Women of Peterborough

Stuart Orme (formerly of Peterborough museum but now of Peterborough Cathedral) gave an interesting and informative talk ‘Women of Peterborough’. They were those who had been associated with Peterborough in the past. He commented that women were largely ignored in history but there were some very interesting women associated with Peterborough. He began with Boudica and her fight against the Romans who were based at the Longthorpe site. It was here that she was humiliated and led an army to defeat the Romans, later to be defeated herself. Saint Kyneburga who founded an abbey at Castor in Northamptonshire (Soke of Peterborough) was buried in Peterborough Cathedral, later to be transferred to Thorney Abbey. She has a chapel dedicated to her in Peterborough Cathedral. Margaret of Anjou is remembered for the sacking of Peterborough in 1461 on her way south.

Katherine of Aragon – first wife of Henry VIII – was the first woman Spanish ambassador and is buried in Peterborough Cathedral. Mary Queen of Scots was executed in Fotheringhay Castle in February 1587, and buried in late July in Peterborough Cathedral, and later in 1612 King James VI/I ordered her to be removed and reburied in Westminster Abbey. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu initially lived in Turkey and later married the MP for Peterborough and introduced inoculation for smallpox, starting with her son and later her daughter. This is many years before Jenner introduced vaccination. Margaret Gibson from Cork
founded a school in the precincts of Peterborough Cathedral and taught there till the day she died. She was made the first Freewoman of Peterborough. It was at this school that Edith Cavell learnt French and consequently went to France where she was executed by firing squad.

Katharine Clayton was honoured for her public services and for setting up the new memorial for Katherine of Aragon in the cathedral by asking for a penny subscription for everyone called Katherine. Alice McKenzie was born in Peterborough and is considered to be the last victim of Jack the Ripper. Florence Saunders, a nurse, set up the district nurse service in Peterborough. Maria Antoinette Pegus dowager Marchioness of Huntly lived at Orton Longueville Hall and helped to found the Peterborough museum. Annie Sage and her daughter Dorothy Sage were part of the Sage family who lived for a time in Peterborough and ran a baker’s shop. These two women and nine others in the family perished in the Titanic disaster.

Brian Lake

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