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Isabella Shearer Walker (1875-1954)

Commandant of Durham 18th Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital, Hebburn

Isabella Walker, nee Shields, first appears on the 1881 census as a six-year-old. Her father, Thomas, is recorded as being a widower. There are three other children, besides Isabella, in the household. At the address that they are living at, 23 Hibernian Road, Jarrow, there are three other households also listed.

In 1891 Isabella was no longer living with her family but was working as a domestic servant for John G Gordon (or Jordon), a ship builders clerk in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. By 1891 she had left domestic service and was a nurse at Monkwearmouth and Southwick Infirmary. It would seem likely that this is where she met her husband, Allan Mackie Garnock Walker, who was a surgeon and physician. They married in 1902 and by 1911 had two children and were living in a house with nine rooms and two servants. On the 1911 census it seems as if Isabella has knocked a few years off her age.

During the First World War Isabella worked as Commandant and Matron at the Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital in Hebburn Hall from May 1915 to February 1919. She received the Saint John’s War Badge and the Royal Red Cross for her work at the hospital. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross by the King and was afterwards presented to the Queen at Marlborough House (Jarrow Express, 7 June 1918).

Civil Parish: Hebburn

Birth date: 1875

Death date: 04-Aug-1954

Armed force/civilian: Civilian

Residence: 23 Hibernian Road, Jarrow (1881 census)
24 Stansfield Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland (1891 census)
Monkwearmouth and Southwick Infirmary, Roker Avenue, Sunderland (1901 census)
Glengarnock, Victoria Road East, Hebburn (VAD Record Card, 1911 census and Kelly’s Directory 1914)

Employment: Domestic servant (1891 census)
Nurse, Monkwearmouth and Southwick Infirmary, Roker Avenue, Sunderland (1901 census)
Commandant and Matron (VAD Record Card)

Family: Father: Thomas Shields, boiler maker
Siblings: Marion Shields, Janet Shields, Thomas Shields (1881 census)
Husband: Allan Mackie Garnock Walker (m. 1902)
Son: William Walker (+ one) (1911 census)

Medal(s): Royal Red Cross Medal, Second Class
Saint John’s War Badge

Gender: Female

Contributed by Donna, Women's Health in South Tyneside volunteer | Durham at War Team

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