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Francis Gale Snelling Street

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Francis Gale Snelling Street was born in Exeter in 1806. His parents were Catherine, the daughter of George Gale Snelling, a Crediton surgeon, and Thomas Street, born in Chulmleigh, who was a surgeon in Exeter. Thomas died when Francis was 22.


Francis probably learnt his trade from his father. He arrived in Bow in the middle of 1831. Part of his work involved attending the poor of the parish, for which he was paid £2 10s a quarter. With the new law in 1836 parishes had to group together to form Unions, each of which was centred on a Work House, (in this case in Crediton) where the paupers had board and lodging in return for menial work.

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In December 1835, Francis Street placed a newspaper advertisement (above) applying to the Guardians of the Crediton Poor Law Union to be appointed as a district medical officer, although the positions were not advertised until the following April (right). District No 7 of the Crediton Union covered the parishes of Bow, Clannaborough, Down St Mary, Zeal Monachorum and Hittisleigh.

There was one other applicant for the post: William Snow. In 1828, Snow had been jailed for libell. On May 25th, Mr Street was appointed, subject to a maximum sum of £30 per annum. Midwifery and vaccination of the poor attracted extra payments; however The Union refused to pay more than 10 shillings and sixpence for midwifery cases. Bandages and trusses were to be supplied at cost.

In June and July 1833 there was an outbreak of Smallpox in Bow in which five young children died.





Age approx




William and Mary

2 June


Of Zeal Monachorum



James and Mary

6 June





Samuel and Mary

8 June

Few months




James and Elizabeth

28 June


James a husbandman



John and  Mary

19 July




Francis's sister, Elizabeth, had died in Exeter aged 28 in 1834; his mother in Bow two years later. They share a grave in Bow Churchyard. The newspaper announcement of his mother’s death reported that she died at her son’s house “after a long and painful illness, borne with Christian patience and resignation.”


By now his younger brother Charles Drew Street, also a surgeon, had married and settled in New South Wales. No doubt he sent enticing letters home. On 2nd October 1838 Francis married his cousin, Martha Procter Street Reed in Burrington, North Devon. She became Mrs Martha Procter Street Reed Street! Just six days later, along with his younger sister Emma, the newlyweds sailed from Plymouth on the Andromache, arriving 12 weeks later at Port Jackson in Sydney Harbour via the Cape of Good Hope. There were about 250 emigrants on that ship. (Eight children died during the voyage, mainly from diarrhoeal illness, and five babies were born. At that time, emigrant ships like Andromache returned with their holds full of wool and whale oil.)


They had seven children in Australia.

In 1846 he gave evidence at an inquest into the death of a boy who died from Tetanus. The cause of this disease, toxins produced by bacteria in a dirty wound, was not established until about 1884. Nowadays the disease is totally preventable by routine immunisation. With the benefit of what we now know, I think the jury would give a different verdict if the inquest was held today.


Dr Francis Street died in Raymond Terrace, a town in the Hunter Valley where he had worked as a general practitioner for almost 30 years in 1870, aged 64, of heart and kidney failure.


Francis Street's cousin Richard Street caused some notoriety in Exeter in the 1820's