Medical Establishments: The General Infirmary

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Medical Establishments: The General Infirmary', in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) pp. 501-513. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Medical Establishments: The General Infirmary", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 501-513. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Medical Establishments: The General Infirmary", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 501-513. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

In this section



INFIRMARIES stand at the head of the public charities that abound in England; and certainly few have been so extensively useful as this establishment. It was commenced in the following manner: Early in 1751, the members of a respectable Society in Newcastle (fn. 1) resolved, on account of the deaths of some, and the advancing age of others of their body, to discontinue their stated meetings; but, previous to their doing so, to leave some permanent memorial of the society having existed, by the proposal of some project of public utility. On the day appointed for this benevolent purpose, the late eminent surgeon, Mr. Richard Lambert, then a young man, suggested the establishment of an Infirmary; and this, appearing more beneficial than any other project which had been presented, met with the unanimous concurrence of the meeting. In consequence, a letter, signed K. B. was inserted in the Newcastle papers, strongly recommending a subscription for effecting so desirable an object.

This appeal was followed by a public subscription, which was spiritedly commenced on the 9th of February, 1751; and on the 7th of March was published, on a sheet in folio, with the list of the subscribers, a short dissertation, containing motives for establishing public Infirmaries. In order also to keep alive the benevolent feelings of the public, a sermon was reprinted which had been preached before the governors of the London Infirmary, at St. Lawrence, Jewry, March 31, 1748, by Joseph Butler, then bishop of Bristol, In a short time, the annual subscriptions amounted to above £1200. (fn. 2)

On April 13, 1751, a subscription was opened for building the new Infirmary, on a part of the Forth Banks, granted by the corporation under the charge of a small annual rent. (fn. 3) At the same time, the following officers and servants were chosen:—Treasurer, Mr. Joseph Airey; Physicians, Dr. Askew, Dr. Cooper, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Lambert; Surgeons, Mr. Samuel Hallowell, Mr. Richard Lambert; House-apothecary, Mr. Henry Gibson; Secretary, Mr. Thomas Turnbull; Matron, Mrs. Dorothy Jackson. There were also chosen a house-committee of thirty-six gentlemen; twelve of each of the counties of Durham, Newcastle, and Northumberland. A similar committee was appointed to settle the plan, and regulate all matters relating to the building. Twelve trustees for the intended building, four of each county, were also chosen; and three trustees for laying out money in the public funds, one of each county. It was, at the same time, resolved to carry the charity into immediate execution. For this purpose, a house was taken in Gallowgate, capable of containing twenty-three beds; and, on the 23d of May, it was opened for the reception of patients. On this occasion, a large number of the governors met at the Exchange, and from thence went in procession, accompanied by the magistrates in their formalities, to St. Nicholas' church, when the Rev. Archdeacon Sharp preached a sermon from Luke, chap. x. ver. 36, 37, and which was afterwards printed at the request of the committee. After divine service, the committee went to the Infirmary in Gallowgate, where seven in-patients and four out-patients were admitted, after being examined by the receiving physician and surgeons, and approved of as proper objects. On the 30th, seven more patients were admitted; and, shortly afterwards, the applicants for admission became so numerous, that the committee hired what lodgings could be procured in the neighbourhood.

On September 5, 1751, the foundation-stone of the new building was laid by the Right Rev. Dr. Joseph Butler, Lord Bishop of Durham, when a great number of the governors dined with the Sons of the Clergy, at the Turk's Head, from whence they went in procession to the Forth Banks. A plate of copper was fixed on the stone, with the following inscription:—"The foundation of this Infirmary was laid on the 5th day of September, in the 25th year of the reign of King George II. 1751, by the Rt. Rev. Joseph Lord Bishop of Durham, Grand Visitor." And on the reverse,—"The ground was given by the Corporation of Newcastle: Ralph Sowerby, Esq. Mayor, William Clayton, Esq. Sheriff."

After the ceremony was over, the company retired to the Forth House, where £147, 17s. was subscribed towards the building. The same day, Dr. Rotheram, of Hexham, paid into the hands of the treasurer £42, being part of the produce of a course of lectures on experimental philosophy, given by him at Hexham, for the benefit of the Infirmary. In the evening, Mr. Avison gave a concert of vocal and instrumental music, at the Assembly Room, for the same benevolent purpose, and which produced £36, 15s.; the performers having given their assistance gratis.

The building was carried on with such spirit and diligence as to be finished and opened for the reception of patients on October 8, 1752. It is computed to have cost above £3000. Including additional bedding, linen, and furniture, the total disbursements towards the new building amounted to £3697, 7s. 9¾d. (fn. 4) The receipt for the first year, ending April 6, 1752, amounted to £2643, 1s. 2½d. when it appeared 133 patients had been cured. The next anniversary was held June 17, 1753, when the bishop, with the nobility and gentry, were entertained at dinner by the mayor (Henry Eden, Esq.), on which occasion a turtle was served up, supposed to be the first of its kind exhibited at an entertainment in the north of England.

On Friday, October 18, 1754, being St. Luke's day, the chapel of the Infirmary, dedicated to that evangelist, and the burying ground adjoining, were consecrated by the bishop of Durham, and a sermon preached on the occasion by the Rev. Thomas Dockwray, M. A. (fn. 5)

The number of surgeons being found too limited, it was resolved, April 3, 1760, "that the number of surgeons to this Infirmary be augmented from two to four."

