Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor (1879-1964)
© 2007 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd. - This page may be used for non-commercial purposes ONLY!

Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor (1879-1964)

[ Play Narrated and Animated Movie ! ]
[ Virtual Tour ] [ Main Topics Index ]

This plaque in memory of Nancy Astor, by Michael Rizzello OBE was presented by the Astor family in 1996. Nancy Astor, who was born in 1879 and died in 1964, became the first woman to sit in parliament in December 1919. For nearly two years she was the only woman member in an otherwise all male assembly. She represented the Sutton division of Plymouth as a Conservative, retiring in 1945.

She wasn't courageous if by courage is meant mastery of fear. She was fearless of physical danger, of criticism, of people.
The Times, Obituary, 4 May 1964.

Additional Information on
Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor (1879-1964)

Nancy was born in Greenwood Virginia, but came to Britain in 1906 when she married Waldorf Astor as her second husband. Astor had been a Member of Parliament for a while when, on the death of his father in 1919, he entered the Lords as Viscount Astor. Nancy, who had been Waldorf's chief aide and adviser whilst in the position, was then elected by a substantial majority to the Commons to take her husband's relinquished seat as the member for Plymouth (Nov. 28th, 1919).

Lady Astor was the first female Member elected to Parliament, and kept her seat through each subsequent election until she retired in 1945. A great deal of her work was directly concerned with the promotion of women's rights, and she also channelled her energy towards a progressive educational policy - which included raising the legal age for children to leave school. Astor was also heavily involved in the passing of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill of 1923, which stated that no one under the age of 18 could purchase alcoholic drinks.

Lady Astor is also well remembered for her role as a society hostess. The Astor's country house, 'Clivenden', in Buckinghamshire became a haven for the Astor's friends and many wartime meetings were held there. This group soon became known as the 'Clivenden Set' - Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, being an important member.


When you come into the Debating Chamber, Nancy, I feel as if you had come into my bathroom and I had only a sponge to cover myself with.
- Winston Churchill, Quoted John Beavers, Sunday Referee, 19th Feb 1939.

Viscount Waldorf Astor owned Britain's two most influential newspapers The Times and The Observer, but his American wife Nancy had a wider circulation than both papers put together.
- Emery Kelen, 'Peace in their Time'.

Nancy was a devout Christian Scientist, but not a good one. She kept confusing herself with God. She didn't know when to step aside and give God a chance.
- Mrs Gordon Smith, Quoted Elizabeth Langhorne, ' Nancy Astor and her Friends'.

I do not want you to look on your lady Member as a fanatic or a lunatic. I am simply trying to speak for hundreds of women and children throughout the country who cannot speak for themselves.
- Nancy Astor's first Speech to the House of Commons. Advanced Category Search

Keyword Categories: