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100 Derbyshire Women: Change-Making Movers, Shakers and Groundbeaking Pioneers...The List in Categories 



  1. Sue Arguile - NUT, Community Organiser Activist  

  2. Marilyn Baldwin, OBE - Marilyn Baldwin campaigned for change following the contribution of 'postal scammers' to the death of her elderly mother who was conned out of £50,000. She set up the charity 'Think Jessica' in her mother's name.

  3. Mavis Burton - Mavis Burton championed the cause of hikers to have the right to roam the countryside and inspired hundreds of people to lace up their boots and take to the hills.

  4. Georgiana Cavendish Duchess of Devonshire -  English socialite, style icon, author, and activist

  5. Mrs Olive Eden (nee Lax) OBE  - Born (Approx 1908)  Formerly of No 44 Rupert Road gave many years’ service to the local community and generally helping the people of Chaddesden. Service for which she received her OBE in 1967. Chaddesden County Secondary School, opened in 1955 was renamed The Olive Eden Secondary School (now Lees Brook) in her honour.  Olive died in June of 1997 at 89.

  6. Florence French - leading campaigner for women's suffrage in Glossop and one of the founders of Glossop Labour Club

  7. Elisabeth Freeman -born Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Sept 12, 1876 (d. 1942). Anglo-American militant suffragist and pacifist who opposed World War I; organised suffrage protests including leading a yellow gypsy wagon in DC; NAACP Anti-Lynching Campaign in Texas 1916; first women’s train on presidential campaign 1916.

  8. Moz Greenshields - UNISON, Community Organiser Activist

  9. Betty Heathfield -  Born in Chesterfield  March 30 1927 (died February 16 2006) Miners strike organiser and hero. She was) leading figure in the Miners' Wives Support Groups during the UK miners' strike (1984–1985).During the strike itself, Betty and Anne Scargill, Arthur's then wife, led the national campaign to help feed, clothe and sustain a lifeline of hope for miners' families in every pit village in the country. 

  10. Winifred Jones - Winifred was a militant suffragette. In October 1909 she threw a stone through a window at the Palace Theatre, Newcastle on the occasion of a visit by Lloyd George. Winifred, her sister Gladys, together with Millicent Fawcett and her sister Agnes Garrett financed the restoration of Statue of Queen Elizabeth I at St Dunstan’s in the West in 1828. Winifred;'s association with the Garrett-Fawcett's  suggests a move towards less militant politics. She died in 1955 

  11. Hannah Mitchell - Suffragette

  12. Margaret Roberts -  Margaret Roberts, born in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, 1912.  She married a curate whose vocation took him to Derbyshire. She was veteran member of CND and a Greenham Common Campaigner. Margaret first got involved with Greenham Common when she offered to stand in for a fellow peace campaigner who had left her children at home She died aged 98.

  13. Beth Seymour - Pioneer Trans Rights Activist

  14. Kath Westacott  - Communist. Leading peace campaigner, teacher, she was involved in the tenant’s movement and the fight for comprehensive education and  in Chesterfield, arguably outlining the broad to be followed that was won in the wider labour movement.

  15. Alice Wheeldon -  (1866–1919) pacifist and anti-war campaigner, was an early socialist, feminist and a Suffragette. Mrs Wheeldon supported the No-Conscription Fellowship and helped conscientious objectors avoid conscription in the First World War. In December 1916 Alex Gordon, a spy from MI5 arrived at the Wheeldon home, claiming to be a conscientious objector on the run and it is claimed that he would go on to manufacture evidence leading to the imprisonment of the Wheeldon family.
    Read more at This listing also references the actions of  Winnie and Alf Mason 





