Woman Nicholls, Elizabeth (1850 - 1943)

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Suffragist and Temperance activist
Alternative Names
  • Webb Bakewell, Elizabeth

Written by Patricia Grimshaw, The University of Melbourne

Elizabeth Nicholls was a highly important figure in the campaigns in South Australia and eventually, nationally, for restriction of the sale of alcohol and the movement to extend political rights from her base in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Born Elizabeth Webb Bakewell in 1850 in Adelaide, she married a fellow Methodist Alfred Nicholls, in1870; they had a daughter and four sons. She joined the WCTU in 1886, and was elected colonial president in 1889, a position she held until 1897. She joined the South Australian Women's Suffrage League on its formation and became a League Councillor. In 1894 Nicholls assumed the position of Colonial Superintendent of the WCTU's Suffrage Department and from 1894, when the vote was passed in South Australia, to 1903 she was the Union's Australasian President, at a time when suffragists fought for the federal vote as well as for the vote within the separate states. Post-federation Nicholls held the position of state president of the South Australian WCTU from 1906 to 1927. She was an inaugurator of the Women's Non-Party Political Association and in 1922 assisted Bessie Rischbieth of Western Australia to establish the Australian Federation of Women's Societies, which later changed its name to the Australian Federation of Women Voters. Nicholls was the first woman appointed to the Board of the Adelaide Hospital from 1895 to 1922 (Register, 29 May 1922, p. 6) and from 1915 was a Justice of the Peace, one of the four first women in this role. She died in 1943.

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • Prest, Wilfrid, 'Elizabeth Webb Nicholls (nee Bakewell)', in Round, Kerrie, and Fort, Carol (eds), The Wakefield Companion to South Australian History, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, South Australia, 2001, p. 382. Details

Newspaper Articles

Online Resources