Old Ilkeston Logo

The doctors

Between Pat Pollard and Matthew Hobson’s shop was the Doctors’ House.

Ilkeston, being a small town, two doctors were sufficient to look after the health and well-being of the inhabitants.
……yet at various times there were more than two.

These are the Ilkeston doctors whom I have evidence for … so far… and in approximate chronological order.
(I have highlighted them in a pleasant shade of orchid!!)

Surgeon George Blake Norman was a constant presence at Dalby House, (High Street or Anchor Row) throughout the period 1828-1870. He is recorded – with one inaccuracy– in all the trade directories and censuses of that period. From the late 1860’s he worked with his eldest son, George Alfred.

William Parkinson is listed as surgeon in Pigot’s and Glover’s Directories of 1829 and in Pigot’s Directory 1835.

In 1810 he had married Mary James, sister of Thomas Roe James and Ann Dorothy Horsley (nee James) and whose family we shall meet briefly in Nottingham Road. (See On the east side).
Surgeon William died in 1837 and his wife in the following year. Both were buried at St. Mary’s Church.

On the 1841 census John Turner, surgeon, is listed at the Market Place address and George Lucas, surgeon, is at Bath Street.

On the same 1841 census surgeon Edgar Henry Longstaff is at West Gate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, with his wife Cornelia Hamilton (nee Buchanan) and four-year old son Frederic Buchanan Longstaff.
By the summer of 1841 the Longstaff family had arrived in Ilkeston, and in 1842 Edgar Henry was appointed as Medical Officer for the Ilkeston district of the Basford Board of Guardians at a salary of £25 pa. The post had become vacant on the resignation of John Turner. He had then been in practice for eight years.
Pigot’s Directory
of 1842 shows the presence in Ilkeston of surgeons James Robb and Edgar Henry Longstaff.

In 1843 Edgar Henry was re-appointed as Medical Officer for the Ilkeston district of the Basford Board of Guardians at a salary of £35 pa.

By 1846 George Lucas occupied the same address as before, while Edgar Henry was in the Market Place where he lived with his wife Cornelia though their son Frederic Buchanan Longstaff was not then with them.

In April 1844 eight-year old Frederic Buchanan was playing in St. Mary’s churchyard, at a time when repairs were being carried out on the church’s chancel. Labourer William Burrows was up his ladder, throwing down stones from an outside wall, seemingly taking great care as he threw down each stone. Unfortunately he did not see the young lad who suddenly appeared from behind a buttress, just as William had released a stone weighing more than half a hundredweight. The boy was killed instantly.

Edgar Henry was in Ilkeston until at least September 1850 when he appears to have auctioned off his furniture and other belongings prior to leaving the town for ‘the South of England’. At his Market Place address, prospective purchasers were offered “lofty 4-post, French and tent bedsteads, with every requisite for five bed-cambers, set of six and two arm mahogany chairs, in hair seating; Spanish mahogany extending dining tables, bagatelle board, square piano forte, by Tomkinson; music stool, Canterbury, Brussels floor carpets; set of six imitation rosewood chairs, in blue damask; couch, two easy chairs in morocco, mahogany work table, ditto on pillar and claws; a good assortment of culinary articles; rich cut glass, surgery fixtures, and other items”. 
There was also an extensive and valuable book collection and nearly-new lamps; a phaeton, with drab cushions, a six-year old chestnut pony and a yearling filly, harnesses, saddles and bridles; garden tools, cucumber frames, a variety of bee-hives, bee-hive sheds and all accoutrements ….  and a pig.

Edgar Henry moved to Folkstone, Kent, thence to Boulogne, France, on to 12 Russell Street, Chelsea (by now out of practice), then to 134 Rotherhithe Street, Rotherhithe, to Underdown Road, Herne Bay, and finally at High Street, Camden Town (out of practice) — all by mid-1853.  And now in serious financial difficulties.

In August 1853, then a ‘prisoner’, he was called before the court as an Insolvent Debtor. It appears that at this time he was also known as ‘Edgar Henry Monckton’.

The doctor eventually settled in Hammersmith where he died in 1862 while his widow died there ten years later.

Dr. Murray at that time was our family doctor. He lived in the house in the Market Place that was afterwards occupied by the late Dr. Wood. Dr. Murray brought my sister and myself into the world, and I have in my possession the receipt for professional services that he gave to my parents at my birth. 

Robert Murray appears in Slater’s Directory of 1850 and on the 1851 census at Bath Street.
In April 1853 he moved from Bath Street to the Market Place house previously occupied by Edgar Henry Longstaff, and is recorded in Directories 1855-1860 as ‘surgeon of Market Place’.
Dr. Murray was unfortunately drowned when returning from Ireland, where he had been on holiday. 

This was in 1858 or 9.

