Dr Ivy Williams made history on 10 May 1922
On this day, 100 years ago, Dr Ivy Williams made history by becoming the first woman to be called to the bar of England and Wales.
Born in 1877, Williams studied law at the Society of Oxford Home Students (later incorporated into Oxford University as St Anne’s College) and despite completing her law examinations in 1903, she was unable to receive her BA, MA and BCL until 1920 when Oxford changed its regulations.
Williams joined the Inner Temple as a student in 1920 and went on to score several ‘firsts’ during her legal career. She was the first woman to be called to the bar, on 10 May 1922, and the first to teach law at an English University, lecturing at her alma mater from 1920 to 1945. Williams, who never practised, was also first woman to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford.
The accolade of first woman to practise at bar of England and Wales goes to Helena Normanton, who was called to bar several months after Willams.
Legal Cheek reported how Normanton was commemorated with an English Heritage London blue plaque in September 2020. It marks the address she resided for the early part of her legal career at 22 Mecklenburgh Square in London’s Bloomsbury.
Like Normanton, a blue plaque in Williams’ memory was placed at her former Oxfordshire home in 2020.
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