Born Margaret Davies in 1864 in Ripley, Margaret’s father William Davies was a book-keeper and then agent for the Butterley Company. He was born in Carmarthenshire, or Glastonbury (two censuses give different places); Margaret’s mother Sarah Ann Bailey was born in Derby and they married there in 1859.
The son of chemist William Wain from Alfreton, John William Wain, born in 1840 in Nottingham, followed his father’s trade. His obituary stated that he came to Ripley in 1859 and joined his father in business. Originally a Wesleyan, he moved to the Church of England around 1864, according to his obituary. He married Fanny Maria Woodward, the eldest daughter of a professor of music, in 1870 in Derby, but she died in 1876, at the age of 26.
When they married in 1880, John Wain was 40 and a widower; Margaret was 16 or 17. Oddly, they married in West Bromwich: possibly they wanted to avoid the local disapproval of their marriage, though Margaret must have had her father’s permission to marry.
Anyway, by the following year, they were living in Oxford Street. Their eldest son Percy was born in 1884, when Margaret was 20, and three other children followed.
John died in 1892, of a seizure.
With 4 children under eight, and a chemist’s business to run, Margaret need a husband, preferably a chemist. Enter William Spensley Wain, her nephew. He was the son of William Nuttall Wain, John William’s brother and Annie Spensley.
Margaret was only 4 years older than him, and they married in 1894. Again, the marriage took place a long way from Ripley, in Edinburgh in fact. They both gave Edinburgh addresses, Margaret adding that she was the widow of John Wain, chemist, whilst Margaret’s father, William Davies, is shown as a photographer. In the 1891 census, he is still a clerk, but his daughter Bertha, Margaret’s sister, was listed as a “photographist”, so it would seem he was running a photography business on the side, and had been doing since around 1880, judging by the evidence of extant photos.
By 1901, they were living in Henry Street, and Margaret had born William a daughter, Gladys. In 1911, they were living at The Grange in Henry Street with Harry and Maud, two of Margaret’s children by her first marriage.
Margaret was elected to the Belper Board of Guardians in 1913; not the first woman: Agnes Slack had been elected in 1893 and Cicely Meade-Waldo (part of the Chandos-Pole-Gell family) and Mrs Boyle in 1910, but the first from a relatively poor background. She had already developed a strong interest in social work with the church: she founded a Womens’ service, and a Mothers’ Union and was a founder member of the Parochial Church Council.
When the Derbyshire Public Assistance Committee was formed in 1929 to replace the Boards of Guardians, she was appointed by the County Council as one of four women members of the Committee. It was said that “her home was an ever open door to those in distress”.
She was appointed a magistrate in 1935; was Chair of Ripley Council School Managers and a member of the Ripley Higher Education Committee. The Nurse Association, British Legion, Dr Bernardos, NSPCC, St Dunstan’s, RNLI, CLB and the Girl Guides : she was involved in all of them.
She was, in 1929, the only woman member of RUDC, having been elected in 1926 and re-elected that year, at the top of the poll. She retired from the Council in 1936: Beatrice Marshall was then the only woman on the Council.
She died in 1941, aged 77. Her obituary was headed “Ripley’s Great Loss”.