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The First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire Symposia

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The First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire Symposia

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“Individual struggles of the ‘successful’-Williams, Morrison, Normanton and the rest of the 1922 cohort”

Location: Waldegrave Drawing Room, St Mary's University

Price: Contributions of £10 are requested to cover refreshments and lunch 

The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 heralded women’s long awaited entry to the legal profession.  What do we actually know about that journey?  How much of that struggle has been recorded?  Where is it recorded?  The ‘First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire’ Symposia seek to unite academics and researchers in this area and explore the journey of those first women lawyers. The ‘First Women Lawyers Symposia’ has now run successfully for two years and has drawn papers from England, Scotland, Estonia, Canada and Australia.  The third symposium will be held on Thursday 29th June 2017 at St. Mary’s University. The symposium is entitled:  “Individual struggles of the ‘successful’-Williams, Morrison, Normanton and the rest of the 1922 cohort”and will focus on those early individual struggles.  Submissions are welcomed from those researching in this area, including anyone with knowledge that will place the struggle for entry to the legal profession in England and Wales in an international context. 

Symposium programme

9-9.30am: Registration and refreshments 

Kindly sponsored by the SLS

9.30-9.35am: Introduction and welcome

9.35-10.50am: Trailblazers
  • Alison Lyndsay: Madge Easton Anderson: First woman lawyer 1920
  • Liz Goldthorpe: Averill Deverill and Frances Kyle 1921
  • Caroline Morris: Ivy Williams, First woman to be called to the bar in England and Wales
10.50-11.20: Coffee and biscuits

Kindly sponsored by the SLS

11.20am-12.35pm: Firsts
  • Elizabeth Cruickshank: Carrie Morrison, First woman solicitor
  • Caroline Derry: Monica Geike Cobb (first woman to hold a brief Birmingham Assizes 1922) and Olive Clapham (first woman to pass the bar finals)
  • Ros Wright: Sybil Campbell (first woman judge/magistrate)
12.35-1.05pm: Lunch

Kindly sponsored by the SLS

1.05-2.20pm: Individuals
  • Amanda Robertson: Beatrice Honor Davy
  • Charlotte Coleman: Auvergne Doherty
  • Anne Logan: Theodora Llewelyn Davies
2.20-2.50pm: Video presentation
  • Funke Abimbola: Aloma Mariam Mukhtar
2.50-3.20pm: Afternoon tea

Kindly sponsored by SLS. Brief word from Susan Miles.

3.20-4.20pm: Empire
  • Tonye Clinton and Joy Adesina: First women lawyers in Nigeria
  • Dr Josephine Dawuni: First woman lawyer in Gambia. From courtroom to Parliament
4.20-5.35pm: Origins and outcomes
  • Helen Kay and Rose Pipes: Crystal MacMillan
  • Carrie de Silva: Barriers in legislation and interpretation: England, Iowa and beyond
  • Frances Burton: ‘What they did next 1919-1929’
5.35-6pm: Conclusion

Opportunity to speak about further research questions.

6-6.15pm: Wine reception

6.15-7pm: Book Launch 'The Opening of the Bar to women'

Dr Daragh Minogue leads the conversation between Dana Denis-Lewis and Judith Bourne on the importance of remembering the past.

7pm: Wine reception

Future events

  • June 2018: “The Road to 1919”. This meeting would celebrate the anniversary of the vote and look at its effect on the road to the 1919 legislation. It will explore the extent to which it gave impetus to women such as Normanton to make renewed attempts to join the profession in 1918.
  • February 2019: To be held at Middle Temple (continuing the theme of the road to 1919 and a celebration of the Act which received Royal Assent on December 23 1919),
  • January 2020: Celebration Dinner at Middle Temple Hall: Saturday January 11 2020 (centenary of the first women Bar students’ first dinner) and exhibition opening.
  • June 2020: ‘Legacy’
  • June 2021:: ‘The other women lawyers that history has, at best forgotten, at worst ignored’
  • November 2022: Celebration of the 1922 Call night at Middle Temple.

Register for this event

For more information about this event please contact judith.bourne@stmarys.ac.uk.


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