Collecting Nursing History 34
Dorothy Elizabeth Jortan - The London Hospital 

Sarah Rogers.

Early Nightingale School of Nursing Badge   Please Note: Whilst every care is taken in checking promoted links, we cannot accept responsibility for your use of third party web links.

Dorothy Elizabeth Jortan - 4.9.1886 -12.11.1960





Dorothy's London hospital badge and its original box

I bought this badge primarily as it had a different box to other London Hospital badges I own, and had dates of training which predated the date of the London Hospital badge's first date of issue. Researching a name on a badge has led me to research many interesting aspects of the history and development of nursing, and hospitals, alongside discovering a little more about the person who was awarded the badge and wore it.

Dorothy entered the London Hospital on September 12th 1915, aged 29, her  archived records state that she had been a children's nurse, but did not say where, when or if she had trained, but because of this she did not do any Preliminary Training School and entered straight into the hospital.

Her patients are recorded as being large proportion of soldiers; the London took in the first injured soldiers of WW1.In the first two years, Dorothy spent at least 8 months nursing wounded soldiers. Other nursing experiences included ophthalmology, neonatal care and a patient undergoing salphingo-oopherectomy. In 1917, she developed German measles whilst at home, requiring a small amount of sick leave.

Her post qualification report said:

"D.E.J. came straight into hospital so had not the advantage of our Preliminary Training Home. She was not well suited for training and showed a certain amount of quiet strength of character. She readily adapted herself for institution life and her neat and nurse like appearance as well as her quiet manners were a considerable asset to her in her training. D.J. gained a reputation for good steady reliable work and sound common sense...she had a bright, hopeful manner with the patients, which inspired confidence. She was able to think for her patients and had a keen perspective at what would add to their comfort. Her manner most nurse like. She was liked by the men who had confidence in her and sister was sorry to lose her." (1)

Dorothy's exam and work were satisfactory, conduct very good, she passed sick room cookery theory with honours and practical, getting a 2nd and she was certificated on December 16th 1919.Eva Luckes as Matron is reported to have said of Dorothy;

"Matron was also equally [of the view]... to appoint DJ to the hospital or the private staff feeling sure that she will do credit to her training school in either branch of the work "... Janet Scott, Matrons Assistant.(1)

Eva Luckes died in 1918, and was unwell for some time before her death, being confined to her wheelchair with Rheumatoid Arthritis; therefore how well she knew each probationer is questionable, given that there were up to 220 at any one time.(1)  

Dorothy transferred to the private staff, as nurse no 243, on Nov 29 1917, aged 31, and worked on the Private Staff until 1925. During this time, Dorothy cared for a wide variety of patients including people with pneumonia, marasmus, septic neck glands, and gastro enteritis, fractured ribs, Influenza, Addison's, Cardiac illness, Buttock Abscess's, carcinoma, Heart disease and people who had fits. The London hospital had 'the largest and best-known service of its kind at the time, one which numbered the many prominent members of society amongst its clients.' (10)

Dorothy completed her massage training from October 1919 - January 1920; massage training was sometimes offered to nurses on qualification. In 1894, four nurses started the Society of trained Masseuses', the forerunner of today's Chartered Physiotherapy association.

"The four nurses wish to protect their profession after stories in the press warn young nurses and the public of unscrupulous people offering massage as a euphemism for other services." (6)

In 1920, she cared for patients in Tonbridge Kent, with appendicitis, colitis and diphtheria, and others with Encephalitis, Angina and those requiring massage treatment. In 1922-24, she cared for "boys" at Eagle house school, and also stayed at Wellington College for  three weeks, where she cared for 130 boys aged 14-19 with measles;  her children's training was used again. In 1923 Dorothy registered as a nurse on February, her GNC number was 11568.(3) Dorothy continued to travel widely as a Private Nurse of the London Hospital; in 1924 she cared for patients at home in Devon, Shropshire, Bedfordshire and Dublin, where she nursed a lady with an ovarian cyst and a gentleman with an intestinal obstruction for 14 weeks! In 1925 prior to transferring back to the Hospital Staff, she nursed a burns patient in Essex and another with pneumonia. (2)

(5) Out -Patient department, The London Hospital

After Dorothy transferred to the Hospital Staff, she became Holiday Sister in May 1925 and was promoted to Sister Ophthalmic Outpatients from October 1st 1926, remaining there until October 31st 1934, when she resigned to go as Sister in Charge of a London Hospital annexe, The Croft Home in Reigate. It is thought that she moved back to Reigate because of family connections.

