HerStory – Heroines of Shropshire

Thanks to comments made to me by Professor Lalage Bown, after a talk I gave, I was encouraged to be more inclusive and talk about more women who have played a major part in the history of Shropshire and so began HerStory in Shropshire.

The attached listing is my rough book of names and the plan is at some future stage to add their biographies. The names have been provided by Prof L. Bown, Bridget Hinton, Gareth Williams and Dr Judith Everard. Other have encouraged the idea and will be involved in future.

At this stage in the work we restricting the research to deceased ladies, but we are aware that there are many still living are making major contributions to the life of the County of Shropshire.

Including the Queen`s present representative The Lord-Lieutenant Anna Turner JP. Born in Shropshire in 1958, Anna was appointed Lord-Lieutenant in January 2019 and is Shropshire’s first female Lord-Lieutenant. Another example is the new Area Bishop of Shrewsbury, The Venerable Sarah Bullock, the first woman to serve as a bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield.


HerStory  –  Heroines of Shropshire

Rough book of ideas and people

Information so far may be from unreliable sources i.e. Wiki and memory and therefore all will have to be checked and re-written by an herstorian.


HerStory  –  Heroines of Shropshire

Ancient times

Tribes and Saints

The Tribes of the Cornovii

The tomb of Vedica, a Cornovian woman[

The tombstone of a thirty-year-old woman of the Cornovii called Vedica was found at Ilkley in Yorkshire outside known Cornovii territory.[7]


“To the spirits of the departed and to Vedica,¹ thirty years old, daughter of Virico² of the Cornovii;³ she lies here.”[8]

This is the only epigraphic evidence of civilian occupation at Ilkley (Roman Verbeia). Vedica may possibly have been the daughter of a chieftain “Viroco” of the Cornovii, who was killed during the western expansion of early 47 AD commanded by Publius Ostorius Scapula.[1]



The Mercians

Wreocensaete    7000Hides Wrekin Dwellers, Wroxeter region northward to River Mersey

Westerna    7000 Hides   Between river Severn and Offa`s Dyke


St Milburga -Shropshire’s county day is on 23 February, the feast day of St Milburga, abbess of Wenlock Priory. Her aura, which some people believed in, was seen by many. It is recorded that she was found with a sick child in her arms, both engulfed by flames,though neither were burnt. As well as healing the sick, she had the power of being able to communicate with birds, and she was said to help farmers by putting a charm on their scarecrows. It is also recorded that she was able to prevent a flock of wild geese from doing damage to crops. In fact, in later years, pilgrims to her tomb purchased little leaden geese as mementos.

Catherine of Aragon Lived in Ludlow home of Arthur The Prince of Wales Plans for Arthur’s marriage began before his third birthday; he was installed as Prince of Wales two years later. At the age of eleven, he was formally betrothed to Catherine of Aragon, a daughter of the powerful Catholic Monarchs in Spain, in an effort to forge an Anglo-Spanish alliance against France. Arthur was well educated and, contrary to some modern belief, was in good health for the majority of his life. Soon after his marriage to Catherine in 1501, the couple took up residence at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire, where Arthur died six months later of an unknown ailment. Catherine later firmly stated that the marriage had not been consummated.

One year after Arthur’s death, Henry VII renewed his efforts of sealing a marital alliance with Spain by arranging for Catherine to marry Arthur’s younger brother Henry, who had by then become Prince of Wales. Arthur’s untimely death paved the way for Henry’s accession as Henry VIII in 1509. The question as to the potential consummation of Arthur and Catherine’s marriage was much later (and in a completely different political context) exploited by Henry and his court to cast doubt on the validity of Catherine’s union with Henry, eventually leading to the separation between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.


Middle Ages to Early Modern

Bonell, Kathryn funded the Drapers Company and built firdt Alms houses

Brilliana Lady Harley Just over the border?

Women of Oswestry and Wem in the Civil War

Dacre, Anne Countess of Arundel (1557-1630) poet and religious agitator. Thought to have created the gardens at Shifnal Manor which are redolent with Catholic symbolism

Hawise de Powis[2]

Woodville, Elizabeth married Edward IV in secret

Smythe, nee Harrison[3]

Matilda[4], was given Shrewsbury by her father but did she ever come here?

