Dorothy Jewson

Dorothy Jewson

Dorothy Jewson, the daughter of George Jewson, a wealthy coal merchant and Mary Jane Jarrold, was born in Norwich on 17th August, 1884.

Dorothy was educated at Cheltenham College and Girton College, Cambridge. She also went to Cambridge Training College and afterwards taught at Richmond School (1908-11) and in a board school in Norwich. With her brother, she carried out a large-scale investigation into poverty in the city. This was published as The Destitute of Norwich.

Jewson was involved with the Fabian Society while at Girton but later found the organisation too moderate and joined the Independent Labour Party. Jewson also became a member of the Women's Social and Political Union but there is no evidence that she took part in militant activities. As a pacifist Jewson was a strong opponent of Britain's involvement in the First World War.

In 1916 Mary Macarthur invited Jewson to become an organiser for the National Federation of Women's Workers (NFWW) where she worked closely with Margaret Bondfield. When the NFWW amalgamated with the National Union of General & Municipal Workers in 1921, Jewson worked for the newly formed women's section.

Jewson was active in the local Labour Party and in the 1923 General Election she was elected as the MP for Norwich. In her maiden speech, she advocated bringing down the voting age of women to twenty-one. After she was defeated in the 1924 General Election she was appointed to the National Council of the Independent Labour Party.

Woman MPs in October 1924. Left to right, Dorothy Jewson, Susan Lawrence,Nancy Astor, Margaret Winteringham, Katharine Stewart-Murray, Mabel Philipson,Vera Terrington and Margaret Bondfield.
Woman MPs in October 1924. Left to right, Dorothy Jewson, Susan Lawrence,
Nancy Astor, Margaret Winteringham, Katharine Stewart-Murray, Mabel Philipson,
Vera Terrington and Margaret Bondfield.

In the 1924 Jewson joined Dora Russell to form the Workers' Birth Control Group. Jewson was president and Russell, secretary of the organisation. Together they attempted to persuade the Labour Party to adopt the policy of government funded welfare centres to provide free birth-control advice. Worried about the impact this would have on potential Roman Catholic supporters, James Ramsay MacDonald argued strongly against it at the 1926 Party Conference and managed to have the proposal defeated.

Jewson was a member of Norwich City Council between 1927 and 1936. In later life, Jewson was active in the Society for Friends.

Dorothy Jewson died on 29th February, 1964.