Dorothy's report on leaving stated;

"Appointed to private staff and remained for nearly eight years doing very satisfactory work. Her quiet gentle manner was very acceptable her patients and her sound knowledge of nursing gave the doctors for whom she worked confidence in her ability to carry out their orders. She had a good deal of special leave during this time on account of her parents health and first she lost her father and later her mother died.* She was most grateful for all the time she was allowed and the exceptions that were made for her during these sad times. When DJ was promoted to Assistant Sister she responded satisfactorily to the added responsibility, after taking holiday duties for a year and five months she was appointed sister in Ophthalmic outpatients"(4)

* It is thought that her father was Charles Jortan, dying aged 60years in 1918, his wife Sarah died in 1920 aged 64 years.

"During her eight years in this capacity [Sister in ophthalmic outpatients] she was much appreciated by the medical men for whom she worked for the careful attention she gave to every detail of this special branch of nursing. She was most kind to all the patients and never missed an opportunity of giving them any help she could and they were very fond of her. When a vacancy occurred at one of the annexes connected with the hospital through the resignation of the sister in charge I asked DJ if she would like to consider the post, as I understood that this kind of work appealed to her. After due consideration she decided to accept the post and although I am sorry to lose her from our staff I am glad to think she is in charge of the home as I know the patients will be well looked after and happy in her care. Left October 31st 1934. M. Littleboy, Matron*"(4)

* Miss Gertrude May Littleboy. A.R.R.C. was Matron of The London Hospital from 1931-1937, having worked there continuously for 30 years since her probationer training.

Through various archives, Dorothy was found living in a nurses'  home in Whitechapel in 1921, 1923 and 1927; but the records did not specify exactly which nurses home. (5) Dorothy remained as Sister in charge of the Croft home, Reigate for 14 years, retiring in 1948 aged 64, after 33 years service to The London Hospital.

Fig 6

Croft Home: This photo predates 1919, as the Home, from 1880, was known as South Park or Mrs Kitto’s Free Convalescent Home. Mrs Kitto was the wife of Revd John Fenwick Kitto who was the Vicar at St Mary’s, Whitechapel, and Rector of St Dunstan, Stepney. In 1919 when her property was given to The London Hospital, they renamed it The Croft Home, it closed in the 1960’s.

The London hospital had several convalescent homes/annexes where patients could go to continue their recovery/treatment in a less intense environment than a major hospital:

Fig 7

Herman de Stern Home, Felixstowe; set up by Miss Walmsley (Matron at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, former theatre sister at The London) in 1901.

Fig 8

Fairfield Home, Reigate

Fig 9

Catherine Gladstone Home, Mitcham.

.·        Brentwood Annexe

·        Hayes Grove, Bromley; a Home for Sick Nurses

·        Hora Home, Woodford.

·        Linden Hall, Cromwell Rd, Kensington- Hostel, for Nursing and other staff.

·        Marie Celeste Home, Woodford.

·        Morden Hall Park, Morden, South London. - convalescent home associated with the London

·        Orsett Lodge Hospital

·        Queen Mary's Maternity Home, Hampstead. From 1945 until 1972

·        Rockett's nr Ongar

·        Woolmer Park Maternity Home,-used during WW2 to evacuate maternity patients too.

·        Zachery Merton, Banstead, Surrey.

 Fig 10
Unknown nurses and period, possibly WW2.

