Catherine Helen Spence (31 October 1825 – 3 April 1910) was a Scottish-born Australian author, teacher, journalist, politician, leading suffragist, and Georgist. In 1897 she became Australia's first female political candidate after standing (unsuccessfully) for the Federal Convention held in Adelaide. Called the "Greatest Australian Woman" by Miles Franklin and given the nomenclature of "Grand Old Woman of Australia' on her eightieth birthday, Spence was commemorated on the Australian five-dollar note issued for the Centenary of Federation of Australia.
Spence was born in Melrose, Scotland, as the fifth child in a family of eight. In 1839, following sudden financial difficulties, the family emigrated to South Australia. Arriving on 31 October 1839 (her 14th birthday), on the Palmyra, at a time when the colony had experienced several years of drought, the contrast to her native Scotland made her "inclined to go and cut my throat". Nevertheless, the family endured seven months "encampment", growing wheat on an eighty-acre (32 ha) selection before moving to Adelaide.
Her father, David Spence, was elected first Town Clerk of the City of Adelaide. Her brother John Brodie Spence was a prominent banker and parliamentarian and her sister Jessie married Andrew Murray...
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