Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy

Who Was Elizabeth?

Welcome to Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy’s website. Elizabeth (1833-1918) was an amazing woman, an activist who fought for equality throughout her life.

Elizabeth worked tirelessly for girls’ education, for women’s right to own property and for their right to vote. Elizabeth believed in lobbying – she took part in marches, gave speeches, and created over 1600 petitions and 7000 letters.

Elizabeth lived in Congleton Cheshire. Emmeline Pankhurst dubbed her ‘the brains of the suffragist movement’, and Elizabeth is listed on the Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square in London. Elizabeth’s Group has commissioned renowned sculptor Hazel Reeves to create a statue of Elizabeth in Congleton.
Please support us! Thank you.


Great news! Thanks to a generous donation from the Denise Coates Foundation we have reached our funding target for the statue of Elizabeth! We are very grateful to Denise and the Foundation. Future donations to the Elizabeth’s Group charity will go to the unveiling event and educational materials.


Our sculptor Hazel Reeves continues working on Elizabeth’s statue. She is now making the clay version of the statue which will be used to create the mould for pouring the bronze.

The clay statue in progress

Would you like to support our project to build more awareness of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy?

The Elizabeth Heritage Trail

The Elizabeth Heritage Trail launched in 2020 and is a walk around Congleton to all the places that were important to Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and her husband Ben.

Learn more and download the Trail Leaflet here.

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy’s Campaigns

Women’s Suffrage

Elizabeth campaigned for women to get the vote and was a co-founder of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage and the Women’s Emancipation Union. She became the first paid employee of the women’s movement in 1871.

Property Rights

Elizabeth believed women should be able to own property in their own right and not BE the property of their fathers and husbands. She was instrumental in achieving the Married Women’s Property Act 1882.

Girls’ Education

Elizabeth realised that ignorance was keeping women and girls down and believed everyone had an equal right to be educated. Her work led to the 1869 Endowed Schools Act which advocated that girls should enjoy the same education as boys.

Read more about her campaigns.


Elizabeth was a prolific writer. She wrote poetry, as well as texts for the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science and articles for Shafts, the Westminster Review and national press, often using the pseudonym Ignota.

Read more about Elizabeth’s writings.

Help Elizabeth’s Group!

Elizabeth’s Group is a team of activists based in Congleton, spreading the word about this wonderful woman and her contribution to women’s rights.

We will commemorate Elizabeth with a bronze statue in her home town of Congleton. If you’d like to help us do this, please donate here.

You can also help us out by getting involved, and helping us spread the word about Elizabeth and the inspirational things she did.


Need help?  Got a question? Please visit our Contact Us page and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can, you can either use the form or the contact details provided.