Medical Establishments: The lying-in hospital and charities

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Eneas Mackenzie, 'Medical Establishments: The lying-in hospital and charities', in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) pp. 517-522. British History Online [accessed 19 May 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Medical Establishments: The lying-in hospital and charities", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 517-522. British History Online, accessed May 19, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Medical Establishments: The lying-in hospital and charities", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 517-522. British History Online. Web. 19 May 2024,

In this section


In the autumn of 1760, a subscription was commenced for the establishment of a Lying-in Hospital in Newcastle, for poor married women. A general court of contributors was held on the 26th of November that year; when a physician, surgeon, surgeon extraordinary, man-midwife, and matron, were chosen, A house, taken in Rosemary Lane for the purposes of the institution, was opened on December 3d following, for the admission of pregnant women; and which Mrs. Sarah Hudson was licensed to keep, at the quarter sessions held in the Mansion House January 12, 1774, when she was enjoined to fix and keep up, over the door or public entrance of the hospital, in large letters, the following words:—"Licensed for the public reception of pregnant women, pursuant to an act of parliament passed in the 13th year of the reign of George III." Over the charity-box, within the entrance of the house was the appropriate motto, "Because there was no room for her in the inn." In the first year, the annual subscriptions to this humane institution amounted to 87 guineas, and the benefactions to 69 guineas.

Mr. Thomas Elliott, (fn. 1) surgeon to this hospital, transmitted, on January 1,1819, to the trustees of the charity, a donation of five pounds for the commencement of a fund in aid of the purchasing, constructing, or renting, as the case might require, hospital premises in Newcastle upon Tyne suitable for the reception of poor married women lying-in. At a general and quarterly court of the governors and subscribers, held on April the 7th following, a series of resolutions was unanimously adopted, for the furtherance of the scheme proposed by Mr. Elliott, in honour of whom it was agreed to call the collection of moneys Elliott's Fund. The progressive accumulation of this fund encouraged the subscribers, on receiving notice to quit the premises in Rosemary Lane, to resolve on the construction of an hospital. In order to facilitate the execution of this benevolent design, the corporation granted a most convenient and eligible scite of ground, fronting New Bridge Street, and which had been resigned by the Literary and Philosophical Society. The elevations, details, and specifications of the several works of the new hospital, were all gratuitously supplied by Mr. Dobson, architect. It is a remarkably chaste, plain, and substantial stone building, in the style of English architecture that prevailed about the end of the reign of Henry VIII. The masonry is particularly well executed by the Messrs. Welsh of Gateshead, the two ingenious young men noticed in another place. The ornamented canopy sills are beautiful. The whole length of the building is 56 feet, and the breadth 47 feet. On the right hand side of the entrance is a waiting hall, 16 feet by 12½ feet. This communicates by a door with the committee-room, which is 25 feet in length, and 16 feet in breadth. The next apartment is the surgeon's room. On the opposite side are the matron's sitting-room, a store-room, two kitchens, and a wash-house, which is annexed to the main building. In the upper floor are two large, light, airy wards, which hold four beds each; and two smaller wards, adapted for two beds each; with the matron's bed-room, store-rooms, water-closet, and other conveniences. The gallery in this floor terminates with a projecting window, ornamented with stained glass, manufactured by Mr. Joseph Price. The subscribers directed the arms of the corporation, of the late Mr. Elliott, and of the late vicar, the Rev. John Smith, who was an eminent benefactor of the institution, to be put upon the glass; but, as they hesitated in choosing the fourth coat of arms, Mr. Price inserted his own. There is also a further ornament of a Cupid's head.

Maugre the attempts of Malthus and the Scotch Philosophers to discourage the breeding of the industrious classes, the old English feeling of kindness and benevolence to the poor has been pleasingly evinced in Newcastle, in the support of this charity. (fn. 2) The whole expenses of the building, fitting up, &c. will amount to about £1550, of which sum about £1300 have been subscribed; and, no doubt, the liberality of the ladies and gentlemen of the place will soon enable the treasurer to liquidate the debt that remains due.

