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Susan Prowse-Tako's December Prowse Highlights

Dear Friends and Family,

'Tis the Season and here in the mountains of western North Carolina the Salvation Army volunteers are out in force ringing their bells to entice the citizens to give generously for the needy, which reminds me that the Reverend George Henry Prowse (1906-1969), vicar of St, John the Evangelist in Colchester from 1957-1967, and grandfather of Jane Girdlestone, nee Prowse, was originally a captain in the Salvation Army together with his wife, Ivy Ethel Willis. Ivy's father, also a member of the Salvation Army, was imprisoned along with William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army for preaching on street corners and 'disturbing the peace' (but not for ringing bells!)  Jane's branch of the Prowse family is descended from Robert Prowse of Tiverton, 6th son of John Prous and Jone Orchard. Their gt-gt-gt-grandson, George Prowse (1609-1675), was ordained minister and rector of Ashburton in 1662 – perhaps one of our family's earliest rectors?

I wish you all a very Happy (or 'Merry' if you live in the USA!) Christmas and every best wish for the New Year, Sue


6 December 1732: Birthdate of Warren Hastings, English colonial administrator and first Governor-General of India.  Hastings was “an intimate friend and protege of Samuel George Skardon” (1732-1788) and was godfather to one of his sons, who was named after him, Warren Hastings Skardon (1782-1802). The Skardons are related to the Prowses through the marriage of Elizabeth Skardon (1829-1909) to my great-grandfather, Dr. William Prowse (1825-1917).

 (see 'The Further Adventures of the Skardons in British India & Around the World' from my book 'The Skardon Story').


6 December 1794: Birth of Captain William Prowse , R.N. (1794-1886) who married Emma Bird Ferris (died 1841), ancestors of Reginald James Prowse (1878-1942), who emigrated to New Zealand in 1901. His grandson, Anthony Edward Ferris Prowse was born on 29 December, 1939. (see pp. 373- 374 'First Do No Harm')


6 December 1905: Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, completes a 2½ year voyage along the Arctic coast in his 47-foot (14.m) cutter. John Rae (1813-1893), physician, surgeon, and arctic explorer, beat him to it by mapping thousands of miles of the Arctic Circle as he surveyed the Arctic coast by snow-shoe. Rae is related to our Prowse family through his aunt, Jeannie Rae, who married my gt-gt-grandfather, Francis Winter (1776-1827). His granddaughter, Margaret Winter Mitchell (1860-1921), married my grandfather, Arthur Bancks Prowse (ABP)(1856-1925). (see pp.241-243 in my book, “First Do No Harm”).


7 December 1817: Death of Rear-Admiral William Bligh, captain of the 'Bounty' when its crew mutinied. Adeline Prowse, wife of Philip Prowse of New Zealand, is descended from Matthew Quintal, one of the 1787 'Mutiny on the Bounty' mutineers. Matthew stayed on board the Bounty with Fletcher Christian after they had set William Bligh adrift in the South Pacific Ocean.

7 December 1941: Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor. 5 U.S. Battleships and 14 other ships wrecked or sunk; 200 aircraft destroyed; 2400 men killed. John Charles Roach, American naval artist, who is married to Judith Prowse (American genealogist who worked at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.) painted the 50'x15' mural at the Pearl Harbor Memorial that covered the south side of the Visitor Center's wall, depicting the USS Arizona steaming off Diamond Head in the summer of 1941.

8 December 1864: Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge – the longest and highest bridge in the world - opened. 150,000 people gathered to watch the all-day festivities. Brunel died before seeing his project, which he described as “my first love, my darling”, completed. ABP (Arthur Bancks Prowse (1856-1925), who would have been 8-years-old when the bridge first opened, moved to Clifton as an adult and my father, A.S. 'Keith' Prowse (1901-1971) and uncle, David C. Prowse (1899-1976) were born and brought up there, both attending Clifton College before studying Medicine at Bristol University.

