Queer Places:
St. Bride's Churchyard Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Katharine Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl.jpgKatharine Marjory Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl, DBE (née Ramsay; 6 November 1874 – 21 October 1960), known as the Marchioness of Tullibardine from 1899 to 1917, was the first woman Scottish MP (Kinross and West Perthshire, Conservative) in 1923 and the first woman Parl. Sec. - B of Education in 1924.

She was a Scottish noblewoman and Scottish Unionist Party politician whose views were often unpopular in her party.

Katharine Marjory Ramsay was born in Edinburgh on 6 November 1874, the daughter of Sir James Henry Ramsay, 10th Baronet. She was educated at Wimbledon High School and the Royal College of Music. During her school years she was known as Kitty Ramsay. On 20 July 1899, she married John Stewart-Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine, who succeeded his father as 8th Duke of Atholl in 1917, whereupon she became formally styled Duchess of Atholl.

Known as "Kitty", Stewart-Murray was active in Scottish social service and local government and in 1912 served on the hugely influential "Highlands and Islands Medical Service Committee" (authors of the Dewar Report) that has been widely credited with creating the forerunner of the National Health Service. She was the chairman of the Consultative Council on Highlands and Islands [1] As the Marchioness of Tullibardine she was an opponent of female suffrage, with Leah Leneman describing her as 'a key speaker at the most important Scottish anti-suffrage demonstration', which took place in 1912. In 1913 she became vice-president of the branch of the Anti-Suffrage League based in Dundee.[2] Despite this opposition to women gaining the right to vote in parliamentary elections, she went on to be the Scottish Unionist Member of Parliament (MP) for Kinross and West Perthshire from 1923–38, and served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education from 1924–29, the first woman other than a Mistress of the Robes to serve in a British Conservative government. She was the first woman elected to represent a Scottish seat at Westminster.[3] The historian William Knox has argued that, like other early female MPs in the UK, "she literally inherited" her seat from her husband, but Kenneth Baxter disputes this, noting that her husband had stood down from the former West Perthshire seat in 1917 when he succeeded to the dukedom and that it had been won by a Liberal candidate in 1918 and 1922.[4][5] Moreover, Baxter claims her victory in 1923 was not seen as "a foregone conclusion".[5] The fact that, prior to 1918, Atholl had been opposed to women's suffrage led to her being criticised in parliament by her Conservative colleague Nancy Astor.[6][7] She resigned the Conservative Whip first in 1935 over the India Bill and the "national-socialist tendency" of the government's domestic policy. Resuming the Whip, she resigned it again in 1938 in opposition to Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement of Adolf Hitler and to the Anglo-Italian agreement. According to her biography, A Working Partnership she was then deselected by her local party. She took Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds on 28 November 1938. She stood unsuccessfully in the subsequent by-election as an Independent candidate.[8] She argued that she actively opposed totalitarian regimes and practices. In 1931, she published The Conscription of a People—a protest against the abuse of rights in the Soviet Union. In 1936, she was involved in a long-running battle in the pages of various newspapers with Lady Houston after the latter had become notorious for her outspoken support of Benito Mussolini. Stewart-Murray had taken issue with Houston calling in the pages of the Saturday Review on the king to become British dictator in imitation of the European fascist regimes.[9] According to her autobiography Working Partnership (1958), it was at the prompting of Ellen Wilkinson that in April 1937 she, Eleanor Rathbone, and Wilkinson went to Spain to observe the effects of the Spanish Civil War. In Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid she saw the impact of Luftwaffe bombing on behalf of the Nationalists, visited prisoners of war held by the Republicans and considered the impact of the conflict on women and children, in particular. Her book Searchlight on Spain resulted from the involvement, and her support for the Republican side in the conflict led to her being nicknamed by some the Red Duchess.[10] Shortly before or even during 1938, she travelled to Romania where she visited "Satu Mare Romanian Women Association" in the city of Satu Mare aiming to support the Romanian cause to preserve the state borders established in 1918 and keep Hungary from regaining the territory that it lost then.[11] She campaigned against the Soviet control of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary as the chairman of the League for European Freedom in Britain from 1945. In 1958, she published a biography of her life with her husband entitled Working Partnership.

She was also a vice-president of the Girls' Public Day School Trust from 1924–1960. She was also a keen composer, setting music to accompany the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson. She was closely involved in her husband's regiment The Scottish Horse and composed the melody "The Scottish Horse" to be played on bagpipes.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1918 Birthday Honours. As Dowager Duchess of Atholl she took over the appointment of Honorary Colonel of The Regiment of Scottish Horse from 1942,[12] until she relinquished it in 1952.[13]

Her Grace, Katharine, Duchess of Atholl, died in Edinburgh, aged 85, in 1960.[14]

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