Rev John Radford (1740-1798) - his medical relations

Rev John Radford (1740-1798) of Lapford was twice married, and had eight sons and five daughters. Three of his sons became clergymen, two surgeons, and three of his daughters married surgeons.

He was the second of four Rev Radfords (fathers and sons) who were clergymen in that village between 1737 and 1861.

By his first wife Joanna Lane, of Sandford, he had a daughter Joanna who married Andrew Caddy, who was a surgeon in Buckland Brewer. Their son, Charles Andrew Caddy became a surgeon in Bideford, who invested heavily in the Taw Vale Railway Extension between Barnstaple and Exeter, but lost most of this money and then emigrated to North America in about 1847.


By his second wife Mary Tucker, he had two sons Peter and Benjamin Tucker who became surgeons; and two daughters who married surgeons - Anna Maria who married Benjamin William Johnson and Harriet who married Frederick Granby Farrant.

Peter Radford was born in Lapford in 1777.

When aged just 13 he was appointed as an apprentice to Arthur White, an apothecary at the Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Peter was an apothecary at the same hospital until he resigned in 1805.

The following year he married Anna Maria Mackintosh in Exeter Cathedral. They had three children.

He succeeded John Sheldon as surgeon to Devon and Exeter Hospital from 1808, until he died aged 37 in 1815. He was succeeded by his partner John Harris MRCS


In about 1780 Benjamin Tucker Radford was born in Lapford. He became a surgeon after serving his apprenticeship with William Stucley of Chulmleigh where they later worked together in partnership. He married Mary Hacche from Chittlehampton, North Devon, in 1810.

Benjamin Radford came into a large inheritance when his uncle William Tucker of Bradiford in Down St Mary died in 1819.

By 1841 he had retired and was living in St David’s Exeter where he remained until his death, aged 82, in 1862.

Their son and a daughter were both born in Chulmleigh: Mary Hacche Radford was born in about 1812 and William Tucker Arundel Radford, who later became rector of Down St Mary, in 1818.

Anna Maria Radford married Benjamin William Johnson in Exeter in 1800. Born in Exeter in 1772, his father was a grocer.

When he was 15 he became an apprentice to John Coddrington, an Exeter apothecary. Johnson was the surgeon on the East Indiaman ship “Asia” prior to his marriage. In 1804 his apprentice was William Orchard, later to practice in North Tawton. Johnson was appointed Sheriff of Exeter in 1811 and Mayor in 1813.

He died and was buried in St Sidwell’s, Exeter, in 1837. By his will he left most of his possessions to his house keeper Sarah Cotton, raather than his wife. This probably points to a scandal, alluded to in the press and in the writings of John Haddy James, a pupil of Johnson’s who later became a surgeon at The Devon and Exeter Hospital, who referred to Johnson’s “indiscretions”.

Six months after he died, a local newspaper reported that Rev Richard Henry Tripp*, perpetual curate of St Sidwell’s, during a sermon had taken advantage of “expressions dropped by the late Mr. Johnson, surgeon, in the last hours of his life. He had made the personal character, life, and habits of that deceased gentleman, whom he mentioned by name, the subject of considerable censure, in holding him up as an example to be avoided.”.

Johnson’s widow, Anna Maria died twenty years later and unsurprisingly was buried in her birthplace, Lapford.

Harriet Radford (b 1785) married Frederick Granby Farrant in 1825. The son of William Farrant, who for 53 years was a surgeon with the East Devon Militia, Frederick was born in Exeter in 1801 and later became a surgeon in St Sidwell’s Exeter. He attended the post mortem examination on William Wreford of Clannaborough in 1852. Harriet died of Cholera during the 1832 epidemic in that city. They had two sons and a daughter, Myra Mary (who married William Penny Pengelley, a captain in the Royal Marines. Frederick’s granddaughter Ida Myra Pengelley inherited Fair Park in Bow on the death of Thomas Reynolds Arscott in 1881). Frederick Farrant died in Exeter in 1859.


*Rev Tripp once told a poor man in his last moments, that “there was no hope for such a wicked fellow, that the jaws of heaven were shut against him, and the gates of hell open for him,” and in consequence of this denunciation the last moments of the unhappy man were terrible to himself, and most distressing and painful to his surviving relatives.

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