Black and white image of white Edwardian lady in large hat
Edith Maud Cunnington
January 3, 2023
Thomas Gadd-Matthews
January 4, 2023
Black and white image of white Edwardian lady in large hat
Edith Maud CunningtonSuffragist, prison reform activist, educator 1825 to 1902
January 3, 2023
Thomas Gadd-MatthewsSuffragist, prison reform activist, educator 1825 to 1902
January 4, 2023

Rosamond Davenport HillSuffragist, prison reform activist, educator 1825 to 1902

Early Life

Rosamond was one of three daughters of Matthew Davenport Hill and Margaret Bucknall. The family were all active social, educational and prison reformers, and the sisters’ uncle was postal reformer Sir Rowland Hill.

Rosemond and her sisters were educated both in schools and at home. While the family lived in London, they moved in a wide circle of reformers and writers, including William Thackeray. Growing up in such an environment fuelled the sister's beliefs in social responsibility, political awareness, prison and educational reform, particularly where it applied to girls.

In 1851, the Hill family moved to Bristol and it was here that Matthew Davenport Hill's involvement with prison reform brought him into close contact with Mary Carpenter (who is buried very close by), whose reform interests included educational work with society's poorest children, and the reform of the treatment of juvenile delinquents.

A passion for education

Rosamond and her sisters became part of Mary Carpenter's reforming circle, and Rosamond taught in the St James's Back ragged school. 

She took a keen interest in the issue of prison discipline, and with Mary Carpenter was a co‑founder of Stanhope House Industrial School for girls in Bristol. She was also treasurer, and assisted in the emigration of pauper children to the colonies.

While Mary Carpenter travelled abroad in the 1860s, Rosamond took charge of the Industrial School, along with Mary's brother-in-law, Herbert Thomas.

Women's Suffrage

In 1832, the girls father had publicly supported women’s suffrage, and in January 1868, he sent out a circular permitting his daughters to invite to his drawing room those interested in forming a society to promote women’s suffrage.

The result was the founding of the Bristol & Clifton (later the Bristol and West of England) branch of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, the fourth such society.


A private secretary to her father

As the eldest, Rosamond was especially close to her father. She acted as his private secretary, and visited prisons and reformatories with him in Great Britain and in Europe. Throughout her life she presented and published papers on prison reform, education, female emigration, and temperance.

Rosamond’s religious affiliation was initially Anglican, but after her father’s death in 1872, she became Unitarian.

Rosamond and Florence then left Bristol, and travelled to Australia. They published accounts of the institutions they visited in New South Wales, and later wrote a biography of their father.

They next settled in London, where Rosamond was elected to the School Board in 1879, serving for nearly twenty years. 

In her post she was noted for her work in relation to industrial schools and for her advocacy on teaching cookery to girls, again publishing an influential article on the subject. In 1895 she was appointed a life governor of University College, London.

In London Rosamund was not notably active in the women’s movement, but her activities brought them in to contact with women such as Millicent Fawcett, and they supported women’s suffrage.

Death and cremation

When Rosamond and Florence retired, they moved to Oxford. Rosamond died in 1902, and Florence in 1919. They were both cremated (not in Arnos Vale) and then both their remains interred in this grave where their parents had been laid to rest some 40 years earlier.   

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Rosamond Davenport Hill<span class="ag_notability">Murdered</span><span class="ag_event_date"><i class="icon-calendar"></i>1914 to 1946</span>
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