Women Firsts ...Our Pioneers

  1. Parkash Ahluwalia, MBE - Derbyshire's first Asian Woman Police Officer

  2. Mary Winifred Attenborough -  April 1897 -  August 11961 Sawley Derbyshire.  Mary Attenborough (née Clegg), a linguist, suffragette and founder member of the National Marriage Guidance Council was a writer and founding member of Marriage Guidance Council        ​Children: Richard Samuel Attenborough (1923–2014), Lord Attenborough, the actor and director; David Frederick Attenborough (born 1926), now Sir David, the TV naturalist; John Michael Attenborough (1928–2012), Executive at Alfa Romeo

  3. Dame Margaret Beckett - Longstanding Member of Parliament; First woman to both lead the Parliamentary Labour Party and serve as Foreign Secretary. Margaret Beckett has been MP for Derby South since 1983. On March 24th 2017 she became longest serving woman MP of all time.

  4. Freda Bedi - (1911–1977) social worker, writer and Gelongma (Pioneer Western Buddhist Monk)

  5. Catherine Booth - nee Mumford, a founder member of the Salvation Army

  6. Sandra Brookes - consumer rights activist and co-founder of the National Housewives Association in Derby in 1973 

  7. Frances Bush - Industrialist, Entrepreneur

  8. Rowena Cade - Architect Designed The Minack Theatre Cornwall Sister of Katharine Burdekin

  9. Barbara Castle - This late Labour MP was one of the party's most important figures in the last century. Her many accolades include introducing family planning clinics and free contraception, ensuring child benefits were paid directly to mothers and waging a fierce battle for the Equal Pay Act

  10. Eileen Cooper - Major British Figurative Artist (painter and print-maker). First Woman to be appointed Keeper of the Royal Academy in 2011.

  11. Catherine Cook - was a Magistrate and Derby's second woman Labour Councillor. Catherine started work aged 11 in The Silk Mill and rose the Co-op and Poor Law Service. She was returned in Rowditch in 1928 and 1931 and is described as a leading light in the Cooperative Movement. Source: Derby Daily Telegraph 26 Oct 1928 and Davies, Sam and Morley Bob (1999) County Borough Elections in England and Wales, 1919–1938: A Comparative Analysis, Volume 2 Chester to East Ham. Routledge.

  12. Florence Hilda Cross - (19/10/1888 - 13/10/1928) Educator Suffragette, Belper and Derby. Florence  was a Derby Suffragette suspected of being involved in the fire at All Saints Church Breadsal on June 4th 1914. She is also listed as Hilda Cross in The Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners 1905-1914. Florence died aged 36 in the The Charfield railway disaster on 13 October 1928

  13. Derby Duckies' -  In 1915 6 women, including Grace Lloyd, Gertrude Harris and Florence Dawson became the very first women of the first female bus Conductors 'Duckies' in Derby Transport Services. 

  14. Delia El-Hosayny - Believed to be Britain's first female bouncer from Derby who became a pub door woman in 1985 aged 18. 

  15. Kathy Ellis  - was the first female engineer to join the reactor core design team at Rolls-Royce. In 2013 she was shortlisted in the category of engineering  in the First Women Awards. 

  16. Squash Louise Falconer - Adventurer, Mountaineer, Motivational Speaker First British woman to climb and paraglide from the summit of Everest

  17. Sunita Gamblin - Highest ranking Female Officer in Derbyshire and first Asian Woman Chief Supt,  Derbyshire Police . Departed Derbyshire Police July 2017

  18. Mrs Jones  - Labours's first woman Councillor in Derby was returned in Pear Tree in 1924 and 1927 and won two further elections for Osmaston Ward.

  19. Jean Emmeline Hanson - 14 November 1919 – 10 August 1973 was born in Newhall Derbyshire. While working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she, with Hugh Huxley, discovered the mechanism of movement of muscle fibre in 1954, which came to known as "sliding filament theory". This was a groundbreaking research in muscle physiology, and for this BBC nicknamed her "Mrs Muscle" on the 50th anniversary of the discovery. She died in London on 10 August 1973 from a rare brain infection, meningococcal septicaemia. Her biography on the King's College London website lists  Jean as a Bio-medical Hero

  20. Alison Hargreaves - First woman to scale Mount Everest unassisted. First climber to scale all the great north  faces of the Alps in a single season.