This institution continued to produce the most beneficial effects: but, at length, many of the original statutes for its regulation fell into disuse; while others, from the great improvements in the management of hospitals, became unavoidably defective. Dr. Clark (fn. 6) directed the attention of the governors of this hospital to these evils; and, at length, a special court was held, November 9, 1800, on this business, when, in consequence of a report he laid before them, it was resolved, "That a committee of governors be appointed, to take the statutes, rules, and orders, into consi deration, and to frame a code for the future conduct of the charity," with a further direction, to lay the result of their labours before the next quarterly court, or, at latest, before the general court in April. The alterations which Dr. Clark proposed were highly important, and extended to every branch of the management of the institution. The original building was itself, in many respects, defective; some of the wards were too large, and incapable of sufficient ventilation; many accommodations for the medical officers, which appear essential, were wanting; no separation of the medical and surgical patients could be made; and, finally, there was not room enough for the numbers claiming admission, and the difficulty of rejecting those who were proper objects, often led to the wards being in much too crowded a state. Dr. Clark proposed many judicious alterations to remedy these defects, and also drew up several very important regulations for the future conduct of the charity. He endeavoured to secure economy in the application of its funds, by the revival of the weekly committee, and by introducing a new mode of appointing the members, calculated to render it effective. A rule was established to prevent the election of medical officers being influenced by private solicitations or party spirit, which, where they take place, must often operate to the exclusion of merit. Nor did he overlook another most important object of hospitals, "The Improvement of Medical Science." With a view to this, he recommended, "The keeping a journal of all instructive cases, or dissections, to be preserved in the hospital for the inspection of the physicians and surgeons; the keeping and preserving monthly and annual returns of the several diseases of the persons admitted; and, lastly, the appropriation of a place in the Infirmary for the reception of anatomical preparations, and of a professional library." (fn. 7)

The suggestion of the above improvements appeared of so much importance, that the court unanimously resolved, "That a committee should be appointed to take the statutes, rules, and orders, into consideration,—and to frame such a code for the future conduct of the charity as should appear to them necessary and expedient, from change of circumstances, and from the improved knowledge of hospital arrangements." This committee adopted the proposed improvements, and presented a new code to the general court held April 2, 1801; when a special court was appointed to meet on the 25th of June following, "To consider the expediency of the proposed internal improvements of the Infirmary, and to procure plans of the intended extension of the building, and estimates of the expense attending the same." A report of their proceedings and opinions thereon was ordered to be printed, and circulated among the governors before their anniversary meeting in August. At that general meeting, it was unanimously resolved, "That the Infirmary, in its then state, was but ill calculated to answer the benevolent purposes of such an institution; a committee was empowered to carry the projected improvements into execution, and a subscription opened to defray the necessary expenses." The plan of the alterations in the old Infirmary, and the plan and elevation of the extension of the building, with estimates of the expense, were prepared by Mr. John Stokoe, an ingenious architect, under the direction of Dr. Clark, who spared neither trouble nor expense to obtain plans of the most improved infirmaries and hospitals in the kingdom, and descriptions of the best modes of ventilation. These plans were approved of at this meeting, a committee for improvement was formed, and a subscription was directed to be made to carry the proposed design into execution. (fn. 8)

At this time, Dr. Clark laboured to effect "a wise, economical, efficient, and permanent co-operation of the Infirmary and Dispensary," in forming a Board of Health for the eradication of febrile contagion, and for supporting patients received into the fever-house annexed to the Infirmary, which the building committee had enlarged so as to contain 20 patients. But when the committee, that met at the Dispensary to carry these important objects into execution, communicated with the weekly committee of the Infirmary, it was discovered that a difference of opinion prevailed amongst the medical officers of that establishment as to its safety. Dr. Clark was greatly surprised and grieved at this unexpected opposition; and a warm controversy ensued. Supported by the highest medical authority, this learned physician contended that the fever-house could not extend infection to the Infirmary; in which opinion he was defended by Dr. Ramsay, and Mr. R. B. Abbs and Mr. R. Keenlyside, surgeons; and opposed by Dr. Wood, and Mr. Horn and Mr. W. Ingham, surgeons. Dr. Steavenson thought that perfect safety depended upon a wall of separation. (fn. 9) At a general meeting of governors, held June 24, 1802, the plan of opening the fever-wards at the west end of the new building was rejected by a great majority. Dr. Clark, however, being firmly convinced that without such wards "every infirmary must be very defective," recommended an application to the bishop of Durham, as Grand Visitor of the charity, to appoint a general meeting to take into consideration the propriety of this vote. A requisition, very numerously and respectably signed, was accordingly transmitted to his lordship, who, in compliance with it, directed a general meeting to be held on the 12th of October. At that meeting, a much more numerous attendance of governors took place than had ever been known; but as the plan for admitting contagious diseases into the fever-wards had excited very great alarm, it was not thought for the interest of the charity to press the question. A compromise therefore took place, by which it was agreed, that if a separate fever-house, approved by the Grand Visitor, were not ready by the 31st of October, 1803, he should be empowered to open the fever-wards of the hospital for the general reception of patients. This resolution accelerated the erection of the Fever House.

