National Records of Scotland

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Jennie Lee (1904-1988)

Jennie Lee (1904-1988)

Politician

Jennie Lee trained as a teacher and studied law at the University of Edinburgh. Her family were active in politics - her grandfather was a friend of Keir Hardie - and she stood as the Independent Labour Party candidate for North Lanarkshire. In 1929, while still below voting age, she became the youngest woman elected as a member of parliament (MP). In 1934 she married Aneurin Bevan, who as Minister of Health and Housing in the post-War Labour Government, oversaw the creation of the National Health Service. Several years after her husband's untimely death in 1960, Jennie Lee was appointed Minister for the Arts. Her policy was to widen access without compromising on quality. Her other major achievement was the establishment of The Open University in 1969. After losing her House of Commons seat she moved to the House of Lords as baroness Lee of Asheridge. She died on 16 November 1988 at her home in Chelsea.

Birth in 1904

Janet Lee was born on 3 November 1904, the daughter of James Lee and Euphemia Greig. The entry in the statutory register of births for the district of Ballingry in Fife gives the place of birth as 5 School Lane in Lochgelly and her father's occupation as coal miner.

Birth entry for Jennie Lee

Birth entry for Jennie Lee (33 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1904/408/159

1911 census

In 1911, Jennie Lee (her name is given as Janet), aged 6, was enumerated with her parents and brother at Arcade, High Street in Beath. The census record for the district of Cowdenbeath shows that the household included her aunt and three boarders.

1911 census record for Jennie Lee, part 1

Detail from first part of the 1911 census record for Jennie Lee (24 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1911/410-1/4, page 12

The second section of the record shows that she was at school, that her father was a theatre manager and that her mother was born in Glasgow.

1911 census record for Jennie Lee, part 2

Detail from second part of the 1911 census record for Jennie Lee (26 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1911/410-1/4, page 12