Emily Murphy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Emily Murphy (born Emily Gowan Ferguson; 14 March 1868 – 17 October 1933) was a Canadian women's rights activist, jurist, and author. In 1916, she became the first female magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire. She is best known for her contributions to Canadian feminism, specifically to the question of whether women were "persons" under Canadian law.
Murphy is known as one of the "The Famous Five" (also called "The Valiant Five")—a group of Canadian women’s rights activists that also included Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby. In 1927, the women launched the "Persons Case," contending that women could be "qualified persons" eligible to sit in the Senate. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that they were not. However, upon appeal to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council, the court of last resort for Canada at that time, the women won their case.
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In 1917, she headed the battle to have women declared as "persons" in Canada, and, consequently, qualified to serve in the Senate. Lawyer, Eardley Jackson, challenged her position as judge because women were not considered "persons" under the British North America Act 1867. This understanding was based on a British common law ruling of 1876, which stated, "women were eligible for pains and penalties, but not rights and privileges."
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