womanhood…”. She died in her North Adelaide home in 1909. At the same time women were granted the right to stand for election to Parliament, the first place in the world. Daily Herald, ‘Death in Church’, 4 October 1911, p4. At first they voted just as their husbands did, but now they use their own commonsense.” Birks’ own understanding of suffrage is clearly part of a nuanced understanding of how women’s status and political participation affects all aspects of life. Dr Edward Stirling was the League’s first President; Mary Lee and Hector McLennan were co-secretaries, and Rose Birks was treasurer. Stirling claimed his support for this reform on the grounds of justice to, "a class of persons who had never failed to prove themselves devoted and law-abiding citizens", The 1885 proposal was not a world first. Birks’ commitment to women, like many other suffragists, extended beyond the vote. At first they voted just as their husbands did, but now they use their own commonsense.” Birks’ own understanding of suffrage is clearly part of a nuanced understanding of how women’s status and political participation affects all aspects of life. Thanks to the Society the age of consent for girls was raised to 16 and the age of young people in brothels was regulated. Hence it is resolved; 3. Birks’ obituary fleetingly mentions her role in the Women’s Suffrage movement, and promptly recognises her contribution to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), of which there had only been three presidents since its establishment in 1879 at the time of Birks’ death. That, as the ultimate aim of this Society is the moral elevation of women, the Social Purity Society stands pledged to support all efforts likely to assist this aim. The Women’s Suffrage League and their many supports were responsible for the massive petition presented to South Australia’s Parliament in 1894, which secured support from the Parliament in the journey to equal suffrage. Birks’ obituary fleetingly mentions her role in the Women’s Suffrage movement, and promptly recognises her contribution to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), of which there had only been three presidents since its establishment in 1879 at the time of Birks’ death. She died in her North Adelaide home in 1909. McLennan was well known in Adelaide and Melbourne and was associated and worked for Howard Smith Limited, a shipping company that later diversified its functions to coal mining, steel production, stevedoring, travel, railway rolling stock building, sugar production and retail. At the same time women were granted the right to stand for election to Parliament, the first place in the world. Following its colonisation in 1836, South Australian settlers lived under British common law which made women subordinate to men in that they were subject to their fathers, and then to their husbands. As a primary source of income she housed boarders in her home in North Adelaide. Over 60 percent of those who attended the July 13 meeting were women and “the movement largely emanated from ladies of Adelaide.” The core aims decided on at this meeting, and subsequently the Women’s Suffrage League’s Constitution became as follows: • That the women of the country should have a voice in the choice of representatives to the House of Legislature. The women's suffrage movement in South Australia began with two distinct advantages. Chronicle, ‘Death of Mrs Birks’, 7 October 1911, p46. Hector McLennan was born in Glasgow and immigrated to South Australia. Daily Herald, ‘Death in Church’, 4 October 1911, p4. "That a Women's Suffrage League be now formed in order to obtain Legislation giving women the franchise in the principles adopted at the meeting of ladies and others held at Gawler-place on July 13". Dr Edward Stirling was the League’s first President; Mary Lee and Hector McLennan were co-secretaries, and Rose Birks was treasurer. Lee advocated strongly and consistently for women’s status in society and in one letter in 1890 she claimed: “Could women have ever descended to such depths of misery and degradation if women had a voice in making the laws for women? • That while woman's suffrage is desired no claim is put forward for the right to sit as representatives.

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