In the General Election of 1918 Countess Constance Markievicz was declared the first woman in history to be elected to the British House of Commons. She was elected for the constituency of Dublin St Patrick’s. She stood for election whilst in Holloway prison in London. In line with the abstentionist policy adopted by the 73 elected Irish nationalist MPs she did not take her seat.
Countess Markievicz was born Constance Georgine Gore-Booth on February 4th 1868. She was the daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth of Lissadell House in Co Sligo. She married Count Markievicz, a Polish prince whilst studying art at Académie Julian in Paris. She was involved in the suffragette movement and, became involved in nationalist politics in 1908. She played an active role in the 1916 Easter Rising.
The 1918 General Election was the first to be held following the ratification of the Representation of the People Bill. Under its terms women over the age of 30 were, with some restrictions, given the right to vote for the first time. In the same year the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act gave women the right to stand for election to Parliament with no stated age restrictions. The General Election was held in Great Britain and Ireland on December 14th 1918. Because votes had to be transported from soldiers serving overseas the count did not take place for another two weeks.
Countess Markievicz became the first woman elected to the British House of Commons in the year 1918 On This Day.