BRAITHWAITE Margaret Dorothea – VAD Nurse
Margaret Dorothea Braithwaite was born on 8th April 1878 at Great Waldingfield, Suffolk, the 2nd daughter and 4th child of the Reverend Francis Joseph Braithwaite and his wife Mary (nee Hopkinson). Mary was daughter of the late Reverend John Hopkinson, Rector of Alwalton, Huntingdonshire and domestic chaplain to Earl Fitzwilliam. The couple married in the June Quarter 1871 and Francis took over as Rural Dean and Rector of the parish of Great Waldingfield, Suffolk where the couple’s five sons and two daughters were born:
Francis Joseph Braithwaite, born 5th December 1872
Mary Elizabeth Braithwaite, born 23rd April 1874
William John Braithwaite, born 1st June 1875
Margaret Dorothea Braithwaite
Thomas Mills Braithwaite, born 8th September 1880
Richard Edmund Braithwaite, born 2nd July 1883
Humphrey Layland Braithwaite, born 25th June 1885
On 28th May 1889 at the age of 52, Reverend Francis Braithwaite died and was buried on 1st June at Great Waldingfield. Following his death, Mary and the children had to leave the rectory, hence by the time of the 1891 census Mary aged 46, her two daughters, Mary E. Braithwaite aged 16 and Margaret D. Braithwaite aged 12 and her three sons Thomas M. Braithwaite aged 10, Richard E. Braithwaite aged 7 and Humphrey L. Braithwaite aged 5 were living in Brighton Sussex. Mary had sufficient income to support herself and her family and hire a female servant. By 1901 Mary, her two daughters and her eldest son had moved back to Suffolk and were living at 5 Acton Place, Melford along with three female servants and one male servant.
It is not known when or even if Margaret undertook any professional nurse training. On the night of the 1911 census both she and her sister Mary are recorded as spinsters and visitors at 78 Gloucester Place, Portman Square West, St Marylebone, London. Their mother, still as a widow, was resident at Brook House, Long Melford, Suffolk and this is the address given by Margaret when she joined the Suffolk branch of the British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment as a full time Nursing Member on 15th May 1915. She had previously worked from 13th December 1914 to 10th March 1915 at Brettenham Park Hospital, Brettenham, Suffolk. Margaret commenced working as an Assistant Nurse at the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth where she remained until her death from septic pneumonia on 3rd March 1919 at the age of 40. She was laid to rest in the churchyard of St Lawrence, Great Waldingfield.
Tragically, Margaret would lose two of her brothers in the Great War. Her eldest brother, Francis Joseph, a pre-war soldier, died in Tanzania on 4th November 1914 at the age of 42 while serving as a Major with the 2nd Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Two years later her youngest brother, Second Lieutenant Humphrey Layland Braithwaite serving with the Royal Engineers was killed in action in Belgium, aged 31.