Daughter of a
Member of Parliament, gifted, rich and articulate.
trained as a nurse at Nottingham Children's Hospital
and at the age of 24 (1881) was
Matron of St. Bartholomew's Hospital (London) before
resigning in 1887 on marrying Dr Bedford Fenwick.
With her husband Bedford Fenwick
campaign to procure a nationally recognised certificate for
nursing, to safeguard the title Nurse. As part of
this campaign she also campaigned for Registration, and
lobbied Parliament to introduce a law to control nursing and
limit it to 'registered' nurses only.
supported by the newly formed British Nurses Association,
but not everyone agreed with her views. Nightingale and many
doctors were against the 'professionalisation' of nursing
She founded the British Journal of Nursing in 1893, and
remained its editor until 1946, primarily as a vehicle for
her polemics on professional status.
Mrs Bedford Fenwick argued for three main components to mark
how nurse training should be organized:
She also advocated the notion of a General Council to
regulate the profession.
In 1899 she was instrumental in setting up the International
Council of Nurses (ICN) saying at the opening conference “I
venture to contend that the work of nursing is one of
humanity all the world over”
Eventually in 1919 the British Government set up the General
Nursing Council with Mrs Bedford Fenwick becoming the first
name on the worlds first Nursing Register.
On 25 June
1999, a plaque was unveiled at 20 Upper Wimpole Street, to
commemorate Fenwick, who lived there from 1887 to 1947.
The Fenwick commemoration on Wimpole Street is just a few
steps from the Blue Plaque marking Florence Nightingale’s
departure, with her team of 38 nurses, for the Crimean
battlefields in 1854.
See more full
biography of Mrs Bedford-Fenwick.
Ethel Bedford Fenwick