Gertrude Tuckwell

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Gertrude Tuckwell

Gertrude Mary Tuckwell CH (25 April 1861 - 5 August 1951) was a British trade unionist, social worker, author and magistrate.

Tuckwell was born in Oxford, the second daughter of the self-proclaimed "radical parson" William Tuckwell, master of New College School and chaplain at New College, Oxford. She was home-schooled in her family's Christian Socialist tradition[citation needed] and trained to be a teacher in Liverpool from 1881. She was a teacher at Bishop Otter College in Chichester from 1882 to 1884, and then taught at a working-class infant school in Chelsea until forced to stop by ill health in 1890.[1]

From 1893, she became secretary to her aunt, writer, suffragette and trade unionist Emilia Dilke (wife of Sir Charles Dilke). She published The State and its Children in 1894, opposing child labour. She was involved with the Women's Trade Union League from 1891, and succeeded Emilia Dilke as its President in 1905. In 1908 she became president of the National Federation of Women Workers, and campaigned to protect women from industrial injuries such as lead poisoning and phossy jaw.[1]

In 1908 she was described in The Woman Worker newspaper as;

"the power that moves a myriad organizations. Behind a screen of plans to abolish sweating, to organize women, to prohibit poisonous glazes in pottery, to indemnify victimized workers, her alert spirit is tirelessly in motion".[2]

She retired in 1918, but continued to campaigning on public health issues.[1] After Charles Dilke died in 1911, she, as his literary executor,[2] co-wrote a two-volume biography with Stephen Gwynne.[1]

After the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 became law on 23 December 1919, Tuckwell was one of the first seven women appointed as a Justice of the Peace,[1] and she was the first woman magistrate in London. She was a founder member of the Magistrates' Association in 1920, and was a member of its council from 1921 to 1940. She was the chair of the National Association of Probation Officers from 1933 to 1941. In 1930 she was inducted into the Order of the Companions of Honour.[citation needed]

Tuckwell spent the last twenty years of her life at Little Woodlands, Wormley, Surrey. She died at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford.[1]

Her papers are lodged in the TUC Library Collections at the University of North London.[3] These consist of approximately 700 folders of reports, pamphlets, leaflets and press cuttings accumulated by Tuckwell, regarding women's political and economic struggles from1890 to 1920.[4]


  • The State and its Children (1894)
  • The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Bart., M. P. (Volume I)
  • The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Bart., M. P. (Volume II)


  1. ^ a b c d e f John, Angela V. (2004-09-23). Tuckwell, Gertrude Mary (1861–1951), trade unionist and social reformer. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36572.
  2. ^ a b Hunt, Cathy (2013). "Gertrude Tuckwell and the British Labour Movement, 1891–1921: a study in motives and influences". Women's History Review. 22 (3): 478–496. doi:10.1080/09612025.2012.730745. ISSN 0961-2025.
  3. ^ "TUC Library Collections - Gertrude Tuckwell Papers" (PDF).
  4. ^ Morris, Jenny (1978). "The Gertrude Tuckwell Collection". History Workshop. 5: 155–162.

External links[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Mary Macarthur
President of the National Federation of Women Workers
1911 – 1918
Succeeded by
Agnes Lauder