Ethel Matilda Purdie (née Ayres) (1874–1923) was the first woman Certified Accountant in 1909.

She was a chartered accountant and suffragist. She specialised in counselling women and women's suffragist organisations. She was active in the Women's Tax Resistance League which argued that no vote meant no tax.

Ethel Ayres was born at 14 King Edward Street, Islington, London, on 2 October 1874, the elder daughter of Henry William Ayres (1847–1922), a maker of tools for cutting glass and constructing stained-glass windows.[1] After leaving school, she worked for the Post Office in the Telegraph Department. She married Frank Sidney Purdie in 1897, and they had two children.[2]

Ayres Purdie began her suffragist work in 1894 at a trade union protest against the treatment of female telegraphists. The telegraphists contributed to pension funds that they never received, as the women typically left their jobs when they were married. Ayres' protest wanted women to receive a portion of the money.[3] After her marriage, she studied accountancy at the Society of Arts.[4] Ayres Purdie opened her accountancy firm, which she named The Women Taxpayer’s Agency, in 1908.[5][2] In 1909, she finally became a member of the London Association of Accountants. In doing so, she became the first female registered accountant in the United Kingdom.[2] Her accountancy firm advertised in many women's papers, including Common Cause, Votes for Women and The Vote. The adverts encouraged women to collect a portion of their income tax, and argued against discrimination particularly from husbands who taxed their wives.[6] Ayres Purdie was the only woman allowed to represent clients in front of the Special Commissioners of Income Tax.[2] In 1912, her accountancy firm was vandalised by suffragettes, who argued that the inclusion of women in the firm's name was discriminatory.[5] Ayres Purdie was the auditor for the Women's Freedom League, in particular she campaigned for more women in the accountancy industry. She was also an organiser of the Women's Tax Resistance League, which encouraged women not to pay taxes on principle, and provided assistance for them when faced with fines and prison sentences for not paying taxes.[7][8]

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