Rose Potter CLARRIBUTT (c.1813–1878)
St Paul section: Row 9, Grave A13½ [St Paul ref. L.6]

Rose Clarributt








JANUARY 5, 1878, AGED 67




Rose Potter Clarributt (sometimes spelt Clarribut or Claributt) was born in Southampton in 1812/13 and baptised at Holyrood, Southampton on 16 March 1813. She was the daughter of Edward Clarributt, a Royal Naval lieutenant, and his wife Harriet, and had four sisters: Amelia Clark Clarributt (born 1808), Ann Clarributt (born 1815), Harriette Clarributt (born 1822) and Georgina Clarributt (born 1823). Her father died in Gosport on 24 November 1838.

At the time of the 1841 census, when she was 28, Miss Clarributt was working at the Royal Hospital at Haslar, Hampshire.

In June 1849 Miss Clarributt was elected Matron of the Radcliffe Infirmary, a post she held for almost thirty years until her death. She can be found living at the hospital in the 1851 and 1861 censuses.

Her mother died in Gosport on 31 August 1869.

Dr Frederick S. Palmer, who was appointed House Surgeon in 1870, wrote this about her:

Miss Clarributt had been Matron for about twenty years when I arrived. She was a dear old lady [age: 57], beloved by every one and deservedly so. I lunched and dined with her in her room. She was, however, very very conservative and resented innovations of any kind. She lived for her work and nothing else. She was a very strong Churchwoman and had the utmost respect for the Clergy of the Church of England. She knew the names of every bishop and of all the parsons within miles of Oxford. I always got on very well with her, but I do not think she cared very much about me. I was much too independent and my cardinal fault was that I was not a Bart.’s man, which she considered essential for professional status and success. Briscoe and Winkfield were her favourites, especially the latter.

Miss Clarributt can once again be found at the Infirmary at the time of the 1871 census. She died while still in her post in 1878:

† Miss Rose Potter Clarributt died at the Radcliffe Infirmary on 5 January 1878 at the age of 66 (according to the burial register) and 67 (according to her gravestone), and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 10 January (burial recorded in register of St Paul’s Church).

A mark of the respect in which she was held is shown by her long obituary in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 11 January 1878:

DEATH OF THE MATRON OF THE RADCLIFFE INFIRMARY.–We much regret to have to record the death of Miss Rose Claributt, Matron of the Radcliffe Infirmary. She was elected to that office in June, 1849, so that if she had lived six months longer she would have completed 30 years in the service of the Institution.

It was a hard and laborious life, and necessarily made up in large part of monotonous details, and even in the earlier portion of her tenure of office she could never be persuaded to give herself much time for rest and refreshment; whilst for the last eight or nine years she has never been absent from the walls of the Institution. It is a matter for sincere regret that she could not be persuaded to give herself a proper share of recreation, but her devotedness to duty took this shape of expressing itself. She was eminently a Christian woman, and most conscientious in performing all duties great and small, pleasing or repulsive, in the same steady spirit of fidelity to her charge. No duty, however common and trivial, was negligently performed, no occupation was considered by her unworthy if she could only believe that it contributed in any way to the well-being of her charge. But what perhaps most distinguished her was her bright and cheerful demeanour, exhibited in one way or another to all who came within her sphere. It was the outward expression of a kindly nature, ever directed away from itself and endeavouring in some way or other to give comfort or pleasure to others. Most of those who have acquired renown as philanthropists have done so by the use of their words, written or spoken, to suggest to others plans for alleviating human suffering and distress. But if any earn a title to fame by their deeds, here surely is one worthy of it, though it would have been the last thing to enter her thoughts, who has ministered to the comfort and health of not less than 30,000 sick and suffering poor. Her chief triumph no doubt was on the sad occasion of the Shipton accident, when more than fifteen patients were admitted and comfortably nursed within a very few hours on that memorable Christmas Eve. Many hospitals would, perhaps, have failed under such a severe trial. That the Radcliffe Infirmary did not was owing mainly to her promptitude and presence of mind, and the ready way in which her orderly foresight enabled at once the whole resources of the Institution to be marshalled to the relief of the sufferers. Others may be found to succeed her equally competent in respect of the knowledge of their duties, but none will surpass her in fidelity and devoted attention towards the Institution that now mourns her loss.

The funeral took place yesterday (Friday) morning. The body was placed in the Infirmary chapel on Thursday night, where those attending the ceremony assembled on Friday morning. After the hymn “When our heads are bowed with woe,” had been sung, the Rev. R. H. Charsley, M.A., Chaplain to the Infirmary, read the Burial Psalms and Lesson, which were followed by the hymn “Thy will be done”. The coffin was then removed to a funeral car, and the mourners and friends followed in a walking procession to St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Jericho. The pall-bearers were — F. Symonds, Esq., Horatio P. Symonds, Esq., Dr. Tuckwell, and Dr. Acland; and among those who followed were — Captain Balliston, R.N. (a relative), Dr. Gray, J. Briscoe, Esq., A. Winkfield, Esq., the Rev. J. Slatter (Hon Treasurer), A. Rico Oxley, Esq. (House Physician), W. Lewis Morgan, Esq. (House Surgeon), Rev. W. West, Rev. J. Rigaud, General Rigaud, Professor Westwood, W. Ward, Esq., E. Pickard Hall, Esq., Canon and Mrs. Ridgway, Miss Ashhurst, Mrs. Clerke, Mrs. Combe, Miss Smith, the Secretary (Mr. Hodgkins), and many others, either connected with the Institution or personal friends, and between 20 and 30 of the nurses and servants. On arriving at the Cemetery the remainder of the service was performed at the grave by the Rev. Canon Ashhurst, the Vicar of St. Paul’s (Rev. W. B. Duggan) being also present. The coffin was of polished oak with a large raised cross on the top, below which was the plate. It was covered by a violet pall, on which was a cross of white silk. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Elliston and Cavell.

Her personal estate came to nearly £300, and her sole executor was Alfred Balliston of Gosport, a naval captain.

See also Women in Oxford's History: Series 1: Rose Clarributt (1812–1878)



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