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Margaret Elizabeth Peden (1905–1981)

by Marion K. Stell

This article was published:

Margaret Peden, in England, 1937

Margaret Peden, in England, 1937

Margaret Elizabeth Maynard Peden (1905-1981), cricketer, was born on 18 October 1905 at Chatswood, Sydney, elder daughter of (Sir) John Beverley Peden, professor of law, and his wife Margaret Ethel, née Maynard. She was educated at Abbotsleigh, one of the first schools in Sydney to permit girls to play cricket, and in 1923-27 at the University of Sydney (B.A., 1926; Dip. Ed., 1928), where she helped to found the university's women's cricket club, won blues in cricket and hockey, and was president of the women undergraduates' association.

A natural sportswoman and leader, Margaret Peden was small, about 5 ft 4 ins (163 cm) tall, with dark hair and sparkling eyes, and strode rather than walked. She was sports mistress at Redlands School in 1928-34. Meanwhile she worked to rebuild the New South Wales Women's Cricket Association which had disbanded in 1916, and was honorary secretary in 1928-44. Described as a sound tactician, Peden captained every New South Wales women's cricket team, except that of 1930, until 1938. She was a founder of the Australian Women's Cricket Council in 1930, secretary in 1930-31 and 1936-46, and chairwoman in 1946-50. Seemingly tireless in her promotion of women's sport, Peden was also secretary of the New South Wales Women's Amateur Sports Council in 1932-37 and vice-president from 1948, and a Girl Guide commissioner in 1936-37.

In 1934 Peden initiated and organized the first tour to Australia by an English women's cricket team. To prepare for the Tests Peden, with her sister Barbara (1907-1984), an architect and cricketer, set up the first indoor coaching centre in Australia in August, in the Salvation Army building, Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

In December Peden was appointed captain of the Australian team. The three-Test series was comprehensively won by the more experienced English, captained by Betty Archdale (who became a close friend). Margaret, one of Australia's best bats, averaged under ten. The tour, however, made a profit of over £1000 and reputedly did much to improve Anglo-Australian cricket relations, still frayed after the disastrous men's 'bodyline' series of 1932-33. In 1937 she again captained Australia, in a drawn return Test series in England. Described as a dour bat, Peden opened for Australia throughout the Tests; as captain she earned the respect of her fellow players and opponents alike; her knowledge of the game was reputedly unrivalled in her cricketing circle.

At St Philip's Anglican Church, on 21 August 1935 she had married Maurice Ranald Emanuel, an electrical engineer who changed his name to Peden by deed poll three days before their wedding. Their son was born in 1938. Margaret Peden belonged to the Queen's Club and was a member of Abbotsleigh's school council in 1923-33 and 1952-57, a life member of the A.W.C.C. and from 1950 honorary life-member of the Women's Cricket Association, England.

Survived by her son and adopted daughter, Margaret Peden died at her Roseville home on 18 March 1981 and was cremated. A memorial service was held for her at Abbotsleigh. The Margaret Peden memorial Test was held in Perth in 1984 to commemorate the jubilee of women's Test cricket in Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • N. Joy, Maiden Over (Lond, 1950)
  • Australian Women's Cricket Council archives, Melbourne
  • Abbotsleigh School (Wahroonga, Sydney) archives.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Marion K. Stell, 'Peden, Margaret Elizabeth (1905–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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