A special lady….
Ann was born in Staffordshire in 1886, the eldest child and only surviving daughter of eight children.
Perhaps it was her experience of having six younger brothers to take care of after her mother died, which made Ann realise that nursing was the path she wanted to follow - All through her formative years she’d professed to wanting to become a nurse when she grew up…
She began her training when she was about twenty years of age and toward the end of the first decade of the twentieth century she had become a fully registered nurse.
Now she had to make the decision which direction to take in her nursing career.
…She opted for midwifery which had only just become a recognised specialised nursing skill….Midwives in England had received very little formal training until the early twentieth century and weren’t licensed until 1902, when the Midwives Bill was passed. Prior to that time women and babies were more likely to die under the care of an untrained midwife than under the care of a doctor – and the mother would often be told to pray for forgiveness when preparing for childbirth.
Ann worked in a hospital for a few years before opting to go into private midwifery. – a good move for her at that time, because her services were soon in great demand by the more affluent people who could afford to have their babies born in the pleasant surroundings of their own home under the care of a qualified midwife.
I’ve read that although she was a lovely lady and a well respected midwife, she was very aloof and some people were totally in awe of her….during a delivery she would make it known in no uncertain terms that she was the person in charge, and the attending doctor was to take his instructions from her.
How Ann’s good reputation became known is uncertain - most probably just by word of mouth, as it wasn’t long before her midwifery expertise was widely acknowledged in the upper echelon of society, and as families were much larger in those days her skills were in constant demand, with her returning to oversee the same pregnant mothers through numerous childbirths.
It appears she would join a family a few days before the expected birth and stay in attendance for as long as required afterwards - usually for about four weeks.
….I believe Ann would have enjoyed these postnatal weeks, for she would be acknowledged as an important part of the family and would delight in the many privileges that came her way during this period.
It appears private midwifery was quite a lucrative occupation, and privileged families were happy to pay the fees they were charged – no doubt assuming the ladies and their babies would be getting the very best of medical attention.
Ann continued in this satisfying work for over twenty years, up until she met and fell in love with Albert. They married, but because Albert’s health was becoming quite a concern Ann made the heart wrenching decision to retire from midwifery, so that she could care full time for her husband, and with the money she’d accumulated over the years she and her husband bought a large house in Hertfordshire where she let out rooms to gentlemen of wealth and/or of high social status
Sadly after a few short years Albert’s poor health rapidly deteriorated, so they decided to sell the guest house and move into somewhere smaller and more manageable.
It appears some family members of “her babies” as she called them, had remained in contact with Ann after she’d retired from midwifery, and one of these families from Staffordshire offered her a cottage on their estate where she and her husband could live out their retirement..
After the death of her husband Ann remained in this cottage until her own death in 1961 aged seventy five..
The sad part of Ann’s life is the fact that she lost touch with most of her siblings over the years, and as she remained childless herself she was quite a lonely lady at the time of her death.