10 December 1976: Death of Peter Prowse (born 1924) in Durban, South Africa. Professional Stage, Film, and TV Actor. He kidnapped 18-year-old Carla Asunta Rosa Bagattini, and later married and divorced her. He was reputedly a 2nd cousin of Juliet Prowse. Rather unkindly described as an “unreliable fantasist and inveterate dreamer” in his biography, he “frequently announced projects that kept him in the public eye, but went nowhere”! His ancestors came from Halwell, Devon, which is next to Morley, where Juliet's ancestors came from. His grandfather, Harry Matthews Prowse (born 1862) emigrated to South Africa in 1895. (see p 403-410, 'First Do No Harm')


11 December 1880: Birth of Nora Francis Farnell Prowse in Cape Town, South Africa to John Henry Prowse (1843-1901) of Long Wittenham and  Mary Anne Pleasant Powell. Her father emigrated to Cape Town in 1876. She met her husband, E. Theodore Rebotier Tyers, while nursing him back to health during the 2nd Boer War. He had fought for the British side. (see p. 426, 'First Do No Harm').

12 December 1900: In London, the War Office announces that more than 11,000 British troops have so far lost their lives in the 2nd Boer War, with over 2/3rds of that number falling prey to disease. The 2nd Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, arrived in South Africa on the 8th December, 1899. Among their officers was Charles Bertie Prowse (1869-1916) who took part in several battles during that war. (see p. 193-199 & 241-245, 'Those in Peril').


12 December 1915: Birth of Frank Sinatra, briefly engaged to Juliet Prowse (1936-1996) in 1962 until she broke it off to continue her film career. (see pp. 393-402 in my 'First Do No Harm' book).


13 December 1914: Death of Bernard Pitts (born in 1849 in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire) BA Cantab 1872; MA 1875; MB 1875; MC 1877; FRCS, Eng., 1877, Cambridge and St. Thomas's Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. Perhaps the most industrious of our family's many medical physicians. His parents were Thomas Pitts & Gertrude Prowse, youngest daughter of Samuel Prowse of Newfoundland.  (see p. 237 of my book 'First Do No Harm').

14 December 1895: Birth of King George VI. June Colville Barrington Prowse's father, Commander Sir Richard Colville, held the office of Press Secretary to the King between 1947-1952 and was also Press Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II between 1952-1968. He was made a Companion of the Bath in 1960 and held the office of Extra Equerry to the Queen between 1968-1975. June's grandfather, Sir Stanley Cecil James Colville, GCB GCMB GCVO, also served King George V as his “First & Principal Aide-de-Camp” in 1919, and her uncle, Sir John 'Jock' Colville, served 3 prime ministers including Sir Winston Churchill as Private Secretary. His memoirs, “The Fringes of Power: 10 Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955” makes fascinating reading! (see pp.207-226 in my 'First Do No Harm' book). June is married to Anthony Barrington Prowse, son of Irwin Barrington Prowse, and has 3 children: Sebastian, Alexandra & Nicholas Barrington Prowse.


14 December 1903: Birth of Cedric Barrington Prowse (1903-1988), MRCS, LRCP, MB, Bchir, MRCP, MD, FRCP, who married Jean Ogilvie Grant (born December 2, 1914 / died 1997) whose great-uncle, Charles Grant was awarded the Victoria Cross. Educated at Tonbridge School, Cedric excelled in sport, representing his school in cricket, rugby, athletics & hockey. He did his medical training at Cambridge and St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and practiced in Brighton, Sussex. He volunteered for military service in 1938 and joined the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel in charge of a medical division and serving in North Africa with the British First Army and in the Italian Campaign with the Eighth and Fifth Armies and with the British Land Forces in Europe, being mentioned in dispatches.


