Marian Farquharson

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Marian Farquharson
Born (1846-07-02)2 July 1846
West Meon, Hampshire, England
Died 20 April 1912(1912-04-20) (aged 65)
Nice, France
Resting place Alford, Aberdeenshire
Residence Scotland
Education at home
Spouse(s) Robert Francis Ogilvie Farquharson (m. 1883; d. 1890)
  • Nicholas James Ridley
  • Frances Joucriet

Marian Sarah Ogilvie Farquharson, FLS, FRMS (née Ridley, 2 July 1846 – 20 April 1912) was a British naturalist and women's rights activist. The first female Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, Farquharson is best remembered for her campaign of women rights to full fellowship of learned societies.

Early life[edit]

Marian Sarah Ridley was born on 2 July 1846 in West Meon, Hampshire, England, the eldest daughter of Reverend Nicholas James Ridley and Frances Joucriet (d. 1901). Educated at home with lessons in London, she joined the Epping Forest and Essex Naturalists' Field Club in 1881. That same year, her book A Pocket Guide to British Ferns was published.

In 1883, she married Robert Francis Ogilvie Farquharson from near Alford, Aberdeenshire, where she moved. Farquharson continued her interest in natural history while in Scotland, publishing two articles in the Scottish Naturalist. In 1885, she was elected the first female Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. Despite this, as a woman she was prohibited to attend any of its meetings or vote on Society's matters.

Women's rights[edit]

The first admission of women Fellows to the Linnean Society of London, 1905

After her husband's death in 1890, Farquharson began active campaigning for women's rights for full fellowship and participation of learned societies. She founded and was president of the Scottish Association for Promotion of Women's Public Work.

In 1900, Farquharson sent a letter petitioning the Royal Society and the Linnean Society of London that "duly qualified women should have the advantages of full fellowship in scientific and other learned societies". The Linnean Society initially refused to accept the petition with the excuse that it could only accept one through one of its fellows. After its former president John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury resubmitted the petition on her behalf, the society eventually declined the proposal on the basis that it was doubtful its royal charter could be applied to women. A similar reply was also given by the Royal Society.[1]

The following year, Farquharson petition of the Linnean Society intensified under it finally agreed for the petition to go before its fellows. In 1903, the Society decided to seek a supplementary charter from the King explicitly allowing women fellows. A ballot of fifteen women for fellowship finally took place in December 1904, where all but Farquharson were elected. Farquharson was not elected to the Society until 1908 when her nomination was resubmitted. However, as a result of her health, she never signed the Society's roll for admission dying in Nice on 20 April 1912.


  • A Pocket Guide to British Ferns (1881) (online)
  • Notes on mosses of the north of Scotland in Scottish Naturalist, vol. 8, 1885–1886, p. 381 (online)
  • Ferns and mosses of the Alford district in Scottish Naturalist, vol. 10, 1889–1890, pp. 193–198


  1. ^ Mason, J. (1 January 1995). "The Women Fellows' Jubilee". Notes and Records of the Royal Society: 125–140. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1995.0009.