Tag Archives: apothecary

The Genealogical Jigsaw Puzzle

St Mary Aldermanbury before the Blitz


It is always very satisfying when another piece of the genealogical jigsaw puzzle slots into place, and this is what happened following the item I wrote last time about Robert Fotherby, who gave his body to science.

I already had a copy of his Will and decided now was the time to transcribe it and to remind myself why I knew anything about him in the first place. I had in fact come across him in the Will of John Rose of Cotterstock (c.1696-1736), which is one of those documents that is a real treasure trove. John Rose had no children and left a number of legacies to his cousins before making over his estate which included holdings in Jamaica to his nephew, then a minor, on condition that he change his name from John Pate to John Pate Rose – which in due course he did.

He listed the following cousins – Robert Fotherby and his wife Frances; Mary Stileman; Martha Milner; Thomas Bush; Thomas Pain the Elder of Oundle, and his sons John and Thomas; Rose Fuller and Francis Sadler both of Jamaica; and the widowed Mary Smith of Leicester. He left a number of charitable legacies and money for his servants as well as, intriguingly since I don’t know what the connection was, Fifty pounds to be equally divided between the two Sons of Thomas King late of Spanish Town in Jamaica aforesaid Dancing Master deceased to be paid them in Jamaica money. Whether John Rose had ever visited his estates in Jamaica, which were being managed by Francis Sadler, is not recorded. You can read the Will in full here.

To unpick all these relationships we need to go back to the early days of settlement in Jamaica when the sons of Thomas Rose of Mickleton decided that their future lay there. The eldest brother William, an apothecary, remained in London acting to some extent as family banker; Dr Fulke Rose and his brothers Thomas and Francis patented land in Jamaica; John Rose pursued a career as a merchant based mainly in London, trading goods and convicts into the island (although one of his daughters was born in Jamaica). There was also a sister Elizabeth Rose, possibly married in 1679 to Richard Phelps in Jamaica, and later to a man called Milner, finally in 1699 back in London to a widower called William Bush with whom she had several children.

So we can de-code the cousins of John Rose of Cotterstock, whose father was William Rose the Apothecary, as follows: Mary Stileman was a daughter of John Rose the merchant and you can read more about her here. Her son from her second marriage was Francis Sadler. Martha Milner was a daughter of Elizabeth Rose, and Thomas Bush was Martha’s half-brother. Rose Fuller was a grandson of Fulke Rose and as a young man he went to Jamaica to manage the estates belonging to the Fuller and Isted families.

That was as far as I had got until I looked again at Robert Fotherby and discovered a marriage licence allegation on Ancestry for an intended wedding to the widowed Frances Charnock ‘aged upwards of thirty years’, in 1732.  Frances Rose had buried her daughters Elizabeth and Mary in the parish of St John Jamaica in August and October 1720, and her husband Dr John Charnock in September ten years later. Their deaths are recorded in a monumental inscription (Lawrence Archer, p.313).  Returning to England she remarried and had, it is to be hoped, ten happy years with Robert Fotherby. That he was very fond of her is evidenced by the care he showed in providing for Elizabeth Lambe, who had been her companion, and perhaps her nurse in her last illness.

Frances was buried on the 2nd of March 1741/42 at St Mary Aldermanbury in the City of London, where her mother Elizabeth had been buried in 1735 and her infant niece Elizabeth Serocold (daughter of Martha Rose) was buried in 1716. The church was destroyed by enemy action in 1940, but in 1969 when the site was to be redeveloped the stones were sold and the church was rebuilt in Fulton, Missouri, USA as the National Churchill Museum.

So of this extensive list of cousins, all apparently relations of the Rose family, I am left with Thomas Pain and his sons who I suspect were closely related to John Rose’s wife Elizabeth (one of the witnesses to her Will was a Thomas Payne) and Mrs Mary Smith of Leicester.

I did not hold out much hope of finding Mrs Mary Smith though my guess is that she was also a member of the Pain family. However I then discovered that in 1758 the Bank of Smith and Payne was established in London’s Lombard Street. John Payne, the founding partner, and a Chairman of the East India Company, was a nephew of the Thomas Payne of Oundle mentioned in the Will of John Rose of Cotterstock. Both the Smith and Pain/Paine/Payne families had connections with Wigston near Leicester.

John Paine of Oundle, son of Thomas the Elder, was buried  in the church of St Peter, Oundle on the 23rd of July 1801, aged eighty-one, at which time his younger brother Thomas and sister-in-law Sarah were still alive.


