It totally blows my mind to put this in context - my mother was 13 years old before she was considered a person. My grandmother was 35. I cannot imagine not being considered a "person".
One of the group of Famous Five was Irene Parlby. I wanted to know more about Irene - who was she and what kind of upbringing did she have that contributed to her determination to make changes for women.
Unforunately I've never had the opportunity to see the movie The Relunctant Politician about Irene's contributions to the women's movement.
There are a few brief biographies of Irene online but they don't have the kind of meat I was looking for. Who were her parents? Where did she live? What was her life like?
|Baptism Elizabeth Lynch in Bombay India 1845. FindMyPast.co.uk|
|Marriage Marryat-Lynch in Bombay India 1866. FindMyPast.co.uk|
There was a strong military presence in Irene's family with her father, maternal grandfather and maternal great-grandfather highly placed army officers. Being raised in a military family no doubt meant a strong emphasis on routine, discipline, accountability and duty.
The Lynch family had long standing ties in the military. Irene's great-grandfather Henry Blosse Lynch had a varied career - as a mountaineer, volunteer in the Indian Navy, Persian Gulf surveyor, explorer, interpretor who was fluent in Arabic and Persian. and many other accomplishments.
Irene's father Edward Patrick Lynch was born in Mayo Ireland. He enlisted in the Indian Army in 1825 and did not marry until 1843 when he wed Louisa Stirton in Bombay. Louisa died in October 1846 on board a ship sailing to England [Gentleman's Magazine. Jan. 1847. p. 110. http://search.fibis.org/frontis/bin/aps_detail.php?id=1162466 On her passage to England, Louisa, wife of Major E.P. Lynch, K.L.S., Bombay Army]. In 1848 Edward married her younger sister Emily Elizabeth.
The Stirton sisters were the daughters of Andrew and Sarah Stirton and were born in London England. Andrew was born circa 1784 in London England and in the 1851 census he is listed as a Marine Fund Holder. 1851 was a rough year for the Lynch family. On January 1 of that year, Edward and Elizabeth Lynch's 16 year old servant Sarah Shuaghnessey died of Cholera and the next day their only son, 1 year old Edward Bloss Stirton Lynch, also passed away. By the time of that 1851 census the two older sisters, 6 year old Elizabeth and 7 year old Sarah were living with their Stirton Grandparents, Andrew and Sarah, in England. The girls were most likely sent away after their younger half-brother died.
The 1871 census for London England finds Mary Irene as a 3 year old living with her mother Elizabeth age 25 and younger brother Ernest Patrick Lynch Marryat age 1.
By 1896 Mary Irene had left England for Alberta Canada where she met and married Walter Parlby. It was then that Irene began taking an active role in women's issues. She became President of the United Farm Women of Alberta and was later elected the first female cabinet minister in Alberta. Irene's focus was on improving the lives of rural women and children but her social activism had far-reaching effects for all women once she became involved in the petition to have women recognized as people. The decision that women were persons eligible to be named to the Senate of Canada was handed down on October 18, 1929.
Her only child Humphrey Parlby was born in 1899 in Alberta. Irene retired from politics in 1935 but continued to speak passionately about women's rights. She died at the age of 97 in Alberta.
Notes: Other information and material about Irene Parlby is available at the Glenbow Archives, Alberta