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Stockdale, Henrietta

It is with very great regret that we record the death of a notable pioneer worker in the nursing profession, Sister Henrietta of Kimberley, to whom nurses in South Africa largely owe the honourable distinction of being the first to be registered by Act of Parliament in any country.

Sister Henrietta, who was a daughter of the late Rev. Henry Stockdale, Rector of Clayworth, Nottinghamshire, died on October 5th at Kimberley, at the age of 64. It was in 1891, when the Medical and Pharmacy Act was passed in Cape Colony, that incorporated in it was a section providing that " the Council may, in accordance with Regulations approved by the Governor, grant certificates of competence as Trained Nurses . . . to any person who shall satisfy the examiners there to appointed by the Council, of his or her competence, skill, and fitness in and for the occupation of nursing, and who shall in addition produce proof by certificate or otherwise of having had sufficient training in nursing work, under competent supervision'.

Every such certificate shall be entered in a register to be kept for that purpose in connection with, and a part of the register provided for in this Act. To have accomplished this is a great achievement to Sister Henrietta's credit, but her work was many sided, and, in the South African war, she took a prominent part during the siege of Kimberley in organising the nursing of the sick and wounded. Fall of good deeds for the betterment of humanity she has passed to the life beyond.


Registration number15
First name(s)Henrietta

St. Michael's Home, Bloemfontein, South Africa
The Hospital, Kimberley, S.A.

Date of registration7 March 1890

St. Andrew's Hospital Clewer, 1873
Children's Hospital Great Ormond St.,1873
University College Hospital, 1878
Bloemfontein Hospital, 1878 - 1879
Kimberley Hospital (Matron), 1879 - July 1895
Supt. of Private & District Nursing St. Michaels Home, Kimberley



Personal details

Date of birth09/07/1847
Place of birthGringley on the Hill, Notts
Maiden nameStockdale
Family details

Father was the Reverend Henry Stockdale, Vicar of Misterton with West Stockwith, Notts
Family impoverished
Five children in five years
From the very beginning Henrietta had a high standard of conduct, a great sense of the Church and her duty towards it

Date of death5 October 1911
Place of deathKimberley, South Africa
Additional personal details

Singularly attractive, tall, well built, with creamy complexion, short brown hair, blue eyes and pleasant voice
Met the Bishop of Bloemfontein Mission in 1863 and decided to go to South Africa when old enough
After nurse training sailed for South Africa on 6 March 1874
Became a novice of the Community of S. Michael and All Angels in Bloemfontein - Sister Henrietta, CSM & AS
Suffered an attack of typhoid fever and sent home to England to rest - she returned to Bloemfontein in 1878
Keen gardener
Raised funds for the building of the Hostel for Women and Girls
Gave lectures on Dante and poetry
She had a wonderful memory
"She was regarded as a saint by some and as a keen business woman politician by others".
Suffered from heart disease in 1907, and unwell for remainder of her life
Died of a stroke
Buried at Dutoitspan cemetery
Commemorated by statue in front of St. Cyprian's Cathedral Kimberley
Commemorated with mass in Kimberley Hospital Chapel every 6th October

Professional details

Additional training

University College Hospital, 1878

Additional qualifications

1892 awarded Helen Gold Medal of Merit for Nurses - Nursing Record, July 14 1892

Work experience

St. Andrew's Hospital Clewer, 1873
Children's Hospital Great Ormond Street, 1873
Working in Mission School in Bloemfontein, 1874 - 1876
Carnarvon Hospital Kimberley, 1877 - 1878
University College Hospital, 1878
Bloemfontein Hospital, 1878 - 1879
Kimberley Hospital (Matron), 1879 - July 1895
St. Michael's Home, Kimberley, Superintendent of Private and District Nursing, 1895 - 1907

Professional activities

Prize awarded annually in her name at Witwatersrand University
Wrote articles in nursing press, especially on nursing in the Boer war

Additional professional details

Obtained state registration for nurses and midwives in Cape Colony in 1891
Established South Africa's first training school for nurses at Carnarvon Hospital, Kimberley
Charges were made by a former resident medical officer of Kimberley Hospital concerning Sister Henrietta's management of the hospital - see Nursing Record, 1 September 1894
Took charge of the military hospital at Newcastle, Natal, in the First Boer War in 1880 - 1881
Nursing during siege of Kimberley in Second Boer War


Register of Nurses (RBNA 4/1) - Royal British Nurses' Association Records, King's College London Archives


Nursing Record & Hospital World, September 1 1894
Nursing Record, 20 October 1892, 26 January 1895, 31 March 1900, 4 and 11 August 1900 

British Journal of Nursing, 27 September 1901, March 1914, October 1924 

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