Mary Elizabeth Windeyer, nee Bolton, was a suffrage campaigner who organised the Exhibition of Women's Industries and Centenary Fair, Sydney, 1888. Born in Sussex, England, about 1837, she migrated to Australia with her family in 1839. In 1857 she married (Sir) William Charles Windeyer and had nine children, one of whom died in infancy. Mary initially directed her philanthropy towards saving infant life, and supported a foundling hospital (later the Infants' Home, Ashfield) for homeless and destitute mothers. She and her husband were instrumental in the State Children Relief Act (1881), having lobbied friend Sir Henry Parkes. Mary was also centrally involved in the establishment of a board to oversee the fostering of children from orphanages.
Following a visit to England with William in 1886, she organised the Exhibition of Women's Industries and Centenary Fair of 1888. With proceeds from the sale of works exhibited, Mary financed the Temporary Aid Society which lent money to women in financial difficulty. Mary's interests broadened to encompass a program of feminist reforms, in particular focussed on education and employment opportunities for women. She was the foundation president of the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales and convened the franchise department of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
In 1892-93 she organised the women's industries section for the colony's exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago (refer NU 34522-3).
Mary was also a committee member for the Thirlmere Home for Consumptives and honorary secretary for the second Australasian Conference on Charity in 1891. In support of employment opportunities for women, she sponsored a silk-growing cooperative, a shorthand writers' and typists' society, and hospital training for nurses. She proposed a women's hospital that started as a district service, opened its own premises in 1896 and later became the Women's Hospital in Crown Street, Sydney.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.12.