Harriet McIlquham

Harriet McIlquham (8 August 1837 – 24 January 1910), also seen as Harriett McIlquham, was an English suffragist.

Early lifeEdit

Harriet Medley was born in Brick Lane, London, the daughter of Edward Medley (a baker) and Harriet Sanders Medley.[1]

Political activism and writingEdit

McIlquham became a member of the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage by 1877. She was also a member of the Bristol and West of England Society for Women's Suffrage. In 1881, she co-organized the Birmingham Grand Demonstration with Maria Colby, and spoke at the Bradford demonstration. In 1889, she was a member of the Central National Society, and co-founded the Women's Franchise League with Alice Cliff Scatcherd and Elizabeth Clarke Wolstenholme Elmy, and was the league's first president.[2][3] She helped to found the Women's Emancipation Union in 1892, and served on that organization's council. She was also a member of the Cheltenham branch of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, but also worked with and donated to the Women's Social and Political Union.[4]

McIlquham was elected a Poor Law guardian for Boddlington in 1881, the first married woman elected to that office.[5] Her qualifications were questioned, but because she also held property in her own name, the challenge failed. She carried this experience into her further activism, taking particular interest in married women's political rights.[6] She also became overseer of the parish of Staverton, and first chair of the Staverton parish council, among other local appointments.[1]

McIlquham published pamphlets based on her lectures, among them "The Enfranchisement of Women: An Ancient Right, A Modern Need" in 1892.[7] She also wrote a series of essays on the history of feminism for the Westminster Review.[8][9]

Personal lifeEdit

Harriet Medley married James Henry McIlquham in 1858. They had four children and lived in Gloucestershire. She died in 1910, aged 72 years, just hours after her paper on poet Robert Williams Buchanan was read at the Cheltenham Ethical Society.[10] Her gravesite is in the churchyard at Tewkesbury Abbey.[1]

The papers of Harriet McIlquham are archived in The Women's Library.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Linda Walker, "Harriett McIlquham" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press 2004).
  2. ^ Susan Hamilton, Frances Power Cobbe and Victorian Feminism (Springer 2006): 83. ISBN 9780230626478
  3. ^ Maureen Wright, Elizabeth Wolstoneholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement: The Biography of an Insurgent Woman (Oxford University Press 2014): 246. ISBN 9780719091353
  4. ^ a b Papers of Harriet McIlquham, The Women's Library.
  5. ^ Sarah Richardson, The Political Worlds of Women: Gender and Politics in Nineteenth Century Britain (Routledge 2013): 97. ISBN 9781135964931
  6. ^ Jacqueline Broad, The Philosophy of Mary Astell: An Early Modern Theory of Virtue (Oxford University Press 2015): 22. ISBN 9780191026201
  7. ^ Harriet McIlquham, "The Enfranchisement of Women: An Ancient Right, a Modern Need" (Women's Emancipation Union 1892).
  8. ^ Harriett McIlquham, "Early Writers on the Woman Question" Westminster Review (September 1902): 312-320.
  9. ^ Harriett McIlquham, "Women's Suffrage in the Early Nineteenth Century" Westminster Review (February 1903): 539-551.
  10. ^ "Mrs. Harriet McIlquham" Leamington Spa Courier (28 January 1910): 5.