Papers of Jane Maria Strachey

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of copies of speeches (1903-1914), correspondence on women's suffrage (1907-1917) and National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies work (1907-1919), papers related to the Women's Local Government Society including letters, leaflets, notes and reports (1901-1920), materials related to the Lyceum Club (1907-1913) and miscellaneous other papers (1860-1914).

Administrative / Biographical History

Lady Jane Maria Strachey (1840-1928) was born on a ship off the Cape of Good Hope in 1840. Her father was the Anglo-Indian administrator Sir John Grant of Rothiemurchus in Speyside, who would later be Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. Her mother was Henrietta Chichele Plowden. In 1859 she married Richard Strachey, her father's secretary and the person who introduced her to the writings of John Stuart Mill. The couple had 13 children with ten surviving into adulthood: Lytton, Richard, Ralph, Oliver, Giles Lytton, Elinor, Dorothea, Philippa, Joan Pernel and Marjorie. The couple were in Edinburgh in 1866-7 and it was there that Lady Strachey helped gather signatures for a petition to parliament requesting the vote for women. She herself published her first article on suffrage in 'The Attempt' printed by the Edinburgh Ladies' Debating Society, which helped to raise interest in the issue in Scotland. By 1868 she was a member of the Edinburgh National Society for Women's Suffrage before returning to India to be with her husband who had been posted there once more to serve in the administration. The couple went back to London in 1879, where she once again became involved in the movement for women's suffrage. From 1880 she supported the New Hospital for Women of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and continued to financially support Girton College. When the Women's Local Government Society was formed in 1886 in order to promote the claims of women to both elect and be elected to local office, Lady Strachey was one of the organisers and in 1909 she became the Chair of the London branch, liaising between the organisation, candidates and women's suffrage groups. The culmination of this work occurred when a WLGS-sponsored bill was included in the King's speech of 1907 that allowed the election of women to borough and county positions. The same year, she was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and, with her daughters, helped organise what became known as the 'Mud March' from Hyde Park to the Exeter Hall to demand the vote. At the same time as undertaking significant organising duties, she was a keen writer of pamphlets and songs for the group, which were later published as 'Women's Suffrage Songs'. In 1909 she became a member of the editorial board of the 'Englishwoman's Journal' and was elected president of the South Paddington Committee of the London Society for Women's Suffrage. However, in the following years, particularly after the death of her husband in 1909, her activities decreased. None the less, she actively supported the work of her daughter Philippa in the London Society for Women's Suffrage and that of her daughter-in-law Rachel, or Ray, Strachey. In 1920 the Society of Women Journalists still felt able to offer her the position of vice president, but she declined the offer. She died in 1928.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Unknown. Deposited c.1930. [ Fawcett Library Accession Registers to be checked]

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library contains further correspondence and papers, 1903-1920 in the Fawcett Society archive ref 2LSW; also the Papers of Philippa Strachey 7PHS. Autograph Letter Collection: Strachey Letters can be found at ref 9/27.

Additional correspondence and literary papers of Jane Maria Strachey are held by the British Library Manuscript Collections (reference: Add MSS 60631-54), while extensive family and personal letters (1849-1928) are held in the same institution's Oriental and India Office Collections (reference: MSS Eur F 127). The records of the Women's Local Government Society are held by the London Metropolitan Archives (Ref A/WLG: 36 files of minutes and papers, 1888-1923).