Ellen Julia ('Nellie') Gould was born on 29 March 1860 in Wales. Her mother died when Nellie was 18 months old, and her family moved to Portugal, where she received her early education. The family later returned to England and Nellie eventually became a teacher and governess.
In 1884 she visited relatives in New South Wales, and in January the following year began a two-year nursing course at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. After graduation she remained at the Hospital for a further two years, duing which time she won a medal at the Exhibition of Women's Industries. Successful in her nursing career, Nellie was appointed matron of St Kilda Private Hospital at Woolloomooloo, and then at the age of 31 became matron and superintendent of the training school at Sydney Hospital. She resigned in October 1898 to join the New South Wales Public Health Department and was matron of the Hospital for the Insane at Rydalmere in 1898-1900. Nellie was also involved in the founding of the Australasian Trained Nurses' Association (ATNA) and was a council member from 1899 until her retirement. She also initiated the publishing of the ATNA journal in 1903 and served on the editorial committee.
In 1899 Nellie helped form the Army Nursing Service Reserve, attached to the New South Wales Army Medical Corps. On 26 May she was appointed lady superintendent. In charge of 13 nursing sisters, she left in the Moravian for the South African War (Boer War) on 17 January 1900. She returned to Australia in August 1902.
On her return, Nellie Gould and her friend Sister Julia Bligh Johnston opened Ermelo Private Hospital at Newtown, Sydney. She also organized the Army Nursing Service Reserve in New South Wales and was appointed principal matron of the 2nd Military District. In 1912 Ermelo was sold, and both Nellie Gould and Julia Johnston joined the Public Health Department.
When war broke out again Nellie was eager to provide her services. She enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served in Egypt, caring for Gallipoli casualties. Her services were recognised in the Royal Red Cross medal (1st class). She later served in France and England, returning to Australia in January 1919. Nellie retired in 1921 and died at Neutral Bay on 19 July 1941. A plaque in the Rocks, Sydney, commemorates her service and that of all Australian nurses.
Australian Women's Archives Project website http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0397b.htm, accessed 29/9/2003.
Australian and World Coins Sale Catalogue 31 May 1990, p.42.