15 December 1890: 'Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux shot dead. For several years he performed with Buffalo Bill's traveling Wild West shows, which were often illustrated by Western artist, Robert Prowse, Jr. (1858-?1934), born in Clerkenwell, London, later moving to Battersea and, as an adult, living in Tottenham (1901) and dying in Romford, Essex. He married a French lady and had 13 children! Robert started off providing covers for novels and became the main cover artist for the Robin Hood Library but was best known for his “Western” art, Buffalo Bill illustrations. His father, Robert Prowse, was also a prolific artist for 'penny dreadfuls' and rated amongst the best of the woodcut artists. He became one of the leading contributors to boys adventure weeklies in the 1860s. (see Steve Holland Blog 'A Tale of Two Roberts')


15 December 1899: Battle of Colenso during the 2nd Boer War. Fought between British and Boer forces in the first attempt to relieve the Siege of Ladysmith. A humiliating defeat for the British with 145 dead, 762 wounded, and 220 missing or prisoners, while just 8 dead and 30 wounded on the Boer side. Charles Bertie Prowse of the 2nd Battalion Somerset Light Infantry took part in, and survived, this battle. (see p. 197 of my book 'First Do No Harm').


16 December 1850: “First Immigrant ship, the 'Charlotte Jane', arrives in New Zealand”. However, the ancestors of Alison Milne of New Zealand, Richard & Mary Prouse, arrived at Petone, Wellington,  NZ, in February 1840 with 6 children (a 7th arrived 10 years later). They hailed from Aveton Gifford, Devon and left Plymouth on the ship 'The Duke of Roxburgh” on 3 October 1839, reaching Wellington on 7 February, 1840. In her book, “The Prouse Connection, the Descendants of Richard and Mary Prouse, 1840-2021”, Alison states that there are now over 10,000 descendants, spouses and families of Richard (c.1792-1875) & Mary (1787-1870) Prouse. (see pp. 359-374, 'First Do No Harm' for some of our NZ cousins' stories).


17 December 1903: The Wright brothers make the first powered flight. Guess who got there first?! Sir George Cayly, eccentric English inventor, is reputed to have made the very first flight ever (his footman had the dubious privilege of actually flying his aircraft!). Sir George is descended from the Cailly's who married into our Norman DePreaux family in the 12th century.(see August 18, & October 4 entries in my Prowse Family History Highlights).


20 December 1851: Edward Prowse (1824-1862) married Mary Ann Carbin in Adelaide, Australia. He was an engineer and architect who worked with Isambard Kingdom Brunel before he emigrated to Australia in 1849 on the S.S. Bolton with his friend, Edward Snell, who wrote a book about their adventures in the Outback (The Life & Adventures of Edward Snell). Edward collapsed and died of “apoplexy” at the age of 38. He fathered 4 sons and 2 daughters. (see p. 297 in my book 'First Do No Harm').


22 December 1801: Birth of William Prowse of Keith Prowse & Co. (theatrical agents) fame. He died in 1886.


22 December 1943: Beatrix Potter, creator of 'Peter Rabbit', dies. Beatrix's father, Rupert Potter, was a good friend of Sir John Millais, the British artist, who asked him to take a photograph of his grandson, William James (who, incidentally, was born on December 22, 1881), so he could complete his painting of “Bubbles”, which became famous as the advertisement for the Pears Soap Company. The Kingston Manor branch of our family is descended from Millais, as his granddaughter, Esme Millais married Charles Anthony Stanley Prowse, Thea Parson's father and Benedict and Katherine Parson's grandfather. (see p. 312 & 365/366,'Those in Peril', and 18 July entry in Family History Highlights).

23 December 1805:  Birth of Joseph Smith, American founder of the Mormons. Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led his followers west to settle in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  Laurie Littledike's grandmother, Gertrude Prouse, born in Wales, was a toddler when her family (William Henry Prouse and Elizabeth Watts Tucker Prouse) emigrated to Utah, America, in November 1892, with her two older sisters (Rachel and Beatrice Prouse). Gertrude's father was born in Buckland Brewer, Devon, and her mother in Swansea, Wales.  After they had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (the Mormons), they were brutalized, lost jobs and many belongings and chose to leave the British Isles. Laurie, who accompanied Vee & Bill Sweeney, and me on a wonderful pilgrimage to Preaux in Normandy in 2013, says that there was a Prouse/Prowse who was part of the Mormon Battalion who were called up by the U.S. Government to march 2,100 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to assist in the Mexican-America War in 1846-48. They marched to San Diego, California, but never fought a battle except “for a confrontation with wild bulls”! This Prouse/Prowse traveled to Salt Lake City, then left with others to pursue the gold fields in California. The story goes that he panned for gold just 50 yards away from where a mother lode of silver was found not long after, that spawned the silver mining in Nevada near Carson City.


