BOOTH, Lydia Allen   [1838 - 1923]

When the Liverpool Women’s Suffrage Society (LWSS) held its first annual general meeting on Friday 11th January 1895, the woman presiding was the wife of Liverpool shipowner Alfred Booth. She was an American, born Lydia Allen Butler in Norfolk, Virginia in 1839. Her father, Benjamin Franklin Butler, was a prominent lawyer and served as U.S. Attorney General from 1833 to 1838 under President Andrew Jackson.

Liverpool businessman Alfred Booth and his brother Charles had founded a shipping line to trade with the USA and to manage its interests established an office in New York. His American connections enabled him to meet Lydia Butler and on 24th October 1867 they were married in Manhattan, New York City. She came to Liverpool with her husband where they lived for many years at 46 Ullett Road L17.

The Booth family, whose roots went back to acquiring the manor of Dunham Massey in Cheshire in 1409, were of a liberal political disposition, Charles Booth gaining fame as a pioneer of methodical social research. It was therefore not surprising that Lydia Booth should be at the forefront of the suffrage movement in Liverpool and efforts to support women. Along with Edith Bright and Nessie Stewart-Brown she was instrumental in founding the LWSS in 1894, Eleanor Rathbone becoming its secretary in 1897. It was in her house, in May 1897, that the plan for the establishment of the Victoria Settlement at 322 Netherfield Road L5. The settlement provided girls’ clubs, a dispensary for women and children and the first classes for ‘crippled children’ in Liverpool. In 1897 she was elected president of the National Council of Women Workers, a press report of the time describing her as “one of the most cheeriest and sympathetic of women”.

Alfred Booth died in 1914 and Lydia later moved to London to be nearer her daughters, dying on 30th October 1923 aged 85.



46 Ullet Road  L17

The home of Alfred and Lydia Booth from the time of her arrival in Liverpool c.1867 to c.1920 when she moved to London.

SOURCES AND FURTHER READING

There is a mention of Lydia Booth in the Wikipedia entry for the Liverpool Women's Suffrage Society. I also found some references to her work in the book Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience  [Susan Pedersen 2004 Yale University Press].