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A doctor’s prescription book, 1893

1987/3 p3


A doctor’s prescription book, 1893


This book, which has been shown to the Ewell Documentary Group, by courtesy of Dr. Trevan, might be of some interest as social history.


It is a doctor’s day book for the period 19th February 1893 to 10th January 1894, with the names, and sometimes the addresses, of patients attended, the medicines prescribed and occasionally the fees paid.


Entries relate to visits, attendance at the surgery, and prescriptions. It is not known whether the entries represent the whole of the doctor’s practice. The months of March, April and August have the fewest entries. There is not much variation for the other months until December is reached, when the number of entries (which totalled 221 in October and 247 in November) increase to 341, while for the first ten days of January 1894, where the book ends, there are 149.


A study of the prescriptions might give a clue to the incidence of various ailments, but this was beyond the competence of the group.


Among the patients recorded there are about 30 babies and 60 other children, and ten confinements are noted (for which the standard fee seems to have been a guinea). The doctor would seem to have attended about 270 families or individuals in the course of the year. In about 20 cases he made almost daily visits for a fortnight or longer, in some cases for as long as three months.


In very few entries is there any indication of rank, and it seems that the practice (at any rate as reflected in this record) had to do mostly with the ordinary inhabitants such as tradesmen and working-class families. In a few cases attendance on a servant of, e.g. Sir David Evans, or a worker on the farm of E. Symes, Esq., of Fitznells is recorded.


From the addresses given, the area covered seems to be from the Jolly Waggoners in Kingston Road to Epsom Road, and from Brick Kiln Cottages in London Road to Gibraltar and the Marsh (as the Chessington Road area was known).


There is no indication of the doctor’s means of transport. It could have been a pony and trap, a bicycle or tricycle, or even Shank’s pony.


Of the patients for whom a Ewell address is given, very few can be positively identified with families living in Ewell in 1881 (the census returns give a full list of inhabitants for that year). Of the surnames in the doctor’s book only about half appear in the list of Ewell householders in 1881.


In the census returns no house numbers are given, and there are few in the doctor’s book. The address is often given as ‘Gibraltar’ or ‘The Marsh’. An exception is Heatherside Road, there being patients at numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 and at 11 Heatherside Cottages. The names of none of these appear in 1881. Enquiries might show that these houses were newly built when the doctor set up in practice.


It is thought that the book, which was discovered in Grove Cottage, relates to the practice of Dr. Barrington Mudd. Directories of the period show him as practising in Church Street in 1893, and in Grove Cottage in 1899.


Mabel Dexter

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