The Infirmary stands in an open, dry, elevated situation, at a short distance from the town, and from the river Tyne; but during the east winds in the spring months, it is considerably annoyed by immense clouds of smoke brought from the town and glass-houses. The out-grounds are convenient, and command a pleasing prospect of the adjoining country. The old building is of stone, and presents a plain but elegant front to the south. From the eastern extremity there runs northward a spacious wing, fronting the east. The principal, or south front, contains four stories; the basement, the ground-floor, the chamber, and the attic. The wing is two stories high, with an attic ward at its northern extremity. The ground floor is 13 feet, the chamber 12, and the attic story 9 feet high. The front and the wing nearly form a quadrangle; but in erecting the new building, it was an object to avoid this form, for which reason it commences immediately where the front galleries of the old building terminated towards the west. By this means, both houses were made to communicate, and a thorough ventilation is secured. This new erection is built of brick, and is 125 feet long. The basement story is 11 feet high, and the second and third stories 14 feet high. Patients are now well accommodated, and the wards are kept remarkably clean, airy, and neat. All the bedsteads are made of hammered iron, with joints, to turn up in the day-time; and some of them have a screw to raise or lower the back, for altering the position of patients when in a weak state. The wards in the south front have strong Venetian blinds on the outside; and every window has a portion of each pane in the top of the upper sash cut away, and a moveable frame of glass placed on a cross bar, in order to admit more or less air at pleasure. Many other ingenious contrivances are adopted to obtain a succession of pure fresh air. Such patients as are able to sit up are removed to the dining-rooms, or cross galleries, for a few hours daily, while their beds are carried into the open air, and the wards exposed to ventilation. Each story in the new house has a gallery six feet six inches broad, in which the patients walk when the weather is wet; and every floor is furnished with a nurse's room, scullery, and water-closet, conveniently situated, and abundantly supplied with water from a large leaden cistern, placed on the top of the new building, where it joins the old Infirmary. Warm baths, on an improved plan, were erected by subscription in 1817. The other numerous and important improvements introduced into this hospital have insured wholesome accommodations to the sick and convalescent, and rendered it one of the most complete charities of the kind in England. The east wing contains the physicians' and surgeons' consulting-rooms, a waiting-hall, and a dispensary. In the governors' room are elegant portraits of Sir Walter Blackett, Bart. by Reynolds; Matthew Ridley, Esq. by Webb; Dr. Joseph Butler, bishop of Durham; Dr. Benson, bishop of Gloucester; William Ingham, Esq.; and one of Shute Barrington, the late bishop of Durham, painted by Owen; all of whom were great benefactors to this charity.

Since the commencement of the Infirmary in 1751, to March 31, 1826, no less than 59,877 cures have been performed. During the last Infirmary year, 1447 persons were restored to their friends and the community wholly freed from their complaints. Of this number, 803 were in-patients. By the last report, it also appears that 115 patients remained in the house. Persons meeting with sudden accidents, or labouring under diseases requiring the immediate help of surgery, are admitted, without any recommendation, at any hour of the day or night; but all other patients are admitted on Thursdays only, by a letter of recommendation from a subscriber or benefactor. Those not admissible into this charity are, women big with child; children under seven years of age, except those upon whom surgical operations are to be performed; persons judged to be incurable, (fn. 10) or in a dying condition, or labouring under insanity, the small-pox, or other infectious distemper, or afflicted with cancer not admitting of operation, or with consumption, scrofula, or dropsy, in the last stage.

Governors, who are either annual subscribers of two guineas or upwards, or benefactors of twenty pounds or more at one time, have the direction of the affairs of the Infirmary. Four general courts are holden in each year, viz. on the first Thursday in April, July, October, and January, for the dispatch of extraordinary business, and auditing and ordering payments of the quarterly accounts; and a committee of governors attends weekly on Thursday, to admit and discharge the patients, to examine the weekly accounts, to superintend the conduct of the officers and servants, and to control the expenditure of the house. The duties of this committee (which, in its constitution, is an open committee) are, in their nature, important and various; the presence, therefore, of any governor, not named on the committee, on a Thursday, at the Infirmary, is particularly solicited. Two, also, of the neighbouring governors are appointed, in weekly rotation, to visit the house, and to enquire into the conduct of the different departments, and into the behaviour of the patients and servants, and to report their observations to the house committee, in "The House Visitors' Book," in the governors' hall; and governors, as well those residing in the country as those not so, are also requested to take the trouble of visiting the house whenever they have an opportunity.

Subscribers, who commenced their subscriptions prior to the 2d day of April, 1807, may recommend, for one guinea, yearly, one in-patient, or two out-patients; for two guineas, double this number; and so in proportion for larger sums. Benefactors of ten pounds have the same right of recommendation as subscribers of one guinea yearly; and benefactors to a larger amount, after the same ratio. But those subscribers who commenced their subscriptions on and after the 2d day of April, 1807, recommend, for one guinea yearly, not more than one out-patient; and, for two guineas yearly, not more than two out-patients, or one in-patient: and this is a scale of recommendation which belongs to benefactors whose benefactions were made on or since the 2d of April, 1807, and will govern all future benefactions.

