Florence Ada Keynes – Cambridge’s 2nd woman mayor on the front page of The Vote.

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From the British Newspaper Archive, it reads as follows:

Alderman Mrs FLORENCE ADA KEYNES, Mayor of Cambridge.

“We are proud to claim that the second woman Mayor of Cambridge, Alderman Mrs Keynes, is a regular subscriber to The Vote. A distinguished worker for the emancipation of women, in 1929 she was elected President of the National Council of Women of Great Britain.”

“During the last half-century no woman has done more valuable pioneer work in establishing the status of women in local government. Born in Manchester, the eldest daughter of the Rev. Dr. John Brown—a biographer of Bunyan [a non-conformist writer and preacher of repute at the time] she was educated privately at Bedford, and then became a student at Newnham under the Principalship of Miss Clough, when the college consisted of one building.

“In 1882 she married Dr. John Neville Keynes, M.A., ScD., Registrary Emeritus of the University of Cambridge. One of her sons, John Maynard Keynes, is the world famous economist. The first public work undertaken by Mrs Keynes was to become hon. secretary, in 1894, of the Charity Organisation Society, the chief aim of which was to re-establish the independence of those in distressed circumstances. It developed into the Central Aid and Charity Organisation Society, its work extending through the Surgical Aid Committee, the Children’s Aid Committee, and the first committee in Cambridge for mental welfare.

“Her activities brought her into close touch with Poor Law work, and in 1907 she was returned to the Board of Guardians as one of then four representatives of the New Town Ward. She retained her seat until the abolition of these Boards, and is now a member of the Cambridgeshire Public Assistance Committee. In 1914, when for the first time married women became eligible for service on county and borough councils, Mrs. Keynes was returned at a by-election in the Fitzwilliam Ward. She was the first woman to sit on the Cambridge Town Council. Mrs. Keynes lost her seat in 1919.

In 1924 [she] was re-elected for the South Chesterton Ward as an Independent candidate, and in June, 1931, became the first woman alderman of the Council. She was also the first woman member of the Visitors to the Fulbourn Mental Hospital.

201008 Florence as Mental Health Visitor 1920

From a separate article in the Cambridge Independent Press, in the British Newspaper Archive dated 08 Oct 1920: Florence Ada Keynes is sworn in as a mental health visitor for Fulbourn and other facilities, alongside Edith Bethune Baker, Jane Harrison (of Newnham College), and the two civic legends that are Leah Manning (later Dame Leah Manning) and Clara Rackham. 

“Mrs Keynes has shared in every activity of the Council, and has served on most of its committees. Her outstanding ability, sound judgment, tact, and mastery of detail make her an excellent chairman. Appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Borough of Cambridge in 1920, she has a wide knowledge, of the procedure of police courts, and has made a special study of the law relating to women and children. She was chairman of the committee which brought together women magistrates from all over the country for consultation.

Under the chairmanship of Mrs Keynes the Cambridge branch of the National Union of Women Workers became the largest in the British Isles. It attracted many students from Newnham and Girton, and was responsible for the purchase of Fitzroy House, a pioneer social centre, and for the organisation of a War Thrift Committee.

Mrs Keynes was instrumental in setting up unemployment registry for boys and girls which became the statutory Juvenile Employment Committee under the County Council. Cambridge is fortunate in having a smaller percentage of unemployed than most other towns; in her inaugural address Mrs. Keynes declared that during her year of office every possible measure will be taken to deal effectively with the unemployment problem. She stressed the importance of co-operation in local government.”

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