Subscribers and benefactors to this charity are entitled to a number of votes in proportion to their benefaction or annual subscription. For every guinea subscribed annually, one woman in the year may be recommended. A general court of governors and subscribers is held four times in the year; and a house committee meet every Wednesday, at 12 o'clock at noon, to admit and discharge women, inspect the diet and provisions, regulate the conduct of all officers, servants, and patients, and to make their reports to the general quarterly court. Two ladies, at the request of the house committee, are desired to visit the house daily during one week.

Every woman desiring admittance into the hospital must produce a certificate of her marriage, including the time and place of marriage, and state the settlement of her husband, and how such settlement was obtained: and to those facts she and her husband must jointly swear. If the husband cannot attend, then the affidavit of the wife singly to the above particulars shall be sufficient. The said affidavit may be delivered to the chapelwardens or overseers of the parochial chapelry of All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne, if required. If the husband should not have a settlement, but the wife be able to make affidavit to her own settlement, and to give such other proofs thereof as are satisfactory to the committee, she may be admitted. No woman can be admitted labouring under any contagious distemper, or not having a fixed residence, except her husband be a soldier or sailor. Every patient is required to bring a child's dress with her; and if no symptoms of approaching labour appear, the matron may dismiss her at the end of two days, until it be proper to re-admit her. When necessary, a patient is brought in a chair to the hospital; but when that is not practicable or safe, she is carefully attended at her own house. Three skilful surgeons attend the hospital in rotation, each of whom are, if need be, to hold consultation with the other surgeons and with the physician. The matron is to deliver in all natural and easy cases, and to superintend the servants, nurses, and general officers of the house.

The new hospital was opened on October 4,1826, since which time it has contained as many as seven patients at one time. From the commencement of this charity on October 1,1760, to the 30th of September, 1825, there were—.

Poor married women discharged in health, 3193
—died in the hospital, 22
—remained on the books, 10
—never appeared after being entered on the books, 225
£. s. d.
Subscribed during that period, 10,646 7
Expended, 10,644 18
Due by the treasurer, 1 9 0

The following is a statement of the accounts for the 65th year of this institution, ended September 30, 1825:—

L. s. d. L. s. d.
Balance due from the treasurers, October 1,1824 27 3 Housekeeping 108 6
Arrears of annual subscriptions 24 3 0 Matron's salary, 30l.; servants' wages, 13l. 13s. 43 13 0
Annual subscriptions for the year 119 14 0 One year's house-rent, 20l.; and one year's new water rent,1l. 10s. 21 10 0
Interest on moneys vested with the corporation 29 0 0 Medicines 14 0 3
Moneys found in the poor box 0 17 3 ½ Advertising, printing, stamps, stationary articles, and insurance of furniture in the Newcastle Fire Office 21 19 6
A legacy from Joseph Airey, Esq. Newcastle 50 0 0 Fees for registering children baptized in the hospital 3 4 2
Donation from Mrs. Pybus, Ridley Place 1 1 0 Moneys placed to the account of Elliott's Fund 1 11 3
Anonymous donation, by Mrs. Greenside 1 0 0 Repairs in and about the hospital 0 16 10
Purchasing new, and repairing old furniture 6 8
Legacy duty on the legacy of Joseph Airey, Esq. 5 0 0
Investment with the corporation of a portion of said legacy 25 0 0
251 9 11¼
Balance due from the treasurers, September 30,1825 1 9 0
L252 18 11½ L 252 18 11¼

In the last printed report, the establishment stood thus:—

President, Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart. M. P. Vice-presidents, The Right Honourable the Lord Ravensworth; The Master of the Trinity House; The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Newcastle; Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. M. P. Chaplain, The Rev. Moses Manners, M. A. Physicians, Dr. Smith; Dr. Bulman. Surgeons, Mr. Greenhow; Mr. Frost; Mr. Hardcastle. Secretary, Mr. Hardcastle. Matron, Mrs. Mary Jeffrey. Treasurers, The Rev. John Smith, Vicar of Newcastle (D.); The Rev. John Collinson, Rector of Gateshead.