During WW2, with evacuation of many staff and patients extra facilities came under the jurisdiction of the London, including:

Fig 12

Merrymeade, Brentwood;  temporary Preliminary Training School during WW2


Fig 13

Warley Woods Emergency Hospital, Essex

·        Highlands, Chelmsford; PTS

·        Trueloves, Ingatestone, Essex;  PTS

·        "The Workhouse"; North Beds and South Beds Hospital, Hitchin Hertfordshire.

These annexes were administered by The London Hospital and by July 1948, the hospital had a total bed count of 1091.(8) The annexes had been acquired for various times and reasons over the southeast, but the advent of the NHS, which led to centralization of services at Whitechapel, reduced the need for these annexes. This along with administration issues culminated in the gradual closure of them all- the last few closed in the 1960's-1980's. (8)

In 1980, I remember women, post hysterectomy looking forward to their two weeks convalescing away from their families, by the sea in Essex.

Dorothy died in Cheshire at Clatterbridge Hospital, with probate granted to Marjorie Constance Donkin, who was living in Reigate, and died ten years later.(7)

Post -script
Dorothy's date of birth recorded in her London Hospital staff records is September 4th 1886, but there is no trace on online sites of the birth of a Dorothy, only Daisy Elizabeth . Daisy  is born in the same year and correct quarter as Dorothy's given date of birth. It may be filed incorrectly because of unusual spelling of this surname -there is however a family of 's: six children, all mainly born in Reigate in that period. The eldest child is Daisy Elizabeth ; perhaps she changed her name? All six  children were baptised at the same time, Boxing Day December 1897. Dorothy did move back to Reigate in 1934, so perhaps she was moving back in order to see her two unmarried sisters; one other sister had died aged 15years in 1905, and another married. Rosa the sister who married lived in Cheshire, which is where both Dorothy and her brother died, after Dorothy's death in 1960, this remaining sister Rosa was the only  child alive. Her sister Flora, also recorded as a nurse on a passenger list, left probate, on her death in 1957 to Dorothy E ; the will would need to be obtained to establish any kin. Dorothy's will might give more information about her family, as also might her death certificate. No family have been traced so far, and therefore there is no chance at present of finding her picture. In order to establish if Dorothy  and Daisy  are the same person, obtaining Daisy's birth certificate would show her parents names, and then obtaining her parents death certificates might , if lucky show  Dorothy's name registering their death/s.

"Contrary to popular belief, it has always been possible to change your name without having to register the change with any official body. It is legal for anyone over the age of 16 to start using a new name at any time, as long as they are not doing so for a fraudulent or illegal reason.. People looking for proof of a change of name will often find that it simply does not exist. Historically, many people preferred not to draw attention to their change of name - for example, when divorce was more difficult, some people simply took their new partner's name to allow them to appear married, and to make any children appear legitimate"(9)

Dorothy's hospital badge was bought from a seller in Northern England, where she died; but this may have no relevance as her badge might have changed hands several times since her death.


1. The Royal London Hospital Archives, RLH/N /1/22, The London Hospital Register of Nurse Probationers, no.22.

2. RLHA, RLH/N/5/32, The London Hospital Register of the Private Nursing Institution, No.32.

3. The National Archives, DT10/59-REGISTER 3

4. RLHA, RLH/N/4/6: London Hospital Register of Sisters and Nurses, No.6.

5. The National Archives, DT10/10-1921/DT10/6-1927



8. The London Hospital Illustrated-250 years. Batsford, 1990.

9., accessed 31st December 2013.

10. J. Evans cited in; T. Shepherd, 'From Ragamuffins to Royalty, the private Diaries of an Edwardian Nurse', Bloomington, USA, 2012.


1-4  Private Collections.

5. Copyright, Grant Ciccione.

6-13. Grateful thanks and Copyright, Karen Harris.


With many thanks to all those, people who answered my many email questions, in particular:

Will Burgess, for proof reading, editing, encouragement and uploading (onto S.O.N), the archivists at the Royal London Hospital Archives and lastly but not least my very supportive husband, Harry.


Copyright: Sarah Rogers 29/12/2013


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