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At the same Pension meeting on April 24, 1903, which ordered the application of Bertha Cave to be rejected, a second application by a woman was also considered for Agnes Edith Metcalfe. Her application was also rejected, and she did not reapply.

The Pension minutes state: “Read an application by Miss Agnes Edith Metcalfe, a Bachelor of Science at London University, for admission as a student for the purpose of being called to the Bar. Resolved that no order be made upon the application.”

Agnes was born in 1870 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, into a well-established professional family, the youngest of the three daughters of Frank Metcalfe and his wife Judith (nee Hopkinson). Agnes’ father, grandfather, and uncle were solicitors in Wisbech; her grandfather and uncle were successively Clerks of the Peace of the Isle of Ely and successively seated at Inglethorpe Hall, Emneth, while her father, until his early death at the age of 43 in 1885, was clerk of the court at Wisbech. Her maternal grandfather had been a clergyman in nearby Huntingdonshire.

Agnes was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College up to degree level, obtaining an external University of London Bachelor of Science degree in 1892, as mentioned in her application to Gray’s Inn. She then took up a career as a schoolteacher, and in 1897 she was appointed Head Mistress of Stroud Green School in North London, living at the time of the 1901 census in nearby Hornsey. In 1905, she was appointed the first Head Mistress of the new Sydenham County Council School. In 1907, she became a School Board Inspector of Secondary Schools.

There is no trace of her in the 1911 Census, which it seems likely that she evaded, as did many other supporters of women’s suffrage, on the basis that if women were not to be recognised as persons by the law, then the government could not really expect them to allow themselves to be counted for any other purpose.

She was at some point Treasurer of the Women’s Tax Resistance League (founded in 1909) and wrote on women’s suffrage issues. Her first book, published in 1917, was “Women’s Effort: A Chronicle of British Women’s Fifty Years’ Struggle for Citizenship (1865–1914),”  which had an introduction by the distinguished supporter of women’s rights, Laurence Housman. This was followed by “Woman, A Citizen” in 1918 and “‘At Last’: Conclusion of Women’s Effort” in 1919 (illustrated below).

Agnes died in 1923. Her estate was used to establish the Metcalfe Studentships for Women at LSE, awarded to female postgraduate students undertaking research on some social, economic, or industrial problem.

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