#OnePlaceWomen: Amy Beatrice Prickman

My #OnePlaceWednesday contribution for #OnePlaceStudies at #Sticklepath #SticklepathOne

Thanks to a fellow One-placer I was prompted to search the Red Cross website for the names of Sticklepath volunteers. One of the two found is Amy Beatrice Prickman. That made my ears prick up (sorry!) because I have come across that surname many times before, though not as a resident of Sticklepath. Rather the visiting Coroner who held inquests in the Taw River Hotel or Inn. My aim is to research each resident of Sticklepath from about 1750 to 1970. So I set about finding what I could about Amy Beatrice.

Research shows she was indeed the wife of John Dunning Prickman, Okehampton Solicitor and Coroner of Devon. His second wife in fact, with no children (his first wife Mary Hatton died in childbirth). J.D. will feature in future posts. Here, I will just comment that as a married woman the husband’s income, wealth, and status made a great difference to the opportunities offered to a wife or widow. Amy Beatrice was a woman of considerable wealth following her husband’s death in 1913, demonstrated in her purchase of Tawburn House in Sticklepath. Advertised on Thursday 5th April 1917 in The Western Times (Exeter) as a Stone-Built Detached residence in the occupation of Mrs Mesney, with “3 reception rooms, 7 bedrooms, bathroom and the usual offices, ample out-buildings and large gardens”. We get an update on Friday April 13th 1917:

and when she came to sell her belongings, just 3 years later, it was clearly an amazing auction!

Advertised widely, including in the North Devon Journal – Thursday 22 April 1920 (all newspaper reports accessed via the British Newspaper Archive) For sale on ‘Wednesday next’, 28th April:

TAWBURN HOUSE, STICKLEPATH. CALLAWAY and CO. have been favoured with instructions from Mrs. J. D. Prickman to Sell by Auction, the Valuable FURNISHINGS, including Mahogany Music Canterbury, Arm Chair in Morocco Leather, Chesterfield, Couch Crotonne, Oak Table with Brass Drop Handles, Axminster Carpet, Bookcase, Water Colours, Engravings, Old Oil Paintings, Bronze Candlesticks and Horses, 2 Oriental Jugs, Sideboards, Buyer’s Tray, Handsome Inlaid Sheraton Drawing-room Chair, Antique Stuart Writing Bureau (dated 1662), Oak Linen Press, Beaten Brass Trays, Oak Bookcase, Oak Book Trough, 4 Oak Chairs with Rush Seats. 3-tier Inlaid Walnut Whatnot, Rosewood, Walnut, and other Occasional Tables, Walnut Armchair in Silk Tapestry, Oak Card Table, Wicker and other Arm Chairs, Copper Coal Vase, Iron and Brass Ditto, Oak Hall Chairs,  Carpets, Rugs, Tables, Bedroom Suites, Curtains, Baskets, Bedroom Ware, Dinner Services, very fine Jug by Martin Bros., Antique Doulton Teapot, Venetian Bowl and Vase, Zolnay  Vase, quantity Pattern Dishes, Blue and White Tea Service, Minton Jug, quantity of Cut Glass and other Glass Ware, China, etc quantity old Pewter, including Inkstands, Salvers, Plates, Measures, Mustard Pot, Salt cellars, etc.. Plated Entree Dishes, 5 Pair old Brass Candlesticks, 2 Pair Copper Ditto, Plated  Spirit Stand with Cut Glass Bottles, Inkstand, centrepiece, Plated Fruit Stand, Egg and Toast Rack Silver Inkstand, 2 Plated Butter Dishes. 2 Silver Mounted Decanters, Silver Plated Strawberry and Cream Dish with Doulton Ware Dishes, fine collection  of Books, songs and Music, quantity of Antique and other China, Quantity of garden Tools and Plants, and several other lots. Catalogues. 6d. each. Sale at 12 noon. 

The electors registers says she lived at Burnside not Tawburn but I suspect she perhaps called it by the different name. I am not aware of another house in Sticklepath called Burnside. Unfortunately she only lived in Sticklepath between census recordings. I think it is unlikely she was still there in 1921 though she may have lived in Sticklepath prior to her purchase of Tawburn.

Her life has been researched using records from Ancestry and Findmypast. Amy Beatrice was one of the daughters of Rev William Mutrie Shepherd (b.1832 Abingdon) and Caroline Anne Strange (b 1840 Liverpool). The GRO index confirms her mother’s surname. The Newton Arlosh Parish Register, Cumberland, shows she was baptised 16 Jun 1872. Records including 1939 register confirm her date of birth was 22 May 1872. Aged 8 she was living in St Cuthbert without Harraby, Cumberland, where her father was the vicar of St John’s, Carlisle. She had brothers Cresswell N Shepherd aged 4 and Ernest E Shepherd aged 3 years. She was a student at Carlisle and County High School for girls in 1886. By 1891 she was living with her uncle John Taylor, clergyman in Holy Orders and Schoolmaster Christchurch Parish, Tunbridge Wells, Kent along with Rev Taylor’s wife, 6 daughters, 2 sons and 9 male boarders/scholars. In 1901 she is a ‘Governess’ living at St Barnabas Bexhill, Battle, Sussex, aged 28, teaching school. In 1908 26 November, she was married at Croydon St John, apparently by her own father the assistant curate, to John Dunning Prickman. She was 17 years younger than him. In 1911 they are living at 21 Fore Street, Okehampton, with a cook and female servant from local villages. She was widowed on 13 March 1913.

So we come to the Red Cross records, a record set I had not used before. The work of the Red Cross during World War One included running Auxilary Hospitals for convalescent soldiers and Military hospitals. Auxilary hospitals usually had a commandant, who was in charge of the hospital except for the medical and nursing services,  a matron, who directed the local VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment volunteers), who were trained in first aid and home nursing, a visiting GP, and a quartermaster, who was responsible for the receipt, custody and issue of articles in the provision store. Mrs A. Beatrice Prickman was quartermaster for the Okehampton VA Hospital from 31st December 1914 to 1st June 1915 on a full time basis. This was based in Dartmoor House Belstone.

In February 1915 the War Office proposed that volunteers could help at Military Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) hospitals. These had previously been staffed exclusively by army nurses and orderlies from the RAMC. 

The Okehampton Military Hospital was based in Okehampton and volunteers needed several weeks training and to pass exams as well as practical experience. Mrs A. Beatrice Prickman became an Emergency Nurse at Okehampton Military hospital in April 1916 until November, completing 920 hours as a volunteer in this capacity. It seems likely that a significant amount of the time between these two roles was spent in training.

On census night 1939 she is living in a boarding house in Royal Tunbridge Wells, ‘Private means incapacitated’. We lose track of her then until her death 14 September 1964 and probate 17 November 1964 when her address is given as Rockmount Hotel Ephraim Road, Tunbridge Wells. The value of her estate £374.00.

Many questions arise but remain unanswered.

2 thoughts on “#OnePlaceWomen: Amy Beatrice Prickman

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