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In February 1918 the Representation of the People Act was extended to allow women over 30 the right to vote if they owned a house or were married to someone who did.

The same year, women were allowed to sit in the House of Commons for the first time. The Irish Republican, Countess Constance Markiewicz became the first woman to be elected. As a member of Sinn Fein she refused to take the 'Oath of Allegiance' and did not take her seat.

A new representative

The following year, in 1919, William Waldorf, the first Viscount, died. He had accepted a peerage in the New Year's Honours List of 1916, much to Waldorf and Nancy's dismay.

Waldorf now found himself in the unhappy position of having to take his father’s place in the House of Lords. The Conservatives found themselves needing to elect a new representative for Plymouth Sutton.

The first female MP

After some debate about her suitability, Nancy was formally adopted as their candidate. Polling Day took place on 15 November 1919.

Her campaign was followed with interest by the press and showcased her original personality. Her anecdotes (or 'Astorisms' as they came to be known) amused people and she held her nerve when heckled.

When the results were declared on 28 November 1919 Nancy had won with a majority of 5,203 votes.

She was officially introduced to Parliament just before 4pm on 1 December 1919.

Find out about all these things in more detail below:

The voters' choice

Including 1919, she was the voters' choice in seven elections in a row.

The other six took place in 1922, 1923, 1924, 1929, 1931 and 1935. During her campaigns she spent hours touring the streets, canvassing in all kinds of weather, and was not afraid to go into the poorest parts of her constituency.

Her 1922 campaign, although slightly marred by issues caused by her views on drink, was a confident run that drew on her experience of the three years she had already spent in Parliament. She won with a majority of over 3,000 votes.

Her 1929 campaign was a different story. She scraped through with a majority of just 211 votes at a time when the aftermath of the 1926 coal miners' strike was still being felt throughout Britain and unemployment figures were on the rise.

A final campaign

Her 1935 campaign would be her last. Including Waldorf's term as an MP the couple had supported each other in the political arena for 35 years.

With her popularity on the wane and after the strain of war Waldorf did not want the stress of another election and didn't think Nancy should do it without his support. She reluctantly agreed - although the decision would put a strain on their marriage.

On her final day in Westminster she said:

"I will miss the House; the House won't miss me. It never misses anybody...........The House is like a sea. MPs are like ships that sail across it, and disappear over the horizon. Some of 'em carry a light. Others don't. That's the only difference."

Nancy Astor giving a speech during the 1919 election campaign.
© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

Nancy Astor standing with a man holding one of her campaign posters in the 1929 Election Campaign.
© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

Nancy Astor on the terrace at the House of Commons with other female MPs at her retirement, 1945
© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)