On 20 May 1867, shortly after her marriage, Millicent Fawcett was present in the Ladies' Gallery of the House of Commons when John Stuart Mill MP moved his amendment to the Representation of the People Bill. The amendment, to replace the word ‘man' with the word ‘person', allowing women to be included on an expanded electoral register, was defeated by 81 votes.
In July 1869 Millicent Fawcett was one of the speakers at the first public meeting held by the London Society for Women's Suffrage. At this time it was still remarkable for a woman – particularly one as young as Millicent – to speak on a public platform but from the first she made a favourable impression. When she spoke in her husband's constituency the local paper commented: 'She is a lady of small stature, and of fragile but very pleasing appearance; perfectly collected in her manner, and with a very clear, distinct, emphatic delivery, not at times without a sense of humour.' [Brighton Herald, 1870] Such praise was necessary in overcoming prejudice, a very necessary step in the campaign for the vote.
Millicent Fawcett, studio photograph
W. & D. Downey
WOA Reference Collection