8 Dublin St, Edinburgh EH1 3PR, UK
8 Chalmers Cres, Edinburgh EH9 1TR, UK
46 Cranley Gardens, South Kensington, London SW7 3DE, UK
Corstorphine Old Parish Church, 2a Corstorphine High St, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 7ST, UK
Corstorphine Hill Cemetery, 40A Drum Brae S, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 8SZ, UK
Jessie Chrystal Macmillan (13 June 1872 – 21 September 1937) was the first woman Appearance before House of Lords (court) in 1908.
She was a suffragist, peace activist, barrister, feminist and the first female science graduate from the University of Edinburgh as well as that institution's first female honours graduate in mathematics. She was an activist for women's right to vote, and for other women's causes. She was the second woman to plead a case before the House of Lords, and was one of the founders of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
The purpose of the Women’s Peace Party was ambitious: ‘to enlist all American women in arousing the nations to respect the sacredness of human life and to abolish war’. It would later become the American branch of the WILPF, while Margaret Bondfield, Margaret Llewelyn Davies, Mary MacArthur, Chrystal Macmillan, Catherine Marshall, Maude Royden, Ada Salter, Olive Schreiner, Helena Swanwick, Ethel Williams and their British colleagues would form the British branch.
In the first year of World War I, Macmillan spoke for the peace-seeking women of the United Kingdom at the International Congress of Women, a women's congress convened at The Hague. The Congress elected five delegates to take their message to political leaders in Europe and USA. She travelled to the neutral states of Northern Europe and Russia before meeting up with other delegates in USA. She met with world leaders such as President Woodrow Wilson, whose countries were still neutral, to present the proposals formulated at The Hague. Wilson subsequently used these proposals as some of his Fourteen Points, his justification for making war to forge a lasting peace. At war's end, Macmillan helped to organise the second women's Congress in Zurich and was one of the delegates elected to take the resolutions passed at the Congress to the political leaders meeting in Paris to formulate the Versailles Peace Treaty. She supported the founding of the League of Nations. Macmillan tried but did not succeed in getting the League to establish nationality for women independent of the nationality of their husbands.
Women’s deputation to the King of Norway, in 1915: (left to right) Emily Balch, Cor Ramondt-Hirschmann, Rosika Schwimmer, Chrystal Macmillan
International Congress of Women in 1915. left to right:1. Lucy Thoumaian - Armenia, 2. Leopoldine Kulka, 3. Laura Hughes - Canada, 4. Rosika Schwimmer - Hungary, 5. Anika Augspurg - Germany, 6. Jane Addams - USA, 7. Eugenie Hanner, 8. Aletta Jacobs - Netherlands, 9. Chrystal Macmillan - UK, 10. Rosa Genoni - Italy, 11. Anna Kleman - Sweden, 12. Thora Daugaard - Denmark, 13. Louise Keilhau - Norway
Jessie Chrystal Macmillan was born on 13 June 1872, the only daughter of Jessie Chrystal (née) Finlayson and John Macmillan, a tea merchant working for Melrose & Co in Leith. The family lived at 8 Duke Street (Dublin Street as of 1922) in Edinburgh's New Town.
Macmillan was the only daughter among her parents eight sons. After an early education in Edinburgh she boarded at St Leonards School and St Katharines School for Girls in St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. In October 1892 Macmillan was among the first female students to enrol at the University, she was however not the first to graduate as others were either more advanced in their studies or taking higher degrees. Macmillan studied science subjects including Honours Mathematics with George Chrystal, Astronomy with Ralph Copeland, and Natural Philosophy with Peter Guthrie Tait and Cargill Gilston Knott. In April 1896 she graduated with a BSc with first-class honours in mathematics and natural philosophy, the first woman at the University to do so.
In the summer of 1896 she went to Berlin for further university study, then returned to Edinburgh and passed an examination in Greek language to enter the Faculty of Arts in October 1896. She studied a number of social subjects including politics, and graduated in April 1900. Macmillan was the first woman to earn First-class honours from Edinburgh in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, also earning Second-class honours in Moral Philosophy and Logic. During this time she was a member of the Edinburgh Ladies' Debating Society, a forum which helped her gain confidence arguing in the face of opposition. She also joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in May 1897, the second woman member after Flora Philip in 1896.
In 1937, Macmillan's health was failing and in June of that year she had a leg was amputated. On 21 September she died of heart disease, at home in bed at 8 Chalmers Crescent, Edinburgh. On 23 September her body was cremated. Her remains were buried with her parents in Corstorphine churchyard in the west of the city. The grave is marked by a substantial granite cross just north of the church. In her will, she specified bequests to the Open Door International for the Economic Emancipation of the Woman Worker, and to the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene. A memorial stained glass window was added in Old Corstorphine Church soon after her death. It is on the south side of the church towards the south-east corner.
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