404 Hampstead Garden Suburb Virtual Museum : Document : Margaret Grace Bondfield [SUFL04]
Margaret Grace Bondfield
Margaret Grace Bondfield

Overview of Margaret Grace Bondfield

As well as those who were campaigning specifically for votes for women, there were others who supported universal suffrage which would give the vote to men and women on equal terms and without a property qualification. Margaret Grace Bondfield was one of these. They were not Census objectors, rather they argued against the boycott.

Margaret Bondfield lectured for the Labour Party and the Independent Labour Party. She had also been the Secretary of the Women’s Labour League and Chair of  the Adult Suffrage Society, formed 1906, both of which became part of the People’s Suffrage Federation. The WSPU (but not the WFL) had been opposed to these groups because of ‘feminist’ agendas.

Margaret Bondfield was a short-term resident of HGS. She was from a relatively poor background in Somerset. After a year as a pupil teacher, she was apprenticed as to a drapery and embroidery business in Hove. She then worked in a number of shops where assistants lived on site, often in poor conditions. Moving to London, she became involved in trade unions and joined the Fabian Society and later the Independent Labour Party. She became an official for the shopworkers union and was the first female delegate to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in 1899. She was involved in trade union work for most of her life; she was the first woman to be elected to the TUC General Council and became Chair in 1923. In 1929 became first female cabinet minister and privy councillor, serving as Minister of Labour. The government fell in 1931, losing most of its MPs and Bondfield never returned to Parliament.

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Document, SUFL04