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Dorothea Jewson (17 August 1884 – 29 February 1964), better known as Dorothy Jewson, was a British teacher, trade union organiser, Labour Party politician, and one of her party's first female Members of Parliament. Whilst at Girton College, Cambridge, she joined socialist organisations including the Independent Labour Party, and went on to campaign for Women's Suffrage in Norwich. She became the "Chief Organiser" of the women's section of National Union of General Workers, before leaving to work as a housemaid at a London hotel, investigating the working conditions there.

Dorothy Jewson
Dorothy-Jewson.jpg
Member of Parliament for Norwich
In office
6 December 1923 – 28 October 1924
Serving with Walter Robert Smith
Preceded byGeorge Henry Roberts
Succeeded byJames Griffyth Fairfax
Personal details
Born(1884-08-17)17 August 1884
Norwich
Died29 February 1964(1964-02-29) (aged 79)
NationalityBritish
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)R. Tanner Smith
(m. 1936, d. 1939)
Campbell Stephen
(m. 1945, d. 1947)
Alma materGirton College, Cambridge

In 1923, she was elected as Member of Parliament in one of Norwich's two seats, one of the earliest Labour women to do so. After causing some initial controversy by not wearing a hat to Parliament, she gave her maiden speech in support of reducing the age of suffrage for women from 30 to 21, to match that of men. She was also a member of committees looking into legal aid and adoption. She lost her seat in the 1924 general election, and went on to become president of the Women's Birth Control Group, then a councillor in Norwich City Council, where she ensured the building many of Norwich's parks.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Dorothea Jewson was born on 17 August 1884 in Thorpe Hamlet to Alderman George Jewson and Mary Jane Jewson. Her sister, Violet, went on to become a doctor in the Norwich area.[1] George Jewson's family had established a business in timber mills, Jewson, which would go on to be a well known builders merchant chain. Jewson was educated at Norwich High School for Girls before going on to Cheltenham Ladies' College and finally completing Classical Tripos at Girton College, Cambridge in 1907. Whilst at university, she joined the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party, two socialist organisations.[2]

Early careerEdit

After completing her degree, Jewson achieved a teaching qualification from Cambridge Training College for Women in 1908, then returned to Norwich to teach. With her brother, she carried out a large-scale investigation into poverty in the city. It was published as The Destitute of Norwich and how they Live: a Report into the Administration of out Relief in 1912. During the first world war, Jewson managed a centre focused on training unemployed girls up to the age of 17, and by 1916, she had joined the National Federation of Women Workers as an organiser.[2] In 1919, she had become the secretary of that society and in this role, she attempted to act as an advocate in court, though the judge did not allow it as she had not been appointed as King's Counsel.[3]

By 1922, Jewson had become a vocal speaker on the rights of employed women and was the "chief organiser" of the women's section of the "National Union of General Workers".[4] Over the next year, she left the role in the union and spent a period working as a housemaid in a high end London hotel to experience the working conditions there. She explained that the hotel had "... telephones in every room, pile carpets and marble pillars everywhere [for the guests] but the servants quarters were filthy, miserable and loathsome.".[5] She shared a mice infested room on the tenth floor with four other housemaids, and ate cold, stale, leftover food from the guests in the windowless basement. Working hours were between six in the morning and nine in the evening, with a break from five to seven in the evening and the wage was 15 shillings per week (worth approximately £145 in 2018)[note 1][6]

Political careerEdit

At the December 1923 general election, she was elected as one of the two Members of Parliament (MP) for Norwich. In doing so, she became one of the first three women — Margaret Bondfield and Susan Lawrence were the others — to be elected as Labour MPs.[7] When parliament re-opened on 6 January 1924, Jewson arrived early to ensure she had a seat, but she and Bondfield caused some controversy by not wearing a hat.[8] A few days later, Christine Murrell hosted a dinner for the ladies who had been elected as MPs and discussion turned to the hats. While, Nancy Astor made light of the topic, Jewson was clear that the women were "not in Parliament to discuss dress or millinery, but to do something"[9] and then carried on attending without a hat.[10]

At the end of January 1924, during a train strike, Jewson was refused to use the strikebreaking trains to travel back to her constituency in Norwich. The press reported on how she would "walk" the 115 miles back.[11][12] In reality, she and another trade union official hitched rides on brick cart, a brewer's lorry and a furniture van. They also used buses and trains once the strike was over.[13] [14] In February, 1924, Jewson and Mabel Philipson became the first women to sit on the Parliamentary Kitchen Committee[15]