  21. Helen Kathleen Hawkins  OBE- M.A. (London) succeeded Canon Bater to be appointed The first woman principal of the Lichfield and Southwell Diocesan Training College, Derby (later Derby Teacher Training College) Period of tenure 1927-1952. She was later awarded an OBE and was appointed by the government to develop the education system in the West Indies. She died on May 1985, aged 96

  22. Rachel Hopkins  the first woman to captain a men's team in the Derbyshire County League

  23. Mrs Hilda Hulse - Derby's First Female Conservative Councillor in 1918. She was a Former Commandant at Haye Leigh Auxilliary Hospital. She won Derwent Ward but she retired before the  local elections in 1921. She stood again but lost in 1924.

  24. Gurmit Kaur MBE  - of Derby, first Safer Schools officers in Nottingham. In 2006, she became the first Asian female police inspector in Nottinghamshire.

  25. Dame Laura Knight DBE, RA RWS  - (4 August 1877 – 7 July 1970) Born in Long Eaton in 1877. Artist working  in oils, watercolours, etching, engraving and drypoint. In 1929 she was created a Dame, and in 1936 became the first woman elected to the Royal Academy since its foundation in 1768.

  26. Libby Lane - Born Elizabeth Jane Holden in Buckinghamshire, raised in Derbyshire  is the first female CoE Bishop in England

  27. Fleur Lombard Queens Gallantry Medal QGM - HERo,  First female firefighter to die on duty in peacetime Britain

  28. Dame Hilary Mary Mantel - First women to be awarded the Booker Prize Twice

  29. Violet Markham - First Woman Councillor 1924 and Mayor of Chesterfield 1927. Having been a vocal opponent of women's suffrage and a strong supporter of Women's National Anti-Suffrage League, she stood as an Independent Liberal for the Mansfield Division of Nottinghamshire in the 1918 general election.

  30. Tina Martin -  Derbyshire Constabulary. Catalyst, founder member and former Chairperson British Association Women Police (BAWP) Tina was also awarded the International Association of Women Police (IAWP) honour of International Officer of the Year for 1987 in recognition of her work to develop membership of the IAWP

  31. Prof Kathryn Mitchell - First Woman Chancellor University of Derby

  32. Florence Nightingale - Nursing/Medical Pioneer and Statistician. She is also Barbara Bodichon's cousin. See listing for Anne Longdon

  33. Lady Madeleine Emma Onslow - (formerly Loftus Tottenham) Born 1851 in County Monaghan, Ireland. Suffragist and anti-vivisection campaigner in the UK and Australia. She married Alexander Campbell Onslow, former Chief Justice of Western Australia on 2 Mar 1878. Madeleine was an accomplished musician and a prominent worker in the cause of women's suffrage. The Karrakatta Club was founded by her in conjunction with American Dr. Emily Ryder, in 1884. Lady Onslow was the president of the club until she left the State in 1901(due to her husband’s ill health) to return to England.  Alexander Onslow died in Belper Derbyshire on 20th October 1908.  Madeleine continued to work to achieve the franchise for women in  the United Kingdom. The England and Wales Census, 1911 reports that the Madeline Emma Onslow, aged 60 was registered at Duffield Derbyshire District Belper. Source:  Madeline Onslow was a member of the Derby branch of NUWSS in 1914  Source: Madeleine  died, aged 75,  5 Oct 1926 in Hampstead, London, England after a lengthy illness.

