Julia McMordie

Julia McMordie Née Gray (1860-1942)

Born in England, Julia married R J McMordie, a barrister and MP for East Belfast in 1885 and came to live in Cabin Hill, Knock. During the First World War, she was President of the St. John Voluntary Aid Detachments in Belfast and in 1918, was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, an honour which was upgraded to a Commander in the Honours list of the following year.

She was the first women member of Belfast City Council in 1917, an Alderman in 1920, first woman High Sheriff in 1929 and Vice President of the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council 1919-1940. A staunch Unionist, she was one of two women elected to the first Northern Ireland Parliament in 1921, representing Belfast South. In her maiden speech to the House of Commons, she called for an increase in the number of female police officers who, she argued, should have the same allowances and pensions as their male colleagues, although she was not a supporter of equal pay more generally. In 1922 only 2 out of 3,000 police officers in Belfast were women and McMordie opposed the Constabulary Bill of that year, as it did not deal with women officers.  However, a clause which defined the term ‘constable’ as inclusive of both sexes, could be regarded as a measure of success.

She did not stand for re-election in 1925, and following the death of her husband, moved to Devon where she died in 1942.