Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Woodall, William

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WOODALL, WILLIAM (1832–1901), politician, elder son of William Woodall of Shrewsbury, by his wife Martha Basson, was born there on 15 March 1832 and educated at the Crescent Schools, Liverpool. He entered the business at Burslem of James Macintyre, china manufacturer whose daughter Evelyn, he married in 1862, and at Macintyre's death in 1870 became senior partner. He was also chairman of the Sneyd Colliery Co.

Woodall was active in local affairs, devoting himself especially to the cause of technical education. He was chairman of the Burslem school board (1870–80), of the Wedgwood Institute there, and of the North Staffordshire Society for Promotion of the Welfare of the Deaf and Dumb. He sat on royal commissions on technical education (1881–4) and the care of the blind and deaf mutes (1886–9). In September 1897 he accompanied Sir Philip Magnus and others to Germany to study technical instruction methods there (Magnus, Educational Aims and Efforts, 1910, pp. 92, 94, 120).

Woodall was liberal M.P. for the borough of Stoke-on-Trent 1880–6, and was first representative of Hanley from 1885 to 1900. He was a warm supporter of home rule, disestablishment, and local veto, as well as of the extension of the franchise.

In 1884 he succeeded Hugh Mason (M.P. for Ashton-under-Lyne) in the leadership of the woman suffrage party in the house, and introduced (10 June) an amendment to the Representation of the People Act then before the house, providing that ‘words having reference to the right of voting at parliamentary elections, importing the masculine gender, include women.’ As chairman of the Central Committee for Women's Suffrage (established in 1872), he headed a memorial from 110 members to Gladstone but the prime minister resisted the amendment as likely to imperil the bill. The division was taken on 12 June, when 135 voted with Woodall and 271 against. In obedience to a strong party whip, 104 liberal supporters of the women's cause voted with the majority: had they voted according to their convictions the amendment would have been carried by 72 votes instead of being lost by 136. On 19 Nov. Woodall brought in a bill granting the vote to single women on the same terms as men, but the second reading was four times adjourned and never reached a division. Under Gladstone's short third administration of 1886 Woodall became surveyor-general of ordnance Feb. to June. He resumed charge of the women's suffrage bill in July 1887, and after further delays he reintroduced it in April 1889 and again in 1891. He accepted office as financial secretary to the war office (August 1892–June 1895) under Gladstone's fourth government.

To Burslem he presented a large wing to the Wedgwood institute and free library, besides founding the Woodall liberal club there and bequeathing a collection of valuable pictures to the art gallery. He died at the house of his nephew-in-law, Dr. Woodhouse of Llandudno, on 8 April 1901. The Woodall memorial congregational chapel at Burslem was built in 1906. There is a portrait in oils by W. M. Palin at the Wedgwood institute. A cartoon portrait by ‘Spy’ appeared in ‘Vanity Fair’ in 1896.

Woodall devoted some of his leisure to writing for magazines and reviews, and republished from ‘Once a Week’ in 1872 ‘Paris after Two Sieges, Notes of Visits during the Armistice and immediately after the Suppression of the Commune.’ He was a chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur.

By his wife Evelyn Macintyre, who died in 1870, he had no children.

[The Times, 9 April 1901; Who's Who, 1900; Dod's Parl. Companion, 1899; Hansard's Parl. Debates; Helen Blackburn's Women's Suffrage, 1902, passim; Women's Suffrage Journal, 1880–1890; private information.]

C. F. S.