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Millicent Fawcett

Tree planted by Millicent Fawcett

Early Life

Millicent Garret was born in 1847 in Aldeburgh, the eighth of ten children. At the age of twelve she attended boarding school in Blackheath.


Millicent’s sister Elizabeth, who became the first female medical doctor in the UK, introduced her to the suffrage movement. In 1866, after attending a lecture by John Stuart Mill, Millicent was petitioning for women to have the vote. Mill introduced her to her husband, the Liberal MP Henry Fawcett. They married in 1867 and their daughter, Philippa was born the following year. She would later study mathematics at Cambridge with some distinction. Millicent also raised four orphaned cousins.

In 1868 Millicent joined the London Suffrage Committee, and in 1869 spoke at the first public pro-suffrage meeting held in London. In 1875 she co-founded Newnham Hall and in 1891 wrote an influential introduction to Mary Wollstonecraft’s book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.  She campaigned for a number of women’s issues as well as suffrage.

Millicent lead the NUWSS for over twenty years, maintaining its peaceful campaigns in opposition to the breakaway WSPU. Unlike the WSPU, it maintained its campaign during World War One.

She planted a tree in the arboretum on 3 July 1910.

Later Life

Millicent stood down from the NUWSS leadership in 1919 after women won the vote. She continued to write books. She was appointed a Dame of the British Empire and died in London in 1929.


‘The real protection women needed was the power to protect themselves.’