Bertha Devenish

Born in 1863, her father was George Parker Bidder. Died 11th June 1955, aged 92.

She married Henry Weston Devenish on 13th October, 1888, in the Mitcham Parish church. At the time of the wedding, she was living at Ravensbury.

In the 1891 census they were living in Whitchurch, Hampshire.

In the 1901 and 1911 censuses, they are at Hillfield, Mitcham.

She was chairwoman of the Women’s League of Service.

She was awarded the OBE on 1st April 1920 for her work on the Mitcham War Savings Committee.

MRS BERTHA DEVENISH
MRS BERTHA DEVENISH© IWM (WWC D8-5-934)

Her will:

DEVENISH Bertha, O.B.E. of The Walls, Ashley-road, Parkstone, Dorsetshire, widow died 11th June 1955

Probate London 31st August to Henry Purcell Devenish retired company director and Anna Cicely Fraser-Simson widow.

Effects £24,043 10s. 6d.

Adjusted for inflation, this is around £600,000 in 2016 values.


In a letter to Lady Reading, 19th January 1939, WRVS R6/3, Dorset, she wrote:

The large majority of women here are either the very poor (who are, of course, out of the question) or the next class, of respectable working people—eager to help, but without the time or the capacity of rendering services which would be of any real value so the State …As I understand it, the women whom the WRVS wishes to reach are the unoccupied people of the educated middle and upper classes, whose brains and bodies are trained, whose time is not always fully occupied, and who could if they chose render really valuable services to their country…

quote from page 65 of the book Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World War: Continuities of Class
By James Hinton, published in 2002.

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