  34. Elizabeth Petty -  (1875–1947) She was a former Poor Law Guardian and the second woman elected to Derby City Council winning Dale Ward in 1922. She was a Conservative and was elected the First Woman Mayor of Derby in 1936 (There have been Mayors in Derby since 1835). She was Derby's most successful female politician at that time in terms of her longevity. She returned to the Council 6 times, 4 times unopposed. She was a Councillor at the outbreak of WW II. Reports of her political concerns including her work with Belgian Refugees in 1914 and again with Basque child refugees fleeing Franco's Rebel army in 1937, her concern for women and children are indicative of early 'feminist sympathies' and suggests that she was a liberal Conservative. Source: Derby Daily Telegraph 2 Nov. 1922 and 26 Oct 1928.

  35. Helen McArthur - Sports Woman/Adventurer

  36. The Bishop of Repton, The Venerable Janet Elizabeth McFarlane, BMedSci, BA - First Female Bishop for Derbyshire and East Midlands Consecrated at Canterbury

  37. Emma Miller - pioneer trade union organiser, suffragist, and key role in  founding of the Australian Labour Party 

  38. Sheila Rollinson -  Founder and now club secretary Derby County Ladies. Winner FA Outstanding Contribution to Women's Football Award 2014. Points of Light Award Winner 2015

  39. Ivy Ryalls - Founder member the National Housewives Association Derby

  40. Jasvinder Sanghera - Pioneer, Activist.​ Forced Marriage and 'Honour Killing'

  41. Mrs Ellen Scotton -  Former president of the Guild Branch of Derby Provident Cooperative Society for five nearly  years. She also served on the District Committee and Sectional Council  of the Guild and as vice-president of the Womens' Liberal Association until her death on May 8th 1903.

  42. Agnes Elizabeth Slack -  (1857–1946) was a British and international temperance organiser.

  43. Dorothea Skrytek - Environmentalist Campaigner/Educator

  44. Rose Smith (10 May 1891 – 23 July 1985) was a British communist activist, educator and union organiser

  45. Olave St Clair Baden-Powell, Baroness Baden-Powell - Scout and Girl Guide Movements

  46. June Wall/Lower  - Campaigning Journalist and Co-founder of the National Housewife Association 

  47. Jane Warden  -  In the Derby Co-operative Society women initially worked through the Education Committee and the Women’s Guild and supported the Suffragette movement.  Although women were able to vote for members of the Management Committee, they were not though suitable to be involved in the running of the society.  Mrs Warden did not agree with this view and after many attempts was elected to serve on the Management Committee of the Society in May 1919. Her persistence meant that she was the first woman to be elected to the Directorate.

  48. Helen Wathall  - Managing Director G. Wathall & Son Ltd and  the only female appointed to Golden Charter Board. In 2002, Helen Wathall was honoured to be the first woman to be elected as President of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors ( which represents over 700 Independent Funeral Directors from all over the UK)

  49. Jessie Webster - Derbyshire's first warranted Woman Police Officer

  50. Anne Western - Leader Derbyshire Councty Council, Cabinet member for strategic policy and budget since May 2013 and Councillor for Barlborough and Clowne.

  51. Dame Vivienne Westwood - Fashion Designer, Environmental Activist

  52. Mary Williams aka Mother May  - Black Church Pioneer 

  53. Prof Cecile Wright - Pioneer African Caribbean Professor in Derby, Political and Community Activist

 Artists ...Creatives

  1. Marion Elizabeth Adnams 1898–1995 - Marion Adnams was a versatile artist and teacher, who was born and lived in Derby. Notable for her Surrealist works she was influenced by René Magritte and Paul Nash.  

  2. Marjorie Christine Bates R.A.  - (1882–1962) was born in Kings Newton, near Melbourne, Derbyshire. She was a painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and Paris and achieved a moderate living from her paintings.

  3. Deborah Bull CBE -  is an English dancer, writer, and broadcaster and former creative director of the Royal Opera House

  4. Pollyanna Pickering - Acclaimed Wild-life artist, Environmentalist

  5. Gertrude Mary Powys  - (1877 – 1952) born in Ashbourne Derbyshire was a very talented artist who first studied in Paris in 1913 and again in 1943. Gertrude belonged to what is described as the most successfully accomplished family in British literary history and went on to publish over one hundred books between them.