Lying in at their own houses.

This charity commenced in the winter of 1760, with the intention that each poor married woman, or widow pregnant at her husband's death, in Newcastle and Gateshead, should be attended and delivered by an experienced midwife; or, if necessary, by a surgeon expert in midwifery; and, in difficult cases, by a physician; and supplied, during the month, with proper medicines and suitable provision. (fn. 3) From the time that the charity was finally organized in 1761, to January 1, 1826, 8739 patients have been admitted. During the last year, 192 women were delivered; 109 males and 86 females were born; one woman and three children died; and two children were still-born. In the former year, 229 patients were admitted. Were an account taken from the books of this institution, of the number of patients delivered in each month since its commencement, of the number of boys and girls born in each year, and of the patients and children that died, it would form a very curious and important document. From the reports which the writer has seen, the males born each year exceed the females in number. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that this charity is chiefly supported by ladies, some of whom are at the trouble of conducting a penny a week subscription for its support. The lady visitors shew the greatest attention to, and care of, the patients. The following is an abstract of the accounts from January 1,1825, to January 1,1826:—

L. s. d. L. s. d.
Balance remaining with the treasurer, January 1, 1825 79 19 7 192 patients, at 9s. 6d. each 91 4 0
Annual subscriptions received this year 128 10 6 187 midwives, at 2s. 6d. each (fn. 4) 23 7 6
May. A donation from Mr. Hurry, of London 5 5 0 Jan. Paid Ann Tallentyre, in addition, per Miss Atkinson 0 2 6
A do. from Mr. Powell, of do. 5 5 0 Do. in addition, to a patient, per Miss Robertson 0 3 0
June. Do. anonymous, per Mrs. Priestman 2 2 0 Do. Margaret Bragg and Son 1 13 5
Sept. A lady's penny-a-week subscription 0 4 6 Do. Tweedy, in addition, per Mrs. Gibson 0 0 9
Dec. Collected by a lady from various friends, being their penny-a-week subscription 2 2 3 April, Do. the Dispensary servants 0 6 0
Left in a shop in Pilgrim Street, by a woman detected in the act of stealing 2 0 0 Do. Mrs. Affleck, for washing and making linen 1 3 5
Three ladies' penny-a-week subscription 0 13 0 May, Do. E. Ferguson, in addition, per Mrs. Robson 0 2 6
Donation from Matthew Bell, Esq. of Woolsington 20 0 0 June, Do. Jane Cooper, do. per Mrs. Dobson 0 3 6
Do. anonymous, E. W. 1 0 0 Aug. Do. Forsyth, in consequence of having twins 0 2 6
Mrs. Affleck's annual salary 5 0 0
Mrs. Watson, for a year's rent of room 5 0 0
Dec. Mr. Paget, surgeon, his bill for the year 8 0 0
Mr. Greenhow's do. do. 1 14 6
Paid Mr. Bragg and Son, for linen, &c. 15 0 0
Do. Mr. Walker, for a year's advertisements 1 10 0
Do. Messrs. Hodgson's, for advertisements and printing annual report 4 16 0
Balance remaining with the treasurer, January 1,1826 87 12 3
L 247 1 10 L 247 1 10

Over and above the balance, viz. 87l. 12s. 3d. there remains in the Newcastle Savings Bank 220l. 11s. 11d.

