Mike Royden's

Royden Family History Pages


Dr Agnes Maude Royden C.H. (1876-1956)

Agnes Maude Royden, the third of Thomas B. Royden’s children included here was born in the family’s Liverpool home at Holmefield House in Mossley Hill in 1876. Known to all as Maude, she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. After working in the Victoria Women’s Settlement in Liverpool, she became a lecturer in English Literature in the growing university extension movement. But this was a time of suffrage and Maude became increasingly involved in the campaign. In 1909 she was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and edited the Union’s newspaper, the Common Cause, as well giving regular speeches to organised gatherings. A pacifist throughout her life, she was elected Vice-President of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915. By now her fame (and notoriety to many of her male critics) was spreading and Maude became even more well known as a speaker on social and religious subjects. In 1917 she became assistant preacher at the City Temple in London, the first woman to occupy this office.

In the 1920s her interest shifted to the role of women in the Church. In 1929 she began the official campaign for the ordination of women when she founded the Society for the Ministry of Women. She was the first woman to preach in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, but prior to that she had courted controversy yet again on her worldwide preaching tours, frequently being banned by the male local religious leaders. In 1931, she became the first woman to become Doctor of Divinity. She continued to campaign tirelessly for pacifism during the troubled 1930s, but even Maude had to temporarily renounce it in 1939, believing Nazism to be a greater evil than war. Both Maude and her brother Thomas were made Companions of Honour, Thomas in 1919 (for his work relating to the safety of shipping in the First World War) and Maude in 1929. Only 65 recipients can hold office at one time and they are the only siblings to do so.

In 1944, she married the recently widowed Reverend Hudson Shaw after the death of his wife Effie. All three had been very close friends for over forty years. By then Maude was sixty-eight and Hudson eighty-five. (She had loved him from when they first met - a story she movingly told in Threefold Chord three years after his death). Maude died in 1956 leaving a legacy of philosophical and religious teachings and was an inspiration for many who were to follow in her footsteps. While on a speaking tour in Australia in 1928 the Sydney press referred to her as ‘the really famous Maude Royden, England’s first woman preacher and described by one considerable person as England’s greatest woman’. A fitting epitaph.

Recommended Reading



Fletcher, S., Maude Royden – a biography, Blackwell (1989)


See here

Rebel with a Cause

A retrospective article about Maude in the Church Times

24 July 1981


(Harold Begbie)

(first published 1922)
(Maude was one of twelve personalities to be featured in this book)




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