Ethel Bentham

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Ethel Bentham

Dr. Ethel Bentham (5 January 1861 – 19 January 1931) was a progressive doctor, a politician and a suffragette in the United Kingdom. She was born in Ireland, educated at Alexandra School and College in Dublin, the London School of Medicine for Women and the Rotunda Hospital. She never married.

Bentham worked as a General Practitioner (GP) in London, was an expert on childhood enuresis (bedwetting) and an early believer in what would now be called socialised medicine.

She was a member of the Women's Labour League from 1913, a member of the Labour Party, was active in municipal government as a councillor on Kensington Borough Council for 13 years and was one of the first women Justices of the Peace. She stood as the Labour Party candidate for Islington East in the General Elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924. As a senior woman in the Labour Party, she was also a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in 1918–1920, 1922–1926 and 1928–1931.

Bentham was finally successful in the 1929 general election, becoming at 68 years of age the oldest woman to be elected as Member of Parliament and she was the 15th ever woman to be elected in Britain. This coincided with the election of the second ever Labour Government headed by Ramsay MacDonald.

She died on 19 January 1931, just past her 70th birthday, triggering a by-election that spring in which the Labour candidate, Leah Manning, was elected to succeed her.


  • 2003 (reprint). Times Guide to the House of Commons, 1929, 1931, 1935, Politico's, London. ISBN 1-84275-033-X

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Robert Tasker
Member of Parliament for Islington East
Succeeded by
Leah Manning