Mary Crudelius

Other names: 
Maiden name: M'Lean
Born 23 February 1839, died 24 July 1877

Mary Crudelius was the daughter of Mary Alexander and William M’Lean from Dumfriesshire, merchant. She was born in Bury, Lancashire, and educated partly at Miss Turnbull’s boarding school in Edinburgh. In 1861, she married Rudolph Crudelius, a German wool merchant who was working in Leith, and they had two daughters, Maud and Mary.

Mary Crudelius founded the higher education for women movement in Scotland through the Edinburgh Ladies’ Educational Association (ELEA), which she set up in 1867. She had begun campaigning alone in 1866. The group aimed to open up university education to women rather than setting up a separate women’s college. The ELEA successfully sponsored lectures by university professors including Professor David Masson.

Mary Crudelius supported women’s suffrage, signing the first suffrage petition but, after being advised to keep her interests separate, decided not to join the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage (ENSWS) in order to concentrate on women’s higher education. She died aged 38, leaving the Association as her memorial. Two years later, Edinburgh University recognised the Association’s courses.

A hall of residence was named after her, but closed in 1897 when a larger women’s residence was opened.

Her granddaughter, Edith Burnet (1888–1971), became Britain’s first qualified woman architect.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Based on an entry by Lindy Moore
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Based on an entry by Sheila Hamilton