Maude Royden

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Sex and Common Sense by Agnes Maude Royden; 1922

Agnes Maude Royden, CH (23 November 1876 – 30 July 1956), later known as Maude Royden-Shaw, was a preacher and suffragist.

Life and career[edit]

Maude was born in Mossley Hill, Liverpool, the daughter of Sir Thomas Bland Royden, 1st Baronet, of Frankby Hall, Birkenhead. She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Whilst in Oxford she started a lifelong friendship with fellow suffragist Kathleen Courtney who had the same alta mater.[1] Afterwards Royden, for some years, did settlement work in Liverpool.

She also lectured on English literature for the university extension movement and in 1909 was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. From 1912 to 1914 she edited the Common Cause, the organ of the union.

She broke with the NUWSS over its support for the war effort. She became the secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation with other Christian pacifists. Although unable to travel to the women's peace congress in the Hague in 1915, when the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was established there, she became the vice-president. Her friend Kathleen Courtney had attended.[1]

In a 1917 speech she used the oft-cited phrase: "The Church [of England] should go forward along the path of progress and be no longer satisfied only to represent the Conservative Party at prayer."[2]

Royden became well known as a speaker on social and religious subjects, and in 1917 became assistant preacher at the City Temple in London, being thus the first woman to occupy this office.

After World War I, Royden's interest shifted to the role of women in the Church. In 1929 she began the official campaign for the ordination of women when she founded the Society for the Ministry of Women. The first woman to become a Doctor of Divinity in 1931, Royden made several worldwide preaching tours from the 1920s to the 1940s.

In 1939, she renounced pacifism believing Nazism to be a greater evil than war.

In 1944, she married a recently widowed cleric, the Reverend Hudson Shaw, whom she had loved for more than forty years.


Papers of Agnes Maude Royden are held at The Women's Library at London Metropolitan University, ref 7AMR

Books by Royden[edit]

  • Downward paths (1916)
  • Women and the sovereign state (1917)
  • Sex and common-sense (1922)
  • Prayer as a force (1923)
  • Beauty in Religion (1923)
  • Christ triumphant (1924)
  • Church and woman (1924)
  • Life's little pitfalls (1925)
  • Here--and hereafter (1933)
  • Problem of Palestine (1939)
  • I Believe in God (1927)
  • Women's Partnership in the New World (1941)
  • The Threefold Cord (1947), autobiography


  1. ^ a b Janet E. Grenier, ‘Courtney, Dame Kathleen D'Olier (1878–1974)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 9 March 2017
  2. ^ Fred R. Shapiro, ed., The Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press, 2006), 654

External links[edit]