Lady Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the British House of Commons. She won her seat at Plymouth in a by-election in 1919 when her husband, the previous MP, was elevated to the House of Lords. She stood as a Conservative.
Because she was a woman it was thought advisable that she be accompanied by a man when she was canvassing for votes in the rougher parts of Plymouth, which is a well-known Naval base. Her escort for this purpose was a Royal Navy officer, in full uniform.
All went well until she knocked at a door that was opened by a young girl aged 9 or 10. Lady Astor asked if her mother was at home, but got the reply:
"Mum's out, but she said that if a lady called with a sailor they were to use the back bedroom and leave a shilling on the stairs".
© John Welford