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Thomas Glanville Blennerhasset Hutton


Dr Thomas Glanville Blennerhasset Hutton didn’t last long in Bow.

Born to Irish parents in Sydney, Australia in 1851, his father William Louis Hutton was appointed Registrar of Sydney University for its inauguration in 1852. He died when Thomas was four years old. It seems that his mother, brother and sister then returned to Ireland. Thomas Hutton qualified as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1875, and married there shortly afterwards. After working in Malton, Yorkshire they came to Bow where he had a contract with the Crediton Union in March 1877.

He rented and lived in Winsor House with his wife, Dora. Their daughter Dora Julia was born in their first year in Bow.


In 1878 he sued two of his patients John Northam and John Casely for unpaid bills: this did not seem to go down well.

Born in Bow, John Northam was 40. He was the coachman to Samuel Price of Collatons, who owned the tannery employing 20 men.

John and his wife Elizabeth, 32, already had two young daughters. In summer 1877 she was pregnant again and became ill. Apparently she didn’t have a lot of faith in Dr Hutton, who had recently replaced Dr May who had previously treated her gratuitously. She became ill one morning so her husband asked Mrs Clements, a neighbour of Dr Hutton and who had been visiting daily, to call the doctor. He came to see her and warned Mrs Mary Parker, the nurse, that there was a risk of haemorrhage, and left a draught to be given should that happen, but that they should call him again if she got worse. When, on her getting still worse, Mrs Clements went to fetch him again, she found he had gone to Dartmoor for a picnic, or as he called it a “pleasure excursion”. She returned and Mrs Northam was confined at three in the afternoon. Dr. Hutton didn’t get there until eleven at night and she died shortly afterwards. The baby was stillborn.


The following May, Dr Hutton sued Mr Northam for £5 10s for attendance on his wife prior to her confinement.


Northam’s solicitor (probably paid for by Mr Price) noted that Dr Hutton had charged for attending when Dr May introduced him to Mrs Northam, and that he also charged for journeys when the distance was only half-a-mile. “Would you do that in the city?”-Plaintiff: “No, because you would get a guinea there instead of a miserable two shillings.”

The judge said the only question for him was the reasonableness of the amount, and he must say that there were an unreasonable number of visits charged. He should deduct £2 5s. from the plaintiff's claim, the remainder to be paid 3s each month.


Dr Hutton wrote a letter to the local paper about the case. He attributed the fatal result entirely to the neglect to carry out the directions he had given, and remarked that "it is a great pity the same system not followed in this country which obtains in Ireland, viz., that no woman should attend another in confinement who has not received a diploma to attend midwifery cases." Mary Parker, the nurse, was John Northam’s sister. In the 1881 census she is shown living in the main street, with one of John’s daughters. Her occupation is “keeps a clothes’ mangle”, so perhaps Dr Hutton was right.

One of her neighbours was John Casely, a cordwainer*, also born in Bow. Dr Hutton sued him as well for non-payment of for £3 3s 6d for medical attendance on his wife.

Mr Casely (70) stated that the plaintiff did not attend his wife Ann by any order from him, but he came gratuitously, saying that his servant, defendant's step daughter, who had spoken to him on the matter, was a good girl, and he should not charge anything. He told the judge that his step daughter was since dead. ”Dr Hutton had given her a bottle of medicine, and she was gone in no time” which caused laughter in the court. His Honour remarked that there were amounts overcharged here also, and he deducted 16s. 6d. Casely, who said his wife had always been attended by the parish, intimated his intention of applying for relief, forthwith. It is only fair to Dr. Hutton to state that, although not appearing in the evidence, Casely's step-daughter died in the Devon and Exeter Hospital.

It appears that Dr Hutton got the message as he resigned as Medical Officer to the Crediton Poor Law Union in June 1879 at short notice. There was an auction at Winsor House in October when all his nearly new furniture, supplied by Brocks of Exeter, was sold off. The advertisement said he was leaving the neighbourhood. In 1881 his mother, wife and daughter were living in Plymouth with relatives; later that year his mother died there. I believe he had returned to Ireland, to Mountrath in Portloaise, where it seems he died aged 37.

 *footnote (!) boot maker