Mary Tudor[5].

Newport, Magdalene (c1568-1627), wife of Richard Herbert, mother of George Herbert and muse of John Donne



Benson, Stella (1892-1933) Novelist, poet, feminist and traveller. Born at Lutwyche Hall

Bland, Violet Ann  – She was a prominent Suffragette from Bayston Hill. She was imprisoned for throwing bricks through windows and was force fed in prison.

Burne, Charlotte  – 1850–1923) was an English author and editor, and the first woman to become president of the Folklore Society and Georgina Jackson (pre CB)

Burney, Fanny whose husband was a master at the School

Carr, Jane (Rita Brunstrom 1909-1957), actress, married to Ralph Donaldson-Hudson of Cheswardine Hall 1943-7

Cartland. Barbara (1901-2000), author, married to Captain Alexander McCorquodale (1897-1964) of Cound Hall 1927-33 – parents of Raine (Countess Spencer and a local government politician) who spent early years in Shropshire

Chibnall, Marjorie Morgan McCallum  OBE FBA (27 September 1915 – 23 June 2012) was an English historian, medievalist and Latin translator. She edited Historia Ecclesiastica by Orderic Vitalis. Born in Atcham.  was born at Atcham and attended the Priory girls’ grammar school. Her lasting legacy is her edition and translation of the chronicle of Orderic Vitalis, presumably inspired by the fact that he too was born at Atcham. Although Orderic spent his whole adult life as a monk in Normandy his chronicle is a valuable source for Shrewsbury Abbey and events in Shropshire. (Incidentally, Orderic is also a unique source for the chequered career of William Pantulf, who founded the barony of Wem, and sheds some light on the early history of the lordship of Wem). For present purposes, it’s just a shame Orderic was male.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjorie_Chibnall


Chibnall is also the preeminent biographer of the empress Matilda. From what you were saying about the empress at Shrewsbury, it would be marvellous to connect the Shropshire historian and her subject. However, it is highly unlikely that Matilda visited Shrewsbury or had any particular Shropshire connection. The siege of Shrewsbury occurred early in the civil war, before Matilda came over from Anjou to England to join in, and when she was in England, Matilda doesn’t seem to have ventured north of Gloucester. I’d be happy to be corrected,


Darby, Abiah  (1716-1794) – Minister in Quaker Church, diarist and letter writer. Wife of Abraham Darby II

Darwins sisters who with Millington taught at St Georges

De Gaulle, Madam lived in Gadlas Hall in North Shrops whilst the General lived here for three years during WW2 She was born Yvonne Charlotte Anne Marie Vendroux; 22 May 1900 – 8 November 1979) was the wife of Charles de Gaulle. They were married on 6 April 1921.[1] She is known for the quote, “The presidency is temporary—but the family is permanent.”[2] She and her husband narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on 22 August 1962, when their Citroën DS was targeted by machine gun fire arranged by Jean Bastien-Thiry at the Petit-Clamart.[3]

Like her husband, Yvonne de Gaulle was a conservative Catholic, and campaigned against prostitution, the sale of pornography in newsstands, and the televised display of nudity and sex, for which she earned the nickname Tante (AuntieYvonne. Later, she unsuccessfully tried to persuade de Gaulle to outlaw miniskirts in France.[citation needed]

The couple had three children: Philippe (b. 1921), Élisabeth (1924–2013), and Anne (1928–1948), who was born with Down syndrome. Yvonne de Gaulle set up a charity, La foundation Anne-de-Gaulle, to help children with disabilities.

