Edith Louisa Cavell

born 4 December 1865, died 12 October 1915

Edith Cavell was born in Swardeston, Norfolk, the first child of the Rev. Frederick Cavell and Louisa Sophia Warming. Aged 24, she became governess to a family in Brussels, returning home in 1895 to look after her seriously ill father. The following year she registered at the London Hospital school of nursing after which she worked in several different hospitals in England before moving back to Brussels in 1907.

In Brussels, she took up a post in a new clinic and nurses' training school as director of the school. Her main task was to recruit trainees and this she did successfully until late in 1914 when the Germans occupied Belgium. Thereafter, Edith and her colleagues assisted in the escape of allied soldiers, using the clinic as a place of hiding. The Germans became suspicious of the clinic and arrested nine members of staff, accusing them of assisting the enemy and trying to damage the German war effort. Five, including Edith, were sentenced to death and put in solitary confinement. Probably due to her innocence of the consequences, she confessed to the Germans and despite international protest was executed by firing squad on 12 October 1915.

Immediately after her death, she was celebrated as a heroine and martyr. Numerous memorials to her were erected all around the country, including a statue in St Martin's Place, London, which bears the inscription 'Patriotism is not enough', taken from her final message from prison.

Edith Cavell Gardens, Inverness
Edith Cavell Gardens, Inverness
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Entry on Edith Cavell by Claire Daunton