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Marion Shimmin

Epithet: First woman member of the House of Keys (1879-1942)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: From ‘New Manx Worthies’ (2006):

Marion Shimmin (nee Fallows) was returned, unopposed, in 1933 to represent the constituency of Peel, filling the vacancy left by the death of her husband, Christopher Robert Shimmin. She was not the first woman to stand, for one had unsuccessfully contested the previous General Election in Ramsey.

Marion Fallows arrived in Peel about 1900 to be a teacher on the staff at the Wesleyan Day School in Tynwald Road. The school closed in 1906, but she had already met her husband, who was a Wesleyan Sunday School teacher.

For many years Peel had been known as a radical constituency, for not only was it there that the first votes were cast by women electors, but a left wing tendency began in 1903 with the election of the Island's first working man MHK, Thomas Henry Cormode. This leaning continued with the Shimmins, who were both members of the Manx Labour Party, and with subsequent MHKs until the early 1950s.

Support for Mrs Shimmin was not universal, although, as the Peel City Guardian guardedly reported, she was 'a most intelligent and capable lady, if anything above the average standard of members of the present House [of Keys]'. It pointed out that through her late husband, she had been 'in touch with legislative matters ... She will probably have a difficult time at the beginning ... but she will soon break down prejudices which are at present apparent and gain the esteem of the House as a whole'.

Like her husband, as MHK for Peel Marion Shimmin was a member of several government boards and committees - fisheries, health, insurance and pensions; Manx Museum Trustees, the Council of Education and the Emergency Distress Committee. She was also involved in numerous other organisations, as president of the British Women's Temperance Association and Peel and District Women's Guild, as a member of the Manx Temperance Federation, Peel Nursing Association, Peel Hospital Committee, Peel licensing bench and, naturally, as a staunch member of Peel Wesleyan Methodist church.

Expressing her opinions lucidly, with conviction, she was always willing to benefit her constituents, and this led the High Bailiff to describe her, at the time of her death, as 'A lady with a delightful personality. She had charm and was always anxious to confer a kindness ... an admirable representative for Peel'.

Biography written by Leslie Quilliam.

(With thanks to Culture Vannin as publishers of the book: Kelly, Dollin (general editor), ‘New Manx Worthies’, Manx Heritage Foundation/Culture Vannin, 2006, pp.423-4.)

Culture Vannin


Gender: Female

Date of birth: 1879

Date of death: 29 June 1942


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