Friday 8th March is the International celebration of Women around the world throughout history.
Our wonderful Archivist, Helen, has put together a list of notable women who have made a difference to Cambridge across time.
WOMEN WHO FOUNDED COLLEGES
Clare College, the second oldest after Peterhouse – was founded in 1326 and generously endowed by Lady Elizabeth de Clare, Lady de Burgh, granddaughter of Edward I.
Pembroke – Mary de St Pol, widowed Countess of Pembroke, was granted a licence for the foundation of her College on Christmas Eve in 1347, by Edward III.
Queens’ College – charter granted by Margaret of Anjou in 1448 (wife of Henry VI); then under the patronage of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV.
Christ’s College – founded by William Byngham in 1437, but generously endowed by Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, in 1505 (and named Christ’s at that point).
St John’s – Lady Margaret Beaufort then went on to found St John’s College in 1511 (after her death in 1509)
Girton College founded 1869, moved to Cambridge 1873. Granted University Status 1948
Newnham College founded 1871.
New Hall (now Murray Edwards) founded 1954.
FIRST WOMAN GRADUATE
Queen Mother was the first woman to receive a Cambridge degree, at Senate House, on 21st October 1948. Honorary Doctorate of Law degree.
FAMOUS CAMBRIDGE WOMEN GRADUATES
1. Jane Goodall, primatologist – studied chimpanzee behaviour in Tanzania – Darwin
2. Thandie Newton, actress – Downing
3. Zadie Smith, novelist – King’s
4. Queen Margarethe of Denmark – Girton
5. Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, Astrophysicist – New Hall
6. Germaine Greer, author, critic – Newnham
7. Diane Abbot, Labour MP – Newnham
8. Sylvia Plath, poet – Newnham
9. AS Byatt, author – Newnham
10. Clare Balding, sportswoman and presenter – Newnham
11. Mary Beard, Professor of Classics – Newnham
12. Rosalind Franklin, one of the discoverers of DNA – Newnham
13. Emma Thompson, actress – Newnham
Cambridge’s first lady mayor was elected in 1925. Eva Hartree had previous studied at Girton, taking a Tripos in 1895.
Second lady Mayor was Florence Ada Keynes, in 1929 – mother of John Maynard Keynes
See also a selection of women Councillors from the ‘Women Workers’ series in the Cambridge Independent Press, Jan to June 1930. Online images at:
From the team of ladies at Westminster College, Happy International Women’s Day!