Catherine Fulton

Catherine Henrietta Elliot Fulton (née Valpy, 19 December 1829 6 May 1919) was a New Zealand diarist, community leader, philanthropist, social reformer and suffragette.

Early life

Fulton was one of six children born to William Henry Valpy and Caroline Valpy (née Jeffreys). She was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire or in Reading, Berkshire, England on 19 December 1829.[1] She was educated in England and arrived in New Zealand on the Ajax in January 1849.[1]

Public life

Fulton married James Fulton in 1852 and moved to his farm "Ravenscliffe" on the Taieri Plains, Otago. Together they had eight children,[1] several of whom became notable in their own right (most famously the engineer James Edward Fulton).

Fulton was the Dominion President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union from 1889 to 1892. She helped found the Dunedin branch in May 1885 and was its first President. Along with her sisters Ellen and Arabella, she established the Band of Hope Coffee Rooms. She was a strong advocate for women's suffrage and included in her diaries her frustration with politicians who opposed it.[1]

In 1879, James Fulton was elected to the House of Representatives, and in 1889 was appointed to the Legislative Council. Fulton later attended the council sessions daily, along with the wives of other parliamentarians, to follow the passage of the Women's Suffrage bill through the House. When the Bill was passed in 1893, she drove her women neighbours to the polling booths so they could vote.[2]

After her husband died in 1891, she continued to run the farm alone.[1] Aged 90, she died on 6 May 1919 and was survived by three sons and three daughters.[3]


  1. Entwisle, Rosemary. "Fulton, Catherine Henrietta Elliot". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  2. Macdonald, Charlotte, ed. (1991). The Book of New Zealand Women. Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books. pp. 702–704. ISBN 0908912048.
  3. "Obituary". Evening Star (17037). 7 May 1919. p. 3. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
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