23 December 1831: Birth of Harry Prowse (1831-1911), Accountant, son of James Prowse (1792-1846) and Mary Anne Philpott (1795-1843), whose descendants garnered several Orders of Merit, including his grandson, Albert Edward Prowse (b. 1880) M.B.E.; great-grandson, William Arthur Prowse, O.B.E. (1907-1981); & great-granddaughter, Dorothy 'Dot' Prowse (1910-1996), M.B.E.   (see 21 July Family History Highlights ).

23 December 1897: Death of Effie Grey (Ruskin) Millais. (See 22 December Highlights above)


24 December 1828: William Burke goes on trial in Edinburgh, accused of robbing graves to sell corpses for medical research. This was a widespread and rather common crime in 19th century Britain and the reason that our William Prowse of HMS Sirius decided to be buried in a common grave inside St. Pancras New Church in London. An American, Thomas Guenther, lately of New Orleans and now living in Arkansas, USA, designed a Memorial to William Prowse which hangs in the crypt of St. Pancras New Church. (see p. 183 of my book 'Those in Peril').


24 December 1905: Birth of Reginald Morley Prowse, father of Juliet Prowse, in Newton Abbot, Devon.


25 December 1066: William the Conqueror crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey. Jean (John) de Preaux accompanied William's troops on their invasion of England and took part in the Battle of Hastings (Senlac). He is depicted on the Battle Abbey Roll as a “Sire de Preaux”.

29 December 1170: Murder of Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. ** There is an interesting legend to the effect that one William de Tracey took refuge at Skerrydon (sic) Manor in 1170 after participating in the plot to murder Thomas a Becket.  The Skiredon's (later Skardon) had lived at Skerraton Manor from (possibly) as early as 1086. Elizabeth Skardon (1829-1909) married Dr. William Prowse (1825-1917), my great-grandfather, in 1853.(Source: The Descendants of William Skardon and Allied Lines. A book of family data, compiled and edited by John W. Skardon, born 1974 in Simpsonville, South Carolina, USA.) (see 6 December entry here).


** Incidentally, Thomas a Beckett (“Saint Thomas”) (see 29 December Highlights entry here) was born 905 years ago (as of 20223) on 21 December, 1118. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162-70 during the reign of King Henry II, but was famously murdered in 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral by four of Henry's knights who had overheard the King muttering “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”. Within a few days of his death, his tomb became a focus of pilgrimage and he was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1173.


30 December, 1879: Gilbert & Sullivan give their first UK performance of “The Pirates of Penzance”. William Jeffery Prowse (1836-1870), the humorist and poet, was acquainted with Gilbert. William Jeffery's father died when he was 8 years-old and he was adopted by an uncle, John Sparke, of Greenwich. His mother, Marianne Jeffery, was also a poetess. William Jeffery Prowse was descended from the Newfoundland branch of the family, his great-uncle being Thomas Prowse of HMS Ajax at Trafalgar, who drowned a year later off Bermuda, and his cousin was Judge Daniel Woodley Prowse of Newfoundland (1834-1914).  (see 15 October Family History and p.144 & 187-190, in my Prowse F.H. Book, 3rd edition).




7 December 1936: Birth of twins, Noel & Nicholas Prowse, sons of Dr. Cedric Barrington Prowse (1903-1988) & Jean Ogilvie GrantNick emigrated to Canada in 1956. He died in 2019. (pp. 218-226, 'First Do No Harm'). Noel married Susan Porter in 1970 and taught history at Trinity College, Glenalmond, Scotland for over 35 years. Prior to that he did his compulsory military service in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and in the Highland Light Infantry prior to attending Cambridge University. They have 2 children, Melissa & Dominic. (see p 219, 'First Do No Harm').

