Sophia Wintz

Sophia Wintz

Dame Sophia Gertrude Wintz DBE (1847–16 January 1929) was a Swiss-born British philanthropist who co-founded the Royal Sailors' Rests.

Sophia Wintz was born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Her father died when she was a child and her mother brought her to England. Her younger brother, Lewis Wintz, joined the Royal Navy and rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral. She was educated in a school near Fareham, Hampshire. While staying at Bath she met Agnes Weston, who lived there, and the two became close friends and remained so for the rest of their lives. In the 1870s they began to hold Sunday afternoon meetings at Wintz's mother's house for boys from the training ships at Devonport. These meetings grew into a major movement in both Plymouth and Portsmouth and the two women later bought a public house in each city, demolished them and replaced them with the two Sailors' Rests to serve as homes for sailors of all nationalities on shore leave. The establishment in Plymouth opened in 1876 and that in Portsmouth in 1881, They also founded the Royal Naval Temperance Society and established journals, "Monthly Letters" and "Ashore and Afloat", and a library for sailors which distributed literature to ships all over the world.

Dame Agnes Weston, always the leading figure in the movement, died in 1918, but Sophia Wintz continued to serve as superintendent of the homes until her own death in 1929. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1920 civilian war honours. She was given a full naval funeral at Devonport Dockyard Church attended by four hundred officers and ratings of the Royal Navy and was buried next to Agnes Weston.


*Obituary, "The Times", 17 January 1929

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