George Graham. Surgeon, Brampton. 1783-1847

George Graham was a surgeon in Brampton. During his working life he encountered both the poor and the non-poor. His name appears on voucher PR60/21/13/5 which relates predominantly to child deliveries with fees ranging from 15s to £1.5s. As one item on the bill relates to the Workhouse it is assumed that the mothers were poor.[1] The mothers are referred to by the prefix ‘Miss’ and a surname. One is simply referred to as ‘a pauper in Brampton’. Excepting a Miss Robb or Ross and the pauper however, it is possible to determine who some of those concerned are.



Cumbria Archives Service, PR60/21/13/5, Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, Dr Graham, 22 Mar. 1816


Four have been identified: Robert, illegitimate son of Margaret Dobson 11 March 1814, Forrest Head. Ann, illegitimate daughter of Ann Atkinson, spinster, 5 May 1815, Brampton; George, illegitimate son of Sarah Taylor, weaver, 5 November 1815 Brampton; and Margaret, illegitimate daughter of Margaret Wallace, 12 January 1816, Brampton.

From parish registers, four have been identified: Robert, illegitimate son of Margaret Dobson, 11 March 1814, Forrest Head; Ann, illegitimate daughter of Ann Atkinson, spinster, 5 May 1815, Brampton; George, illegitimate son of Sarah Taylor, weaver, 5 November 1815, Brampton; and Margaret, illegitimate daughter of Margaret Wallace, 12 January 1816, Brampton.[2]

Other vouchers bearing Dr Graham’s name are for medication but it is not clear who they are for. Medicines include, Cream Tartar 4d, Cordial Mixture 3s, Diuretic Mixture 3s, Bronchial Mixture 3s, Opening Powder 6d, and Tonic Powders 5s. Although the precise ingredients are not stipulated, Dr T J Graham’s Modern Domestic Medicine (1837) may give some idea as to the ingredients used.[3]

Dr Graham was born at Bankhead, Canonbie, Dumfriesshire on 15 October 1783 in the Esk Basin. This was once known as the ‘Debatable Land’ between England and Scotland where the Graham, Armstrong, Bell and Elliot families administered the law. George Graham had five siblings: three sisters Sarah (1777-1862), Janet (1778-1841) Margaret or Peggy (1786-1836), and brothers William (1781- 1849) and John (1789- 1838). Sarah married farmer Richard Johnstone (1773-1873) and Janet also married a farmer, John Hope (1779 -1866). [4] George’s parents Peter Graham (1740-1825) and Ann Nichol (1747-1831) left the farm at Bankhead around 1790 and moved the short distance to Cubbyhill near Longtown.[5] George became a Surgeon, John became a silk mercer in London, and William took over the farm.


Dr Graham gained his Surgical Diploma in Edinburgh and began practice initially in Longtown Cumberland aged 23. His name is amongst those balloted for the Militia but he did not serve, a substitute took his place[6]


Working Life
Dr Graham began practice in Brampton in 1811. His name can be found in the 1829 trade directory at Market Place. [7] He was one of three surgeons in Brampton; the others being T. Gilbanks, H. Dobson and W. Fleming. In 1834 he was joined by an assistant William Armstrong (1812-1886), also born in Canonbie. Dr Graham purchased a property in Market Place in the centre of Brampton for £400 in 1836 and began a Doctors’ Partnership with Dr Armstrong in 1839. [8] They can be both found on the 1841 Census at Front Street, Brampton. They were joined in the practice by John Graham(1820-1893) George Graham’s nephew, one of his brother William’s 12 children. John Graham continued in the practice till 1861 when he sold up to leave for London along with his wife.[9] William Armstrong continued to be involved in Brampton affairs, becoming Justice of the Peace for Cumberland and Chairman of the Brampton Poor Relief Fund in 1878. He died at Garden Terrace, Brampton, 5 August 1886.[10]

Brampton Stocks, 2019

Some of Dr Graham’s work involved the administration of justice. Local newspapers give an insight into what is hoped were the less common events in his working life. In 1836 he ordered the release of a Jwhonnie Steeson (sic) from his punishment in the stocks Market Place, Brampton. The event was recalled by local poet Peter Burn (1831- 1902).[11] In 1841 at the trial of Jane Hogg and her mother Mary Hogg for the murder of Jane’s newborn child, Dr Graham gave evidence. Jane and Mary Hogg were both found guilty but the death sentence was commuted. The Jury asked for leniency for Jane. Lord Chief Justice Denman said of her mother Mary if I were perfectly convinced that she had destroyed the child for the purpose of saving the expense of keeping it … I should have no choice but to leave her to the executioner’. [12] He felt that all the facts were not known. Jane was given a life sentence, Mary was transported on 2 May 1842 to Van Diemen’s Land never to return.[13]

