Edith (Brown) Cowan OBE

Edith Dircksey (Brown) Cowan OBE (1861 - bef. 1932)

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Edith Dircksey Cowan OBE formerly Brown
Born in Geraldton, Western Australiamap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 12 Nov 1879 in St George's Cathedral Perth Western Australiamap
Died before in Perth Western Australiamap
Profile last modified 10 Sep 2019 | Created 1 May 2014 | Last significant change: 10 Sep 2019
23:41: Veronica (Coat) Williams edited the Biography for Edith Dircksey (Brown) Cowan OBE (1861-bef.1932). (DNA notes) [Thank Veronica for this]
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Edith Dircksey Cowan OBE was an Australian politician, social campaigner an Australian pioneer in several fields. Edith Cowan championed the cause of women and children and was the founder of Children’s Protective Society and the first woman elected to an Australian parliament

Edith Brown was born in Glengarry Station near Geraldton, Western Australia on August 2, 1861. Her parents were Kenneth Brown and Mary Eliza Dircksey née Wittenoom Her mother died in childbirth when she was 7 years old , she was sent to a Perth boarding school run by the Cowan sisters, whose brother James she would later marry.Her family was influential and respected that included both her grandfathers Thomas Brown and John Burdett Wittenoom, and an uncle, Maitland Brown Her father remarried, but the marriage was unhappy and he began to drink heavily. [1] When Edith was fifteen, her father shot and killed his second wife, and was hanged for the crime. Edith married James Cowan on 12 November 1879 in St George's Cathedral, James was a registrar and master of the Supreme Court he was also appointment in 1890 as Perth police magistrate .She became concerned with social especially with respect to women and children. In 1894 she helped found the Kpooarrakatta Club, a group where women "educated themselves for the kind of life they believed they ought to be able to take". She became the club's president [2]. the Karrakatta Club became involved in the campaign for women's suffrage, successfully gaining the vote for women in 1899

Edith became very active in women's organisations and welfare organisations, serving on a number of committees.Edith was concerned with women's health disadvantaged children and prostitutes She helped form the Women's Service Guilds in 1909 and was a co-founder of the Western Australia's National Council of Women, serving as president from 1913 to 1921 and vice-president until her death.In 1916, she became Freemason, admitted to the Australian federation of Droit Humain.

Edith believed that children should not be tried as adults so she founded the Children's Protection Society. In 1915, she was appointed to the bench of the new court and held this position for eighteen years. In 1920, she became one of the first female Justices of the Peace.

Western Australia passed legislation allowing women to stand for parliament in 1920,. At the age of 59, she stood as the Nationalist candidate for the Legislative Assembly seat of West Perth [3] . She won a surprise victory, ironically defeating the Attorney General, Thomas Draper, who had introduced the legislation that enabled her to stand. She championed women's rights in parliament, pushing through legislation which allowed women to be involved in the legal profession.Edith was one of the first to promote sex education in schools,she lost her seat at the 1924 election and failed to regain it in 1927 [4]

Edith Cowan was a founder of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society in 1926 She was very active in planning the State's 1929 centenary celebrations. Until her final illness she maintained her committee's and social work. [5].Edith died on 9 June 1932 and was survived by her husband she was buried in the Anglican section of Karrakatta cemetery



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Please direct any questions about the DNA analysis or any DNA confirmation data to Veronica Williams 21:37, 10 September 2019 (UTC)


  1. Kenneth Brown Wikipedia - Edith's father was a explorer and pastoralist in Western Australia he murdered his second wife and was hung in 10 June 1876
  2. Karrakkatta Club Wikipedia - The Karrakatta Club is a women's club in Perth, Western Australia. Established in 1894, it was the first women's club in Australia
  3. Parliament of Australia - Qualification of Women Bill. Edith Cowan Nationalist was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1921, becoming Australia's first woman Parliamentarian.
  4. Australian Women's History Forum - There were five women candidates on the 12 March election Edith Cowan was the only successful candidate
  5. Family Search - Citing this Record Australia Deaths and Burials, 1816-1980," index, FamilySearch Edith Dircksey Cowan, 09 Jun 1932; citing reference 14 FHL microfilm 1669310

See also

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Images: 4
Edith Cowan
Edith Cowan

Famous Australians Edith Cowan
 Famous Australians Edith Cowan

Edith Cowan Image on Australian 50 dollar note
Edith Cowan Image on Australian 50 dollar note

Edith Dircksey Cowan
Edith Dircksey Cowan


Edith is 24 degrees from Tanya Lowry, 23 degrees from Charles Tiffany and 19 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.