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Week 7: My ancestor was a Doctor/Surgeon

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  • Week 7: My ancestor was a Doctor/Surgeon

    Week 7: Doctor/surgeon

    This is an opportunity to showcase a doctor or surgeon in you family tree, you might want to offer a short biography and speak about their work eg
    Birth location/date
    Family background
    Where you've found them on the census
    Their workplace/employer
    Any tips on researching this occupation?

    [Next week: Servant]

  • #2
    John Norman was my husband's 7x great grandfather, his will says he was a surgeon, and the contents reflect that.

    He was the son of a mercer, Walter Norman, and came from Maresfield in Sussex where he was born in 1663. He married his wife Anne in Horsted Keynes by licence in 1690 though they were both from Maresfield, they had three children at Maresfield, William b1692 who also became a surgeon in Horsham, Mary b1694 and Anne b1696 (my husband descends from Anne, she lived to be 98!).

    One of his granddaughters, Hopestill Norman (daughter of William) married a surgeon called Matthew Pierpoint in 1750 and they lived in Lindfield, two of their sons John Pierpoint and Norman Pierpoint were surgeon and apothecary surgeons respectively, the house near the church is still called Pierpoints. Descendants were surgeons well into Victorian times.

    Returning to John Norman, in his will made 26th Feb 1735 and proved 27 Feb 1737 (old style) at Lewes he bequeathed "unto my Son William Norman All my Medecines Books and Instruments in Physick and Chyrurgery Pots Drawers Shelves Utensils and Implements in the Surgery And also my Counters Drawers and Shelves in the Shop and Warehouse And also my other books and great Bible to be delivered unto him".

    John Norman died in Maresfield and was buried on 5th Jan 1738, we visited and found his grave on the south side of the church, the inscription reads "Here Lieth the Body of JOHN NORMAN Gent of the/Parish who Departed this Life January the [?] 1737/in the 75 Year of his Age"

    His widow is buried in the cemetery, but has no gravestone. John's is the stone version of the wooden post and rail gravemarker which was popular in Sussex but rotted away so are usually only seen in old illustrations. Beyond his grave is that of his father in law, Nicholas Berry.

    I found John Norman's will on Familysearch, the original with his signature also mentions other family members and can be seen here.


    • #3
      Jill, you have such interesting people in your family and it must be great to still live in the area that they came from.

      For anyone who hasn't heard them, there are some excellent podcasts here in particular one called Life of a Surgeon - Apothecary 1750-1850. She interviews a woman called Suzie Grogan who has written books on the subject too. If you don't have access to Apple Podcasts just google Suzie Lennox Digging up 1800.
      Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).


      • #4
        Sorry Jill but no Doctors or nurses in my family. Might be better next week!!

        Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


        • #5
          Originally posted by Lin Fisher View Post
          Sorry Jill but no Doctors or nurses in my family. Might be better next week!!
          Next week is servants, so I think a lot of people will have had some in their tree, it's quite a broad description so should cover both males and females in various capacities.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jill on the A272 View Post

            Next week is servants, so I think a lot of people will have had some in their tree, it's quite a broad description so should cover both males and females in various capacities.
            You know, no doctors that I know of, not even midwives, but I have a many-great-aunt who attended many births. It's why I started looking at her more closely

            Are you also going to do AgLabor and Farmers? That will go on forever!
            My Families
            London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


            • #7
              PhotoFamily farmer is planned for week 34, though shepherd will come up before that, as will carter. I've tried to come up with both broad and specific occupations and tried to include women's work too over the year so our female ancestors can be included.

              People can add anyone in their tree to these Occupation posts, it doesn't have to be a direct ancestor.


              • #8
                The nearest I can get to a doctor or surgeon close to my direct line is Robert Defrayne a barber surgeon who lived at the White Hart Inn, Bedford Street in Woburn in 1635. If we have the correct line, he was my great x9 uncle

                Descendants of the de Fraines from Woburn were listed as barbers and hairdressers in Aylesbury in the 1840s. From memory, my great x4 grandfather Luke de Fraine's will in 1847 mentions his barber tools which could just be scissors etc. or may be surgeon's equipment. I need to fish out the will to be more accurate.

                Wikipedia: Barber surgeon.
                Caroline's Family History Pages
                Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.


                • #9
                  Gardengirl Another interesting list of ancestors and sadly no Doctor's on my tree and like GardenGirl stated you have some really interesting ancestors Jill.

                  Now servants I can do! I think all my family are servants, including me waiting hand and foot on this lot............
                  My Family History Blog Site:



                  • #10
                    One of my oldest friends is a descendant of edward jenner, who developed the smallpox vaccine.


                    • #11
                      One of my ancestors was richards brown MD (1770-1798) who studied at edinburgh university in the 1790's, he wrote an essay on tuberculosis and was believed to have died of it. His maternal grandfather was john rowning (1701-1771), a mathematician whose theory is apparently still taught. Definitely some ability in that family!


                      • #12
                        Dr. Esther Carling was a pioneer in the treatment of tuberculosis and one of the first women doctors. She is not related to me – her connection to my family is that both my parents worked at the sanatorium/hospital she founded. My father was the head gardener there for about 30 years and my mother was a nurse. As children, my sister, brother and I spent a lot of time at various events there.

                        Dr. Esther Carling (née Colebrook) was born in Reading in 1870 the daughter of George Colebrook, a one-time mayor of the town. She attended the London School of Medicine for Women and obtained her MD in Brussels in 1896, before practising in Edinburgh. By 1901, she was running a small private sanatorium for nine patients in Sonning Common, near Reading (my home village). A year later, she purchased Kingwood Farm and had it altered and enlarged for paying patients. In a letter to the British Medical Journal in June 1911, Dr. Carling stated that the cost per bed of erecting Maitland Cottage Sanatorium, as it was originally called, was approximately ₤175 p.a. At that time the sanatorium had sixty patients from across the country, and included a 40 acre farm, various buildings including a children’s house and several sleeping shelters. She was the first person in the country to offer treatment to ‘patients of small means’. At the end of WW1, there were 200 beds.

                        She was very active in the medical community as can be seen from her many letters to the British Medical Journal and the articles she wrote.

                        The farm, which had produced milk, eggs and vegetables for the sanatorium, closed just after WW2, but the gardens, orchard and greenhouses remained. The hospital, then called Peppard Hospital, closed in 1980 and executive houses now occupy the site, except for the orchard, which in spring is full of the daffodils my father planted. The ashes of both my parents are scattered there, and a chair erected in their memory.

                        Because of my connection with the hospital she founded, I always found her fascinating and I’ve written a couple of articles about her. One of them can be found here.

                        6 Esther Carling.png