Elizabeth Brown Stout

Elizabeth Brown Stout

Elizabeth Brown Stout (1888-1973, m. Levy,) was one of the Stout family who owned the Medical Hall Pharmacy business in Lerwick. There were six daughters and two sons. The girls did well in higher education and by 1913 Elizabeth was Headteacher in Hamnavoe School, Burra Isle. She took seamanship qualifications in order to teach navigation. Intellectually very active, she wrote articles and Shetland dialect plays. Interested in archaeology, she became a corresponding member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and identified a Viking armlet found on the island of Oxna.

She was clearly a dynamic and confident character, and a family story has her going into the Reading Room in Lerwick with her sister. It was then a male domain. "Women can read too," said Elizabeth. There were more women readers thereafter.

In 1917, the year her brother James was wounded at Arras, she gave up teaching for war work. A fluent French speaker, she was about to immerse herself in the dramatic events of the war’s last year. She became a volunteer for the Oxford Students Society for Women’s Suffrage, affiliated to the French Red Cross.

She was stationed at Dormans, in the Marne Department, helping run a canteen. It had to be evacuated during the 1918 German offensive and thereafter she worked as an assistant nurse in the Hotel Astoria hospital, Paris. During this time the French capital was under aerial and long range artillery bombardment. She also worked as a guide from the British Army and Navy Leave Club and helped establish a canteen at a French heavy artillery base. After the armistice she worked at a canteen for Italian soldiers in Belgian Luxembourg.

She found a husband in France, Lieutenant Nathan Levy of the US Navy, and married in Paris, wearing the uniform of the Croix-Rouge Française. The couple honeymooned in Shetland, and spent the rest of the lives in the USA.  She was to die there in Atlanta, in 1973. She returned to the islands a number of times, sometimes for extended periods. In 1948, she took her niece Margaret on a tour, "in some style", of Europe, showing her where she lived in the previous war.

Elizabeth Brown Stout (Margaret Stuart)
Elizabeth Brown Stout in French Red Cross uniform. From Margaret Stuart.