As a postscript: John Pate did obtain a private Act of Parliament in 1744 to change his name to John Pate Rose. He went on to have three daughters with Martha Henn, but I am not clear whether he was married to her. Hannah Bella born in 1753 died young. His daughters Letitia and Sophia born in 1751 and 1752 both married within a month of each other in 1784, each couple being witnesses at the others’ wedding – Letitia to the widowed Sir George Booth and Sophia to the Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne with whom she had a daughter Margaret.



The Apothecary, the Butcher and the Physicians


The Rose family were among the earliest colonist of Jamaica. Dr Fulke Rose and his brothers Thomas and Francis were patenting land from the early 1670s onwards, and the family plantations and name persisted throughout the following century. After the death of Fulke Rose, his widow married Sir Hans Sloane among whose many claims to fame was his wonderful book on the natural history of Jamaica, the result of a short visit he made in the 1680s. Another brother John Rose was a London merchant who traded with Jamaica and who carried convicts and indentured labourers there in his ships.

Less well known, in connection with Jamaica, was their brother William who was an apothecary in London and who seems to have acted in some capacity as family banker. Fulke Rose’s Will mentions that William was paying a family annuity to their aunt Margaret Tudor, and that he was holding £1500 on behalf of his brother Fulke (equivalent to about £2.8m today relative to average earnings – source: measuringworth.com).

The trade of an apothecary is one we no longer have, and to some extent this results from a court case involving William Rose.

Generally speaking there were three providers of medical services at the time, not counting midwives who were generally women. There were some men midwives, who were not doctors, as childbirth had not yet become medicalised.

Surgeons performed basic surgery, without of course benefit of anaesthetics or antiseptics. So they worked fast to reduce shock and blood loss, amputating crushed limbs, setting broken bones, bleeding patients and generally dealing with the mechanics of the human body. They would learn their trade by apprenticeship to another surgeon.

Physicians were the top of the medical tree, and might be university trained, for example Dr Rose Fuller, Fulke Rose’s grandson, trained at Leiden in the Netherlands. They diagnosed ailments and dealt with a wide variety of illnesses and conditions – inevitably with varying degrees of success. A good bedside manner was worth money and the fees they charged related as much to this as to actual treatment success rates. They would prescribe bleeding, cupping  and blistering, and would write prescriptions for medicines containing things such as scorpions and crushed woodlice, as well as the opiates mentioned in last week’s posting here. Those medicines would be made up for the patient by the local apothecary.

Unlike today’s dispensing chemist however the eighteenth century apothecary also provided medical services to patients in his area, who would consult him because he was cheaper than a physician. The physicians however jealously guarded what they regarded as their monopoly over the right to diagnose and prescribe.

This came to a head in 1701 when John Seale, a butcher from Hungerford Market, came to consult William Rose who was practising in the parish of St Martin in the Fields in London. Seale was probably suffering from a sexually transmitted disease and over a period of months William tried various remedies without success. Eventually he presented Seale with a bill for £50, a considerable sum, possibly designed to try to get rid of a troublesome customer! Troublesome he certainly was.

Seale went to the Royal College of Physicians to complain and William was prosecuted before the Court of the Queens Bench for practising illegally as a physician. The case was debated over a considerable period of time and eventually judgement was given in favour of the Physicians. However William’s case was taken up by the Society of Apothecaries who applied for a Writ Of Error and they argued that ‘… selling a few Lozenges, or a small Electuary to any asking for a remedy for a cold, or in other ordinary or common cases, or where the medicine has known and certain effects, may not be deemed unlawful or practising as a physician, where no fee is taken or demanded for the same. Furthermore the physicians, by straining an act made so long ago, may not be enabled to monopolise all manner of Physick solely to themselves and be an oppression to the poorer families not able to go to the charge of a fee’.

The argument was as much about money as it was about medical practice. The physicians feared that the apothecaries would poach their business and they would lose fees. However the apothecaries argued that there were not enough physicians to supply the medical needs of Londoners, whereas the many apothecaries living among their clientele could be on hand day or night.

William won his case on appeal in 1704, and the physicians went on to undercut the apothecaries by setting up free dispensaries for the poor!

However, the ruling is now regarded as marking the beginning of the establishment of General Practice in England, and William is remembered in the Rose Prize of the Royal College of General Practitioners – ‘For original work in the history of general practice in the British Isles’.


The picture above, by Pietro Longhi (1702-1785), from Wikimedia Commons, shows an eighteenth century apothecary examining a patient. The seated figure is perhaps the physician writing his prescription. The large plant on the floor looks like an aloe vera which is still used today, and is common in Jamaica where its uses in herbal medicine have long been known.