Elizabeth Nicholls (1850 – 1943) social reformer
Elizabeth Nicholls was active in teaching Sunday school and distributing tracts. She made her public-speaking début at a Methodist women’s conference in 1885. Nicholls was a member from 1909 of the Women’s Non-Party Political Association. She was its president in 1911 when she led a deputation to Premier John Verran stressing the need for greater public roles for women.
Elizabeth Nicholls, social reformer, was born on 21 February 1850 at Rundle Street, Adelaide, eldest daughter of Samuel Bakewell, grocer, and his first wife Mary Ann, née Pye.
Both her father and uncle William Bakewell became members of the House of Assembly.
She married fellow Methodist Alfred Richard Nicholls, warehouseman, on 2 August 1870; they had a daughter and four sons and raised two orphaned relatives.
Elizabeth Nicholls was active in teaching Sunday school and distributing tracts. She made her public-speaking début at a Methodist women’s conference in 1885. Next year she was a founding member of Adelaide’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and in 1891 was one of the first women admitted to the South Australian Temperance Alliance.
She was inspired by the American temperance worker Frances E. Willard and in 1889 became the W.C.T.U.’s South Australian president. Nicholls held this post until she resigned in 1897 because of the demands of her position as Australasian president (1894-1903), being State president again in 1906-27.
A councillor of the Women’s Suffrage League, through the W.C.T.U. Nicholls helped to gather 8268 of the 11,600 signatures for the 1894 suffrage petition to parliament. Before the first election in which women voted (1896), she prepared a ‘Platform of Principles’: ‘They were not like women who lived in a Turkish harem, but they were going to decide for themselves and not follow any one party blindfoldedly’.
Nicholls was a member from 1909 of the Women’s Non-Party Political Association founded by Lucy Morice; she was its president in 1911 when she led a deputation to Premier John Verran stressing the need for women jurors, justices of the peace and ‘police matrons’, and for sex instruction for young people. Later Mrs Nicholls was a life vice-president of the League of Women Voters.
As a justice of the peace she often sat at the Children’s Court. Mrs Nicholls advocated similar female appointments for other States and argued for prison reform and juvenile courts. She sought improvement of conditions and wages for working women and was a shareholder in the women’s South Australian Co-operative Clothing Co.
Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110023b.htm
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