Margaret McIntyre

Margaret Edgeworth McIntyre (1886-1948), community worker and politician, was born on 28 November 1886 at Maitland, New South Wales, where her father Tannatt William Edgeworth David, geologist, had set up a field camp. Her mother, Caroline Martha (born Mallett), from an English working class back-ground, had been encouraged by her grandmother to train as a teacher and in 1882 was appointed Principal of Hurlstone Training College for female teachers in Sydney. She resigned her post on marriage. Nevertheless she remained active in the community, campaigning for 6 o'clock closing and, as president of the Women's National Movement for Social Reform, for effective measures to eradicate venereal diseases. Margaret's education was undertaken by her mother and later a governess. She studied literature at the University of Sydney, graduating BA (1907).

In 1908 Margaret married (William) Keverall McIntyre, mining engineer, and they moved to Mount Bischoff in Tasmania where their first child was born; Margaret developed puerperal fever and nearly died. This may have influenced her husband to study obstetrics. With financial assistance from Prof. David, the McIntyres went to Edinburgh where Keverall graduated and in 1915 enlisted, leaving Margaret to engage in community work, her aim being to help women develop a sense of self- worth. There were two sons and two daughters to the marriage.

After the war the family returned to Launceston where Margaret McIntyre became involved in many community activities. Her children went to Sydney to live with their grandparents during the later years of their education. Mrs McIntyre became State chief commissioner of the Girl Guides. She was the first northern president of the Women Graduates' Association, vice-president of the YWCA and the Anzac Hostel Women's League of Remembrance, on the board of the Queen Victoria Hospital, the Community Association Council and the ABC advisory committee. Her interests in drama, nurtured in childhood and at university, was given full reign when she became president and producer of the repertory company Launceston Players. Believing that play production was a good way of fostering team-spirit, she established also a youth drama group in the working class suburb of Invermay. Her concern for good citizenship led to her involvement in the Launceston Progressive Education Group and the establishment of Brooks Community School, where education as preparation for life was emphasised. In 1947 she was awarded the OBE. Margaret McIntyre became the first woman in the Tasmanian Parliament when elected in 1948 to represent Cornwall in the Legislative Council. She echoed early Women's Social and Political Union arguments, that women in parliament would provide a new angle on matters directly relating to the home. Her platform was an appeal for a democratic Christian postwar society, with the family as the basic unit of the nation. Her main appeal was a profound conservatism at a time when traditional social structures were being questioned. However she stood as an independent to be free to vote according to her conscience.

She was killed in an air crash on her return flight from a National Council of Women conference in Brisbane on 2 September 1948, three months after her election as a Legislative Councillor.

Miranda Morris-Nunn

Veda Veale Women to Remember 1981.