Thomas Hugo

Thomas Hugo was born in Crediton in 1763. His parents were John Hugo (or Hewgoe) and Honour (nee Cleave). Like his father Thomas became a surgeon in Crediton.


He married twice: firstly to Elizabeth Palmer in Plympton, and secondly in 1806 to Jane Arundel Philip of Exeter.


He lived and worked in Crediton until his death aged 81.


Thomas Hugo "a very intelligent and judicious apothecary at Crediton" contributed to the medical press his experiences with vaccination against smallpox, and the epidemiology of influenza. He described the epidemic of influenza in Crediton in 1807 which suggested to him that it was spread from person to person, rather than being carried in the atmosphere.


He was accustomed to demonstrate the success of vaccination in the following way. Cowpox virus was introduced into the skin of one arm; this would produce a typical vesicle or pustule. He would then, about six days later revaccinate in the subject's other arm. Generally the second pustule would develop more quicky than the first, and both would heal at about the same time, showing that the patient had immunity or "constitutional affection".


In 1807 he wrote up the case of a child he had vaccinated as a baby who a few years later had an attack of smallpox despite having shown immunity by his double vaccination method. In 1814 he reported on that year's outbreak of smallpox in Crediton, where 25 people who despite having been vacccinated went on to develop smallpox. However in all these patients the disease was much milder than in un-vaccinated patients. At a time when vaccination was still controversial, he observed that the poor inhabitants of Crediton had noticed that the disease, if it did occur, was always much milder in vaccinated individuals, and were still putting their children forward for vaccination.

With his second wife he had six children, two of whom entered the medical profession.


Walter Hugo was a doctor in Holcombe Rogus in Somerset before he retired to Exeter.


William Henry Hugo qualified in 1837 and was a surgeon in Culmstock and then Crediton before briefly becoming the proprietor and resident medical superintendant of Longwood House Lunatic Asylum near Bristol in 1854. His wife Stowe Margaret Temple was the daughter of the Governor of Sierra Leone; her brother Frederick Temple became Bishop of Exeter and later Archbishop of Canterbury.


They then moved to Wales. In Cardiff in 1858 William Hugo was found "not guilty" of attempting to procure a miscarriage. In the 1870s they moved back to Devon and lived at Shaldon. In June 1877 he was in court again, and was fined 20 shillings for assaulting his housekeeper whilst "worse for liquor" and a few days later he was acquitted of stealing a bottle of port. He died in August that year.


Thomas Hugo's great grandson, Harold Francis Lewis Hugo was a GP in Crediton between 1912 and his death in 1946.

John Hugo/Hewgoe (1728-1781)

Little is known about John Hugo, Thomas's father. He was a surgeon in Crediton. In 1763 Prudence Fursman aged 15 was transported to America for 14 years for setting fire to his house in Crediton, having been reprieved from a death sentence. She had been baptised in Sandford in 1748.