Betty Archdale

Helen Elizabeth "Betty" Archdale (21 August 1907 – 1 January 2000) was a British educationalist and cricketer. She was a captain of the English women's cricket team in 1934 and 1935. In 1934/35 she led the first English cricket team to tour Australia and New Zealand, the result of which was a 2–0 victory over Australia. This tour did much both to raise the status of women's cricket and to heal some of the damage done to Anglo-Australian cricket relations by bodyline two years earlier.

Betty Archdale
Personal information
Full nameHelen Elizabeth Archdale
Born(1907-08-21)21 August 1907[1]
Paddington, London, England
Died1 January 2000(2000-01-01) (aged 92)[1]
Killara, New South Wales, Australia
RelationsHelen Archdale (mother)
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 1)28 December 1934 v Australia
Last Test13 July 1937 v Australia
Domestic team information
1937Kent Women
1937East of England Women
Career statistics
Competition WTests
Matches 5
Runs scored 133
Batting average 26.60
100s/50s 0/0
Top score 32*
Catches/stumpings 1/–
Source: CricketArchive, 18 September 2008


Archdale was born in London, the daughter of Helen Archdale (née Russel), a suffragette who was at one time jailed for smashing windows at Whitehall, and was later renowned as a leading British feminist;[2] and an Irish professional soldier in the British Army, who died in World War I when she was eleven. Her godmother was Emmeline Pankhurst. Archdale attended Bedales School in Hampshire where she learned to play cricket and, thence, to St Leonards School in St Andrews, Fife.[3]

After school Archdale attended McGill University in Montreal, graduating in 1929 with a BA in Economics and Political Science. She studied Law in London. Specialising in international law, she conducted part of her studies in the Soviet Union. In 1938 she was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn.[1]

During World War II, she served in the WRNS as a wireless operator in Singapore. She arrived in July 1941 at the head of a group of forty Wrens trained in wireless telegraphy. [4] She was awarded an Order of the British Empire for helping nurses escape from the conflict.[1]

Having moved to Australia, in 1946 she was appointed principal of Sydney University's "Women's College", a post she held for 10 years. Archdale was a member of the University Senate for 25 years, and a television and radio personality throughout the 1960s.[1]

Archdale was headmistress of the private girls school Abbotsleigh in Wahroonga, Sydney for 12 years from 1958. Archdale was credited with breaking down the rigid system of discipline at the school, with introducing sex education and abandoning the gloves and hat as part of the school uniform. She also reformed the curriculum, introducing physics and cutting back on British, in favour of Australian, history. The Assembly Hall (1963) and Chapel (1965) both date from this time. She lived on an estate in Galston, Sydney with her brother Alexander Archdale, an actor.[1]

Honours and legacy

In 1997, she was listed as a National Living Treasure.[5] In March 1999, Archdale was one of the first ten women to be granted Honorary Life Membership of Marylebone Cricket Club in England.[6] She died in January 2000 at the age of 92, in Sydney.

The Association of Heads of Independent Girls' Schools, 'Archdale Debating' competition (for Sydney's private and Catholic girls' schools) is named in her honour.[7]

See also


  1. Philip Jones (16 February 2000) Obituary: Betty Archdale, The Guardian, London
  2. "LEADING BRITISH FEMINIST IN SYDNEY". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 25 October 1946. p. 9. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  3. David Doughan (2004) "Archdale, Helen Alexander (1876–1949)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
  4. 'History of Far East Combined Bureau and H.M.S. Anderson', typescript in the National Archives, HW 4/25, chapter 2, p. 10.
  5. "15 new Living National Treasures". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 March 2004. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  6. "MCC delivers first 10 maidens". BBC News. 16 March 1999. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  7. "Archdale Debating". Association of Heads of Independent Girls Schools. Retrieved 8 January 2019.

Further reading

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