Dorothy Pattison (Sister Dora)

Born:  Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison (known from 1864 as Dora) was born in East Hauxwell near Richmond on 16th January 1832. Her father was the rector of St. Oswald’s, East Hauxwell. Her parents were Rev. Mark James Pattison and Jane Winn, the daughter of Francis Winn, a banker from Richmond. Dorothy was the eleventh of twelve children. She had two brothers and nine sisters.

Educated:  Rev. Pattisondidn’t want his ten daughters to have any formal education, but Dorothy’s older brother made sure that she was well educated.

Married:  From 1856 to 1860 Dora Pattison was engaged to James Tate of Richmond, but she broke off the engagement and never married.

Family:  She had no children.

Home:  She grew up in Hauxwell. In 1860 she became a schoolteacher in Buckinghamshire for a short period. She lived for a time in Coatham, but spent most of her adult life in Walsall.

Known for:  In 1864, Dorothy Pattison joined the Sisters of the House of the Good Samaritan. This was a nursing order based at Coatham Convalescent Home, near Redcar. She took the name Sister Dora and received her nurse’s training from Sister Mary Jacques. At one point she was sent to nurse patients at North Ormesby Hospital where there was an outbreak of scarlet fever. While at Coatham, she impressed James Simpson, the pioneer of the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic. Before long, the Order sent her to Walsall, where over a decade she became highly thought of for her dedication to her patients and her skills as a surgical nurse. In 1886, after her death, a marble statue of her was erected in Walsall. According to the plaque on the pedestal she was the first woman in this country, other than a member of the royal family, to have a public statue. A bronze replica was substituted in 1956. Many nurses remembered her for the “Sister Dora Cap”, a style of nurses’ cap that she popularised.

Died:  Sister Dora died in Walsall on 24th May 1878.

Further information:

“Sister Dora: the Life of Dorothy Pattison”, Jo Manton (1971)

“History of North Ormesby Hospital”, Geoffrey Stout (1989).