Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda

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The Viscountess Rhondda
Lady Margaret Mackworth.jpg
Mackworth, c. 1915
Born Margaret Haig Thomas
(1883-06-12)12 June 1883
Newport, Wales
Died 20 July 1958(1958-07-20) (aged 75)
London, England, U.K.
Spouse(s) Sir Humphrey Mackworth (1908–1922) (divorced)
Parent(s) Sybil Margaret Haig
David Alfred Thomas

Margaret Haig Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda (12 June 1883 – 20 July 1958) was a Welsh peeress, businesswoman, and active suffragette. She was significant in the history of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom.


Mackworth was born on 12 June 1883 in Newport, Wales. Her parents were David Alfred Thomas, first Viscount Rhondda, and Sybil Haig, also a suffragette.

In 1908 she married Sir Humphrey Mackworth, Bt (see Mackworth Baronets). In the same year she joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), and became secretary of its Newport branch and a supporter of its militant campaign. Between 1908 and 1914, she took the campaign for women's suffrage across South Wales, often to hostile and stormy meetings. She was involved in protest marches with the Pankhursts, jumping onto the running board of Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith's car in St Andrews and attempting to destroy a post-box with a chemical bomb.[1] These activities resulted in a trial at the Sessions House, Usk and her serving a period of time in the prison there. She was released only after going on a hunger strike.[2]

On the outbreak of the First World War, she accepted the decision by the WSPU leadership to abandon its militant campaign for suffrage. She worked with her father, who was sent by David Lloyd George to the United States to arrange the supply of munitions for the British armed forces. In May 1915, she was returning from the United States on the RMS Lusitania with her father and his secretary Arnold Rhys-Evans, when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. The trio were among the survivors.

After her father's death, Lady Rhondda tried to take his seat in the House of Lords, citing the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which allowed women to exercise "any public office". The Committee of Privileges, after an initially warm reaction, eventually voted strongly against Lady Rhondda's plea.[3] She was supported for many years by Lord Astor, whose wife Nancy had been the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons, but Lady Rhondda never entered the Lords.[4]

She succeeded her father as chairman of the Sanatogen Company in February 1917.[5] In 1920, she founded Time and Tide magazine. In total, she was a director of more than thirty companies throughout her life, having inherited 28 directorships from her father. The following year she set up the Six Point Group an action group that focused heavily on the equality between men and women and the rights of the child.[6]

A Canadian steamship, the Lady Mackworth, was named after her.[7]

Less than a month after Lady Rhondda's death in 1958, women entered the Lords for the first time thanks to the Life Peerages Act 1958; five years later, with the passage of the Peerage Act 1963, hereditary peeresses were also allowed to enter the Lords.

Lady Rhondda was elected as the Institute of Directors' first female president in 1926, and in 2015, the annual Mackworth Lecture was launched by the IoD in her honour.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Suffragette Viscountess Rhondda's Newport bomb attack remembered". BBC Wales News. 
  2. ^ "2nd Viscountess Rhondda, Politician and businesswoman" at
  3. ^ Viscountess Rhondda's Claim [1922] 2 AC 339.
  4. ^ Margaret, Lady Mackworth: The Lusitania Resource.
  5. ^ "Lady Mackworth" (PDF). British Journal of Nursing. 58: 125. 17 February 1917. 
  6. ^ *Wallace, Ryland (2009). The Women's Suffrage Movement in Wales, 1866–1928. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 255. ISBN 978-0-708-32173-7. 
  7. ^ "2nd Viscountess Rhondda Politician and businesswoman". BBC South East Wales. 
  8. ^ "Institute of Directors launch annual Mackworth Lecture"


Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Alfred Thomas
Viscountess Rhondda
Succeeded by
Title extinct