Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy
Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1839-1918) a campaigner for social, political and legal equality, she championed women’s, children’s and human rights, and was an influential figure in the women’s suffrage movement. Her name and image represent one of 58 sufffragists on the plinth of Gillian Wearing’s statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London. A passionate lobbyist she gave speeches, took part in marches and created 1600 petitions. Suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst called her ‘the brains of the suffrage movement’, while reflecting Wolstenholme Elmy’s knowledge of the law, Lord Selbourne, the Lord Chancellor patronisingly dubbed her ‘Britain’s Little Lord Chancellor’. Apart from her important role in campaigning for women’s suffrage, particular areas where her work helped bring change were girls’ and women’s education and the part she played in the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act (1870),the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act (1886) and the Guardianship of Infants Act (1886). She wrote poetry, contributed articles to newspapers under the pseudonym Ignota and held progressive views on free love, atheism and republicanism.
Her statue, Our Elizabeth, by Hazel Reeves stands in the town centre of Congleton where Wolstenholme Elmy lived for many years. The statue was commissioned by Elizabeth’s Group, a local charity set up to to raise awareness of her national contribution to women’s rights.
Location: Centre of Bridge Street, Congleton, Cheshire