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Brentnall, Elizabeth (1830 - 1909)

18 Sep 1830
Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England
30 Apr 1909
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Political Activist


Elizabeth Brentnall was state president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in Queensland from 1886 to 1899 and afterwards an honary life president until her death in 1909. She first called for women's suffrage in her presidential address to the WCTU annual convention in 1888. The WCTU formed a separate suffrage department in 1891.


Forceful, eminently capable and with fine organisational ability, Elizabeth Brentnall had been mistress of a large girl's school before her marriage. She was the daughter of a storekeeper in Mansfield, Nottingham. In 1867 she left her position as headmistress of the Wesleyan day school for girls at Bacup, Lancashire, and followed Frederick Thomas Brentnall to Sydney where they married.

Frederick Brentnall, a moral extremist, opposed votes for women, except with the property qualification, which placed him in direct opposition to his wife's political ideology. Elizabeth and Frederick had two daughters; Flora, who in 1893 married Edgar Bridal Harris, a well established shipping agent, and Charlotte Amelia. Like her mother, Flora, was a confirmed suffragist and 'Y' organiser for the WCTU.

Sources used to compile this entry: Centenary of Queensland Women's Suffrage 2005, Who's Who in Brisbane 1900?, Centre for Research on Women, Gender, Culture and Social Change, School of EMSAH, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, 2005,; Personal Correspondence with Elizabeth Brentnall's Biographer, John McCulloch.

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