The present establishment is as follows :—

President, Isaac Cookson, Esq. Treasurer, Mr. Joseph Morton. Secretary, Rev. W. Turner. Physicians, Dr. M'Whirter; Dr. Weightman. Surgeons, Mr. Greenhow; Mr. Paget. Lady Visitors, Mesdames Weightman, Coward, Priestman, Bragg, Joplin, Hotham, Dobson, Featherstone, G. Hodge, Currie, and Liddle; and Misses Croser, Bainbridge, Potts, Beaumont, Turner, Hunter, Angas, Pearson, and Robertson. Midwives, Mesdames Ellis, Rutherford, Laing, Hill, Atkinson, Richardson, Walker, M'Kenzie, Thompson, Pringle, Stonehouse, Brown, Sewell, Wilson, and Brunskill.


  • 1. Thomas Elliott, the eminent accoucheur above mentioned, was born at Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, in the year 1759. He was lineally descended from John Elliott, of Brough, second son of Sir Gilbert Elliott, of Stobbs Castle, in Roxburghshire. He received his education at the respectable grammar-school of his native village, during the mastership of the Rev.— Hall, M. A. At the age of 15, he went to London, and shortly after received a lieutenant's commission in the Marines from his uncle, the late General Elliott. He was first employed in the recruiting service in Somersetshire, and the remainder of his military life was chiefly spent at sea. In the eighth year of his service, he received a very severe wound in America, in consequence of which he was placed on the half-pay list as a first lieutenant, a rank which he continued to hold till his death. After his health was re-established, he soon became tired of an inactive life; and seeing little prospect of promotion in the marine service, he resolved to enter on the study of medicine, with a view to joining the medical staff of the army. For this purpose he went to Edinburgh in 1786, and became a student of physic in the university, where he enjoyed the personal acquaintance of the late celebrated Professors Monro, Hamilton, and Cullen. On leaving Edinburgh in 1792, he settled as a surgeon at Wolsingham, in the county of Durham, where he married the daughter of— Curry, Esq. a neighbouring magistrate. About the year 1797, he removed to Newcastle; and, on the death of Mr. A. Fogo, surgeon, his practice became very extensive, while his reputation gradually rose until his death in 1824. He was a man of stern, unbending integrity, and possessed principles of the most liberal kind.
  • 2. The Mayor and Corporation of the town gave a donation of £100 towards the building; the Lord Bishop of Durham, £20; the Hoastmen's Company, 20 guineas; the Master and Brethren of the Trinity House, £30; Mrs. Skerrett, £55, 5s. In 1824, from the Musical Festival, £160. A sermon preached in St. Andrew's church, July 10, 1825, by the Rev. J. Birkett, jun. produced £52, 8s. 10½d. A sermon preached in St. Nicholas' church, July 31, 1825, by the Rev. J. Collinson, curate of Lamesley, produced £16, 10s. 6d. The collection after a sermon preached by the Rev. C. Benson, rector of St. Giles' in the Fields, Westminster, on August 28, 1825, amounted to £52, 16s. 9½d.; and the amount of the collection in All Saints' church, September 25, 1825, by the Rev. and Hon. E. Grey, was £61, 0s. 4½d. From Messrs. Green, aeronauts, May 30, 1825, a donation of £17, 13s. 9d. The clear produce of a Philosophical Lecture by Mr. Jackson, under the patronage of Mrs. Dobson, £37, 12s. 9d. In addition to many private donations, £30 a year was added to the Elliott Fund, agreeably to a resolution of the general court held July 5, 1820.
  • 3. An address in behalf of this charity was published in 1761. Friday, March 3, 1780, the tragedy of Hamlet was performed at the theatre in Newcastle, for the benefit of this charity—the part of Hamlet by Nicholson Stewart, Esq. and that of the Ghost by Captain Morris. January 26, 1783, a sermon was preached at St. Nicholas' church, for the benefit of this charity, by Dr. Scott of Simonburn, which produced £31, 19s. 10¾d. Shortly after the commencement of this charity, about 900 women were annually recommended.
  • 4. Five patients, viz. H. Scott, M. Johnson, M. Pon, E. Bruce, and J. Thompson, employed their own midwives, and received only 9s. 6d. each.