Townley’s Chemist and Druggist, Brampton

L Townley Druggist PR60/21/13/5/58
L Townley Druggist PR60/21/13/5/58

Brampton was provided with a medicine dispensing service by its physicians and by the town chemist, Lancelot Townley (c.1750-1824). His daughter Elizabeth (1791- 1865) followed him into the business as possibly did another daughter, Hannah (1799-1837). Elizabeth’s and Hannah’s siblings were William (b.1781), Jane (1783-1855) Michael (1784-1808), George (b.1787), Mary (1789-1790), George (b.1794), and Sarah (b.1798).[1] The involvement of Mary Holmes (c.1754-1819) wife of Lancelot or their other children who survived into adulthood in the business near Front Street, is not known.

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes  1797 directory lists a Mr Townley as a Druggist. [2] In Jollies’ 1811 directory L Townley Druggist is named as a trader in Brampton. [3]. It is assumed this is Lancelot Townley. His bill to Brampton the overseers from 3 March 1817 to 18 March 1818 is for a Physic 3d, and three lots of medicines priced at 10d, 9d and 6d respectively. The total amounting to £0. 2s. 4d.[4]

Elizabeth Townley died in 1819 and Lancelot in 1824. [5] Looking at the trade directories it appears that their daughter Elizabeth has taken on the role of chemist on her own, but in his will Lancelot Townley left everything equally to his two daughters Elizabeth and Hannah. The will stipulates: ‘To my two daughters Elizabeth and Hannah my household furniture, stock in trade together with all my money and securities for money’. [6] It is conceivable that Hannah entered the family business and that they worked together perhaps following their father’s recipes. Preparation of qualified doctors’ prescriptions may have been undertaken, although they may have had no formal qualifications themselves. Perhaps they learned their trade from their father. Until the 1868 Pharmacy Act training for chemists had not been standardized. They may even have been seen as a competitor by the doctors.

There are no newspaper notices as to what they may have been selling or whether they sold non-pharmaceutical goods. Their father’s bill is for the overseers and it is the only one found so far. This may be an indication that their pool of customers came the less well off, as paying doctors’ fees was not an option for them. Equally, many chemists and druggists served a predominantly middle-class clientele. By 1829 Elizabeth had competition from Henry Dobson and others who traded as chemist’s and also selling tea, oils and colours.[7]

Hannah Townley died in 1837, however Elizabeth Townley can be found on the 1841 Census at Brampton Lane still trading as a Chemist. She is absent from subsequent trade directories. Elizabeth’s sister, married to clockmaker William Richardson, died in 1855.[8] Subsequent census returns reveal that Elizabeth provided herself with an income by offering lodgings, described asa lodging house keeper on the 1861 Census. This was a common practice for many women. Elizabeth Townley’s niece Mary Townley died in 1864.[9] She left her assets to her half-sister Elizabeth Holmes Latimer of Townley Place and Stamford House, her stepfather William Richardson and aunt Elizabeth Townley. It reveals she owned property herself at the West End of Brampton which provided her with an income. Along with her half-sister Elizabeth Holmes Richardson (Latimer) the other witness to her will was John Pears, chemist.

Elizabeth Townley died a year later in 1865, but appears to have left no will.[10]

A modest headstone commemorates Hannah, Elizabeth and their niece Mary Townley at Brampton Old Churchyard adjacent to a larger columned headstone to Mary’s half sister Elizabeth Holmes Richardson (1823-1888) and her husband William Latimer (1831-1865), solicitor.

Sources
[1] ancestry.co.uk,  accessed 11 April 2019
[2]Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes Universal British Directory, Vol 5 (London: c.1797)
[3] F. Jollie, Cumberland Guide and Directory (1811)
[4] Cumbria Archives, PR60/21/13/5/58, Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, March 1817 to March 1818
[5] Carlisle Journal, 6 March 1819
[6] Cumbria Archives, PROB/1814/W399, Will of Lancelot Townley 1824
[7] W. Parson and W. White Directory and Gazetteer Cumberland and Westmorland (1829)
[8] Cumbria Archives, Brampton Monumental Inscriptions (Cumbria Family History Society)
[9] Cumbria Archives, PROB/1864/WCOD293, Will of Mary Townley 1864
[10]Carlisle Journal, 17 March 1865

Hannah, Elizabeth and niece Mary Townley Headstone (foreground) Brampton Old Churchyard photo taken M Dean 7 April2019
Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary Townley (niece) Headstone in the foreground Brampton Old Churchyard Taken M. Dean 7 April 2019

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