13 December 1953: Birthday of Verity 'Vee' Sweeney, who has taken over from her mother, Mary Prowse, as our family historian par excellence! Vee is married to Bill Sweeney and has 2 children, Will and Nicola and 3 grandchildren, Nate, Alex, and Lucy.

14 December 1975: Marriage of Duncan (Barrington) Prowse & Christine S. Heydon, parents of Tara and Heydon Prowse, described as a TV Show host, activist, and actor, who you may have heard of! (see p. 222, 'First Do No Harm')

14 December 2009: Death of David Wade Prowse (born 1956), 2nd son of Drs. John & Alison Prowse Causton and grandson of Drs. David & Dorothy Prowse.

21 December 1941: Birthday of Susan Prowse Tako (yes-me!), born exactly at midnight on 21/22 December in Digboi, Assam, India and delivered by my father, Dr. A.S. 'Keith' Prowse.

21 December 1954: Birthday of Julia Causton Davey, wife of Alan Davey and daughter of Drs. Alison Winter Prowse (1929-2011) and John Clifford Causton (1929-2004) of Thornbury, Glos.

22 December 1881: Birthday of Sir William James, British naval commander, politician, author and grandson of Sir John Everett Millais, the artist, for whom he posed at age 5 as “Bubbles”. He died 17 August 1973 in Elie, Fife, Scotland. Related to the Kingston Manor branch of the Prowse family (see pp.309-312 & 365/366 in my book 'Those in Peril').

25 December 1982: Death of Dr. Dorothy Emily Crellin Prowse (born1901), wife of Dr. David C. Prowse & mother of Roger, Alison & Hilary Prowse, who looked after me from age 5-10, while my parents were in India.

28 December 1978: Birthday of Dr. Phoebe Hold Prowse, wife of Dr. Simon Prowse of Australia, whose  ancestor was Edward Prowse (see 20 December Highlights here). Both Phoebe and Simon completed their plastic surgery (Phoebe) and Radiology (Simon) training in England before returning to Australia. (see pp. 290/291, 'First Do No Harm').

29 December 1925:  Birthday of Mary Shaw Prowse, wife of Roger B. Prowse and mother of Chris, Laurie, Vee, and Barbara. Roger & Mary brought together Prowses/Prouses from all over the world at their International Prowse Reunions in Gidleigh and Chagford (1990); Plymouth (2004), and Portsmouth (2011) and through the publication of their Prowse Family History Newsletter. Their daughter, Vee, carried on the tradition by hosting the reunion at Tiverton in 2018.




Prouse, J. - 16th Royal Devon and R. North Devon Yeomanry Bn. Devonshire Regiment – Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel.  Private #345895. Army. British. Died 3 December 1917, age 22. Son of Job & Prudence Prouse of 2 Elmscott Terrace, Pitt Lane, Bideford, Devon (A.33).


Prowse, Ivor James – S.S. Melmore Head (Belfast) – Tower Hill Memorial, London, England.  Assistant Steward, Merchant Navy.  British. Died December 28 1942, age 19. Son of Frederick W. & A.D. Prowse of Newport, Monmouthshire. (Panel 69). His brother William Frederick Prowse also fell.


Prowse, Walter Charles – 116 'Z' A.A. (Indep.) Bty. Royal Artillery – Dorchester Cemetery, Dorset.  Engineer Gunner #988835.  Army. British.  Died 6 December 1940, age 26.  Son of Richard John & Emma Jane Prowse; husband of Hilda Kate Prowse of Dorchester.


Prouse, Edward Benson – Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps – Goderich (Maitland) Cemetery, Ontario, Canada. Private #A/20509.  Army. Canadian.  Died 23 December 1944, age 25.  Son of Charles & Flora Prouse of Goderich. (Range A Sec 7 Lot 27)


Prouse,Victor Eugene – 434 Sqdn. Royal Canadian Air Force – Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England.  Pilot Officer # J/93111.  Air Force.  Canadian.  Died December, 1944, age 23.  Son of Arthur J. & Sarah A. Prouse of Claremont, Ontario, Canada.


