Cornelia Bonte Sheldon Amos
- Born: 19 Jul 1874, Barnett, Middlesex
- Christened: 30 Jun 1875, St James, Pentonville
- Marriage: Percy Elgood in 1907 in Cairo
- Died: 21 Nov 1960, Chelsea, London aged 86
Born 19.7.1874. Known always as Bonté. Daughter of Sarah Maclardie Bunting and Prof. Sheldon Amos. Of tremendous charm. She and Sidney Percival Bunting wished to marry but the family forbad it which is believed to be why Sidney Percival Bunting left for South Africa. She "would not have been clever enough for him", always saying she was not an intellectual. Daniel Bunting vividly remembers staying in Cairo and being driven out by car to the Pyramids in April 1956.
Bonté was the first woman doctor that the Egyptian government ever appointed, and after her retirement, she was the first woman to be honoured for public service by the Egyptian government, which granted her the Decoration of the Nile (third class). In the intervening 23 years of service, Bonté established multiple programs in medicine and education that started on a local level but proved so effective that they were implemented on the national level. Bonté had learned to speak Arabic growing up in Egypt. She attended medical school at London University, where she earned her M.D. in 1900. In 1901, she returned to Egypt, where the government appointed her to the International Quarantine Board of Egypt. She spent the next two years at the Quarantine Hospitals at El-Tor in Suez, mostly caring for pilgrims returning from Mecca, who were required to stay for monitoring. Based on the multiple cases of dysentery she treated, Bonté wrote several papers on this disease. The quality of her work convinced officials to replace her with another woman doctor when she was transferred in 1902 to Alexandria, where she established a private practice and volunteered at the government hospital to establish an outpatient clinic for women and children.
In 1906 the Egyptian government transferred her to Cairo. She was also transferred to the Ministry of Education, which charged her with the administration of three girls' schools with 600 students. In typical fashion, Bonté implemented her systems with such efficiency and efficacy that her program grew exponentially, eventually incorporating 600 schools and 20,000 students throughout the entire nation. Concurrently, Bonté oversaw the building of the first free children's dispensaries in the country as the medical member of a commission established by the Countess of Cromer. Again, an initiative that started locally, in Cairo and Alexandria, proved so successful that dispensaries were built nationwide. She also helped to found a school for training midwives as a member of a board set up by Field Marshal Viscount Kitchener. As per usual, her success was replicated, as schools modelled on this example sprouted up throughout the provinces.
In addition to these works, Bonté also sponsored six Egyptian women to study medicine in England. She held a longtime appointment on the board of Victoria Hospital, and she testified as to hygienic conditions in the country before the Balfour Commission on Public Health in Egypt. During the First World War, Bonté contributed to the war effort by establishing the Cairo Voluntary Aid Detachment, which she served as a commandant and medical officer, and working with the Cairo Red Cross Committee. Bonté's wartime efforts earned her numerous decorations, including the Order of the British Empire and the French Medaille de la Reconnaissance Francaise. In 1923, she retired to Heliopolis with her husband. Two years earlier, she had been promoted to the station of commander with the Order of the British Empire. The advent of the Suez Crisis forced her from Egypt to Cyprus, and she eventually settled in London, where she died on 21.11.1960, at the age of 86. Daniel Bunting believes that he remembers staying a night at her residence sometime in the 1950s (the bedroom had a ceiling with dark stripes). On file there are indecipherable notes by Bonté concerning distant ancestors and Bunting Field in Derbyshire
Cornelia married Percy Elgood in 1907 in Cairo. (Percy Elgood died in 1941.)