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Mary Macarthur - Suffragist and Trade Union Leader

8 March 2021 | Tagged: Senior School, Junior School, School Community

On International Women's Day, we fondly remember former pupil, Mary Macarthur, a Scottish suffragist and leading trades unionist.

Mary Macarthur was born in Glasgow in August 1880, the eldest of six children to John Duncan Macarthur, the owner of a drapery business, and his wife, Anne Elizabeth Martin. She would later marry, in 1911, before having two children, one of whom died at birth.

Her story is well known - as a suffragist and Trade Union leader who supported women in poorly paid jobs, giving them a vital voice and fighting for better working conditions throughout the early 1900s and during World War I.

More than 140 years later, a statue commemorates her work in a park bearing her name at Cradley Heath in the English midlands.

Her name is also to be found on housing in London and she was an important enough figure in British history to have a Blue Plaque placed on one of her former homes by English Heritage in 2017.

Less well known is that Mary attended the Glasgow High School for Girls until 1895, where she edited the school magazine and became inspired to fight for these important political causes.

Her short, but incredible life has been summarised in this short video below, featuring her biographer, Cathy Hunt.

If you are keen to find out more about Mary's life, you can click here to listen to a podcast from the History West Midlands website.

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