The revenues of the Infirmary arise partly from funded property, but principally from annual contributions and donations. The disbursements are much diminished, in consequence of great quantities of coals being given by the principal coal-owners in the neighbourhood. The greater part of the pecuniary capital belonging to the Infirmary hath been invested (in virtue of the power of an act of parliament, passed in the 1st year of his present majesty's reign, for amending the savings banks acts of parliament passed in his late majesty's reign) in the names of Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart. M. P. and Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. M. P. as trustees for the Infirmary, which investment produces interest at the rate of £4, 11s. 3d. per centum per annum, and by which a permanent advantage has accrued to the institution, namely, an increase of capital to its funds, and annually to its receipts; the dividends formerly arising yielding only £199, 4s. annually, whereas the present interest received from the savings bank yields £289, 17s. 1d. annually, being an annual increase of £90, 13s. 1d. in favour of the charity; and this change was effected very seasonably, as a reduction of interest, from £5 to £4 per cent. had taken place on certain moneys belonging to the institution, to the amount of £30 a year. An accurate idea of the accounts of the Infirmary may be obtained from the following abstract, from 1st April, 1825, to 31st March, 1826, inclusive:—

L. s. d. Victuals. L. s. d. L. s. d.
1825. 1st April, 1826 To balance in the treasurer's hand 266 13 1 Bread and flour 259 8 6
31st March Amount of annual subscriptions received from 1st April, 1825, to this date Subscriptions due for this year, unpaid, L431, 13s. 1584 3 6 Butcher meat 441 2 8
Arrears received this year 141 15 0 Subscriptions received in advance, commencing 1st April, 1826 38 17 0
Dividends, Interest, and Rent-charge, viz. Cheese and butter 36 13 8
To cash of the corporation of Newcastle, from one year's interest on 3500l. at 4l. per cent. per annum, due 17th February, 1826 L140 0 0 Eggs and milk 226 3 4
Ditto, a year's interest on 500L at 4l. per cent. per annum, due 5th Feb. 1826 20 0 0 Fish and poultry 7 16 0
Ditto, for a year's interest on 100l. the Rev. Dr. Tew's legacy, due 9th January, 1826 4 0 0 Garden stuff, including potatoes 54 16 3
Ditto, for a year's perpetual rent-charge given by the late Mrs. E. Baker, due 5th November, 1825 4 10 0 Oatmeal 56 4 0
The trustees of the Ponteland road, one year's interest on 1000l. due 7th December, 1825 50 0 0 Pot Barley 28 13 0
Interest on 6353l. 5s. invested in the Newcastle upon Tyne Savings Bank, due 20th November, 1825, at 4l. 11s. 3d. per cent. 289 17 1 Groceries 96 15 0
The trustees of the Wearmouth Bridge and Tyne Bridge turnpike road, 2 years' interest on 100l. due 12th May, 1825 10 0 0 Salt 2 9 7
518 7 1 1210 2 0
Benefactions. Liquors.
Cuthbert Dunn, Esq. Newcastle 21 0 0 Malt, hops, and brewing 95 7 0
Frederick Pollock, Esq. barrister on the northern circuit 20 0 0 Wine 69 13 0
John Wilson, Esq. Ryton 20 0 0 165 0 0
Matthew Bell, Esq. M. P. 50 0 0 Furniture and Repairs 179 0 4
The Right Honourable Lord Prudhoe 50 0 0 Candles 17 3 9
161 0 0 Cloth, thread, &c. including calico and tape for the surgery 33 3 4
Donatlons Incidents.
Edward Swinburne, Esq. 5 0 0 Garden 27 9 3
Edward Hurry, Esq. of London 10 10 0 Shaving and sending patients home 19 8 0
A lady, by the hands of H. Hewitson, Esq. 5 0 0 Washing 15 12 6
The executors of the late Mrs. Kirton, of Albion Street 5 0 0 Porter's clothes 4 0 6
C. T. 1 0 0 Matron's sundries, viz. hardware, earthenware, woodenware, brushes, sand, mats, whitening, cord, &c. 29 11 0
The Slaters' and Tylers' Company 3 0 0 146 8 4
Mr. Birch, of Newgate Street 2 2 0 Salaries and Wages.
Miss Jackson, of Whitburn 2 0 0 House-surgeon 60 0 0
A gentleman, by the hands of the treasurer 50 0 0 Secretary 42 0 0
Mr. Richard Goodlad 2 0 0 Chaplain 20 0 0
96 2 0 Matron 42 0 0
Church Collection. Nurses and servants 128 14 6
Collection at the anniversary sermon, 9th Oct. 1825 21 12 3 292 14 6
Incidents. Coals leading, and keel dues and wood 29 16 6
Balance from the anniversary dinner, 3d Aug. 1825 31 19 6 Printing, paper, stamps, postages, and advertisements 37 14 6
Contents of the Poor Box 2 7 7 One year's ground-rent to the corporation of Newcastle 0 2 6
Sale of yeast and grains 11 12 4 One year's new water rent 30 0 0
Amount of discount allowed by tradesmen 26 1 0 One year's insurance at the Newcastle Fire-office on 7000l. 5 5 0
Apothecary's drugs, surgical instruments for the house use, trusses, &c. 592 19 1
House-surgeon, the second portion of Mr. Holt's apprentice-fee 42 0 0
Window tax and servants tax 7 9 4
Ground and water rent paid Geo. Anderson, Esq. 2 years 10 2 0
2748 14 1
By balance due from the treasurer 31st March, 1826 154 16 3
L 2903 10 4 L 2903 10 4

The establishment of the Infirmary, for the 75th year, ending the 31st March, 1826, was as follows:—

