Katharine Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Katherine Marjory Stewart-Murray
Duchess of Atholl
Katharine Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl.jpg
Kinross and West Perthshire , Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education
In office
1923 – 28 November 1938
Preceded by James Gardiner
Succeeded by William McNair Snadden
Personal details
Born (1874-11-06)6 November 1874
Edinburgh
Died 21 October 1960(1960-10-21) (aged 85)
Edinburgh
Nationality British
Political party Scottish Unionist Party
Spouse(s) John Stewart-Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine
Relations Sir James Henry Ramsay, 10th Baronet (father)
Children None
Alma mater Royal College of Music
Profession journalist/noblewoman

Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl, DBE (6 November 1874 – 21 October 1960), née Ramsay and known as the Marchioness of Tullibardine from 1899 to 1917, was a British noblewoman and Scottish Unionist Party politician.

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Katharine Marjory Ramsay was born in Edinburgh on 6 November 1874, the daughter of Sir James Henry Ramsay, 10th Baronet. She was educated at Wimbledon High School and the Royal College of Music. During her school years she was known as Kitty Ramsay. On 20 July 1899, she married John Stewart-Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine, who succeeded his father as the 8th Duke of Atholl in 1917, whereupon she became the Duchess of Atholl.

Political career[edit]

She was active in Scottish social service and local government and in 1912 served on the hugely influential "Highlands and Islands Medical Service Committee" (Dewar Report) that has been widely credited with creating the forerunner of the National Health Service. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1918. She was the Scottish Unionist Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Kinross and West Perthshire from 1923 to 1938, and served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education from 1924 to 1929, the first woman to serve in a Conservative government.

She resigned the Conservative whip first in 1935 over the India Bill and the "socialist tendency" of the government's domestic policy. Resuming the Whip, she resigned it again in 1937 over the Anglo-Italian Agreement. Finally she resigned her seat in parliament in 1938 in opposition to Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement of Adolf Hitler. To permit her resignation (technically proscribed by law), she was named Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds on 28 November 1938. She stood in the subsequent by-election as an Independent but lost her seat.

She argued that she actively opposed totalitarian regimes and practices. In 1931, she published The Conscription of a People - a protest against the abuse of rights in the Soviet Union. In 1936 she was involved in a long-running battle in the pages of various newspapers with Lady Houston, after the latter had become notorious for her outspoken support of rightist forces in Spain, as well as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Stewart-Murray had also taken issue with Houston calling on the king to become British dictator in imitation of the European fascist regimes in the pages of the Saturday Review.[1] According to her autobiography Working Partnership (1958), it was at the prompting of Ellen Wilkinson that in April 1937 she, Eleanor Rathbone, and Wilkinson went to Spain to observe the effects of the Spanish Civil War. In Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid she saw the impact of Luftwaffe bombing on behalf of the Nationalists, visited prisoners of war held by the Republicans and considered the impact of the conflict on women and children in particular. Her book Searchlight on Spain resulted from this involvement, and her support for the Republican side in the conflict led to her being nicknamed by some the 'Red Duchess'.[2] However, Cowling cites her as saying that she supported the Republican government because "a government [Franco's] which used Moors could not be a national government". Her opposition to the British policy of non-intervention in Spain epitomised her attitudes and actions. She campaigned against the Soviet control of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary as the chairman of the British League for European Freedom from 1945. In 1958 she published a biography of her life with her husband entitled Working Partnership.

Other[edit]

She was also a vice-president of the Girls' Public Day School Trust from 1924-1960. She was also a keen composer, composing music to accompany the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Military appointments[edit]

She was closely involved in her husband's Regiment The Scottish Horse and composed "The Scottish Horse", designed to be played on bagpipes.

When her husband died in 1942, she took over the appointment of Honorary Colonel of The Scottish Horse,[3] a position she retained until 1952.[4]

She died in 1960, aged 85, in Edinburgh.

Publications[edit]

  • Atholl, Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of (editor) (1908), Military History of Perthshire (1660-1899) and (1899-1902), 2 Volumes, Perth: R A & J Hay 
  • Atholl, Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of (1931), Conscription of a People 
  • Atholl, Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of (1931), Women and Politics, Philip Allen 
  • Atholl, Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of (1933) Main Facts of the Indian Problem.
  • Atholl, Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of (1st & 2nd editions June 1938; 3rd revised edition September 1938), Searchlight on Spain, Middlesex: Penguin 
  • Atholl, Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of (c. 1958), Working partnership: being the lives of John George, 8th Duke of Atholl, and of his wife, Katharine Marjory Ramsay, London: Arthur Baker Ltd 

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

Records relating to Atholl can be found at:[5]

Published sources[edit]

  • Maitland, Frank (1937), Searchlight on the Duchess of Atholl, Edinburgh: Revolutionary Socialist Party 
  • Cowling, Maurice (1975), The Impact of Hitler - British Politics and Policy 1933-1940, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 403, ISBN 0-521-20582-4 
  • Stobaugh, Beverly Parkers (c. 1978), Women and Parliament, 1918-1970, Hicksville, NY: Exposition Press, c 1978.: Exposition Press, ISBN 0-682-49056-3 
  • Hetherington, Shelia (1989), Katharine Atholl 1874-1960, Aberdeen University Press 
  • MacLeod, Douglas (2005), Morningside Mata Haris: how MI6 deceived Scotland’s great and good, Edinburgh: Birlinn, ISBN 978-1-84341-021-8 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany, 1933-39, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 235
  2. ^ Masters, Brian (1988). The Dukes. London: Frederick Muller. ISBN 0-09-173700-1. 
  3. ^ London Gazette May 1942
  4. ^ London Gazette, March 1952
  5. ^ National Register of Archives, Murray, Katharine Marjory Stewart- (1874-1960) née Ramsay, Duchess of Atholl, Conservative MP GB/NNAF/P151487, The National Archives, retrieved 5 July 2007 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Gardiner
Member of Parliament for Kinross & West Perthshire
19231938
Succeeded by
William McNair Snadden
Military offices
Preceded by
Hon Col His Grace
8th Duke of Atholl
Honorary Colonel of the
Scottish Horse

May 1942-May 1952
Succeeded by
Colonel RA Bartram MC TD DL