A bill sent by Thomas Woolrich turns up just once in the overseers’ vouchers for Uttoxeter when, in 1835, he charged 6s for supplying sulphuric acid and a further 6s for manganese. With extensive business interests and multiple income streams, notably as a purveyor of his own ‘horse balls’, as an agent for Sun Life insurance, agent for Heeley and Sons pens, and the supplier of patent medicines, perhaps he had little need to rely on business from the parish overseers. He may also have faced competition from George Alsop and Samuel Garle.
As Woolrich’s business network extended far beyond Uttoxeter, it is no surprise to find that like a number of other residents of the town he was on the provisional committee of the Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and South Staffordshire, or Leeds, Wolverhampton and Dudley Direct Railway. His claim to fame, however, rested on ‘Woolrich’s improved diuretic horse balls’ available from ‘all respectable medicine vendors in most market towns in the kingdom’. In addition to Uttoxeter, they were also sold wholesale by London agents such as Messrs Barclay & Sons, 95 Fleet Market; Mr Edwards, 66 St Paul’s Church Yard; Sutton & Co., Bow Church Yard; and Butlers’, Cheapside. They could be bought at 73 Princess Street, Edinburgh, and at 54 Sackville Street, Dublin. Closer to home they were sold retail by Drewry & Son, Derby; Whitham, Ashbourne; and Claughton, Chesterfield.
His shop in High Street offered a wide range of patent medicines including John Leeming’s genuine horse medicines; Dr Sibly’s Reanimating Solar Tincture for debility, consumption, nervous complaints, rheumatism, spasms, indigestion, and lowness of spirits; Barclay’s asthmatic candy; Hayman’s Meredant’s antiscorbutic drops; Lignum’s antiscorbutic drops; Blaine’s celebrated powder for distemper in dogs; and ‘Dr Boerhaave’s red pill no 2 famous for the cure of every stage and symptom of a certain complaint [the] cause of foul ulcerations, [and] blotches’. Regarding such medicines, Alan Mackintosh notes ‘A few of the supposed inventors were dead and certainly had no real link with the medicine, as in the case of … the enigmatically named Dr Boerhaave’s Red Pill Number Two’.
Woolrich may also have operated an informal registry office for servants. In March 1831 a cook was ‘wanted for a small genteel family where a kitchen maid is kept’. For particulars interested persons should apply to Mr Woolrich. In June two cooks and other domestic servants were wanted in a respectable household near Uttoxeter; a good plain cook of middle aged was preferred. Housemaids and nursery maids seeking positions should enquire of Mr Woolrich, or Mrs Horn and Son, Cheadle. In September a clergyman’s family in a country village wanted a plain cook with a good character reference from her last place. Particulars could be had from Messrs Mort at the Advertiser Office, Stafford, or from Mr Woolrich.
Woolrich subscribed to Thomas Fernyhough’s wonderfully titled Military Memoirs of Four Brothers, Natives of Staffordshire Engaged in the Service of their Country as Well in the New World and Africa, as on the Continent of Europe, by the Survivor.
No specific dates have been given for Thomas Woolrich as there were several in Uttoxeter. In 1787 a Thomas Woolrich apprenticed Francis Woolley as a druggist; another, James Walters was apprenticed in 1790 and a third, William Morley was apprenticed in 1796. Thomas Woolrich senior of High Street, was registered as a voter in the 1832 poll book. Another Thomas, son of Thomas and Sarah Woolrich was baptised in Uttoxeter on 14 April 1782 and was buried 20 September 1853.
Woolrich served as a juror at the quarter sessions in1811 and 1821.
Bradshaw’s Railway Gazette vol. 1, (London: William James Adams; Manchester: Bradshaw and Blacklock, 1845)
Hyde Clark (ed.), The Railway Register and Record of Public Enterprise for Railways (London, John Weale, 1845), pt II, 166
Derby Mercury, 6 Apr, 27 Jul, 2 Nov 1831, 1 Feb, 8 Feb, 9 May 1832
Thomas Fernyhough, Military Memoirs of Four Brothers, Natives of Staffordshire Engaged in the Service of their Country as Well in the New World and Africa, as on the Continent of Europe, by the Survivor (London: 1829)
Alan Mackintosh, The Patent Medicines Industry in Georgian England: Constructing the Market by the Potency of Print (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) p.244
W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)
Poll Books and Electoral Registers, Totmonslow South, Uttoxeter, 1832
Staffordshire Advertiser 1 Jan, 12 Mar, 26 Mar, 2 Apr, 23 Apr, 11 Jun, 10 Sep 1831
Staffordshire Record Office, D3891/6/41/7/71, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 1 April 1835
SRO, D3891/1/7–20, Uttoxeter, St Mary’s Parish Registers
SRO, Q/RJr, Quarter Sessions Jurors’ Index 1811–1831
TNA, IR 1/34, 1/64, 1/68, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures 1710–1811
This is a work in progress, subject to change as research continues.