Selina Cooper

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Selina Cooper (4 December 1864 – 11 November 1946)[1] was an English Suffragist and the first woman to represent the Independent Labour Party in 1901 when she was elected as a Poor Law Guardian.

Born in Callington, Cornwall in 1864, her mother moved to Barnoldswick, Yorkshire in the north west of England when she was a child, after her father Charles Coombe died of typhoid, and left the family destitute.

She began her working life in 1876 at the age of 12 in the local textile mills of Barnoldswick, where she was employed as a 'creeler' whose responsibility it was to ensure that there was a constant supply of fresh bobbins for the cotton emerging from the card frames. When Selina reached the age of thirteen she was able to leave school and work full-time in the Barnoldswick Mill.

She became active in trade union activities and also taught herself basic medical skills, as most of her co-workers could not afford doctors.In 1910 she was chosen to be one of four women to present the case for women's suffrage to Herbert Asquith, the then Prime Minister.

During the First World War Selina developed first ever Maternity Centre in Nelson. She was later elected to the town council and went on to become a local magistrate. In the 1930s Selina Cooper played a proud and prominent role in the campaign against fascism.


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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