9 first ever women elected to the British House of Commons

Houses of Parliament

It’s been almost one hundred years since women got the right to vote, but who were the first women in the Commons?

The most recent election saw the highest proportion of female MPs ever elected in Britain, with 208 being voted in up from the 191 two years previously, according to the BBC.

But who were the first female MPs to be elected? Which parties did they represent?

Here are the first nine to ever enter the Commons.

1st - Constance de Markievicz

Markievicz stood for Sinn Fein at the 1918 election, a vote which saw Liberal David Lloyd George continue as prime minister. Markievicz, like Sinn Fein MPs to this day, refused to take her seat in the House of Commons so while she was the first female MP elected, she was not the first to take her seat.

2nd – Nancy Astor

Unlike Markievicz before her, the Viscountess Astor took her seat in the Commons. She won a by-election in 1919 for the Conservatives in Plymouth and served right up until 1945.

3rd – Margaret Wintringham

In 1921, Margaret Wintringham became the first ever female Liberal MP. She was elected via a by-election, which took place following the death of her husband, who served as the seat’s MP. She won the seat with 42.2% of the vote and held on to it until the 1924 election when it was won by a Conservative.

4th – Mabel Philipson

The next woman to enter parliament was a Conservative and ex-actress, who won her seat in the Berwick-upon-Tweed by-election of 1923. Significantly, her husband had been a National Liberal MP for the seat, but had to step down, paving the way for Mabel to take his seat under a different party banner.

5th – Katharine Stewart-Murray

The Duchess of Atholl was the Scot to win a seat in the House of Commons. Standing for the Scottish Unionist party at the 1923 election, she won the seat of Kinross and Perthshire from the National Liberal Party.

The seat was abolished in 1983.

House of Commons Chamber: Speaker's table

6th – Susan Lawrence

Lawrence was one of the first ever female Labour MPs elected to the House of Commons. She won the seat of West Ham North in 1923 only to lose it in the 1924 election, however, she won it back in 1926 and held it until 1931.

7th – Margaret Bondfield

Lawrence was also joined at the 1923 election by fellow Labour MP Margaret Bondfield, who won the seat of Northhampton and served as an MP until the 1924 election. She later returned to parliament where she became the country’s first ever female cabinet minister, serving as Minister of Labour between 1929 and 1931 under Ramsay MacDonald.

8th - Dorothy Jewson

The third woman Labour MP to be elected at this election was Dorothy Jewson who came second in the multi-member seat of Norwich, securing her place as an MP in the House of Commons. She lost her seat in the subsequent election.

9th - Vera Terrington

Vera Terrington became the second-ever female Liberal MP at the 1923 election when she defeated the unionist incumbent who she had lost to one year previously. However, she lost the seat one year after victory to a new unionist candidate, Sir Alfred Knox.

A full list of female MPs elected can be found in this parliamentary research paper, as well as here.