PICKFORD, Mary Ada  [1884 - 1934]

Mary Ada Pickford was born in Liverpool on 5th July 1884, the daughter of barrister William Pickford, who became Baron Sterndale and Master of the Rolls. Her mother, Alice Mary (née Brooke) died shortly after her birth. At the time of her birth the family home was at 101 Bedford Street L7 (now demolished), moving later to Lowood House, in Lyndhurst Road L18.

She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School and then read modern history at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (1903-06). She undertook research on the French revolution, publishing two papers in the Historical Review. During the First World War she helped to organise canteens at Étaples and from 1916 to 1917 was a Home Office factory inspector. After the war she assisted Sir Julian Corbett in preparing the Official Naval History of the War. Throughout the 1920’s she undertook a variety of public roles including voluntary work for the Conservative Party and serving as a poor-law guardian. In 1929 she was appointed CBE in recognition of her work as technical adviser to the British delegates at the International Labour Conference.

A career in politics was no easy choice for a woman in those days but she we was determined to succeed and gained the Conservative nomination to fight the Farnworth seat at the 1929 general election. Farnworth was a strong Labour constituency and the Conservative vote fell sharply. She persisted in her efforts, winning the nomination for the Labour held seat of North Hammersmith and in the landslide victory for the Conservatives at the 1931 election she was duly elected. She was an infrequent speaker in the house and was, by and large a loyal backbencher. Of greatest note was her support for electoral reform in India, a cause opposed by many in her party, notably Winston Churchill.

Sadly her career was abruptly ended when she died of pneumonia on 6th March 1934, aged 49,  at the family estate at King Sterndale in Derbyshire.

Lowood House, Lyndhurst Road L18

The Pickford family home before their move to London in 1892. 


The biography of Mary Adshead at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography  is quite detailed. There is also a Wikipedia entry.