Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Thames (NZ): Remembering Sister Jessie Linton

No single day at the Thames Museum is the same. While overseas travel has been put on hold, visitors still come from around New Zealand. While some have no links to Thames, the volunteers on duty often get to meet and talk with people who have Thames names in their family tree. Here is the story of a very special visitor, who is related to a very 'special' Thamesite.


The Thames Hospital School of Nursing was founded c1900. In 1901 nursing changed with the introduction of Nurses' Registration in 1901. Under Matron Stewart's guidance a successful training school was established - nurses came from all around New Zealand to undertake the three year training programme. Successful probationers were awarded the Thames Hospital certificate, they then went on to sit the New Zealand State examinations - once passed they they were awarded State registration.

Miss Jessie Emma Linton was born at Fielding in 1888, the daughter of  Emma and Francis Linton. Jessie was the eldest of eleven children. Birth Registrations at NZ BMD for her other siblings are:1889/4641 Linton Margaret Grace; 1890/14259 Linton Robert Charles; 1892/11677 Linton Annie Lyle; 1895/15505 Linton Andrew William; 1897/5563 Linton Barbara Elizabeth; 1899/342 Linton Isabel Zanna Emma; 1901/7807 Linton Francis Armstrong; 1904/5675 Linton Alister Murray; 1905/19354 Linton Harvey Little. and 1908/23585 Linton Janet Ellen.

The Linton family moved around the Manawatu, to Taranaki and  to the Te Awamatu region. By 1914,Jessie had decided to undertake her nursing training at Thames Hospital. Trainee nurses lived at the hospital in accommodation provided in the central two-storied wing of the hospital which faced Baillie Street. This 'second' hospital was opened  in 1900 and boasted modern equipment supplemented by the modern nursing methods that Matron Stewart implemented.

Thames Hospital, Baillie Street c1910.

In the June 1917 examinations, four nurses from Thames Hospital passed with marks over 75%. They were: Fanny Maria Warren, Christina Pilkington, Jessie Emma Linton and Daisy Sage. That year 93 Nurses sat throughout New Zealand, with 83 Nurses passing the three papers (consisting of Medical, Surgical and Oral sections).  In August 1917, the hard work had paid off and Staff Nurse Linton was officially registered, number 2179 on the Nurses' Register.

Nursing Register, published in the New Zealand Gazette
Available at

Sadly the next heard of Sister Linton, was during the November 1918 influenza epidemic - Jessie worked tirelessly caring for patients but became a victim of the epidemic. Sister Jessie Emma Linton, Thames trained nurse, died of influenza 18 November 1918.


Sister Linton was interred at Shortland Cemetery, Thames 20 November 1918. A large number of available Board and staff attended the graveside service held by Reverend Milne. The pallbearers were returned soldiers dressed in full uniform - a mark of respect for the service given by Jessie and to honour two of her brother who had been Killed in Action in World War One (Robert in 1916 and Andrew in 1918).

Due to the respect that Sister Jessie Linton was held in, both at the hospital and the community, a special plaque was erected to remember her service to the town. The plaque reads:

This Plot was Enclosed 
Tablet Erected 
By the People of Thames 
In Grateful Remembrance 
Sister Jessie E. Linton 
Formerly of Thames Hospital 
After Untiring Devotion to Duty 
During the Epidemic of 1918 
She Fell a Victim 
And Died 18th Nov 1918 
Aged 30 Years 
In the Service of Humanity 
She found the Inspiration of a noble Life.

Left: Staff Nurse Jessie Linton. Right: The plaque on Jessies plot at Shortland Cemetery.


Earlier this month, a family related to Jessie came to the Museum and arrangements were made to visit Linton's grave. What an amazing moment!  Accompanied by family, Alice (nee Linton, the daughter of Jessie's youngest brother Harvey), made the trek to the grave near the western boundary.

Sister Linton's niece Alice, reads the article on Jessie from True Tales of Thames Hospital.
Thames Hospital WWI Nurses' Plaque

Sister Linton is remembered on the Nurses' WWI plaque at Thames Hospital.
Many thanks to Alice for sharing her family history. Through these personal visits the memories of these special Thamesites lives on.

Sister Jessie Linton - Lest We Forget