Dyer, Lady Swinnerton W I Land Girls Westhope

Edgeworth, Honora 91753 – 1780) Educationalist mar to Richard Lovell Edgeworth Lived and died in Shifnal after adventures in Ireland etc

Fisk, Pauline Local writer historian and much more

Fitzherbert, Maria (1756-1837), morganatic wife of George IV. Born at Tong Castle to Walter Smythe, a younger son of Sir John Smythe of Acton Burnell Park (The Royal collection has recently bought her portrait by Richard Cosway, which is one of the smaller stars of the current George IV exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery)

Grant, Lady Sybil (1879-1955) writer, artist, eccentric and reluctant chatelaine of Pitchford Hall

Female MFH during war years – Lady Rouse Boughton and her daughter Miss Mary R-B from Downton Hall, and Lady Leighton at Loton



Harley, Katherine was the originator of the 1913 Suffragist Pilgrimage, a march from seventeen cities across the country by women to Hyde Park in London. The idea was to promote their ideals and make it clear that they were non militant and peaceful in their campaign for votes for women. The Pilgrimage was considered to be a great success and early in 1914 Katherine was one of the founders of the Active Service League intended to build on the achievements of the march. As an extension of these activities Katherine organised a women’s camp.


Hawley, Christine     Atchitect[6]

Hoggins, Sarah; Countess of Exeter (1773-1797) the ‘Cottage Countess’

Hollins, May brought organic yogurt to Market Drayton in 1956/7 and developed Fordhall Farm with Arthurt Hollins as an organic farm

Howard-Thompson,  Gladys writer – chronicler of Alveley

Hunt , Dame Agnes Gwendoline DBE RRC (31 December 1866 – 24 July 1948) was a British nurse, who is generally recognised as the first orthopaedic nurse.

Hutton, Mother–William Withering first learned of the use of Digitalis in treating “dropsy” (edema) from “Mother Hutton”, an old woman who practiced as a folk herbalist in Shropshire, who used the plant as part of a polyherbal formulation containing over 20 different ingredients to successfully treat this condition. Since 1928, Mother Hutton’s status has grown to an acclaimed Wise Woman, Herbalist, Pharmacist and Medical Practitioner in Shropshire who was cheated out of her true recognition of how to use digitalis by Dr. Withering’s unscrupulous methods. The foxglove is the symbol of Wellington.

–William Withering first learned of the use of Digitalis in treating “dropsy” (edema) from “Mother Hutton”, an old woman who practiced as a folk herbalist in Shropshire, who used the plant as part of a polyherbal formulation containing over 20 different ingredients to successfully treat this condition. Since 1928, Mother Hutton’s status has grown to an acclaimed Wise Woman, Herbalist, Pharmacist and Medical Practitioner in Shropshire who was cheated out of her true recognition of how to use digitalis by Dr. Withering’s unscrupulous methods. The foxglove is the symbol of Wellington.

Ionides, Julia (1942-2015) architectural historian, publisher, and creator of accessible interpretation at heritage sites (inc Palace of Westminster). Author of works on Thomas Farnolls Pritchard, Frances Stackhouse Acton, and the publisher of Anna Maria Fay’s letters, Ken Jones’ book, and a book of recollections of Luke Ionides

Jackson, Georgina ( Shropshire Word Book)

James P.D. spent her formative f years in Ludlow, Shropshire. My colleague Derrick Anderton and I drew and interviewed James for the Shropshire Magazine in 1994. When Derrick asked whether she thought fondly of those days, she said: “It was a beautiful, beautiful town in which to spend one’s childhood.” She spoke of knowing Ludlow well: “We used to explore all the paths around the castle, all around the hill. Down below there was the river Teme and the water meadows. I can remember very, very clearly the school I went to, and the names of some of the children come right back to me. The British school, it was called, and the earliest poem I learned there was called Mamble.” As a farewell, she recited the verses to us, adding: “I hadn’t thought of that since I was about nine.”spent early years in Shropshire

Jebb, Eglantyne[7] Born in 1876 in Ellesmere, Shropshire. She co-founded Save the Children in 1919 fundraising to provide famine relief for children in Germany and Austria. She then drafted the first declaration of children’s rights that has now evolved into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history. She did not “give life” in the traditional way by becoming a mother, but instead dedicated her life to children’s welfare and human rights and permanently changed the way the world acts towards children.

