Gertrude Tuckwell

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Gertrude Tuckwell

Gertrude Tuckwell.jpg
Tuckwell in 1930
Gertrude Mary Tuckwell

(1861-04-25)25 April 1861
Oxford, England
Died5 August 1951(1951-08-05) (aged 90)
Guildford, England
Political partyLabour Party

Gertrude Mary Tuckwell CH (1861–1951) was an English trade unionist, social worker, author, and magistrate.

Early life and education[edit]

Gertrude Mary Tuckwell was born in Oxford on 25 April 1861, the second daughter of Rosa née Strong (b. 1829/30) and William Tuckwell, master of New College School and chaplain at New College, Oxford and the self-proclaimed "radical parson". Her mother was the eldest daughter of Captain Henry Strong, an Indian army officer, whose younger sister, feminist and trade unionist Emilia Dilke, would have a profound effect on Tuckwell's life. Tuckwell had one brother and two sisters.

She was home-schooled[1] in her family's Christian socialist tradition[2] and trained to be a teacher in Liverpool from 1881.


Tuckwell was a teacher at Bishop Otter College in Chichester from 1882 to 1884, and then taught at a working-class infant school in Chelsea until forced to stop by ill health in 1890.[1]

From 1893, she became secretary to her maternal aunt, writer, suffragette and trade unionist Emilia Dilke (wife of Sir Charles Dilke). She published The State and Its Children in 1894, opposing child labour. She was involved with the Women's Trade Union League from 1891, and succeeded Emilia Dilke as its President in 1905. In 1908 she became president of the National Federation of Women Workers, and campaigned to protect women from industrial injuries such as lead poisoning and phossy jaw.[1]

In 1908 she was described in The Woman Worker newspaper as "the power that moves a myriad organisations. Behind a screen of plans to abolish sweating, to organize women, to prohibit poisonous glazes in pottery, to indemnify victimized workers, her alert spirit is tirelessly in motion".[3] She retired in 1918, but continued to campaigning on public health issues.[1] After Charles Dilke died in 1911, she, as his literary executor,[3] co-wrote a two-volume biography with Stephen Gwynn ("begun by Stephen Gwynn, M. P., completed and ed. by Gertrude M. Tuckwell").[1]

She was her father's executor when he died in 1919, and he had previously dedicated his 1905 book Reminiscences of a Radical Parson to her.[4]

Work as a Magistrate[edit]

After the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 became law on 23 December 1919, Tuckwell was one of the first seven women appointed as a Justice of the Peace,[1] and she was the first woman magistrate in London.

Alongside the other six women appointed in 1919, Tuckwell was tasked with drawing up a list of women suitable for appointment as JPs from across the United Kingdom. A list of 172 new women magistrates for England was published in July 1920, with most of those connected with the labour movement suggested by Tuckwell.[5]

She was a founder member of the Magistrates' Association in 1920, and was a member of its council from 1921 to 1940. She was the chair of the National Association of Probation Officers from 1933 to 1941. In 1930 she was inducted into the Order of the Companions of Honour.[1]

Tuckwell spent the last twenty years of her life at Little Woodlands, Wormley, Surrey. She died on 5 August 1951 at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford.[1]

Her papers are lodged in the TUC Library Collections at the University of North London.[2] These consist of approximately 700 folders of reports, pamphlets, leaflets and press cuttings accumulated by Tuckwell, regarding women's political and economic struggles from 1890 to 1920.[6]


  • The State and Its Children (1894)
  • The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Bart., M. P. begun by Stephen Gwynn; completed and edited by Gertrude M. Tuckwell (Volume I) London: John Murray, 1917
  • The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Bart., M. P. begun by Stephen Gwynn; completed and edited by Gertrude M. Tuckwell (Volume II) London: John Murray, 1917

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h John, Angela V. (23 September 2004). Tuckwell, Gertrude Mary (1861–1951), trade unionist and social reformer. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36572.
  2. ^ a b "TUC Library Collections - Gertrude Tuckwell Papers" (PDF).
  3. ^ a b Hunt, Cathy (2013). "Gertrude Tuckwell and the British Labour Movement, 1891–1921: A Study in Motives and Influences". Women's History Review. 22 (3): 478–496. doi:10.1080/09612025.2012.730745. ISSN 0961-2025.
  4. ^ "Tuckwell, William (1829–1919), schoolmaster, author, and self-styled radical parson". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/92927. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Gertrude Tuckwell – London's First Woman Magistrate | First 100 Years". Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  6. ^ Morris, Jenny (1978). "The Gertrude Tuckwell Collection". History Workshop. 5: 155–162.

External links[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by President of the National Federation of Women Workers
Succeeded by
Agnes Lauder