Miss Elizabeth Garrett (Anderson)

Gender: Female

Marital Status: Single

Born: 1836

Died: 1917

Education: Ladies school (Blackheath London)

Occupation: Doctor

1866 Petition: Yes

Petition Area: L.S.A. 20 Upper Berkeley Street, London, Middlesex, England


Other sources: https://www.parliament.uk/1866
Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866?1928 (2001)

Database linked sources: https://www.suffrageresources.org.uk/resource/3202/elizabeth-garrett-anderson

Further Information:

Family information: Daughter to Louisa Newson Garrett, who also signed the 1866 petition, as did her sister Louisa (see Louisa Smith). Married James George Skelton Anderson in 1871.

Additional Information: Elizabeth was a founding member of the Kensington Society, which was central to the formulation and gathering of signatures for the 1866 suffrage petition. Elizabeth, with her sisters, was probably responsible for collecting the disproportionate number of signatures for the petition in their small home town of Aldeburgh, Suffolk. Elizabeth, along with her friend Emily Davies, personally presented the petition to John Stuart Mill outside Westminster for him to submit to Parliament. Afterwards, Elizabeth briefly belonged to the Enfranchisement of Women Committee (EWC) but took a step back from her public role in the votes for women campaign at that time, probably fearing that it would impact on support for her medical work (see Other Activities). However, out of the spotlight, her suffrage activities continued. She chaired suffrage society meetings; joined the Central Committee of the NSWS (CCNSWS), of which her sister Millicent Fawcett was then honorary secretary; and subscribed to the London Society for Women's Suffrage (1906?7). However, after 40 years of peaceful campaigning, Elizabeth began to support militant tactics and moved to the WSPU in 1908 at the age of 72. Elizabeth took part in a 'raid' on the House of Commons that year, gave speeches on the WSPU's behalf and also became the first woman mayor in Britain (in her home town of Aldeburgh). She continued her support through 1909, going on tour with WSPU activist and former Lancashire mill girl Annie Kenney, and in November 1910, co-led a deputation to the House of Commons. That day became known as 'Black Friday' because of the violence perpetrated against suffrage protestors by the police. Elizabeth was photographed that day, standing defiantly on the steps outside the House, together with WSPU leader Emmeline Pankhurst. However, as WSPU militancy became more violent, Elizabeth withdrew her support for them publicly. She remained active in the campaign, sitting on the women's Tax Resistance League committee until 1913, when she retired. Sadly, she died just one year before the partial vote was granted to women in 1918.

Other Suffrage Activities: Elizabeth's focus outside the suffrage movement was medicine. She became the first woman doctor in Britain, despite women being technically barred from holding such a position. Elizabeth's applications for medical school were all denied, but she found a legal loophole that allowed her to qualify by gaining a licence from the Society of Apothecaries, which she did in 1865. Soon after, the Society closed this loophole to ensure that no other women could follow her lead. Women were formally barred from entering the medical profession in Britain until the passing of the Medical Act in 1876. In the years that followed, Elizabeth built up her own medical practice; gained posts at a number of hospitals; opened the St Mary's Dispensary for Women and Children for those who could not afford medical care (this became the New Hospital for Women and Children); and worked to help other women gain access to a medical education. In 1870, Elizabeth was also the first woman elected to the London School Board, thus one of the first to face a public vote. During this time, Elizabeth had also married and had three children. A daughter, Louisa Garrett Anderson, would also become a doctor and suffrage campigner.

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