Will a pioneering suffragist from our region grace the new £50 note?

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1836-1917

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1836-1917 - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk suffragist who became the UK’s first female mayor and doctor has been tipped as the new face for the £50 note.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and daughter Louisa in 1876. Credit: The Pioneering Garretts - Breaking t

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and daughter Louisa in 1876. Credit: The Pioneering Garretts - Breaking the Barriers for Women, by Jenifer Glynn - Credit: Archant

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) was the first woman to openly qualify as a doctor in Britain and also founded her own medical school.

She went on to became the first female mayor when she was elected in Aldeburgh in 1908 and was also the first woman magistrate.

Chairman of Aldeburgh and District Local History Society, Tony Bone, believes Ms Garrett “more than merits” the honour of gracing a bank note.

“The fact she became the first female mayor is very significant in British history,” he said. “She was the daughter of Newson Garrett, who founded Snape Maltings, and was very prominent at the time – he had also been mayor, and was very encouraging of his daughter’s political pursuits.”

The statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. Picture: Garry Knight

The statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. Picture: Garry Knight - Credit: Archant


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But Mr Bone explained that not everybody in the town at the time was supportive of her pioneering endeavours. “She was elected mayor twice, but the second time around, many people in Aldeburgh voted against her because she was a woman.”

Sally Ogden, who is chairwoman of Aldeburgh Business Association, said: “I am sure the people of the town would be delighted if Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was on the new note. She is a true inspiration to all, especially young girls.”

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Mr Bone believes that another key figure in the history of Aldeburgh, Millicent Fawcett, who was central in the Votes for Women campaign, also deserves to appear on a bank note. “They both made a valuable contribution to women’s history for the roles they played in civic society,” he said.

This year, Ms Fawcett became the first female sculpture to appear in London’s Parliament Square, although she has not yet been put forward to appear on a note.

Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett - Credit: Archant

So far 12 Bank of England notes have featured men as their main historical character, and three have featured women – the author Jane Austen, the social reformer Elizabeth Fry and the nurse Florence Nightingale.

Almost 1,000 scientists made the latest long list for the new £50 note and they include another female with Suffolk links – Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994), who discovered the structure of insulin through her advancement of X-ray crystallography - the technique used to determine the three-dimensional structure of molecules. She was educated at a state-funded secondary school in Beccles, where she fought to be allowed to study science along with the boys.

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