The First Women Voters in a General Election in the Isle of Man
On 22nd March 1881, the first women cast their votes in an election to
choose their representatives in the House of Keys.
The 1881 General Election took
place over several days between
22nd March and 30th March.
Elections were scheduled to
take place in the constituencies
of Castletown and Ayre on 22nd
March 1881. There was only
one candidate in Castletown, Mr
Jeffcott, who was returned unopposed.
The first election in which some
women had the opportunity to vote was held in the constituency of Ayre.
Votes could be cast at four different polling stations: the Parochial Schoolhouse in Andreas,
the Parochial Schoolhouse in Bride, the Parochial Schoolhouse in Lezayre, and a booth near
the Railway Station in Ramsey.
The first women to vote at each of these polling stations were:
- Esther Kee voted at Andreas. She lived at Leodest in Andreas and was described as a property owner.
- Catherine Callow of Ballakilley voted at Bride. She is described as a widow in the poll book.
- Eliza Jane Goldsmith of Ramsey voted at the railway station booth. Her occupation was not recorded in the poll book.
- Margaret Kelvin of Sulby voted as Lezayre Parochial Schoolhouse. Her occupation is recorded as a dressmaker.
The time at which each vote was cast was not recorded, so it is not possible to say which of
these women was the very first woman to vote. Esther Kee, Catherine Callow and Eliza Jane
Goldsmith were the first in line at each of their polling stations, while Margaret Kelvin was the
fourth person to vote at Lezayre Schoolhouse.