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Law and change: Scottish legal heroes
Law and change: Scottish legal heroes

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2.3 Mary Barbour (1875–1958)

A statue commemorating the work of Mary Barbour has recently been installed in Glasgow. Mary Barbour was a key figure in a fight by working-class women to oppose draconian and arbitrary rent increases. In 1915 she led months of peaceful protest and civil disobedience as wealthy landlords attempted to exploit women whose sons and husbands were away at war. As a result of that war, new jobs with high wages were being created and housing was needed for the incoming workers. Landlords wanted to maximise their profits and sought an opportunity to cash in by removing their more vulnerable and poorer tenants. Mary Barbour and her supporters stopped them by taking their case to Glasgow Sheriff Court and the City Chambers. Their success in standing up for their rights led to legislative protection which was subsequently copied by other cities throughout the UK and in America.

Figure 3 Mary Barbour Figure 4 Statue of Mary Barbour