Lavinia Malcolm

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Lavinia Malcolm
Photograph of Lavinian Malcom wearing the Provost chain of office
Elected to council 1907, Lord Provost 1913-19
Born Lavinia Laing
ca. 1847 (1847)
Forres, Scotland
Died 2 November 1920(1920-11-02) (aged 72–73)
Dollar, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Known for first woman councillor in Scotland
first woman Lord Provost in Scotland

Lavinia Malcolm nee Laing (ca. 1847 – 2 November 1920)[1] was a Scottish suffragist and local Liberal Movement politician, the first Scottish woman to be elected to a local council (1907) and the first woman Lord Provost of a Scottish burgh town, in Dollar, Clackmannanshire.

Early life and entry to politics[edit]

Lavinia Malcolm was born in Forres, daughter of an ironmonger and councillor, and granddaughter of a former Provost of Forres[2] and became a teacher in Edinburgh.

Lavinia visited Dollar Academy, fell in love with a teacher there, Richard Malcolm (1840–1926) and married him and moved to the town.[1] The Malcolms hosted boarders from the school. Their child, Richard, died when he was eight-years-old, and both the Malcolms then entered local political life with Richard becoming Provost first (1896–9). Lavinia was the only woman elected to the council and returned unopposed, then later unanimously elected as provost by her fellow councillors in 1913.[2]

Supporter of women's rights[edit]

Malcolm is stated as the 'most famous' Provost on Dollar community website where her picture in full ceremonial robes appears.[3]

"She wanted women to have the vote but she was against doing anything militant or violent," said Janet Carolan, the curator of the Dollar Museum who has spent 20 years researching Malcolm's background.[1]

Throughout the World War I she served in the Lord Provost role and was one of the first women to attend the national Convention of Scottish Burghs. Sje was one of the first women to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace. [2]

She spoke out against infant mortality and the underlying causes from poverty and poor sanitation.[4]

Leaving a legacy[edit]

During her life, Malcolm recognised her own place as a role model for other women.[2]

Speaking in 2007, 100 years after Lavinia Malcolm's election, then current Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Dollar the Scottish National Party's Keith Brown and Scottish Labour Party's Sarah Boyack both recognised Lavinia Malcolm's example to women, noting

  • 262 women councillors in Scotland, 20% of the total.
  • 43 women MSPs, a third of the total.

Sarah Boyack, said she wants to see equal numbers of women and men in politics.

"There are plenty of women MSPs, there are women committee conveners, women cabinet ministers, but I would like to see more of a balance and particularly more women coming into local government to give a woman's perspective on things." [1]

Ten years on the proportion of women represented in local and national government in Scotland has increased to 29% in councils and 35% in the Scottish Parliament (2017).[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "First female provost remembered". BBC News/Scotland. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d The biographical dictionary of Scottish women : from the earliest times to 2004. Ewan, Elizabeth., Innes, Sue., Reynolds, Sian. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 2006. p. 246. ISBN 0748617132. OCLC 367680960.
  3. ^ "Dollar Community". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  4. ^ Scottish women : a documentary history, c.1780-1914. Breitenbach, Esther., Fleming, Linda., Kehoe, S. K., Orr, Lesley. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 2013. p. 283. ISBN 0748683402. OCLC 853239067.
  5. ^ "Number of women councillors in Scotland rises but remains low". Retrieved 8 March 2018.