Grand Visitor, The Honourable and Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Durham. Presidents, His Grace the Duke of Northumberland; His Grace the Duke of Portland; The Right Honourable the Earl Grey; The Most Noble the Marquis of Bute; The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Newcastle; The Right Honourable the Earl of Tankerville. Vice-presidents, Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart. M. P.; The Right Honourable Lord Ravensworth; Thomas Richard Beaumont, Esq.; Charles John Brandling, Esq. M. P.; Sir John Edward Swinburne, Bart.; Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. M. P. Stewards, for Northumberland, Sir H. D. C. St. Paul, Bart. M. P.; John Davidson, Esq.: for Durham, William Barras, Esq.; Samuel Walker Parker, Esq.: for Newcastle, George Shadforth, Esq.; Thomas Wailes, Esq. Preacher of the Anniversary Sermon, The Reverend William Hawks, B. D. Physicians, Thomas Emerson Headlam, M. D.; Noel Thomas Smith, M. D.; Darnell Bulman, M. D.; Thomas M'Whirter, M. D. Surgeons, Mr. Thomas Leighton; Mr. Edward Smiles; Mr. William Moore; Mr. John Baird. Treasurer, William Boyd, Esq. Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel John Winch. House-surgeon, Mr. James Church. Chaplain, The Rev. John Parkin. Matron, Mrs. Eleanor Pattison.


