Fanny Finch (1815–1863)
Fanny Finch is Australia's first known woman to have voted. Two days after she cast her vote, she was immortalised in the Melbourne-based newspaper The Argus, as “the famous Mrs. Fanny Finch.” So, how exactly did Fanny vote in 1856? Well, Fanny used a loophole that granted suffrage to all taxpaying “persons.”

It didn't matter that she was black, a woman and a single mother – because she was a business owner who paid rates, she was entitled to vote in 1856, almost fifty years before Australian women (excluding indigenous women) were granted suffrage.
Fanny's Letter to the Paper
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To uncover more of the African-Australian story (starting with the First Fleet!), watch SBS' Our African Roots.
Our ability to tell Fanny's story was made possible by the following people...
Our ability to tell Fanny’s story was made possible by Kacey Sinclair – Kacey’s incredible honours thesis uncovered the details of Fanny’s life. Kacey is currently working on a PhD which seeks to further recover Fanny’s incredible story. You can keep up to date with Kacey’s incredible work via her Twitter account.
Frances Finch, ‘A Hard Case: To the Editor of the MAM’, Mount Alexander Mail, 17 September 1856.

Sir,— I have no doubt that you will not allow an oppressed woman to be treated with the cruelty I have experienced a few days since. I am a woman of but few words, and plain spoken; and, therefore, if any mistake be made, I hope it will be placed, not to my fault, but to my want of sufficient power to express myself more fluently. Whatever my position may be, I have worked hard to keep my poor daughters in a good school, and given them such an education as I myself have not got. Imagine, Sir, the Sheriff, then, sending down the bailiff to seize upon my goods, and after exposing me — almost ruining me —quietly saying that he had mistaken me for a person of another name. Surely, Sir, there must be some protection for a woman endeavoring to support her children in decency; but for a Sheriff's officer, under mistake, to destroy one's credit, and have a thing of the kind thrown in the face of my family, is unheard of. I believe there is some remedy for the uncalled-for intrusion; and if the Sheriff or his officer do not, in your next paper, make an ample apology for the way they have acted. I shall be forced to apply to my lawyer for redress.

I am, Sir, yours,
Castlemaine, 13th September 1856