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Mary Paterson
Mary as a young woman  

Alderman Mary Madeline Paterson nee James - OBE JP

1886 - 1951

Mary Madeline Paterson, a descendant from the Turle family of musicians, was a formidable woman in a time when the fairer sex was still competing for equality. In that she was strong, determined and willing to challenge those around her it would appear that she shared these admirable qualities with many of the Turle women of that line.

Mary was born in Taunton in 1886 to William Watkin James and Mary Newberry Turle, little is known of her formative years except that the family moved to Cardiff between 1888 and 1891 and then, by 1901, had moved to Paddington, London.

Mary and John
John and Mary Paterson

Mary was still living in Paddington when, on 27th July 1912, she married John William Ferries Paterson, a carpenter and joiner in Edmonton. They had two children Arthur J T (known as “Jack” ) in 1913 and another son born in 1921. Sadly Jack died before his time having been an invalid since birth but the other son is still alive and well.

Mary Paterson was a tireless member of the Labour Party who campaigned for the people of her Borough. In 1934 she was first elected to represent Queens Park Ward on Paddington Borough Council and in 1942 was made a Justice of the Peace - all this while having to look after the needs of her family.

In 1945 she was appointed Alderman and Deputy Mayor for 1945-46 in recognition of her services and was again appointed Deputy Mayor from November 1947 to May 1949. It would be fair to say that in a time when women simply didn’t get given the top positions of the day, to have been asked to stand as Deputy Mayor was a huge mark of respect from her peers. To have been asked twice says a lot about the qualities of this remarkable woman. There were many occasions during her time in office when she had to officiate in the Mayor’s absence and these duties she filled with her customary enthusiasm and genuine love for her constituents be they young or old.

Mary James
Alderman Mary Paterson  

In her 17 years on Paddington Borough Council Mary served on nearly every one of its committees. Between 1945-49 she was Chairman of the Public Health Committee and Vice Chairman of the Maternity and Child Welfare Committee from 1945-48. She also worked untiringly as a member of the Emergency Committee during the Second World War as well as being actively connected with the work of both the Civil Defence Service and the Women’s Voluntary Service. Outside of her council duties she was closely connected with several organizations in the Borough including the Paddington Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.

One of her most long lasting achievements and one of immense personal desire was to establish a holiday home for the elderly of Paddington. “Kincardine” as it was named was officially opened by her and was a culmination of much hard work and pressure applied by her. The holiday home at Bexhill-on-Sea was a legacy she left for others to enjoy many years after she would still be around and says much for her generosity of thought and deed as well as her steely determination!

In the New Year’s Honours List of 1950 she was deservedly appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire “ a most fitting reward for this distinguished and devoted service on behalf of her fellow citizens” according to her fellow Councillors of both sides in paying tribute to her.

Later that year Mary became ill and on 26th April 1951 sadly passed away leaving behind her husband and son. A Memorial Service was held for her in recognition of her services to the Borough and was attended in vast numbers by the great and good of the area.

There is much more to this remarkable lady and we hope to add more of her achievements, with anecdotal evidence, in due course.



1) 1891 UK Census
2) 1901 UK Census
3) Paddington Borough Council Minutes- Courtesy of Westminster City Archives Office
4) Middlesex Independent & West London Star May 4th 1951 (Courtesy of Westminster City Archives)




Photographs courtesy the Paterson family.