Dr. Robert Murray is listed on the 1861 census as a lodger with Thomas Severn, joiner of the Cottage, High Street.
The census shows him to be a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (M.R.C.S.), Edinburgh, Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons (L.R.C.S.), Edinburgh, and General Practitioner. This was on March 30th of that year and he was still there on April 25th when he took out an advert in the first issue of the Ilkeston Leader to announce that he was leaving the town in a short time. He was asking past patients to settle their bills with him or he would ‘institute legal proceedings against them‘.
On account of his ill-health Dr. Murray left Ilkeston later in 1861 to return to his native Edinburgh and died at 9 Howe Street, on August 16th 1863.
Another lodger at the same address in 1861 is Dr Nathaniel Best Gill. (*see below)
Old Resident
believes that when he (that is, Old Resident) came to Ilkeston in 1858 Dr. Murray had been succeeded by Dr. William Campbell, who in turn was succeeded by Dr. William Date, all three of them living in the ‘Doctor’s House’ in the Market Place.

Dr. William Campbell, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh), came to Ilkeston in the late 1850’s living at the house previously occupied by Dr. Murray (later Dr Wood’s house) and eventually taking over his practice.

William Campbell is at the Market Place in 1861 and received his degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of St. Andrew’s, Edinburgh, in May 1862.

There was also Dr. William Date at the same address and in the same practice, before Dr. Robert Wood took over his practice in 1868.
In September 1864 the former doctor married Mary Horton, eldest daughter of  Birmingham surgeon Joseph John Horton and Mary (nee Day), at Aston Church in that city and came to Ilkeston about that time.

In 1866 William fancied adding to his ‘wardrobe’ and approached tailor Thomas Henry Booth of Ilkeston Common to make for him a couple of waistcoats and a pair of trousers, at an agreed price of £2 5s. The clothes were made and delivered but when it came to payment, William wanted to deduct the amount from a bill which Thomas Henry owed to the doctor for his past services.
Not on your life !!‘  was the tailor’s reply … he wanted the money.
The doctor wouldn’t pay.
Where else to solve the dispute but at Belper County Court ?!
As no mention had been made of setting one bill against the other at the time of the order for the clothes, the judge decided that the doctor had to pay up !!

Within a few years William and his family left the town for Crewkerne in Somerset and he died there in 1874, aged 35.

Born in Ilkeston in 1866, their son William Horton Date returned to Ilkeston and the 1891 census shows him as a General Practitioner working with GP Harry Potter in Bath Street. In 1893 while practicing at Culmstock, Devon, he married Margaret Adlington, daughter of the late William Sampson Adlington, at Holy Trinity Church in Ilkeston.

In 1858 Dr. Wallis was residing at Bath Hotel Villa. He took over from Dr. Ralph Coulson when the latter, who was visiting the private mental hospital at Wyke House, Isleworth, died in October 1860.

James William Eaton of Bath Street, born at Marston upon Dove, the son of William and Harriet (nee Oliver), educated and qualified, M.R.C.S., in London, came from practising at Kendall in Cornwall and Bingham, Nottinghamshire to Ilkeston in 1859.

He appears on the 1861 census at Bath Street with his wife Mary Dorothy (nee Foster), daughter of John and Mary Ann (nee White). At the end of 1861 he was admitted a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

Dr. Gill succeeded Dr. Murray, but not being strong, soon retired, and took rooms at Mrs. Thomas Severn’s, in the Gardens below High Street. He was a genial little man, but was handicapped by poor health.
He died later of consumption.
As we have seen (*), Dr. Nathaniel Best Gill appears on the 1861 census lodging at the High Street house of Thomas Potter Severn.
By 1870 he was at Wilton Place. (J.G.Harrod & Co Directory).
He died at Dover in September 1870, aged 49.

A contemporary of Dr. Date was Richard Lewis Davis M.D. who was working in the town in 1866.

Stone miner Henry Ironmonger (and brother of Nahum of Derby Road) married Caroline Elizabeth York, daughter of Joseph and Ann of South Street, at the Queen Street Baptist Chapel in 1866 and three months later their son William was born. Two months later and William was dead.
And this is where the problems for Dr. Davis began.
Three days after the death the coroner wrote to Edward Brady, Ilkeston’s inspector of police, suggesting the possibility of an inquest on the body of the child and a post mortem examination, though he also mentioned that such a process might be avoided. Armed with the letter and accompanied by Dr. William Date, the inspector attended the Ironmonger’s home in Park Road where the two visitors seemed to want to conduct an examination of the body, there and then.
The parents of the child were having none of it !! … and the father sent for Dr. Davis, who was their doctor, for support.
When the latter arrived he vehemently and passionately opposed a post mortem examination — he would not allow it. To reinforce his point there were suggestions that he became very physical, ‘attacked’ the inspector and swore at his medical colleague. And this conduct landed the doctor in court a couple of weeks later, charged by Inspector Brady with assault.
Thus , at the Petty Sessions, Dr. Davis was found guilty of a minor though not violent assault, and was fined £1 with 10s 6d costs.
* At the inquest William Ironmonger was found to have died from ‘convulsions’.

