Florence Nightingale’s Treasured Presents for her Loyal Maid

An enscribed bible and a letter written by Florence Nightingale to her maid Elizabeth Hubbard has been sold at Auction recently, for £1800.  Elizabeth Hubbard had worked for Florence Nightingale for 13 years.

The Express September 9th 2011


by Tom Morgan

A LETTER written more than 100 years ago by Florence Nightingale to her maid is to go under the hammer.

The note, together with gifts of an inscribed Bible and a copy of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, are expected to attract collectors interested in items linked to the woman who changed the face of nursing.

Florence Nightingale, who made history with her pioneering work during the Crimean War, wrote the letter in 1892 to Elizabeth Hubbard, who worked for her for 13 years.

Beginning it with “My dear Elizabeth”, Florence discussed domestic finance and signed off “kindly yours F. Nightingale”.

The note and the other items have been in Elizabeth’s family for three generations but now her grandson, Harold Pritchett, 72, has decided to sell them.

Mr Pritchett, from Atherstone in Warwickshire, said: “My grandmother adored Florence, she was a very kindly lady. At the time she was the most famous woman in Britain.

“They met in London through mutual acquaintances of the Smith-Ryland family who employed my grandmother.

“They got on so well that Florence asked permission to take her on as her own maid.”

He added: “I have known about the Florence Nightingale connection since I was a child and used to sit and talk to my mother about it.

“We have had the items in our family for 120 years. But since my mother died I have only taken the gifts and the letter out of the drawer three or four times in 30 years.”

“Having 11 grandchildren, I can’t possibly split up the things between them so I thought it was time to sell them to someone who will really appreciate them and give the money to my family.”

Nick Davies, of Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge, West Midlands, said the items could fetch up to £1,500.

He said: “It is difficult to gauge because it is so unusual. It is lovely to have all that history attached.”

Tomorrow’s auction will also include a photograph of Elizabeth, who later married a First World War soldier named Oliver. She died in 1937 at the age of 64.

Florence died in 1910 aged 90.




2 thoughts on “Florence Nightingale’s Treasured Presents for her Loyal Maid

  1. Hi there, I am acting archivist at Salisbury District Hospital. An elderly lady who trained here 60 years ago recently came, and among the things she related was how the trainees would walk across from Harcourt House to the entrance at the rear of the Infirmary (HHouse was the training school just along the road) and they would enter by “The Nightingale Door” at the rear of the main infirmary building. To be honest, I cannot imagine but that this is a Chinese whispers sort of effect, I doubt it really happened as the entry doors of her time no longer existed in the 1950s, in fact I am not even sure she ever came here. We know she corresponded and was consulted on planning issues for the West Wing in the 1860s.
    Do you have any hint of Florence ever visiting Salisbury among your records at all? That might help. Of course, she might have visited on the quiet and it was never recorded in Salisbury records…..
    Thanks for your time. Alan Doel

    • Hi Alan
      Sorry for the delay in replying to your message. I have no record that Florence ever visited Salisbury Hospital. I know she knew Dr Fowler who was head physician, and wanted to spend three months at the infirmary to learn nursing, but her parents objected to the idea. I have posted your message, perhaps someone else may have the information you require.
      Many Thanks

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