Save the Children is her lasting legacy, today the world’s independent children’s charity committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children. Eglantyne Jebb put children’s universal human rights firmly on the world agenda – a powerful testament to her rare combination of personal courage, eccentric charisma, and humane vision.

Jervis, Mary Anne; Lady Forester (d 1893) Founder of the Lady Forester Trust

Kenyon, Dame Kathleen (1906-1978) Archaeologist of Neolithic culture and Principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford from 1962 to 1973. Granddaughter of John Robert Kenyon of Pradoe. Excavated at the Wrekin in 1939

Kenyon, Katherine M R author of The House that Was Loved

Kenyon-Slaney Mary (1932-2018), botanical artist

Lander, Joan (1916-1997) from Sunnycroft in Telford Artist and needlework

Llobenberg,  Anne Marie designer of Little X

Milnes-Gaskell , Lady  of Wenlock Abbey, who wrote two books about her life there.

Moran, Madge`        herstoryan

Moy, Judith   artist

Montgomery, Mary (1918-1986, later wife of 6th Earl of Bradford) – linguist at Bletchley Park during WWII

More, Elinor (1612-1621) & Mary More (1616-1620) passengers with their two male siblings on the Mayflower 1620

Mostyn-Owen, Fanny   Queens Head painter

Murrell, Hilda[8] A horticulturalist, and green campaigner born, lived, educated, worked, and died in Shrewsbury.

Ormsby-Gore, Hon Fanny Catherine; Mrs Bulkeley Owen (1845-1927) – historian and author of The History of Selattyn

Osler, Mirabel          author[9]

Owen, Margaret (1931-2014) galanthophile, horticulturalist, and heritage campaigner

Peters. Ellis [10]: The author, whose real name is Edith Pargeter, was born in Horsehay, Telford. She wrote the hugely successful Brother Cadfael medieval murder and mystery series.

Pigott, Anne;  Mrs John Corbet of Sundorne – designer partly responsible for gothicisation of Sundorne Castle

Plymley, Kathrine (1758–1829) was a diarist, traveller, painter and naturalist who recorded life in Shropshire, UK, between 1791 and 1827.

Powell, Dilys [11]Born in BridgnorthShropshire  Born on 20th of July 1901
Died on 3rd of June 1995   Born 1901. Died 1995 – Film critic and writer.

Prout, Mother Elizabeth 1821 – 1864.  According to the Vatican, lived a life of “heroic virtue” was born into an Anglican family in Shrewsbury. She worked in the slums of Manchester where she opened schools for poor children and homes for destitute women whom she taught skills to earn their own living. She is on her way to sainthood as in 2008 Pope Francis declared her “Venerable” and evidence is being searched for two miracles needed to bestow sainthood.[12]

Pulteney, Laura or Miss daughter of Sir Willaim

Pym, Barbara           novelist[13]

Queen Mary. Queen Mary Tudor and her court spent three winters at Ludlow between 1525 and 1528. Under guard by Earl of Shrewsbury?

Rathbone, Hannah Mary (5 July 1798, Shropshire – 26 March 1878, Liverpool) was an English writer and the author of The Diary of Lady Willoughby. Life[edit]. Hannah Reynolds, a daughter of Joseph Reynolds by his wife Deborah Dearman, was born near Wellington in Shropshire on 5 July 1798

Rope, Margaret Agnes (1882-1953), a Sister of our community, was a stained glass artist of considerable skill and artistic talent whose works are to be found in a number of churches and places of worship both in Britain and abroad. After a long period of neglect, her work has aroused critical interest and appreciation in recent years and she is generally considered to be amongst the finest women stained glass artists of her generation. A major exhibition of her work, attracting both critical and popular interest, was held in her home town of Shrewsbury in 2016.[i][14]

Spencer Phillips, Kathleen;  Mrs Victor Hurst, sporting writer

Sydney. Mary –  Countess of Pembroke

Stackhouse Acton, Frances (1794-1881 nee Knight) – historian, author and heritage campaigner – campaigned for Stokesay Castle’s preservation

Stretton, Hesba  writer

Wallace Cock, Mrs. Marian Mayor of Shrewsbury 1933  was she first Mayor??