Robert Wood was born in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire in 1844, the son of Charles, maltster and keeper of the Cross Keys Inn in High Street, Uttoxeter and Sarah (nee Charlesworth). His mother had previously been married to Thomas Bunting, spirit merchant also of High Street, who had died in 1841 leaving Sarah with several Bunting children.

Robert came to Ilkeston in the later 1860’s to take over the practice of Dr. Date in 1868.
He married Elizabeth Ann Ball, youngest child of William and Susannah (nee Bennett) in 1872.
In the same year, in response to an outbreak of smallpox in the district, he was temporarily appointed as Medical Officer of Health to the Local Board, a position he assumed permanently the following year — though his position had to be renewed annually. By that time the town was free of smallpox.
Two years later the Board attempted to reduce Dr. Wood’s salary from £30 per annum to £20. The good doctor politely declined the appointment on these terms and the Board promptly restored the original salary level.

In April 1879 Robert was called to attend on eight-year-old Mark Beardsley of Norman Street (aka Grass Lane), son of blind grocer Isaac and Julia (nee Davis). Never a strong child, in the last few days Mark had suffered from excessive vomiting, violent pains in, and constipation of, the bowels, and had developed a dark hue about the skin of his body. Mother Julia had given him a little sweet nitre and marsh mallows, and poulticed him all day on Tuesday. When the pain got worse Dr. Wood was called in.
On entering the lad’s bedroom which he shared with two older brothers, the doctor noticed a smell of paint and was told by the mother that the room had indeed been newly painted. Mark had slept in it every night since the work was done nearly a month before. Medicine was prescribed but on the following day the lad died. The doctor was of the opinion that death was due to lead poisoning or painter’s cholic, caused by sleeping in a newly painted room, and this was the verdict reached at the subsequent inquest.

In the summer of 1883, through pressure of work, Robert resigned as the Local Board’s Medical Officer of Health.

Charles Alfred Cooper of Bonsall Place was appointed to replace Robert Wood.

Just over a year later Charles Alfred died, aged 33, and Dr. Walker provisionally took the position until Dr. Joseph Carroll was permanently appointed in January of the following year.

(See also Dr. Brigham)

Traffic warning!    October 4th 1884.

Returning in his carriage from a professional visit at Awsworth, Dr. Robert Wood was riding along the Awsworth Road into Ilkeston when his pony took fright and bolted. Seeing the bridge over the Great Northern Canal approaching at an alarming rate of knots the doctor jumped overboard, landed violently on the ground and was immediately rendered unconscious. Nearby witnesses quickly went to his aid and conveyed him, still inert, to his Market Place home where he was attended by Dr. Joseph Brookhouse of Nottingham.
In the meantime his pony, dragging its trap, had taken a rapid tour of the district, crossing over the canal bridge, down the hill and over several fields, by the Erewash Valley railway line, being finally intercepted at Barker’s Bridge. There the animal smashed into and destroyed a gate, broke the carriage in two and came to rest, exhausted and only slightly injured, in Awsworth Road.

In 1937 the Ilkeston Advertiser reported that “during excavations for the foundations of the Derby Trustee Savings Bank which is being erected at the corner of East Street, evidence has been forthcoming of a public house which once occupied the site on which the residence of the late Dr. Wood stood. This would have been the public house and maltrooms known as ‘The King’s Head’ which stood at this corner of Bath Street (not to be confused with the later King’s Head at the corner of Pimlico). And at the rear of the buildings which have been demolished there is a small building and spiral steps leading to what is believed to have been a chapel. This must be one of the very oldest bits of Ilkeston”.

This original King’s Head was situated right next door to the original Anchor Inn.


On the opposite corner to the Harrow Inn lived the Walker family…Paul and Eliza, with five sons and four daughters, keeping a combined shoemaker’s shop and post-office.
In a letter to the Ilkeston Pioneer (Jan 22nd 1892) ‘Bath Street‘ wrote that ‘the first postmaster, Mr. P. Walker ….  lived in the house now occupied by Mr. A. Sudbury’. In 1891 this was the house numbered 53 Market Place or East Street (depending upon the source used) and was next door to the Doctor’s House…. it was then occupied by butcher Arthur William (or William Arthur) Sudbury, son of William and Mary (nee Gamble).

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And before we arrive at Anchor Row (again) we pass the premises of Matthew Hobson.

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