1 December 1853: Marriage of William Prowse (1832-1918) and Ann Maria Vallance (1833-1903) registered at Newton Abbot, Devon. William emigrated circa 1870 to the Brantford, Ontario, Canada area. His wife and five children arrive in 1872, thus starting a new Prowse branch in Canada, some of which are House of Prowse members. Daughter Emily Jemima Prowse is born 1875 in Brantford, the first born-Canadian in the line. Emily died, age 11, on 13 December 1886.

1 December 1906: Birth of Bertha Susan 'Susie' Prowse (d. 1985 Florence, SC, USA), 2nd youngest of seven daughters of Edwin John Prowse (1856-1911) and Clara Elizabeth Barns (1868-1935) and mother of Nancy Boccadoro of Georgia, USA, an active Prowse researcher and House of Prowse member. Susie's claim to fame is having been a 'Domestic' for a prominent business, military, and diplomatic figure, Howard Calhoun Davidson, whose family business, the National Cash Register co., invented the cash register. HC Davidson happened to also be the commander at the Pearl Harbor airbase when the Japanese attacked in Dec 1941. (see HoP Blog: 'A Prowse Maid in Manhattan')

4 December 1935: Birth of Gordon Sanson, an avid researcher of Prowse family history in Australia, and the son of Roy Sanson (1903-1959) and Beverley Prowse (1913-1999). Gordon passed 23 December 2022. A dying wish was that his research should be compiled and published. His daughter Michele is working on this. Gordon is a descendant of William Prowse (1798-1862) and Honor Jelbart (1805-1878) of Gulval, Cornwall. Four of William and Honor's sons; William, James, John, and Richard, emigrated to Australia for gold mining. These four men begat many of the Australian Prowses today and several HoP members. Gordon's gt-gt-grandfather was James (1836-1904). His gt-grandfather James Irwin Prowse published a book listing the descendants of these four men, numbering over 1800, in 1992.

9 December 1993: Death of Elizabeth Alice 'Bessie' Prowse (b.1893 London) at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Bessie was the eldest of Edwin John Prowse's seven daughters and is the grandmother of Marea Upton-Prowse, b.1945, who is in-turn married to James 'Jim' Henry Prowse, b.1939, who is the gt-gt-grandson of William Prowse (see 1 December 1853 listing above). Through the marriage of Marea and Jim two separate Prowse lines are connected.

23 December 1876: Death of Charles Wilfred Prowse (b.1876). Charles is notable for his mobility. Born in New Brunswick, Canada by 1900 he was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and married to Mabel Haynen from Quebec; by 1911 they were living with their children in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; by 1916 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; by 1920 in Spokane, Washington, USA; and by 1930 in Seattle, Washington, USA. All very interesting for a man whose occupation was listed as 'Book Binder'.

25 December 1779: Birthday of John Prowse (d.1836) registered at Diptford, Devon. John is the gt-gt-gt-grandfather of Malcolm Prowse and Ian Mattey, Prowse researchers and HoP Admins.

26 December 1952: Birthday of Malcolm Stephen Prowse, grandson of Richard Henry Prowse (1882-1951) Royal Navy. Malcolm is a Councillor for the Bratton-Fleming Ward in North Devon and comes from a family with a history in politics. He is also an active Prowse family historian.

27 December 1958: Birthday of Ian Richard Mattey, grandson of Annie Margaret Prowse (1894-1975) of Dagenham, Essex and great-grandson of Edwin John Prowse (1856-1911) who moved from Barnstaple, Devon to London as a mason - the family trade. Ian's parents immigrated to western Canada in 1957. Ian is the creator/administrator of the House of Prowse website and Facebook group. Ian and Malcolm Prowse, a notable Prowse family historian, are 3rd cousins.

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