Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Colton, Mary (1822 - 1898)

Lady

Born
6 December 1822
London, England
Died
28 July 1898
Occupation
Suffragist and Philanthropist
Alternative Names
  • Cutting, Mary (maiden name)

Summary

Mary Colton, née Cutting, arrived in South Australia from London in 1839. She was closely associated with the South Australian Boarding out Society and the Adelaide Children's Hospital. In 1879 she formed a city club for young women which became the Young Women's Christian Association in 1884. She served as president until her death in 1898. She also worked with Mary Lee and others to form the South Australian Women's Suffrage League and became its president in 1892.

Details

Mary Colton, née Cutting, was born in London, December 1822 to Hannah and Samuel Cutting. In 1839 she emigrated to South Australia with her newly widowed father and in 1844 she married John Blackler Colton. Between 1848 and 1865 she bore nine children, several of whom died in infancy. Her husband became Mayor of Adelaide (1874-75, a Member of Parliament (1862-1887) and twice Premier of South Australia. Both of them shared a keen interest in the well-being of society. They worked together in the Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society and in organisations for the blind, deaf and dumb. Understanding the situation for poor people in the city, Mary Colton worked to house elderly women by joining a cottage homes committee in 1871 and later, the Lady Kintore Cottage Homes Trust. She was one of the principal founders of the Adelaide Children's Hospital in 1876, an organisation she served for the rest of her life. In 1879, concerned at the problems faced by young women, she began a city club and in 1880 they were housed in the Pirie Street Wesleyan Methodist Church in Adelaide. In 1884 it expanded to become the Young Women's Christian Association affiliated with its international counterparts. She remained its president until her death. An indefatigable worker she also worked on the Boarding-Out Society with Catherine Helen Spence and others concerned with the plight of orphaned and neglected children. It was through membership with the Ladies' Committee of the Social Purity Society that Mary Colton became involved in the campaign for women's suffrage. Recognising the urgent need for suffrage after being involved in the campaign to raise the age of consent to sixteen in 1885, Mary Colton joined with Mary Lee to organise the South Australian Women's Suffrage League in July 1888. Other members included Rosetta Birks, Elizabeth Nicholls, Serena Thorne Lake, Augusta Zadow and the League was later supported by Catherine Helen Spence. In 1892, Lady Mary Colton became president of the League. As a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union she was able to forge links with between it and the League which greatly assisted the suffrage campaign. During this incredibly busy period, she also found time for other duties, becoming foundation president of the Women's Auxiliary of Foreign Missions in 1893. Mary Colton continued her rigorous schedule of work until her illness and subsequent death on 28 July 1898.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Mary Colton (nee Cutting)', in Prest, Wilfrid, 1940- (editor) ; Round, Kerrie (managing editor) ; Fort, Carol S. (Carol Susan) (assistant editor) (ed.), The Wakefield companion to South Australian history, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, S. A., 2001, p. 117; Jones, Helen, 'Mary Colton', in Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian women : a Redress anthology, Women's Redress Press Inc, Broadway, N.S.W., [1988], pp. 23-25; Jones, Helen, 1926-, In her own name : women in South Australian history, Wakefield Press, Netley, SA, 1986, 356 pp; Jones, Helen, 'Colton, Mary (1822 - 1898)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/AS10093b.htm; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644.

Related entries

Related Women

Archival resources

State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana

  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia : SUMMARY RECORD, 1889 - 1982, SRG 186; Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia (1889 - ); State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details
  • Young Women's Christian Association of Adelaide, 1919 - 1981, SRG 403; Young Women's Christian Association of Adelaide; State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details

Robin Secomb

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0896b.htm

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124