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Dame Elsie Myrtle Abbot

(1907-1983), Third Secretary, HM Treasury

Sitter in 1 portrait

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Pare Hayward-Howie

17 September 2018, 13:17

Elsie Myrtle Tostevin was born on 3 September 1907 in Wandsworth, Surrey, London.[1] She was the daughter of Leonard Tostevin (1878-1966) and his wife Francis Tostevin, nee` Reading (1881-1973). [2] She grew up in Clapham Common and attended the Clapham County Secondary School.
Elsie completed her education at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford and graduated with a double first (first class honours in both parts). She entered the Civil Service at the Post Office in 1930 and later transferred to Her Majesty’s Treasury where she became the Deputy Secretary, specialising in management matters, the ‘first’ woman to do so.
She was also the first woman civil servant to “jump over the marriage ban – getting married without being required to resign”.[3] She married Edward Aston “Ted” Arnott (1904 -1992) in 1938. [4] They had two children, Edward Wyatt Arnott (1940-1998) and Hilary Frances Arnott (1944-1994).[5] The marriage ended in 1945.
In 1947, Elsie married Dermot Charles Hyatt “Derry” Abbot in London. Like Elsie, Derry was a senior officer in the Civil Service. He eventually became Under Secretary of Pensions and National Insurance.[6]
Elsie was described by her close friend, Lord Bancroft, as having a fine mind, a tenacious will and passionately devoted to her work. Her contributions to the State did not go unnoticed and in 1957, Elsie was appointed a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. From 1958 to 1967, Dame Elsie Abbot, DBE, was Third Secretary of the Treasury.[7]
According to the same source, after Elsie’s retirement in 1967, she and husband Derry held an annual party at their home for former colleages. He described them as joyful and uproarious occasions. Such were the finer details in Bancroft’s Eulogy for a dear friend.[8]
Dame Elsie Abbot passed away in 1983, aged 75 years. Prior to her passing she and Derry had lived at Constable Close in the Hampstead Garden Suburb.[9]

Written by Paré Hayward-Howie, Historian and Genealogist who has completed extensive research on the Abbot Family Tree.