Dorothy Senior Dean

Dorothy Senior Dean, January 1908

Title: Dorothy Senior Dean, January 1908
Description: Image reproduced courtesy of Sutton Archives; Knight-Whittome Collection. Copyright CC-NC. by-nc

Researched and written by volunteers of the Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives.

Dorothy Senior Dean was born in Forest Hill in 1885. Her parents were William Senior Dean, an official at the Bank of England and his wife Edith Frances Dean (née Bridges). In 1901 her family were living at Shirley House, Brighton Road, Sutton. She was a pupil at Sutton High School and in 1904 went up to Girton College, Cambridge. In 1907 she took the first part of the Cambridge Mathematics Tripos and gained a Third Class grade.

In this photograph taken in January 1908 she is wearing a Cambridge Bachelor’s degree gown and hood. It’s possible that Dorothy was a ‘Steamboat Lady’. It’s hard to believe today, but women were not formally awarded degrees at Cambridge until 1948 (Oxford changed their rules in 1920). Even though they studied there, sat the examinations, were graded and listed (separately from the men) there was no formal recognition for them. For a short while between 1904 and December 1907 Trinity College Dublin allowed students who had completed degree courses elsewhere to pay a fee and claim an ‘ad eundem’ degree  which meant that they were admitted to the same degree but at another university.  Groups of women mainly from Oxford and Cambridge would take the boat to Dublin and stay overnight at Trinity College before having their degrees conferred on them.

In 1911 Dorothy was boarding at 74 Trumpington Street, Cambridge according to her diary for that year which is held in the University Library Archive. At the time of the census she was visiting the family of Dora Black in Sutton who were then living at Shirley House.

In 1913 she became the Commandant of the Suffolk 52 VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment). During World War 1 she served at Suffolk Hospital and at HQ in Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds, her role being assistant secretary.

She was private secretary to the mistress of Girton College from 1917 to 1920. She was also Mathematical Mistress at Croydon High School for two terms.

In 1922 she married Harold Ince, a master tailor from Clare, Suffolk, at the Church of St Peter, Croydon.  They lived in Cavendish, Suffolk and had one son. She was the County Organiser for the West Suffolk Federation of Women’s Institutes and President of Cavendish Women’s Institute. She died in December 1963 aged 78.


Sources: Sutton High School Magazine (; Sutton High School Jubilee Book; Ancestry: Church of England Marriage Records, England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1916-2007, UK Census Collection; Google

All research carried out of behalf of the HLF funded Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives is the work of volunteer researchers and is unverified by the Sutton Archives team. All sources have been credited where possible.  If you notice any errors or discrepancies in this work, or can add to the research, please contact [email protected].


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