All three doctors were together two years before Dr George Graham’s death at the celebration of the Earl of Carlisle’s birthday at the Howard Arms, Brampton.[14]

octor Graham’s death is reported in the Carlisle Patriot, 2 July 1847:At Brampton on the 26th ult George Graham Esq surgeon aged 63 much respected by a wide circle of acquaintances‘. [15] He was buried at Lanercost, two miles from Brampton.[16]


This is a work in progress and subject to change with new research


Sources
[1] Cumbria Archives, PR60/21/13/5, Brampton Overseers’ Vouchers, 22 March 1816
[2] Cumbria Archives, PR60/7, Brampton, St Martin’s Parish. Register of Baptisms, 1813-1835
[3] Thomas J. Graham, Modern Domestic Medicine. A popular treatise illustrating the symptoms, causes and distinction and correct treatment of the diseases incident to the human frame; embracing the modern improvement in medicine (7th edn., 1837), https;// books.google.co.uk, accessed 14 Mar. 2019.
[4] www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, accessed 14 Mar. 2019.
[5] Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society, Canonbie Parish Church Monumental Inscriptions (2006).
6] Cumbria Archives, Q/MIL. Militia Liable Books, 1690-1831, (1806-1812)
[7] W. Parson and W. White. Directory and Gazetteer Cumberland and Westmorland (1829).
[8] Cumbria Archives, DCART/B/2/19/2, Deeds and Probates re: Clarke’s property in Market Street[Place] purchased by George Graham Surgeon of Brampton (B1); Carlisle Patriot, 10 November 1838; Carlisle Journal, 12 April 1843; Carlisle Patriot, 13 August 1856
[9] Carlisle Journal, 11 January 1861
[10] Carlisle Journal, 10 August 1886
[11] Carlisle Journal, 20 January 1893
[12] Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841
[13] www. convictrecords.com.au, accessed 14 Mar. 2019.
[14] Carlisle Journal 20, September 1845
[15] Carlisle Patriot, 2 July 1847
[16] Cumbria Archives, Carlisle, PR 121/9, Lanercost, St Mary Magdalene Parish Burial Register, 1813-1870

Senna and Prunes for Dame Trill

When parishes agreed to meet the costs of medicines for the parish poor, they might require medical practitioners to submit an itemised bill for the raw materials, procedures and travel involved in delivering treatment.  Many of the items were commonly known to contemporaries, but are less familiar to us: therefore when writers abbreviated entries for repeated supplies, they stored up a problem for twenty-first century readers.  It is notoriously difficult (and perhaps unwise) to try to decipher the abbreviated Latin prescriptions of physicians.  It is a little easier to understand the medical interventions involved when the original language was English, and/or the substances remain part of formal or informal treatments.

Eighteenth-century woman perched on public convenience.
National Portrait Gallery. ‘National Conveniences’, James Gillray, 1796. NPG D13021.

Dame Trill from East Hoathly had a problem we can recognise – she was constipated.  We do not know the background to her story; she may have suffered a dietary deficiency of roughage or, if struggling with piles, she might have found relief in additional stool softener.  Whatever the cause, the problem was stubborn.  The parish bought senna and prunes for Dame Trill repeatedly 1770-4, usually at a cost of six and a half pence per treatment.  Raisins were sometimes offered as an alternative to prunes.

Other treatments issued to the sick poor were more general.  The purpose of diuretic balsam is made clear in the name, in that it was designed to remedy the retention of urine, but the specific diagnosis is less easy to divine.  Medicines for the poor at this date still relied on humoural understandings of the body for their rationale.  Humoural medicine construed ill health as the imbalance of humours or fluids within the body.  The four humours of blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile had a unique blend or balance for each individual, and the restoration of health demanded the removal of any humour that was overly prevalent.  For this reason vomits, purges, diuretics and bleeding were among the most frequently used medicines throughout the eighteenth century.

In addition to generic remedies there was a willingness by parishes to pay for the equivalent of brand-name medicines, known at the time as patent medicines.  Widow Cane of East Hoathly was given Hooper’s Pills in 1773.  The patent for this medicine was first issued in 1743  and was one of the most successful and long-lasting products of its type, being sold well into the twentieth century in England and elsewhere.  It pledged to tackle female ‘irregularities’ and so was assumed by some customers to be a viable solution to an unwanted pregnancy.  It is important to say, though, that we don’t automatically suppose that this was the purpose of the parish in buying the pills for Widow Cane!  This medicine also offered to treat stomach problems, hysteria, and menstrual concerns: perhaps Widow Cane was menopausal?

Lists of medicines and treatments for the parish poor have presented a problem to historians thus far: how are we to use them, if we cannot work out the ingredients of items listed simply as pills, powders or mixtures, and if the recipients are not always obvious?  This is one of the problems this project is hoping to address.  Do get in touch with the project team if you have any ideas about how we might use these intriguing vouchers to ask historical questions.