Bondfield was born on March 17, 1873, in Chard, Somerset, England. She was the second youngest child of 11 in the family of William and Ann Bondfield. Both sides of her family had an interest in political activism. Bondfield's father was a foreman at a lace company by trade, but had participated in the working-class struggle for political reform known as the Chartist movement; he had also joined the Anti-Corn Law League to fight taxes on grain. Her maternal grandfather was George Taylor, a Congregationalist minister who was active in social and political issues.