Sarah Swift
Dame Sarah Ann Swift, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

Royal Red Cross
The Royal Red Cross is a military decoration awarded in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth for exceptional services in military nursing.The award was established on 27 April 1883 by Queen Victoria, with a single class of Member...

 (22 November 1854, Kirton Skeldyke
Kirton, Lincolnshire
Kirton, or Kirton in Holland is a village and civil parish within the Borough of Boston, in Lincolnshire, England.-Geography:Kirton is on the A16, B1397 and B1192 south of Boston, near Frampton and Sutterton. Several satellite villages and hamlets take their name from Kirton, including Kirton...

, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 – 27 June 1937, Marylebone
Marylebone is an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St. Marylebone or Mary-le-bone....

) was a nurse and founder in 1916 of the Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Nursing
The Royal College of Nursing is a union membership organisation with over 395,000 members in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1916, receiving its Royal Charter in 1928, Queen Elizabeth II is the patron...

, thereby introducing Nurse registration
Nurse registry
A nurse registry, nursing registry, or register of nurses is a list of nurses who are legally licensed to practice nursing. The register is maintained by the licensing body designated by law to regulate the profession. This is the source of the legal title "Registered Nurse"...


Early life

She was born on the Blossom Hall Estate at Kirton Skeldyke in Holland, Lincolnshire
Holland, Lincolnshire
Holland is an area of south-east Lincolnshire, England. The name is still recognised locally and survives in the district of South Holland.-Administration:...

, the daughter of a tenant farmer
Tenant farmer
A tenant farmer is one who resides on and farms land owned by a landlord. Tenant farming is an agricultural production system in which landowners contribute their land and often a measure of operating capital and management; while tenant farmers contribute their labor along with at times varying...


Previously, she had been Matron of Guy's Hospital
Guy's Hospital
Guy's Hospital is a large NHS hospital in the borough of Southwark in south east London, England. It is administratively a part of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. It is a large teaching hospital and is home to the King's College London School of Medicine...

 (1901-09), then retired, but in the First World War she returned to this position for the British Red Cross Society
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom branch of the worldwide impartial humanitarian organisation the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The society was formed in 1870, and is a registered charity with over 31,000 volunteers and 2,600 staff. At the heart of their work...

 and the Order of St John of Jerusalem in England.

Royal College of Nursing

With help from the Hon. Arthur Stanley
Arthur Stanley
Sir Arthur Stanley, GCVO, GBE, CB was a British Conservative politician.Born Hon. Arthur Stanley, he was the third son of Frederick Stanley, Lord Stanley and travelled to Canada with his father on the latter's appointment as Governor General of Canada in 1888, becoming an ice hockey player and a...

 (Chairman of the War Committee) she set up the College of Nursing. A letter was sent out to all the training hospitals outlining the idea pointing out that although there was disagreement on issues relating to registration there was a need to coordinated nursing and all trained nurses should unite in one democratic organisation with the power in the hands of the membership.

By 1918 there were 13,000 Members. They elected the first council and set up Centres (later to be called Branches). The College of Nursing later became the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) modelled on the Royal College of Physicians and surgeons. On 27 March 1916 the College of Nursing was registered. It became the Royal College of Nursing in 1947.


In 1919 she was made Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) for her services to nursing.

External links

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