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Mollett, Wilhelmina Jane

On a blue, calm, sunny morning, to the sound of a sighing surf and cry of seabirds, the soul of a brave woman passed from sleep to rest. Without suffering, unconscious of change or care, she passed the last two days of her earthly life sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. On the 1st March, apparently in robust health, she went out into the pacific for her usual swim and came back saying How lovely the water was. So fresh! I am going again tomorrow! During the day she seemed perfectly well, enjoyed her beloved books, her meals, the pet dog, Puck (a canine idol) and read out loud from Lorna Doone an occupation she always enjoyed while I was busy mending. No, I shall lave the last chapter for tomorrow, she answered when I suggested she should finish the book. It will be something to look forward to.

In the evening we played bzique and again she refused my request for the last chapter of Lorna Doone. No one mustn't overdo a pleasant thing, she laughed. Tomorrow, at the usual time after tea, we will finish the chapter, and the book. No use insisting when her mind was made up: so we separated and the 2nd March dawned and sped on its way, uneventful and quietly busy as usual.

After lunch, which she enjoyed with a healthy appetite, Miss Mollett retired to her room to take her usual cup of coffee and read her papers. Her active mind was interested in the worlds work and play, its projects and ideas within its widest circles; its literary and scientific progress and above all the activities of the nursing profession, and yet, the last natural and simple interest of her life was the arrival of the weeks fresh butter from the farm. She left her armchair and the worlds politics to look into that home detail with faithful attention.

And with that ended her last care on earth. We found her in a peaceful and natural position, lying back in her armchair, with her papers beside her - sleeping. It was tea time, a time she always liked to observe as a little social function, dedicated to etiquette and general conversation and neighbourly callers. Knowing she would not like the time changed, we tried to wake her. No earthly interests ever wakened her again.

The local practitioner, a trained nurse, two Red Cross district nurses and a doctor, summoned by telephone from Capiapo, who arrived by motor in two hours time at danger speed, could on certify a double paralysis and bid us prepare for the inevitable. Sloping eastward, upward to the outrunners of the distant Cardillero, and surrounded by desert stretches that were ancient ocean beds, lies the little, clean, restful cemetery that our English vice-consul administers; and there in a virgin soil of clean golden gravel human foot had never trod, since it was upheaved by nature, we laid her.

As she had wished, her casket was covered by a British flag, and we left it there to mingle with her sacred dust in future aeons when our little individual cares and tears are no more, but the Eternal Truth that upheld us in our earthly trials shall surely live on in immortal beauty. The flag covered casket, drawn on a simple military hearse, by a single mule, had a guard of honour, two sailors in uniform kept flag and casket as they went upwards on that last journey, and behind followed our British vice-Consul and Miss Molletts only relative in Chile, the Maritime Governor of the ports of Stacama, a group of Miss Mollletts kindest friends, all those who had known and loved her here, and people of all types and classes, reverent and silent.

A file of purest white was thrown across the sandy track by the Corps of the Red Cross District Nurses of this port, each one bearing one or several of the beautiful, white, floral offerings sent from the farms and gardens of the oasis, and each on her breast the symbol of a creed of suffering nobly borne, the blood-red cross of Malta, glory of ancient knighthood and forever badge of undying valour. At the gates of the cemetery, the Maritime Governor, Red Cross Corps....

Biographical

Registration number10
SurnameMollett
First name(s)Wilhelmina Jane
Address(es)

Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa
The Cottage, Wimbourne, Dorset

Date of registration7 March 1890
Qualifications

Certificate, St Bartholomew's, 1888
Chelsea Infirmary, Matron, 1886 - 89

Remarks

Royal South Hants and Southern, 1902

Personal details

Date of birthc1859
Place of birthNorth Fleet
Family details

Address: 14 Wilton Cottage, Northfleet, Kent
Mother: Wilhelmina C D Mollett, born c1839
German, naturalised British subject
Father: merchant
His brother, merchant's clerk, lived with them, plus sister 2 years younger 3 others, 3 servants (1861)

Date of death2 March 1928
Place of deathNr Caldera, Chile
Additional personal details

Father: John W Mollett, English of Huguenot extraction, brilliant, but impractical, spoke and wrote in seven languages but couldn't earn a living; a varied existence in England, Germany and France
Eldest of four sisters
Known as Mina - disliked Wilhelmina
Educated partly in England but mainly at the Hohere Tochter Schule in Hanover; youth in Hanover and Paris. (memories of Molletino by Ethel G Fenwick BJN Dec 31 + picture)
The grandchildren were often invited to her father's parents' country house, 'Goldhill' in Bucks. where they spent time with their aunts and cousins
She was a classical scholar and keen historian, she cycled, sailed and climbed mountains, she loved and appreciated music but could not sing in tune, and she loved animals, birds and flowers.
She resigned in 1911 as she wanted time to herself and retired to Hampshire with Miss Winterscale, her Assistant Deputy. They devoted themselves to their hobby, rearing chickens in a model chicken farm
In 1918, she had a serious accident (fractured femur) while cycling from Bournemouth to her home at Three Cross, nr Ringwood. when the cottage which she rented was sold, she decided to join her sister in Chile.
She was unhappy during the war as she had an instinctive love of Germany and sympathy with its people
Miss Phyllis Harding gave the History of Nursing Section a small volume of quotations from foreign and ancient literature, translated by Minnie's father John W Mollett B.A.
Officier de l'instruction Publique (France) given to her by Miss Mollett in 1889, inscribed 'Minerva' by which she was known to several colleagues at Barts. (BJN April 1931)
Composed Pageant and Masque, performed in the Connaught Rooms, London (1911) in support of the Bill for the State Registration of Trained Nurses . (BJN April 1948)
Wrote Epilogue to the Pageant on the " Evolution of Trained Nursing and the Right of Life to Health," on the passing of the Nurses' Registration Acts, first read on 23 December 1919 (BJN Jan 1931)

Professional details

Work experience

Certificate St Bartholomews (Pro), 1882 - 85
Children's Hospital, Shadwell (Sister), 1885
National Hospital, Queen St (Superintendent of Nursing), 1885 - 86
Chelsea Infirmary (Matron), 1886 - 89
Nurses Home, Johannesburg (Matron), 1890
Gordon House Home Hospital (Sister in Charge), 1891
Royal South Hants (Matron), 1892 - 1911

Professional activities

Member, First Executive Committee, British Nursing Association. Patroness Nursing Exhibition, London, 1891
Member and Vice-President Matron's Council
Councillor International Council of Nurses
Member League of St Bartholomew's Nurses
President and Member Royal South Hants Nurses' League contributed articles to 'Nursing Record', "An Unpopular Branch of Our Profession"
and "Second Annual Report of the Royal British Nurses Assoc."

Sources

1861 and 1891 Censuses
1901 Nursing Directory
BJN April 1948
BJN Jan 1931 and others

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