  6. Louise J. Rayner - watercolour artist. born in Matlock Bath in Derbyshire on 21 June 1832 (died on 8 October 1924)


 Writers ...Authors and Playwrights

  1. Marion Elizabeth Adnams 1898–1995 - Marion Adnams was a versatile artist and teacher, who was born and lived in Derby. Notable for her Surrealist works she was influenced by René Magritte and Paul Nash.  

  2. Katharine Burdekin nee Cade -  Feminist. Writer.  Sister of Rowena Cade

  3. Joanna Czechowska - author historical fiction. Chief sub editor and book review editor for Woman Magazine

  4. Monica Edwards  -  (née Monica le Doux Newton; 8 November 1912 – 18 January 1998) Born in Bleper she was children's writer  and wrote more than 35 novels and countless short stories

  5. Gladys Jones aka 'Gwen John' - (1878-1953) Actress, playwright and biographer. Plays include A Land of Lost Roads  (ar) Colour Oct 1921. See also (her sister) Winifred Jones.

  6. Teresa Hooley -  Born in Risley Derbyshire in 1888 (died in 1973) known mostly for a war poem A War Film about World War I, was a pseudonym of Mrs. F. H. Butler.

  7.  Hon Edith Lyttelton Gell -  1860 -  17th April 1944 Edith was an indefatigable writer of devotional poems, hymns, and moralistic tracts; Her book The Happy Warrior, sold over 400,000 copies between 1914 and 1918. she was president of the local Soldiers & Sailors Families Association and engineered a campaign to get women to work on farms. A set of stained glass windows at at St Margaret’s Church Carsington Derbyshire were presented by Edith Lyttleton Gell in 1929, in memory of her husband Philip. They were crafted by Wippell of Exeter. Philip Gell is presented as Philip the apostle, carrying loaves and fish. John the Divine on the left. The Good Centurion in the middle – the Gells believed they were descended from Romans

  8. Anne Mozley - 17th Sept 1809 in Gainsborough she died in Derby on 27 June 1891. Author of several books and papers Anne also  made a  considerable contribution as an editor. Her inclusion here both recognises her contribution to literature but also addresses the fact that she 'wrote invisibly' for most of her life. 

  9. Anna Seward - 12 December 1742 – 25 March 1809 Eighteenth Century Romantic Poet

  10. Alison Uttley - Writer 1884 -1976

'Rennaisance' Women ...

  1. Vera Mary Brittain (29 December 1893 – 29 March 1970) was an English Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) nurse, writer, feminist, and pacifist. Vera was born in Newcastle Under Lyme Staffordshire but moved to Buxton Derbyshire with her family.

  2. Beth Mary Fender - poet and community 'organiser'

  3. Angela Margaret Flanders  - was a perfumer born in Buxton, Derbyshire, on December 4 1927 and died on April 27 2016 aged 88.

  4. Mary Hague - Bakewell. By will dated 20th November 1715 she gave  her house arden, stable nine square yards of land, forever for teaching so many poor children of Bakewellin reading as the yearly rent would allow to, until they could read the bible and then be removed and replaced by others (Source: Mary's bequest including the employment of a school master and it is believed that seven children (boys and girls) were taken in every year.

  5. Marjorie Hamilton - Suffragette, artist later a Matron of a girls home in Canada she was born in Derbyshire in 1882 'Unknown' Suffrage Artist whose designs graced many bills and the front cover of the Suffragette member of the WSPU. We have no record of her death

  6. Marjorie Lynette Sigley  - (22 December 1928 – 13 August 1997) also known as Sigi, was an English artist, writer, actress, teacher, choreographer, theatre director and television producer.

