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Elizabeth Clapham (1869–1947)

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Elizabeth Clapham, née Morgan (Mrs J. W. Clapham) (1870-1947) drapers assistant, political activist, municipal councillor 

Birth: 1869 at Halberton, Devon, England, daughter of Daniel Morgan (1846-c.1910), detective-inspector of the “X” division of the Metropolitan Police, and Elizabeth, née Stadden (born about 1847.) Marriage: 18 June 1910 in Westbourne Park Baptist chapel, Paddington, London, England, to John William Clapham (1870-1926), master tailor and later secretary of Clothing Trades Union, Perth, Western Australia. Death: 6 April 1947 in West London Hospital, Hammersmith, England. 

  • Brought up in London. Worked as draper’s assistant in London in 1891 and 1901.
  • Arrived in Perth with her husband about 1914.
  • Strong supporter of Australian Labor Party in Western Australia for twenty years; active in the 1920s.
  • 'Mother in Israel' to women in Clothing Trade Union, encouraging female membership, while acquiring specialised knowledge of industrial laws.
  • A candidate for Labor preselection for the Federal House of Representatives seat of Perth in 1920. In 1926 she was vice president of Perth Women's Branch of ALP.
  • From 1920 to 1923 was elected councillor, Cottlesloe Council, the first woman to be elected to local government in WA. In 1923 she spent three months in Europe, attending a conference in Rome of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance Congress. Active member of the WA branch of the League of Nations Association.
  • Vice president of Women's Service Guild.
  • With her husband she was an office-holder in the Citizens’ Vigilance Committee, “formed to watch the administration of the amended Health Act regarding venereal diseases, and to foster the education of the public concerning sex hygiene, sex relationships and other kindred subjects”.
  • Committee-member of Metropolitan Council of the ALP inquiry into kindergarten schools. After her husband’s death she was appointed a factory inspector in 1926, again another first for a woman.
  • Left Perth to return to London, England, in May 1931. Here she was active and was an office-holder in the British Commonwealth League “an Empire League of Women’s Social Reform organisations”. Several times she represented WA Labor women at conferences in London.
  • Cause of death: carcinomatosis.
  • In 2020 inducted into WA Women’s Hall of Fame.

Evelyn Wood papers, Battye Library; Battye Library, biographical index; Westralian Worker, 5 June 1931, p 6:

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Clapham, Elizabeth (1869–1947)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Elizabeth Clapham, c.1920

Elizabeth Clapham, c.1920

State Library of Western Australia, 50376225

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Morgan, Elizabeth

Halberton, Devon, England


6 April, 1947 (aged ~ 78)
London, Middlesex, England

Cause of Death

cancer (carcinomatosis)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Key Organisations
Political Activism