This article is from the April issue of Total Politics

In 1958, the composition of the House of Lords was changed by the Life Peerages Act, which obtained Royal Assent on 30 April 1958. This Act enabled the creation of life peers other than law lords and allowed women to sit in the House for the first time.

By virtue of the Act, four women took their seats in the House of Lords that year as life peers. Baroness Wootton of Abinger (Barbara Wootton, sociologist and criminologist) was the first woman to be created a life peer, Baroness Swanborough (Stella Isaacs, founder of the Women’s Voluntary Service) was the first woman to take her seat in the Lords, and Baroness Elliot of Harwood (Katharine Elliot) became the first woman to speak in the Lords as a member of the House.

The fourth, Baroness Ravensdale of Kedleston (Irene Curzon), was a hereditary woman peer in her own right, but was unable to sit in the Lords until made a life peer for her work with young people in 1958. Hereditary woman peers were not able to take their seats in the Lords until 1963.

For more information, visit www.parliament.uk/archives

Tags: History of one object, House of Lords reform, Issue 46, Life peerages act, Life peers