Ford was born into a wealthy family of radical quakers; her father was an influential Leeds solicitor and she had two sisters and a brother, who all became politically active.
She was very active in the suffragist (rather than suffragette) movement, and also devoted a lot of time and resources to the role of women in the Trade Union movement, founding in 1896 the Women’s Trade Union Club in Belgrave Street, Leeds. She was an important figure in Leeds and West Yorshire through the early years of the Labour Party.
Her life is well documented in a biography by June Hannam .
Isabella Ford was born in The Mount on Clarendon Road in Leeds 2, now demolished. She is buried at the Friends’ Meeting House, New Adel Lane, North Leeds.