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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
25th May 1905 Born today: Binnie Barnes, London, actress (Adv of Marco Polo, Diamond Jim)
25th May 1878 Gilbert/Sullivans opera HMS Pinafore, premieres in London
A Political Inspiration
The first woman to sit in Parliament, lived here
Location: 4 St James's Square, SW1
Description: Nancy Witcher Astor - also known as Viscountess Astor, was born on May 19 1879, passing away on May 2 1964. She was the wife of Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor.
So what was the significance of Nancy's life, well, she will go down in history as the first woman to serve as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the British House of Commons.
(Constance Markiewicz was the first woman elected to serve in the House of Commons after running for the Sinn Fein party in 1918, but in line with Sinn Fein policy she did not take her seat.)
Astor's parliamentary career was the most public phase of her life, making her an object of both love and hatred. Her presence almost immediately gained attention, both as a woman and as someone who did not follow the rules. On her first day in the House of Commons, she was called to order for chatting with a fellow House member, not realizing that she was the person who was causing the commotion. She did try in some ways to minimize disruption by dressing more sedately than usual and by avoiding the bars and smoking rooms frequented by the men.
So how do you know which house it is? A Blue Plaque of course and rightly so!