THE COLMAN COUSINS
On 17 September 1920, Laura Stuart was appointed the first ever woman magistrate, but sadly this was not to last as she died age 60 on 4 November 1920.
On 31 October 1923, Ethel Colman was appointed Norwich’s first Lady Lord Mayor – the first Lady Lord Mayor in the country. The Diss Express described her as the sister of the late Laura Stuart “the prominent suffrage and social worker”. Elsewhere she was described as a “clear and forceful speaker, a business-like Chairman with a close grasp of detail whilst her many activities have brought her closely in touch with all classes of citizens”.
Ethel appointed her sister Helen as her Lady Mayoress. This caused a problem with the production of the Carrow Works Magazine and the Colmans had to bring back the previous editor to assist.
Ethel and Helen served their year’s term and then returned to normal duties. In 1923, the sisters purchased Suckling House (now Cinema City) as a memorial to Laura Stuart. They organised an extension, called the Stuart Hall, and the presented the building to the city in 1925. In 1927 Ethel became Deputy Lord Mayor to Herbert Witard.
Edith Willis, prior to her interest in women’s suffrage, was a successful photographer with selected photographs exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society exhibitions between 1906 and 1912. Her sister Mary also had two photographs shown at further exhibitions in 1904 and 1910.
Dorothy Jewson was a remarkable figure: a pacifist, a suffragette, and a politician. Born on 17 August 1884 at Thorpe Hamlet, Dorothy was one of two children of George Jewson, a coal and timber merchant, and his wife, Mary Jane Jarrold. Dorothy studied at Norwich High School for Girls and Girton College, Cambridge, where she was exposed to Socialism and Feminism; two ideologies that were to shape her life.
After graduating, Dorothy became politically engaged in the quest for female suffrage and set up a branch of the Pankhurst’s militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Norwich. The First World War transformed the militant suffrage movement as the Pankhurst’s suspended activities and devoted their campaign towards women’s duty in the war effort. Despite Dorothy’s commitment to securing the female vote, her pacifist position on war contrasted greatly to the Pankhurst sisters; thus 1914 saw a split in relations. Even without the support of the WSPU, Dorothy continued to campaign for a feminist future throughout the First World War.
In 1914, Dorothy formed a toy making workshop to relieve female unemployment through non-military roles. She encouraged female workers to value their job as an art-form, providing the opportunity for women to develop a specialist skill and to sell their toys in Norwich Market Place. In 1916, she moved to London to support the women’s trade union movement whereby she encouraged women to be active in their quest for better working conditions and adequate pay.
Under Dorothy Jewson‘s position in Norwich city council in the late 1920s, the unemployed were involved in rebuilding
infrastructure across the city. Her legacy can be seen at Waterloo and Eaton P arks, which were built during this period.
In 1923, Dorothy was elected the first female MP in East Anglia. Although her time in Parliament lasted only ten months, the legacy she created throughout the early 20th century is long lasting. Many of the issues Dorothy campaigned for during the First World War, such as votes for all women, free birth control, and awareness of poverty, have come to be in the present day.