  • 1. Brand mentions Mr. Joseph Airey, Mr. George Headlam, Mr. Ralph Headlam, and Mr. Richard Burdus, as being members of this club, which assembled merely for convivial purposes. See page 375.
  • 2. The leading annual subscribers were, the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Durham, £30; the Earl of Northumberland, £10, 10s. and his Countess, £5, 5s.; Lord Ravensworth, £50, and his Lady, £10, 10s.; the Duke of Richmond, £21; the Duke of Cleveland, the Earls of Tunkerville, Darlington, and Carlisle, Sir Thomas Clavering, Sir Carnaby Haggerston, and Sir Henry Grey, Baronets, and F. B. Delaval, Esq. £10, 10s. each; Sir W. Blackett, Bart. and George Bowes, £50 each; Dr. Cooper, Dean of Durham, and William Pitt, Esq. £20 each; the corporation of Newcastle, £100; Merchants' Company, £25; Hoastmen's ditto, £21; Trinity-house, £10, 10s. Mr. Charles Avison also gave an annual benefit; Mr. Joseph Baker and Mr. Lee, each an annual benefit play.
  • 3. There is an order of the common council at Newcastle, for a grant to be made under the common seal of that corporation, of a "part of the Firth Banks, boundering on a burn on or towards the west; the north boundary to be in a direct line from the gate, or road, that leads to the Maidens' Walk, to the road that leads from the Firth to the Skinner Burn, the said line to terminate not less than thirty yards from the south-west corner of the Firth-wall: boundering on the east on the road that leads from the Firth to the Skinner Burn, leaving the said road not less than twelve yards broad: bounded on the south, on a part of the said Banks, ninety yards, or thereabouts, distant from their north wall, under an annual rent of two shillings and sixpence."—Common Council Books, quoted by Brand.
  • 4. The bishop of Durham gave £300 towards furnishing the house.
  • 5. Mrs. Byne presented a silver flaggon, for administering the sacrament, with the parable of the Good Samaritan, and other devices, elegantly engraved on it. Lady Musgrave also presented two pieces of silver plate, for the use of the chapel. About 1758, Sir Walter Blackett, Bart. gave £1000 to this charity, secured on the Ponteland road, and appropriated £10 per annum, part of the interest of that sum, to a chaplain, to perform divine service, and visit the sick in the house. This has since been augmented to £20 per annum, the extra £10 being paid from the annual subscriptions.
  • 6. John Clark, M. D. Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh, &c. &c. was the eldest son of William Clark, a respectable farmer at Graden, in Roxburgh, where he was born in May, 1744. John was first sent to school at Linton, but, about the year 1755, was removed to the grammar-school at Kelso, where Mr. Dobie, an excellent classical teacher, was master. Here he evinced such acuteness and strength of mind, that his father, in 1760, sent him to the university of Edinburgh, to qualify him for the church. But having expressed a strong predilection for medicine, and a dislike to the study of divinity, his father consented to gratify his inclinations. His studies, however, were soon interrupted by the accident of a slate falling from a house, which gave rise to such severe head-aches, nervous complaints, and disorder in the organs of digestion, that he returned home in 1761. Shortly after, he was apprenticed to Mr. Watson, a surgeon; but, in 1766, he returned to Edinburgh, to pursue his medical studies. Here his diligence and abilities attracted the notice and secured the friendship of the late Dr. Gregory, Professor of Physic, who, in consequence of his alarming complaints in the stomach, advised him to try the effects of a warm climate. Having first attended a course of medical lectures in London, he obtained the appointment of surgeon's mate on board the Talbot Indiaman. Dr. William Hunter, of London, admired him so much as to admit him to his lectures without taking the usual fees. In March, 1768, the Talbot sailed for Bengal, and in 1770 returned to England. In the following year, he sailed for China, and arrived back in the Downs in September, 1772. In March, 1773, Mr. Clark published "Observations on the Diseases which prevail in long Voyages to hot Climates," which procured him a deservedly high reputation, and the approbation of the court of directors of the East India Company. After attending during a season the hospitals in London, Mr. Clark procured a diploma from the university of St. Andrew's, and, in the course of 1773, settled as physician at Kelso. Two years afterwards, he removed to Newcastle, upon Dr. Wilson's quitting it for London; but being an unpatronized stranger, he advanced slowly against a powerful opposition of respectable characters and connexions. He, however, found an ample range for medical observation in the diseases of the poor; and neither his zeal for the improvement of his profession, nor his humanity, permitted him to neglect it. His experience amongst this numerous class of sufferers induced him and his friend, Mr. Anderson, a surgeon of great respectability, to propose the establishment of a Dispensary, in April, 1777. His exertions in promoting this useful charity will be noticed hereafter. In 1780 appeared his "Observations on Fevers," in which he strongly condemned the then prevailing debilitating plan of treatment, and recommended the free use of the Peruvian bark. Dr. Clark also published, in 1783, a posthumous tract of Dr. Leslie, on the contagious catarrh, with observations of his own. His practice, which had been long increasing, had now become more extensive than that of any physician in Newcastle; and, on Dr. Brown's decease in 1788, he was elected, without opposition, physician to the Infirmary. Though Dr. Clark was dreadfully harassed with stomach complaints, and laboured under an almost total want of sleep, while his business was more extensive than had ever fallen to the share of any medical practitioner in the north of England, yet he found time to revise his work on diseases which prevail in long voyages to hot climates, and to make many valuable additions. He also laboured incessantly to carry into effect his favourite object, to render the Newcastle Infirmary a model for similar institutions; and when the controversy respecting contagion took place, he collected with great labour the sentiments of most of the leading medical characters in Great Britain, and supported his arguments by a larger and more valuable mass of evidence on the subject than is any where to be found in the annals of medicine. These extraordinary exertions increased Dr. Clark's complaints so as to compel him to consent to a temporary suspension of practice. After trying the Buxton waters, and visiting Leeds and Manchester, during which tour he conferred with Drs. Currie, Percival, and Ferriar, he returned to Newcastle, where his health rapidly declined. In October, 1804, he suffered an attack which opened to his view the melancholy prospect of severe and protracted sufferings, which he sustained with the resignation and fortitude that marked a great mind. As a last resource, he tried the waters at Cheltenham and Bath. At the latter place, he was attended by his friends, Drs. Haygarth, Falconer, and Fenwick; and, after suffering the most excruciating pain and intolerable nausea, he died on April 19, 1805. His remains were deposited in the church-yard of Weston, near Bath, close by the grave of his friend, the late Mr. Bigge, of Benton House. Dr. Clark was twice married. By his first wife he had two children, that died in infancy. In 1783, he married Miss Susan Heath, of Newcastle, who, with four sons and a daughter, survived to deplore his loss. Dr. Clark was distinguished by an extraordinary simplicity of character, which was united with unbounded benevolence and great intellectual powers. In his temper he was rather