#legallyhers: Georgina Frost

7th July 2017

Georgina Frost (1879 –1939) was the first woman to hold public office in the UK.

Her father, Thomas Frost, was a petty sessions clerk in County Clare, Ireland. In the six years immediately before Thomas Frost’s retirement, Georgina had assisted him in his duties, often performing them herself. When he retired, she was appointed to succeed him by the local magistrates. However, the Lord Lieutenant refused, ordering the local magistrates to appoint another person to the position. And when Georgina remained the only applicant, the Lord Lieutenant objected because of her gender.

A protracted legal battle saw Georgina bring her appeal to the House of Lords in 1920. By this point, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 removed the legal bar to her appointment. She was finally appointed in April 1920.

As fate would have it, Georgina’s triumph was short-lived. In 1923, the Irish Free State abolished her job. Nonetheless, her battle laid the ground for the continued fight for gender equality in the decades ensuing.

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