Ada Blanche Pryer
Ada Blanche Locke was born to middle class parents in Newport, Wales on 26 October 1855. Her father, an engineer and inventor at the Dos Nail Works in Newport, was well respected in his field and her mother was a member of close-knit enterprising family, the Thornes. Her father died when she was aged 11 and the family seemed well-cared for after his death. She was educated at a girls’ establishment equivalent to a Dame School and had sufficient income not to have to seek employment.
At aged 28, she received a proposal of marriage from a widower she barely knew, William Burgess Pryer, for which she would have to move from her comfortable Victorian existence to the frontier territory of North Borneo where her future husband was the chief administrator. They married in Singapore in 1883 and Ada came into her own in the newly established port town of Sandakan, becoming a prominent member of that society in a loving and caring marriage
Not having any biological children of their own, she and her husband “adopted” two local boys (Pongholo Stanislaus Dominic and Bunny Soo Ah Yin), parenting them through childhood and supporting their careers. She backed her husband in his ventures in plantation agriculture, in his squabbles with the less able British administrators who succeeded him, and expounded his conciliatory views on the infamous rebel Mat Salleh. Her husband’s illness later occupied much of her time culminating in his untimely death in 1899 after which she returned to live in England while remaining close to the “family” and the business interests she left behind. She died in 1916 and remembered in her will her relatives, her “children” and her business partners and advisers.