  7. Mary Swanwick - (13 July 1841 - 7th April 1917) Born Old Whittington Chesterfield, Derbyshire Benefactor/Educationalists. Among her many acts of philantropy (including local painter Joseph Syddall, who under her patronage, went to Bushey where he studied under Sir Hubert von Herkomer). She was a member of the Education Committee of the Derbyshire County Council, the Chesterfield Higher Education Committee and the Girls High School Committee.  She was a of the former manager of the Whittington Council Schools and the Chesterfield Board of Guardians.  Whittington Council School, originally built in 1848, was renamed  the “Mary Swanwick Community Primary School”  when it was re-opened on July 4th 1932.She died on April 7th, 1917 after a brief three-week illness (pneumonia), aged 78.


  • Joanna Ewing, 63 - named in a roll of honour of 500 people to make a Living kidney donation since changes to the law.

Performance Artist...Actresses and singers

  1. Bella Hardy  - 24 May 1984 is a contemporary folk musician, singer and songwriter from Edale in Derbyshire, UK, who performs a combination of traditional and self-penned material. She was named Folk Singer of the Year at the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, having previously won the award for Best Original Song in 2012 for "The Herring Girl".

  2. Marie Litton  - (1847 – 1 April 1884) born in Hartington in Derbyshire, was the stage name of Mary Jessie Lowe, an English actress and theatre manager. After beginning a stage career in 1868, Litton became an actor-manager in 1871, producing plays for four years at the Court Theatre, including several by W. S. Gilbert.


  1. ​​Donna Victoria Kellogg MBE  - (born 20 January 1978 in Spondon Derbyshire) is a Gold Medal  English badminton player. 

  2. Fiona May - Olympian Silver Medalist

  3. Chantelle Reid - World Championship Boxer

  4. Melissa Reid -  Professional golfer was born in Derby, 19 September 1987. She plays on the Ladies European Tour and was a member of the victorious European Team in the 2011 Solheim Cup.

  5.  Hollie Webb - Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Player

Women of Note...

  1. Anne Longden -  a milliner from Alfreton and mother of early suffragist, Educator and artist Barbara Bodichon, nee Leigh Smith,1827-1891. Barbara Bodichon is founder member of pioneer women's Organisation The Langham Group. See listing for Florence Nightingale. 

  2. Lady Grace Manners -  an English noblewoman who lived at Haddon Hall near Bakewell, Derbyshire. She founded Lady Manners School in 1636

  3. Elizabeth Pinder-Ashenden - Religious leader, Community Organise

  4. Elsie Steele - (née Fletcher; 6 January 1899 – 18 October 2010) was born at Midway near Swadlincote  was the oldest documented person in Britain at the time of her death

  5. Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (Bess of Hardwick Hall) - a formidable figure, a four times widowed dowager who was one of the wealthiest and most influential women in England after Elizabeth

  6. Joan Waste - (1534–1556), blind martyr burned to death at age 22. Protestant Martyr Joan Waste, of Derby, who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1556

  7.  Miss Frances Webb  - Derbyshire Historian, Philanthropist Died Dec 2006 TBC

Women in Business...

  1. Kavita Oberoi - Entrepreneur, philanthropist                                       


  • Effie Grace Wilson  - 1877 - 25th October 1960 She purchased Dalby House in Ilkeston, in 1946 31st March 1946  and it became a boarding house for Michael House School. It remained a hostel from 1947 until 1965. She was a teacher at Institute at Ilkeston Junction and also at Bennerley School, then the Ilkeston Secondary School. Rudolf Steiner’s ideas were relevant to all aspects of life.


2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of the first real gains in the Votes For Women Campaign and the 90th anniversary of Universal Suffrage championed by both Suffragettes and Suffragists. To celebrate the Centenary we are compiling a list and associated biographies of 100 Inspirational Derby & Derbyshire women and girls: Movers, Shakers and Groundbreaking Pioneers. The woman nominated have been split into categories. 


Top 10 Nominees

Nominated Women

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