Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy

Welcome to Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy’s website.

Elizabeth (1833-1918) was an amazing woman, an activist who fought for equality throughout her life.

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 commissioned renowned sculptor Hazel Reeves to create a statue of Elizabeth in Congleton which was unveiled by Baroness Lady Hale of Richmond on 8th March 2022. Learn about the statue – ‘Our Elizabeth’.

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’s Group continues to spread the word about this incredible woman, with talks, displays, stalls, schools materials, booklets, social media and educational visits. If you would like to support our work, you can become a Friend of Elizabeth for as little as £2 a month here:

‘Our Elizabeth’ is one year old

On 8th March 2023, the statue of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy in Congleton Town Centre was 1 year old and the town celebrated with birthday cake.

Read more about ‘Our Elizabeth’s’ first birthday.

We reminisced about the amazing, sunny day on 8th March 2022, Our Elizabeth, the statue of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, was unveiled in the centre of Congleton.

Watch a video about the day here (courtesy of Prickly Peach films):

Watch the BBC Coverage here:

Read more about the unveiling here.

This was the culmination of years of work by Elizabeth’s Group and Sculptor Hazel Reeves. Learn more about how the statue was made here:

The Elizabeth Heritage Trail

The Elizabeth Heritage Trail and is a walk around Congleton to all the places that were important to Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and her husband Ben. It passes both ends of Bridge Street where Elizabeth’s statue stands.

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 continue to drive awareness of the important work of this woman from 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.