hasty; a fault often connected with great and generous qualities. He "was formed to excel in the profession he exercised. He took infinite delight in observing the phenomena, and investigating the laws, of animal life; and his quick perception, extraordinary powers of discrimination, sound judgment, and unwearied industry, admirably qualified him to study them with effect." Untrammelled by theory, he stored up an immense collection of medical facts, which he applied with the most accurate judgment. Thus he discovered or contributed to the establishment of new and useful methods of cure. Though rough in his general address, to his patients he was remarkably mild and encouraging. "To the patient or the friend," says Dr. Ramsay, "whose taste or habits of thinking made professional points interesting, disdaining all mysterious reserve, he readily disclosed his opinions— Speaking his undisguised sentiments, and retaining his native simplicity of manners, the warm attachment of his patients was added to their high respect for his abilities." In conclusion, it may be confidently stated, that Dr. Clark was the greatest benefactor of the afflicted poor that ever appeared in Newcastle.—See Dr. Fenwick's "Sketch of the professional Life and Character of John Clark, M. D. &c." Adam Askew, M. D. who practised in his profession near 50 years in Newcastle with the greatest approbation and success, was one of the first physicians of this charity. His father, Dr. Anthony Askew, of Kendal, was descended from Sir Hugh Askew, who was a courtier, soldier, and sheriff of Cumberland, in the reign of Henry VIII. Adam married Ann, younger daughter and coheir of Richard Crackenthorp, of Newbiggin, in the county of Westmoreland, Esq. and by her had issue four sons and one daughter: 1. Anthony. 2. Adam Askew, M. A. rector of Plumbland, in the co. of Cumberland, and, by his father's will, owner of Middleton Hall. 3. Henry Askew, of Redheugh, in the co. of Durham, Esq. who married Dorothy, only daughter of Mr. Boulby, of Whitby. 4. John Askew, of Pallinsburn House, in the co. of Northumberland, who married Bridget, daughter and heir of Thomas Watson, of Goswick, Northumberland, Esq. Dr. Askew died at his house in Westgate Street, on January 15 1773, in the 79th year of his age, and was interred in the family vault in St. John's church. From the extensiveness of his practice, he had acquired immense wealth, to which his eldest son, Anthony Askew, M. D. succeeded. He also was eminent in his profession, and was physician to St. Bartholomew's and Christ's Hospitals, London, and Registrar and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He took the degree of B. A. at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in 1745; and, after studying at Leyden for twelve months, went to Constantinople in the suite of the British ambassador. On his return in 1749, he purchased at Paris a considerable number of rare and valuable MSS. and printed books, which laid the foundation of his splendid library, that, after his death, was sold for upwards of £5000. He was F. R. S. and was reckoned one of the best Grecians in England. He married, first, Margaret, only daughter of Cuthbert Swinburn, of Longwitton, Northumberland, Esq. by whom he had no issue; and, secondly, Elizabeth, younger daughter of Robert Halford, Esq. late master in chancery, by whom he had twelve children, the eldest of whom was under 20 years of age when he died at Hampstead, April 27, 1774, aged 52 years. These are the twelve orphans alluded to on the Askew monument in St. Nicholas' church. See page 260. Dr. John Rotheram, a physician to the Newcastle Infirmary and Lying-in Hospital, was born at Kendal, where his father, the Rev. Caleb Rotheram, kept a flourishing academy for the education of Dissenting ministers, about the year 1721. He studied at Edinburgh, under the celebrated Maclaurin, and occasionally lectured for him while himself a student. Having taken his degree, he settled first at Hexham; but, about 1760, removed to Newcastle, where he had for many years the most extensive practice as an accoucheur. He first introduced a taste for Natural Philosophy, in the several branches of which he gave repeated courses of lectures. He was singularly clear in his explications, and skilful in the performance of his experiments. His Philosophical Essay on Water, published in 1772, is highly creditable to him, considering the then imperfect state of chemical science. Having early in life imbibed the opinion that political servility and the Roman Catholic religion were inseparably connected, he wrote several papers against the latter in the Protestant Packet, and was also author of the pasquinade found posted on the Exchange, under the statue of king Charles II. in 1771, and which has been preserved in Hutchinson's History of Northumberland, vol. ii, p. 427. He died about 1788, and was buried in Hexham Abbey. He had two sons: John, a physician, Professor of Natural Philosophy at St. Andrew's; and Captain Edward Rotheram, of the royal navy, who commanded Lord Collingwood's ship, the Royal Sovereign, at the battle of Trafalgar, and led her into action with singular skill and bravery. He now resides at Stonehouse near Plymouth. Edward Kenlish, M. D. for some time a physician to this charity, is the son of Dr. Richard Kentish, of Scarborough, who wrote a pamphlet to prove that the guillotine was a lingering and cruel mode of inflicting the punishment of death. Dr. Kentish published at Newcastle, in 1797, an Essay on Burns, which attracted considerable notice, as his mode of treatment was founded on the Brunonian system. In 1809, appeared his Essay on Warm and Vapour Baths. Some of his publications are extremely fanciful. He considered the French Revolution as "a Moral and Political Epidemic," and proposed for its cure a cooling regimen and free ventilation. As the war prevented opulent invalids from visiting warm climates, he proposed to erect a Madeira House in the south of England, which, with the adjoining grounds, was to be covered with an immense glass frame, and the air to be kept in a certain state of temperature. After his removal to Bristol, he married Miss Rankin, daughter of the late Robert Rankin, Esq. of this town. Doctors Hall, Brown, Wood, Glenton, and a few others who laboured for the public good in this establishment, were men of talents and considerable practice; but the privacy of study, and the minute observations made at the sick-bed, afford little scope for biographical remark. It is usually by the promulgation of a new theory of disease that the physician's life becomes a subject of public curiosity. Here it may, however, be noticed, that Dr. Wood, who in his latter years was greatly depressed by a series of family sufferings, published "Conclusions on Hydrophobia,"—"Plain Remarks on Fever," and "Papers on Contagion." The Newcastle Infirmary affords excellent opportunities for surgical practice; and perhaps there is no similar establishment in the kingdom which can boast of a succession of abler men in this department of the medical profession. Mr. Lambert, of great surgical celebrity, and one of the founders of the Infirmary, left his pupil, Mr. Ingham, in possession of the high character which he himself had maintained. William Ingham, Esq. the son of a surgeon at Whitby in Yorkshire, after finishing his professional education in Newcastle and London, became partner with his late master, and soon after a surgeon in the Infirmary. His knowledge of anatomy, combined with great manual dexterity, was soon appreciated; while his character for honour gave to his opinions an incontrovertible weight. So great did his influence become, that, in the election of medical officers to vacant situations in the Infirmary, the person whose cause he espoused was sure to succeed; and in questions of medical policy, his decisions always preponderated.