Ellen Pinsent

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Ellen Frances Pinsent
Born Ellen Frances Parker
(1866-03-26)March 26, 1866
Claxby, Lincolnshire
Died 1949 (aged 82–83)
Citizenship United Kingdom
Occupation Mental health worker
Spouse(s) Hume Chancellor Pinsent
  • Richard Parker
  • Elizabeth Coffin

Dame Ellen Frances Pinsent DBE (26 March 1866 – 1949), née Parker, was a British mental health worker.

She was the daughter of the Rev. Richard Parker and his second wife, Elizabeth Coffin. She married Hume Chancellor Pinsent (b. 1857), a relative of the philosopher David Hume, and they had three children. Their two sons, David Hume Pinsent and Richard Parker Pinsent,[1] were killed in the First World War, and their daughter, Hester, married the Nobel-prize winner Edgar Douglas Adrian, a peer.


Pinsent was the first woman elected, on 1 November 1911, to serve on Birmingham City Council.[2] She represented the Edgbaston Ward as a Liberal Unionist.[2] She had earlier been co-opted as a member of the council's Education Committee and served as Chairman of the Special School Sub-Committee.[2] She stood down from the council in October 1913 upon appointment as Commissioner for the Board of Control for Lunacy and Mental Deficiency.[2]


The Dame Ellen Pinsent Special Primary School (for children with learning disabilities) in Birmingham is named for her. Her life and work was chronicled in the book Ellen Pinsent: including the ‘feebleminded’ in Birmingham, 1900–1913.

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