Almyra Gray JP, York’s first woman Magistrate

Almyra Gray (1862-1939) was was the first woman magistrate in York and among the first in the country when she joined the Bench in 1920.

She was actively involved in healthcare and women’s rights. Having formed a local National Union of Women Workers branch in York in 1896, she was elected national president of the union in 1907. She lobbied for improved maternity services and infant welfare to reduce child mortality, and in 1913 became president of the North and East Riding Federation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

After partial suffrage was achieved in 1918, she founded the York Women Citizens’ Association, preparing women to be full participants in public life.

In 1921 she gave evidence to the committee on child adoption, arguing for legislation to prevent casual and irresponsible adoption practices, and she campaigned both as a member of the legal subcommittee of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child and as chair of the laws committee of the International Council of Women.

In December 1919, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed, allowing women to join the legal profession and be appointed Justices of the Peace.

Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB). York Press. Magistrates Association.