Mackenzie Hall is a community space in the village of Brockweir, Gloucestershire, given by Millicent Mackenzie in memory of her husband, John Stuart Mackenzie. Both were actively involved in the early humanist movement: Millicent in the promotion of moral education, and John as the inaugural President of the Union of Ethical Societies (now Humanists UK), when the role was created in 1918.
Millicent Mackenzie (1863-1942) was a remarkable educator and educationist. In 1910, Mackenzie was appointed Professor of Education for Women at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. She was Wales’ first woman professor, and the first woman appointed as a professor to a fully chartered university anywhere in the UK. In addition to her work in education, she was an active suffragist, co-founding the Cardiff and District Women’s Suffrage Society. In 1918, she stood as a Labour Party candidate in the parliamentary elections: the only woman candidate in Wales.
Millicent Mackenzie was also an active force in the Ethical movement, a vocal proponent of moral (rather than theological) education, and a Vice President of the Union of Ethical Societies 1918-1927 – during which time it became the Ethical Union. A longtime member of the Moral Instruction League, she contributed writings on moral education to the International Journal of Ethics, and was a delegate to the First International Moral Education Congress in 1908.
John Stuart Mackenzie (1860–1935) was a philosopher and professor, similarly active in the early humanist movement. He had read a paper (while still a student himself) at the inaugural meeting of the London Ethical Society (the UK’s first), and later taught a course in philosophy under its auspices. The esteem in which he was held by members of the movement is clear in his selection as the Union of Ethical Societies’ first official President, when the role was established in 1918. Like Millicent, he was an active advocate for moral education, delivering a paper at the First Universal Moral Education Congress.
The Mackenzies spent their last years in the village of Brockweir. John Stuart Mackenzie died at home on 6 December 1935. In 1937, Millicent financed the building of Brockweir’s new village hall, named for her husband. A plaque honours her contribution.
Millicent Mackenzie died in Brockweir on 10 December 1942.
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