Pattison, Dorothy Wyndlow (DNB00)

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PATTISON, DOROTHY WYNDLOW, known as Sister Dora (1832–1878), philanthropist, was tenth and youngest daughter of Mark James Pattison, rector of Haukswell, near Richmond, Yorkshire, who died on 30 Dec. 1865. Mark Pattison [q. v.] was her brother. Born at Haukswell on 16 Jan. 1832, she resided with her parents till her twenty-ninth year, when, with philanthropic aims, she became village schoolmistress in the parish of Little Woolston, near Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. There she remained for three years, till 1864. In the autumn of 1864 she became, in opposition to her father's wish, a member of the sisterhood of the Good Samaritan at Coatham, near Redcar, Yorkshire, and adopted the name of Sister Dora. In accordance with the rules of the order, she became a cook in the kitchen. In the early part of 1865 she was sent to Walsall to help in nursing at a small cottage hospital which had been established by the sisterhood there. In December 1865 the mother superior at Coatham cruelly refused her permission to attend her father's deathbed. She now set to work to become a good surgical nurse, and she was soon exceptionally skilled in the treatment of wounds and fractures. The patients were chiefly men and boys disabled by coal-pit accidents, or wounded by machinery in workshops. In 1867 a new hospital was built, of which she had sole charge. Her power of work was very great; her naturally exuberant spirits never deserted her, and a deep sense of religion completely controlled her conduct. Her courage was as notable as her enthusiasm. She did not scruple to attend the most virulent cases of smallpox, and regularly attended the post-mortem examinations. In this way she acquired an accurate knowledge of anatomy, and could perform minor operations with dexterity. For a time she studied at the Birmingham Ophthalmic Hospital. She also trained lady nurses at Walsall. Grateful for her many services to them, the men of the South Staffordshire railway line in 1871 presented her with a carriage and a pony. During 1874 Sister Dora left the community of the Good Samaritan, and in February 1877 she resigned her connection with the cottage hospital of the sisterhood in order to take charge of the Municipal Epidemic Hospital in Walsall. The cases were chiefly smallpox. Full as her hands were, she found time to take part in missions to the unfortunate, and was never weary of trying to improve the conduct of her poor neighbours. In the winter of 1876 she was attacked with cancer, but continued at the hospital until it was temporarily closed on 21 June 1878. On her deathbed Monsignor Capel visited her and vainly attempted to persuade her to be baptised into the church of Rome. She died at Walsall on 24 Dec. 1878, and was buried on 28 Dec.

In remembrance of, and in gratitude for, her self-sacrifice, her portrait was placed in the board-room of the hospital, a fund was raised for sending patients to convalescent hospitals (an object which she had commenced collecting for), a memorial window was placed in the parish church, and her statue, by Williamson, was unveiled at Walsall on 11 Oct. 1886.

[Margaret Lonsdale's Sister Dora, 1880 (with portrait), People's Edition, 1887 (with portrait and view of monument); Ridsdale's Sister Dora, 1880; Sister Dora and her Statue, Walsall, 1886 (with portrait and views of tombstone and monument); Memoirs of Mark Pattison, 1885, p. 3, &c.]

G. C. B.