On 29 February, Jewson joined William Adamson in putting forward a motion to reduce the age that women could vote from 30 to 21, the same age as men.[16] Estimates at the time suggested that this proposal would have meant half a million more women than men on the electoral register, and that 70% of wage earning women at the time were currently unable to vote.[17] Jewson's speech on the matter was her first in Parliament,[18] and she went on to act as a teller for the vote alongside the Duchess of Atholl, the first time women had done so. The vote was returned at 288 to 72,[19] paving the way for Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928.

Jewson was appointed as part of committee to look at problems with Child Adoption[20] and another to look into ensuring that the poor could access legal advice.[21] She also broadcast talks on the radio, such as "Psychology and Domestic Service".[22]

Despite a campaign over the summer of 1924, focussed on "Faith, Hope and Dorothy"[23], she lost her seat at the 1924 general election,[24] and never returned to Parliament, despite running in 1929 and 1931.[2]

Later careerEdit

As she was not re-elected as an MP, Jewson focused her time elsewhere, between 1924 and 1928 she became president of the Worker's Birth Control Group, despite being a single lady.[25] There she argued for birth control information to be given to poor women.[26] Her presidency and outpoken feminist views were given as possible reasons for her lack of election success.[27] Jewson did get elected on a local level and acted as Councillor for Norwich City Council between 1929 to 1936.[28] There, she instigated the building of more parks and roads around Norwich, to increase employment,[29] and she is considered to be a incremental in the creation of many of the parks there today.[30]

When the Labour Party split, she focused on the Independent Labour Party, and during the 1929 part conference, she put forward a resolution that there should be a higher taxation on the rich to pay for a children's allowance.[31] and at the 1930 conference she argued that inheritance tax should be used to "abolish inherited wealth".[32]

LegacyEdit

Jewson's political career reduced after 1936, when she married Richard Tanner-Smith, a tea merchant who died in 1939. In 1945, she married Campbell Stephen, member of parliament for Glasgow Camlachie, who died just two years later.[33][2]

Throughout her career Jewson was considered a firm feminist, whilst in Parliament she was considered unlikely accept any special treatment of women MPs.[34] She was willing to get involved at the ground level, at one point she stated she "nearly had the clothes torn off her back" due to suffrage activities, which endeared her to the crowds.[35][36]

In 2018, the Norfolk theatre company, "The Common Lot" put on a play All Mouth, No Trousers about "rebel women" which featured Jewson as a character,[37] and in 2019, when it was discovered that just 25 out of 300 blue plaques in Norwich were focussed on women, the group created 8 "unofficial" blue plaques including Jewson. [38][39] She was also included in a project commemorating suffrage pioneers across the country.[40]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Comparing average earnings between 1922 and 2018, 15 shillings is valued at approximately £145.40 by MeasuringWorth.com

