Lady Fanny Jean Turing Trustram Eve – An Outstanding Politician
by Linda Ayres
Lady Fanny Jean Turing Trustram Eve was a well-known social reformer. She stood out among the many exceptional women because of her different activities. Her nephew was Alan Mathison Turing, the renowned computer scientist and mathematician, who broke the German Enigma Code at Bletchley Park. Winston Churchill said of him that he had shortened the Second World War by two years. Alan sadly died on the 7th June 1954 aged 41 years.
Fanny’s father was the Rev. John Robert Turing, who was born in Java in 1826. After he had taken a degree in mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, he turned his back on mathematics to take holy orders. In 1861 he married 19-year-old Fanny Montague Boyd. She was born in India and the fourth daughter of General Mossom Boyd of the Bengal Army.
Fanny was born at Cambridge, on the 6th July 1862. She was the eldest of the ten children of the Rev. John and Fanny Turing. Unfortunately, two of their children, John and Agnes, had died in infancy. Fanny and her four brothers, and three sisters were brought up in near poverty on a vicar’s stipend.
In 1867, John took up the appointment as the vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire. In 1880, and soon after the birth of their youngest son Alexander, John had a stroke from which he did not fully recover. In 1884, he retired on the grounds of ill health. After he had retired, the family moved to 21 The Crescent, Bedford. The Turings like many middle-class families of the time, moved to Bedford to take advantage of the Harpur Trust Schools. He sent his two eldest sons to the Grammar School.
On 27th December 1885 John died, and his burial took place in Bedford Cemetery. His wife had suffered from a long-term illness and the care of the family fell on her daughter Fanny, who had a strong character, and she ruled her siblings with a rod of iron. Fanny and her two sisters sacrificed themselves for the sake of their brothers’ education. Fanny had set up her own school in ‘St Andrews’ De Parys Avenue and two of her sisters, Helen and Charlotte were schoolteachers.
Fanny was the only sister to marry. She married Herbert Trustram Eve of ‘Elmshirst’ Kimbolton Road, in St. Paul’s Church, Bedford, on the 6th April 1893. He was a Bedford estate agent and was also the leading rating surveyor of his day. In 1918, Herbert was invested as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
After her marriage, Fanny went into politics. In 1913, in her role as the secretary of the Bedford branch of the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association, she addressed a meeting in St Peters Hall, Bedford. In part of her speech, she said, “Some people seem to think that women competed with men in the world of commerce and finance merely for amusement, but there were hundreds of cases in which even married women were compelled to work for their own living. In many cases they were getting much less money for doing the same work as men, and this was not fair.”
Fanny was the President, of the National Council of Women. This was a non-party umbrella organisation for the female members of the many charitable societies and which had come into being at the end of the nineteenth century. She later moved to London and was the chairman of her local Woman’s’ Unionists Association. From 1918-1930 she was on the London County Council, and represented North Hackney, a poor district, and South Kensington, an affluent residential area of London.
Throughout this time, she was involved in getting hold of land for soldiers (smallholdings). She was chairman of the smallholdings committee, and this committee bought land in Kent. She had interviewed and chosen all the men for the smallholdings.
In 1923, Fanny was the first woman elected as “Chairman” of the London Parks Committee. Her main objective was getting ground for children to play in and arranging that schools get pitches in the public parks for their matches. She was a firm believer in supporting the team spirit in children and young people.
There were huge opposition from a section of the non-conformist to the “Sunday games campaign.” She told the Evening News, “If Sunday games make for innocent pleasure, I believe that it is our Christian duty to encourage them. Worship of God first and foremost, and then proper recreation for body and mind is the ideal seventh day.” The outcome was to allow the games on Sunday, but not during hours of church service. It soon became clear that allowing youngsters to play games on Sunday had kept many of them out of trouble.
In 1927, the London County Council appointed her as the Chairman of the Local Government Records and Museums Committee. In March 1931, at the forthcoming election, the South Kensington Conservative Association turned down Fanny’s candidature for the London County Council although she had served it well for 12 years. The reason given was that at the parliamentary elections she supported the candidature of an independent Conservative in opposition to that of the sitting member, Sir William Davison, because he was a divorced man. Later on that year, Fanny was elected in Vienna as treasurer of the international Council of Women. This, she said, was a terrible job because of the financial stress and the money exchange, and the fact that in many countries people were not allowed to send money out of their country. She made determined efforts to deal with the job and with much diplomacy. She had also been a J.P. for London for four years.
In 1934, Lady Fanny Eve died at her home at 42 Bramham Gardens, Kensington, London. Her funeral service took place in St Paul’s Church, Bedford. The large gathering at her funeral included her family and representatives from the many organisations that she had supported. She was buried in Bedford Cemetery in sight of the chapels, and next to the graves of her mother and father-in-law, John and Frederica Eve and her baby daughter Joan Christine Turing Trustram Eve, who was born 3rd May 1904 but had sadly died at Weymouth on the 15th August 1905.
Census & BMD Records
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 1862, May 16th, 1913
Bedfordshire Mercury February 4th, 1898
Gloucester Journal 27th July 1918
The Witstable Times and Tanketon Press April 1923
The Woman’s Leader April 1923, Evening News June 4th, 1923
Woman’s Leader 12th December 1930
Daily Telegraph 2nd February 1934, The Times 1934
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