Quiz: Women and the House of Lords

Lord Norton

Baroness Bakewell

This week’s quiz focuses on women and the House of Lords.  As regular readers will know, women were first admitted to the House of Lords in 1958 under the Life Peerages Act passed in that year.  Women now comprise 22 per cent of the membership (the same proportion as in the Commons, where women were first admitted in 1918) and the number continues to grow, not least because of the work of the Independent Appointments Commission.  Women have been prominent in leadership positions in recent years, not least as Leaders of the House (since 1997: Baronesses Jay, Amos, Ashton and Royall).  The first Lord Speaker was Baroness Hayman and her successor is Baroness D’Souza.  (we have yet to have a male elected as Lord Speaker.) The first black female member of the Cabinet was drawn from the Lords.  We have some leading public figures, such as Joan Bakewell (pictured) and literary figures such as Ruth Rendell and PD James. 

The questions relate to the admission of women to membership, or attempts at membership, though with a bonus question unrelated to membership.  The first two readers to answer correctly the first five questions will be the winners, but there will be a prize for the first person to provide the correct answers to all six.

1. On the death of my father, I was by special remainder able to inherit his title – I became a Viscountess – but not able to sit in the House of Lords.  I challenged this, relying on the provisions of the recently passed Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, but the Privileges Committee of the House of Lords decided that I was not entitled to a writ of summons.  Who am I?

2. Women were able to become members of the House of Lords under the Life Peerages Act 1958, but in what year did the House of Lords first vote in support of the proposition that women should be admitted?

3. I was the first woman to speak in the House of Lords as a member, to sponsor legislation in the House, and to move the Loyal Address.  Who am I?

4. I was one of the first women life peers to be created.  I was already an hereditary peer in my own right.  My father was very grand – ‘a most superior person’ – and almost became Prime Minister.   Who am I?

5. I was one of the first women peers and the first to affirm rather than take the oath.  Who am I?

And the bonus question:

6.  What did some determined women do in 1739 (adopting ‘methods anticipatory of the suffragette tactics of the twentieth century’) that affronted their Lordships?

8 comments for “Quiz: Women and the House of Lords

  1. Dave H
    20/07/2012 at 6:50 pm

    1. Margaret Mackworth, Viscountess Rhondda
    2. 1949
    3. Baroness Elliot of Harwood.
    4. Baroness Ravensdale
    5. Baroness Wootton

  2. Dave H
    20/07/2012 at 6:52 pm

    For Q6, they invaded Parliament (or entered the galleries of the Lords and listened to proceedings). At the time, women were officially excluded.

  3. JH
    20/07/2012 at 8:54 pm

    1. Viscountess Rhondda
    2. 1949
    3. Lady Elliot of Harwood
    4. Baroness Ravensdale
    5. Baroness Wootton of Abinger

    6. They, led by the Duchess of Queensbury, attempted to gain admittance to a gallery of the Lords previously assigned for their use but since given over to members of the Commons. When refused entrance, they laid siege from 9 to 5. When that didn’t work, they “having perhaps more regard for decorum than those modern “suffragettes” whose methods they to a certain extent anticipated, the duchess and her friends determined to accomplish their purpose by means of a ruse” of remaining quiet for half an hour, tricking the Chancellor in to thinking they had gone and when he ordered the doors to be opened the women stormed in and interrupted “the debate with laughter and conversation” (Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, edited by Lord Wharncliffe, vol. ii. p.37 (1861) cited in http://www.electricscotland.com/history/women/scottish_women_chapter8.htm).

  4. 20/07/2012 at 9:01 pm

    1. Viscountess Rhondda
    2. 1949
    3. Baroness Elliot of Harwood
    4. Baroness Ravensdale
    5. Baroness Wootton of Abinger
    6. Stormed the gallery of the House of Lords

  5. lesleyco
    20/07/2012 at 9:56 pm

    1 Viscountess Rhondda
    2 1949
    3 Baroness Elliot
    4 Baroness Ravensdale
    5 Baroness Wootton

  6. helenfin
    21/07/2012 at 9:55 am

    1. Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda
    2. 1949
    3. Baroness Elliot of Harwood
    4. Mary Irene Curzon, 2nd Baroness Ravensdale
    5. Barbara Wootton, Baroness Wootton of Abinger
    6. Kitty, Duchess of Queensberry headed a party of ladies who successfully stormed a gallery of the House of Lords which had been given over for the use of MPs. They were refused entry, but refused to leave. They stayed silent for half an hour, which led the authorities to believe they had left, so the doors were opened and they rushed in to take possession of the gallery.

  7. Frank W. Summers III
    21/07/2012 at 2:36 pm

    1. Margaret Haig Mackworth Visountess Rhondda
    2. 1949 – on the twenty-seventh of July
    3. Baroness Elliot of Harwood
    4. Lady Irene Curzon
    5. Baroness Wootton of Arbinger

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      22/07/2012 at 7:06 pm

      Congratulations to everyone who replied. It is a very impressive response. I think it is apparent that everyone got the correct answers. All got the first five and Dave H, JH, Jonathan and helenfin also included the answer to Question 6. Given the very full answers of JH and helenfin, there is little I can add. As they explain, women were not able to attend sittings and a group of high-born ladies decided to force entry, achieving it by subterfuge.

      Dave H and JH were the first two to reply with the correct answers (to all six questions) and they are this week’s winners. (JH, I see, just got in ahead of Jonathan by a few minutes.) Dave H was the first to respond and is thus the worthy recipient of the special prize. If he wishes to get in touch by e-mail, I will arrange for it to be despatched.

Comments are closed.