PAGET, (Mary) Rosalind [1855-1948]

Mary Rosalind (always known as Rosalind) was a pioneering figure in the establishment of nursing as a career for women, especially associated with the professionalisation of the role of midwives.

Her mother Elizabeth was a member of the prestigious Rathbone family and she was born on 4th January 1855 at the Rathbone’s mansion, Greenbank House, Greenbank Lane L17. Her mother had married John Paget, a London police magistrate and author, and Rosalind was raised in their London home.

When just 10 years old her uncle, social reformer William Rathbone, took her to the Liverpool Infirmary to meet the celebrated nursing superintendent, Agnes Jones. The impact of the visit remained with her and in 1875, against much opposition from her family, she entered the Westminster Hospital to begin her nursing training. For a few months in 1877 she returned to Liverpool to gain further experience at the Infirmary. She trained as a midwife at Endell Street Lying-In Hospital, gaining the diploma of the London Obstetrical Society in January 1885. At this time she began her association with the Midwives’ Institute (later the Royal College of Midwives) and soon became a driving force, providing the leadership to transform the status of midwifery by providing better education and training. She was treasurer from 1890 to 1930 and was instrumental in ensuring that the institute gained a permanent headquarters, also founding the institute’s journal Nursing Notes (later Midwives Chronicle). She was a forceful campaigner for legislation to enshrine the registration of midwives, her efforts being realised in 1902 by the passing of the Midwives Act which made it an offence for anyone to practice as a midwife without proper certification. The Act established the Central Midwives’ Board  and Rosalind Paget served as a board member from 1902 to 1924. She was also a strong supporter of women’s suffrage and had close ties with her campaigning cousin, Eleanor Rathbone.

In 1935 she was appointed DBE. She died on 19th August 1948, aged 93 at her home, Colwood Park, Bolney, Sussex.

Greenbank House L17

The Rathbone mansion where Rosalind Paget was born. Ir is now part of the Liverpool University complex near Greenbank Park. The house has been extensively renovated in the last few years.

Rosalind Paget's family grave at Brompton Cemetery


There is a comprehensive entry for Paget in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The Wikipedia entry gives a brief outline of her life and there are many short biographies on varuious medical institution websites. A short biography of Paget by John Rivers was published by the Midwives Chronicle in 1981.