— From the precision of his discipline, the pupils of this highly revered master have almost uniformly attained pre-eminence in their profession: the colonial, the land and sea service, as well as the walks of private practice, have been embellished by the disciples of his school. After fulfilling for upwards of 30 years the arduous duties of a surgeon to the Infirmary, with honour to himself, and to the entire satisfaction of the governors, his resignation was accepted with regret. The general sense of his services was perpetuated by a full-length portrait, painted by Mr. Nicholson, a native of Newcastle, which, by the unanimous vote of a quarterly court, was ordered to be placed in the governor's hall. He died November 26, 1817, aged 64 years. James Trotter, M. D. though not a physician of this hospital, deserves notice in this place, from his great celebrity in the healing art, and his long residence in Newcastle. He is a native of Roxburghshire in Scotland, and received his classical and medical education at the college of Edinburgh. In March, 1782, when very young, he was appointed surgeon in the royal navy, and was the first in that rank that was obliged to seek employment in the African trade. From this voyage he was enabled, in 1789, to give the select committee of the House of Commons the most important evidence against the horrid traffic in human flesh. On his return in 1785, he settled at Wooler in Northumberland. During his residence there, he passed through the different examinations at the college of Edinburgh, and obtained a doctor's degree in 1788. At this time, he acquired the esteem and favour of that illustrious professor, the late Dr. Cullen. In 1789, he was appointed to the flag-ship of his friend and neighbour, Admiral Roddam; at which period he published his review of the medical department of the navy. A second and improved edition of his Observations on Scurvy appeared in 1790, in which were first applied the new doctrines in Chemistry to explain the action of medicines upon the constitution. In December, 1793, he was appointed physician to the royal hospital at Portsmouth, and, early in the following spring, was nominated physician to the Channel fleet by Earl Howe, without any previous application or personal acquaintance, but merely on account of his professional reputation. Dr. Trotter discharged the difficult and important duties of this office with unexampled diligence and ability. He reformed the arrangements in royal hospitals; abolished the fine for cure of lues venera in ships; and, in 1801, induced the government to shut up 2000 gin-shops in Plymouth-dock, on account of the prejudicial effects these nuisances produced on the health of seamen. His Medicina Nautica contains the history of health in the Channel fleet for five years. The chapter on Typhus, in the first volume of this valuable work, is a most finished performance. The practice recommended is founded on the modified principles of the Brunonian system; and the means recommended by Dr. C. Smyth for eradicating contagion are ingeniously combated. Various translations of the Medicina Nautica have been published; and Professor Hufeland prefixed a preface to the German edition in no usual style of compliment. After the victory on the first of June, 1794, a contagious fever of the most dangerous kind was spread from the French prisoners, when the captains of the fleet begged the physician to advise the commander-in-chief to sink all the prizes to save the fleet; but the doctor adopted such means that in 10 days the contagion was so completely destroyed, that the king and royal family visited the fleet. Dr. Trotter took occasion, from this surprising change, to impress upon the minds of the officers, that discipline, and not medicines, was the antidote against infectious fevers. The general scurvy which appeared in the succeeding wintet was subdued without a ship being inactive; and that once fatal disease, by the permanent employment of the means then adopted, has been extinguished from our navy. Indeed, a navy surgeon once expressed to the writer his belief, that more lives had been saved in the navy, during the late war, by the regulations and practices introduced by Dr. Trotter, than had been lost in battle. It is also told in the naval circles, that, when the late Earl St. Vincent was boasting of the many good things he had done for the navy, Admiral Sir Edward Thornborough replied, "True, my lord, you did much; but there is one man still living who did more for the navy of the country than you or any person that ever existed, and that man is Dr. Trotter, who has been shamefully neglected." In consequence of a hurt received during the Quiberon expedition, in visiting a wounded officer, the doctor was obliged to retire from the service; and although he was the only regular physician that had served in the fleet for an hundred years, yet he only received a pension of ten shillings per day. When the medical officers of the navy received an increased half pay, this physician was excluded, because, considering himself an admiralty officer, he would not stoop to solicit the board of sick and hurt. However, the surgeons of the royal navy presented him with an elegant and valuable piece of plate, as a testimony of the high sense they entertained of the services he had rendered in their corps. After quitting the navy, Dr. Trotter settled in Newcastle. When a vacancy offered in the Infirmary for a physician, he tendered his services; but finding it was expected he should go round and ask for votes, he withdrew his offer. However, his own house was opened to give gratuitous advice to the poor, on the mornings of Tuesday and Saturday; and immense numbers have availed themselves of this privilege. The doctor has been a zealous promoter of vaccination; and the first public compliment paid to Dr. Jenner came from his hands. It was a gold medal from the medical officers of the navy, with the Horatian motto, "Alba nautis, stella refuesit." His verses to Dr. Jenner, on the recovery of an infant from vaccination, have peculiar beauties. The doctor frequently amuses himself by courting the Muses. Amongst those poetic pieces that have been printed in different literary journals may be mentioned the Monody on the Death of Earl Howe. the Life Boat, and the Ode to the Ass. He is also author of a closet play, entitled, "The Noble Foundling." In this town have appeared his "Essay on Drunkenness," and a "View of the Nervous Temperament," which works have been translated into all the continental languages. His "Proposal for abolishing Impressment," shews that his anxiety for the welfare of his old friends has not diminished. Less could not with justice be said of this able and useful physician.
  • 7. Dr. Clark, thinking that there existed a general lukewarmness towards the proposed alterations, presented to every subscriber, "The Result of an Enquiry into the State of various Infirmaries, a comparative View of the Success of the Practice in the improved and in the old Infirmaries, and a Proposal for the Improvement and Extension of the Infirmary at Newcastle." In preparing this paper, he acknowledges the great assistance received from Dr. Ramsay, and "from the ingenious Mr. Murray, surgeon."
  • 8. The subscription for the proposed improvements and extension of the Infirmary was opened by a draft for £500, inclosed in a letter to Mr. Ingham, from the Duke of Northumberland. The total sum subscribed amounted to £5329, 9s.
  • 9. See Dr. Clark's Collection of Papers, printed by S. Hodgson, 1802.
  • 10. In 1769, the Rev. Dr. Tew gave £100, the interest of which was to be applied to the present service of the Infirmary till a ward could be set aside for incurables, and then the interest to be applied exclusively to its support.