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Mrs Jewson in Hull". Daily Mail (12639). Hull, England: British Library Newspapers. 9 April 1926. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Jewson, Dorothea [Dorothy]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50050.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ "First Lady Advocate". The Bath Chronical (8240). Bath, England: British Library Newspapers. 24 May 1919. p. 21. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  4. ^ Jewson, Dorothy (26 May 1922). "Our Workless Women". Daily Hull (11436). Hull, England: British Library Newspapers. p. 6. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  5. ^ "A Girton Girl". The Western Daily Press (20425). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 1 December 1923. p. 9. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Woman Candidate's Life As Servant". The Nottingham Evening Post (14179). Nottingham, England: British Library Newspapers. 30 November 1923. p. 3. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  7. ^ Abrahams, Fran (2003), "Margaret Bondfield - in power", in Abrahams, Fran (ed.), Freedom's cause: lives of the suffragettes, London: Profile Books, pp. 229–230, ISBN 9781861974259.
  8. ^ "Lady Labour Members without hats". The Courier and Argus (22030). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 9 January 1924. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  9. ^ "The Hat Question". The Western Daily Press (20458). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 11 January 1924. p. 8. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Hats off, Ladies". The Courier and Argus (22033). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 12 January 1924. p. 8. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Miss Dorothy Jewson". The Nottingham Evening Post (14228). Nottingham, England: British Library Newspapers. 28 January 1924. p. 1. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Woman M.P.'s 115 Miles Tramp". The Courier and Argus (22047). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 29 January 1924. p. 9. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Woman M.P.'s journey by cart and van". The Courier and Argus (22049). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 31 January 1924. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Miss Jewson's Walk". Essex Chronical (8316). Chelmsford, England: British Library Newspaper. 1 February 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  15. ^ "A Parliamentary Innovation". The Western Daily Press (22494). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspaper. 22 February 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Woman to Woman". The Western Daily Press (22501). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 1 March 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  17. ^ "M.P.'s leap year proposal to give women of 21 the vote". The Courier and Argus (22075). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 1 March 1924. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Women M.P.'s speeches compared". Aberdeen Press and Journal (390). Aberdeen, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 1 March 1924. p. 6. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Votes for more women". The Western Daily Press (22501). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 1 March 1924. p. 7. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Duchess of Atholl's appointment". The Courier and Argus (22105). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 5 April 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Legal advice for poor". Aberdeen Press and Journal (734). Aberdeen, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 8 April 1925. p. 7. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Broadcasting". The Nottingham Evening Post (14442). Nottingham, England: British Library Newspapers. 4 October 1924. p. 6. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Faith, Hope and Dorothy". Daily Mail (12100). Hull, England: British Library Newspapers. 15 July 1924. p. 1. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Unionist Majority of 206". The Courier and Argus (22284). Dundee, Scotland: British Library Newspapers. 31 October 1924. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  25. ^ Brooke, Stephen (2011). "Backstreets and Utopias Between the Wars". Sexual politics : sexuality, family planning, and the British left from the 1880s to the present day (Illustrated ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780199562541.
  26. ^ "Birth Control". The Western Daily Press (23312). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 13 October 1926. p. 12. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  27. ^ Pugh, Martin (13 January 1992). Women and Women's Movement in Britain, 1914-1959. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 189. ISBN 9781349218509. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  28. ^ Dickson, Annabelle (22 January 2015). "Labour on a mission to get women involved in politics - and Norfolk is the first stop". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  29. ^ Annabelle, Dickson (2018). "Dorothy Jewson". In Dale, Iain; Smith, Jacqui (eds.). The Honourable Ladies : Profiles of Women MPs 1918-1996. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781785904493. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  30. ^ Johnson, Sabrina (27 August 2018). "Exhibition celebrating the lives of Dorothy Jewson and Lady Eve Balfour to come to Norwich". Norwich Evening News. Norwich. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  31. ^ "Children's Allowance". Citizen (131). Gloucester, England: British Library Newspapers. 30 September 1929. p. 12. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Abolishing Inherited Wealth". The Western Daily Press (24164). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 23 April 1930. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  33. ^ Obituary, Mrs Dorothy Stephen Former Labour M.P. For Norwich in The Times, 3 March 1964, Issue 55950, p. 14, col. B
  34. ^ "The Great Contrast". The Western Daily Press (21488). Yeovil, England: British Library Newspapers. 15 February 1924. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Socialism with the gilt on". Daily Mail (12641). Hull, England: British Library Newspapers. 12 April 1926. p. 4. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  36. ^ "Women & Socialism". Daily Mail (12641). Hull, England: British Library Newspapers. 12 April 1926. p. 9. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  37. ^ Briggs, Stacia (12 October 2018). "Celebrate the rebel women of Norfolk in a new, free-to-watch theatre show in Norwich". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  38. ^ Rix, Isobel (22 May 2019). "The stories behind the unofficial blue plaques appearing around Norwich". Norwich Evening News. Norwich. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  39. ^ "Unofficial Norwich blue plaques mark 'rebel women'". BBC News. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  40. ^ Pochin, Courtney (8 March 2018). "Norfolk women given national recognition for work with suffragette movement". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 24 July 2019.

BibliographyEdit

  • Meeres, Frank. Dorothy Jewson. Suffragette and Socialist (Poppyland Publishing, 2014).

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hilton Young
George Henry Roberts
Member of Parliament for Norwich
19231924
With: Walter Robert Smith
Succeeded by
Hilton Young
James Griffyth Fairfax
Party political offices
Preceded by
Percy F. Pollard
Eastern Division representative on the National Administrative Council of the Independent Labour Party
1926–1934
Succeeded by
George Johnson