Glasgow Necropolis Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland
Mary Muirhead Paterson (June 23, 1864 – June 10, 1941) was the first woman Factory Inspector (Glasgow) in 1893.
She was a factory inspector and philanthropist. Appointed one of the first two Lady Inspectors 8 May 1893, Senio Inspector 14 August 1903, Deputy Principal 1 July 1908, retired on Dec.1 1911 on appointment as Insurance Commissioner Appointed Inspector under Scotish Board of Health, Dec. 1919.
She was born in Glasgow on 23 June 1864, the daughter of Gavin Paterson (1811-1878) and Annie Muirhead (1819-1869). Her father was an affluent businessman; her mother came from a well-known Glasgow family, the Muirheads. Mary Paterson was described as having a gracious personality and great charm.
Mary Paterson worked in the early years of the job in her home country, Scotland, and later became one of the first national health insurance commissioners for Scotland. In 1897 Lucy Deane was dispatched to Ireland, where it had been reported that women handkerchief embroiderers were being paid not in money but in goods or credit at the local shop, which constituted an offence under the Truck Acts. Deane shipped her bicycle ahead of her – in 1896 the Home Office had cautiously sanctioned factory inspectors’ use of bicycles at the reimbursement rate of a penny a mile – and travelled to Ardara, a small, isolated town in Donegal, where she obtained some inside information from a local embroiderer. She then took her colleague Mary Paterson, dressed as a country girl, to mingle with the women as they brought their embroidery into the local agent’s shop. Paterson was thus able to witness them being ‘paid’ with packets of poor tea or eggs or credit notes.
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