Watts, Sylvia  Historian and writer lived in Shifnal

Webb, Mary [15] Born and raised in Shropshire Writer of novels based in Shropshire incl Gone to Earth

Wellings, Norah was from Shropshire, England. She was the main doll designer at Chad Valley Dolls from 1919 to 1926, when she left to form her own doll company with her brother Leonard. The resulting company was the Victoria Toy Works, located in Wellington, United Kingdom.

Whitehouse, Mary[16] founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association and staunch campaigner for morality and decency was a teacher in Shropshire.Mary Whitehouse can be at best described as ‘a bit prudish‘ so it is somewhat surprising that she was actually responsible for sex education at Madley School in Shropshire in the early 1960s.

Her campaign to ‘Clean up TV‘ began in 1963. Faced with stiff opposition, in a society that was becoming increasingly more tolerant and relaxed, she continued her campaign until her retirement in 1994.

Considering that the good folk of Shropshire have always been very relaxed and tolerant we struggle to discover her inspiration but perhaps it was the fact that we hold our old-fashioned values and traditions so dear that helped her to her cause.

Her campaign may have ended but Shropshire has kept its traditions and the good folk of Shropshire are just as laid back as they have always been.

Wightman, Julia[17] Influential writer and Champion of temperance in Shrewsbury and nationally.

Wilson, Margaret Harries or Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson (1796– 1846) was a British poet, playwright, lyricist, writer and editor. She is considered one of the first female biographers. LifeMargaret Harries was born in Shropshire in 1796. She created her first book of poetry in 1815 and after her second poetry collection.

Wolryche Whitmore, Lady Lucy (1792-1840) – poet and hymn writer. Daughter of 1st Earl of Bradford & wife of William Wolryche Whitmore of Dudmaston

Wood, Thomas`s widow publisher of the New Chronicle when he died in 1801 she took over and continued to publish.


73 in total  to 26/11/2019


Still Living but possibly worthy of a couple of lines


First female Vicar of St Chads

First female Bishop of Shrewsbury

Mary Beard –historian


Anna Turner first female JP  Lord Lieutenant

Others to consider

EarlyMayors in the towns of Shropshire   Lesley Macintyre in Church Stretton?

Vardon Joanna Founded a Foaling Bank near Newport fifty years ago and save dthousands of horses and foals

37 women who gained the right to vote in 1918, out of approximately 160 who were working in the ceramic and iron industries across The Gorge. The name and profession of each woman is poignantly written on the back of the silhouettes. These include Ada Burns, Tile Polisher; Martha Bryan, China Painter; May Taylor, Gold Burnisher; Harriet Jones, Tobacco Pipe Packer and Mary Thompson, Pipe Maker. They are all positioned in front of the Old Furnace where Abraham Darby started the Industrial Revolution 300 years ago.’

Some living ladies:

–          Dr Katherine Swift – author, gardener, historian, bibliophile

–          Gabrielle Drake – actress & conservationist

–          Henri Fitzwilliam-Lay – internationally renowned interior decorator

–          Caroline Lawson – interior decorator

–          Gaia Servadio (formerly married to late Willy Mostyn-Owen) – writer



[1] Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornovii_(Midlands)

[2] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p21

[3] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p34

[4] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p38

[5] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p40

[6] http://www.information-britain.co.uk/famousbrits.php?id=2289

[7] https://www.shropshiretourism.co.uk/about-shropshire/famous-folk.html

[8] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p33

[9] https://www.geni.com/projects/Shropshire-Famous-People/13683

[10] https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2009/02/24/famous-folk-with-county-connections/

[11] http://www.information-britain.co.uk/famousbrits.php?id=2289

[12] The Chronicle  Thursday 2nd January 2020  p.3.

[13] https://www.geni.com/projects/Shropshire-Famous-People/13683



[15] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p42

[16] https://www.shropshiretourism.co.uk/about-shropshire/famous-folk/mary-whitehouse.html

[17] Rees H. The Famous in Shrewsbury ( Shrewsbury 1994) p43