Margaret Homer (Nichols) Shurcliff (1879 – 1959)
Margaret, the youngest daughter of Dr. Arthur and Elizabeth Nichols, became the spirited woman who won important tennis tournaments, studied and taught carpentry, and learned to ring hand bells and church tower bells with her father. She married Arthur Ashael Shurcliff, a noted landscape architect, at King's Chapel in Boston in 1905 and had six children. She, too, possessed the social conscience of the upper-class women of her generation and continued to teach carpentry skills to inner city children and to lobby for peace and women's suffrage.
Bell Ringing on Beacon Hill
Margaret's zeal for ringing came initially from her father, Arthur Nichols, but it was Margaret who introduced and spread the joy of hand bell ringing in the United States. In 1902, Margaret became the first American woman to ring a complete tower bell peal in England. She was also inducted, as was her father, into the Ancient Society of College Youths, which is England's oldest and most prestigious bell ringing society. On Beacon Hill, Margaret and her children became well known for their annual Christmas caroling as the Beacon Hill Ringers. In 1937, the New England Guild of English Handbell Ringers (NEGEHR) was established in Margaret's living room with Margaret serving as president. The NEGEHR became the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers in 1954, and in the same year, the first American hand bell festival was held in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
For more information, please visit http://www.handbellmusicians.org/