|Born||September 7, 1877|
|Died||February 18, 1966|
|Education||Society of Oxford Home Students|
|Known for||first woman called to the UK bar|
Dr. Ivy Williams (7 September 1877 – 18 February 1966) was the first woman to be called to the English bar, in May 1922. She never practised but she was the first woman to teach law at a British university.
Williams was born in Newton Abbot in Devon and educated privately. Her parents were Emma and George St Swithin Williams. Her father was a solicitor. Her brother Winter Williams became a barrister, but died in an accident on 14 July 1903.
She studied law at the Society of Oxford Home Students (later St Anne's College). By 1903, she had completed all her law examinations, but was prevented by the prevailing regulations concerning the qualification of women at Oxford from matriculating or receiving her BA, MA and BCL until the regulations were reformed in 1920.She obtained LLB from the University of London in 1901, and LLD from the same university in 1903.
After the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 came into force in December 1919, which abolished the prohibition on women becoming barristers, she joined the Inner Temple as a student on 26 January 1920 after Theodora Llewelyn Davies. She was called to the bar on 10 May 1922,having received a certificate of honour (first class) in her final bar examination in Michaelmas 1921 which excused her from keeping two terms of dinners. Her call to the bar was described by the Law Journal as "one of the most memorable days in the long annals of the legal profession". She was soon followed by other women, including Helena Normanton.
Williams did not enter private practice, but taught law at the Society of Oxford Home Students from 1920 to 1945. In 1923 she became the first woman to be awarded the degree of DCL (Doctor of Civil Law)in Oxford for her published work, The Sources of Law in the Swiss Civil Code. In 1956 she was elected an Honorary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford.
She enjoyed tennis, travelling, gardening, and driving. She learned to read Braille after she began to lose her sight in later life, and she wrote a Braille primer which was published by the National Institute for the Blind in 1948.
She died in Oxford in 1966.
In 2020 barrister Karlia Lykourgou set up the first outfitter dedicated to offering courtwear for women. She named it Ivy & Normanton, in honour of Williams and Helena Normanton.
A blue plaque to her memory was installed on her home at 12 King Edward Street, Oxford on 21 September 2020.
Helena Florence Normanton, KC was the first woman to practise as a barrister in England. In November 1922, she was the second woman to be called to the Bar of England and Wales, following the example set by Ivy Williams in May 1922. When she married she kept her surname and in 1924 she was the first British married woman to have a passport in the name she was born with.
Dame Rose Heilbron DBE was a High Court judge, previously a barrister of the post-war period in the United Kingdom. Her career included many "firsts" for a woman – she was the first woman to achieve a first class honours degree in law at the University of Liverpool, the first woman to win a scholarship to Gray's Inn, one of the first two women to be appointed King's Counsel in England, the first woman to lead in a murder case, the first woman recorder, the first woman judge to sit at the Old Bailey, and the first woman treasurer of Gray's Inn. She was also the second woman to be appointed a High Court judge, after Elizabeth Lane.
Dame Elizabeth Kathleen Lane, DBE was an English barrister and judge. She was the first woman appointed as a judge in the County Court, and the first female High Court judge in England.
Ada Emily Evans, was an Australian lawyer and the first female law graduate in Australia.
Sarah Caudwell was the pseudonym of Sarah Cockburn, a British barrister and writer of detective stories. She is best known for a series of four murder stories written between 1980 and 1999, centred on the lives of a group of young barristers practicing in Lincoln’s Inn and narrated by a Hilary Tamar, a professor of medieval law, who also acts as detective.
Ethel Rebecca Benjamin was New Zealand's first female lawyer. On 17 September 1897, she became the first woman in the British Empire to appear as counsel in court, representing a client for the recovery of a debt. She was the second woman in the Empire to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor, two months after Clara Brett Martin of Canada.
Jessie Chrystal Macmillan was a suffragist, peace activist, barrister, feminist and the first female science graduate from the University of Edinburgh as well as that institution's first female honours graduate in mathematics. She was an activist for women's right to vote, and for other women's causes. She was the second woman to plead a case before the House of Lords, and was one of the founders of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
Gwyneth Marjorie Bebb was an English lawyer. She was the plaintiff in Bebb v. The Law Society, a test case in the opening of the legal profession to women in Britain. She was expected to be the first woman to be called to the bar in England; in the event, her early death prevented that, and Ivy Williams was the first woman to qualify as a barrister in England, in May 1922.
Sybil Campbell OBE was the first woman to be appointed as a stipendiary magistrate in Britain when she became metropolitan police magistrate at Tower Bridge Magistrate's Court in 1945. She was thus the first woman to be a professional magistrate or judge in Britain, and remained the only full-time woman magistrate or judge in England until her retirement in 1961 and the appointment of Elizabeth Lane as a county court judge in 1962.
This is a short timeline of women lawyers. Much more information on the subject can be found at: List of first women lawyers and judges by nationality.
Eliza Orme, also called Elizabeth Orme was the first woman to earn a law degree in England, from University College London in 1888.
Women in law describes the role played by women in the legal profession and related occupations, which includes lawyers, paralegals, prosecutors, judges, legal scholars, law professors and law school deans.
Madge Easton Anderson was a Scottish lawyer. She was the first woman admitted to practise as a professional lawyer in the UK when, in 1920, she qualified as a solicitor in Scotland.
Auvergne Mary Doherty, M.A., B.A. was an Australian businesswoman, working in her family's cattle business. She was one of the first nine women called to the Bar in England; Doherty was the first Western Australian woman called to the English Bar; she did not go on to practise law in England or Western Australia. Instead, Doherty took over her father's business when he died in 1935.
Frances Christian Kyle was an Irish barrister and the first woman, together with Averil Deverell, to be admitted to the bar in Ireland on 1 November 1921. It not only made headlines in Dublin but also in New York, London, and India. It was almost a year before any woman was called to the English bar.
Prior to the 20th Century, there were few women in law in the United Kingdom. Prior to the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, women were not permitted to practice law in the United Kingdom. By 1931 there were around 100 female solicitors. The first female-only law partnership was founded in 1933. By 2019 51% of British solicitors were women.
Bertha Cave (1881–1951) was a legal campaigner who fought, unsuccessfully, to be accepted to the bar.
Theodora Llewelyn Davies was a British barrister and penal reform campaigner. She was the first woman admitted to the British legal profession's Inner Temple in 1920.
Beatrice Honour Davy was a British barrister and later solicitor in the first British law firm run exclusively by women. In 1937 she became the first woman qualified to practice as a solicitor in both England and Scotland.
Maud Isabel Ingram became Maud Isabel Crofts was the first British woman to be articled and the first to be a solicitor after a ten-year campaign from 1913 to 1923. Ivy Williams was the first to be called to the bar in 1922.