A Brief Biography of Henry Fawcett

By Tim Lambert

Henry Fawcett was a reformer of the 19th century. He campaigned for women’s suffrage (women’s right to vote). Henry was born in Salisbury on 26 August 1833. He was one of 4 children. Henry was educated at Cambridge University.

Unfortunately, Henry was blinded in an accident in 1858. His father shot at some partridges but he hit Henry in the eyes. But Henry did not let blindness stop him. He still managed to have a distinguished career. In 1863 Henry Fawcett was made professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University. The same year he published a book called Manual of Political Economy, which became a successful textbook. Henry was interested in politics and in 1865 he was elected Liberal MP for Brighton.

Henry Fawcett was a strong believer in women’s rights. He campaigned for women to have the right to vote. In 1867 a bill was introduced into parliament to extend the number of men allowed to vote. John Stuart Mill added an amendment to the bill to give women the vote. The amendment was defeated but it was the step on the road to women’s suffrage. Also in 1867, Henry married Millicent Garrett. She also campaigned for women’s rights. In 1868 the couple had a daughter, Philippa.

In 1874 Henry became MP for Hackney, London. Then, in 1880 Prime Minister Gladstone made him Postmaster-general. In 1884 another bill was introduced to extend the franchise. A man named William Woodall added an amendment to also give women the vote. Gladstone was strongly opposed to the amendment but Henry refused to vote against it. Instead, he abstained. Sadly, Henry died of pneumonia on 6 November 1884.

Houses of Parliament