Born at sea, the only daughter of James, a ship’s captain, Margaret was brought up in Broughty Ferry, gaining a degree in languages at St Andrews University. She went on to study at Queen Margaret College Glasgow & Glasgow College of Art, and remained in Glasgow for the rest of her life.

Aged 34, Margaret embarked on a lifetime’s work to improve the lot of women in the workforce. She became organising secretary of first the Women’s Protective & Provident League (sponsored by Glasgow Trades Council) and then the Scottish Council for Women’s Trades, which by 1895 numbered 100,000 members. She stayed with the Council for all the 44 years it existed. She produced welcome reports for the Royal Commission on Labour, detailing the awful conditions of shop girls (who worked a 14-16 hour day), laundry workers, home workers and others.

Although she was never a trade union member she was the driving force behind the formation of the STUC and served as its secretary for its first three years (1897-1900). The job was offered to her on a permanent basis but she refused, saying she feared prejudice against a woman in the job might harm the new Union. But she remained influential in the Trade Union movement, especially for setting up structures for women members and for urging that Scotland needed its own unions, not just branches of national bodies.

Largely through her, the Council initiated and promoted a mass of useful legislation affecting industrial conditions and showing the necessity for reform of housing conditions of female workers in potato lifting, fish curing and fruit picking.

She had become a recognised authority on industrial conditions relating to women in Scotland; she lectured on economic questions, served on various government committees and gave evidence to a select committee in the House of Lords. In 1927 she was awarded a CBE.

Her first STUC motion, however, was on women’s suffrage; she was a member of the Glasgow & West Scotland Association for Women’s Suffrage until 1907 and after that a regular speaker at the Women’s Freedom League.

Latterly she ran a model fruit farm in Blairgowrie until her death aged 83.

Margaret was brainy, shrewd and visionary, and her work in reforming labour laws that affect women has had a lasting effect.