Lawrence Avenue, E12

Place Name

Named in honour of Arabella Susan Lawrence (August 12, 1871 – October 24, 1947), a social campaigner and one of the earliest female Labour MPs. Originally a Conservative, she was a member of the London County Council 1910 – 1912, but after coming under the influence of the trades unionist Mary MacArthur she was converted to socialism. She returned to the council as a Labour member from 1913 – 1927. She joined the Fabian Society, becoming close to Sidney and Beatrice Webb. During the First World War, she worked to improve the conditions of women factory workers. As a member of the local council in Poplar, she was part of the Labour group that defied central government and refused to set a rate, arguing that the poverty in the area meant that the poor were being asked to pay for the poor. Lawrence was imprisoned for five weeks in Holloway Prison in 1921, but ultimately she and her fellow councillors’ campaign succeeded, in that government passed a law to equalise Poor Law rates. In 1923 she became an MP after winning East Ham North. However she refused to take part in Ramsay MacDonald’s National Government in the summer of 1931, and she lost her seat in the general election of that year.

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