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We all at sometime during our lives will have the need of medical advice or assistance. Below are five surgeons/doctors who served the parish of Mattishall for well over 140 years. The first record dates from 1806 & then 1832 where The Medical and Surgical Association lists John Ballard Pitt Esq as Surgeon of Mattishall Norfolk. We see later John Pitt's son married Dr George Taylor's daughter.

In the early 1800's, living at Mattishall was Lionel Palmer (alias Rainbird) a Surgeon (also known as Lawrence) and his wife Eleanor. During their time here they had two children baptised at Old Moor Chapel, on Bardley Moor, by the Rev Carter an inderpendant minister. They were Henry, Dec 3, 1806, Alfred, Nov 18th 1808.
Henry became a surgeon in his own right and was known as Henry Palmer Rainbird. He married Mary Ann Mann of North Tuddenham, daughter of Edward Man a farmer and his wife Sarah. In 1833 Henry ran in money problems and his creditors sued him, the outcome is unknown. Mary Ann died (date unknown) and Henry now a widower married Margaret Meachen a spinster and famers daughter at Yaxham on January 7th 1859. Margaret was the daughter of Charles Meachen a farmer. In 1861 Henry and Margaret were living at Spring Lane, Badley, Yaxham, his ocupation was, Pensioner Ej S. Henry died in 1864 age 58, he was buried on July 21st at St Peter's churchyard, Yaxham. Margaret died in 1866 and was buried on May 5th with Henry at Yaxham.

1806: The Poll of Knights for the county of Norfolk, Mattishall - Robert Thorne, Surgeon

John Ballard Pitt: 1816 - 1900
John Pitt was born in 1816 at Highley Shropshire the son of Richard Pitt a Gentleman. He married Jane Elizabeth Gandon Warcup at East Dereham in the Sep quarter of 1847. Jane was the daughter of William Mark Warcup a Surgeon of East Dereham and his wife Martha Ellis of Norwich. John and Jane had two children, Richard Warcup Pitt born 1848 and Caroline Ballard Pitt born 1849 - He studied at the University College, London, and practised at Norwich, where he was Surgeon to the Henstead Union Workhouse, and filled other posts including surgeon to Mattishall before residing in St Stephen's Street Norwich. Among his posts were: Surgeon to the City Dispensary; Medical Referee to the Norwich Union Life Assurance Society; Hon Secretary to the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, later the British Medical Association; Member of the Pathological Society of Norwich; Surgeon to the Oddfellows; Surgeon to the Norwich Union; Member of the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society. This was before 1881 when the family moved to Grove House, Scarning, East Dereham the family home of the Warcup's (Jane's parents). John took the position of Medical Officer of Health for the Henstead Rural District, and Surgeon to the Boys' Home, Norwich. He had retired for thirteen years before his death at Scarning in 1900 at the age of 89.

John's wife's brother, Thomas Chute Ellis Warcup was a Chaplain & Naval Instructor in the Royal Navy and served in the Baltic in the 1853-1856 Crimean War. He is mentioned in the Rev Benjamin Armstrong's Diary's - 1856 January 8th, Called on young Warcup, the Naval Chaplain recently returned from the Baltic. It goes on to give brief details of the conflict with the Russians - 1860: Jun 27 - The Globe, London - At Melbourne Australia, the death of the Rev Thomas C. E. Warcup, Chaplain of H. M. S. Pelorus. HMS Pelorus was a 22-gun Pearl-class wooden screw corvette launched in 1857 and broken up for scrap in 1869. She participated as part of a squadron after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Then she was sent to the China Station during the Second Opium War until May 1859 when she sailed for Australian Station. 1860: April 21st, Gentleman's Magazine - Clergy deceased - At Melbourne, the Rev Thomas Chute Ellis Warcup, Chaplain of HMS/ Pelorus/, only son of William Mark Warcup, MD of Scarning, Norfolk, and grandson of the late William Warcup, Staff Surgeon in the Island of St Vincent - It does not give cause of death.

John's daughter Caroline Ballard Pitt married Richard John Tacon born at Eye Suffolk on May 7th 1878 at Norwich. In 1881 they were living at Rollesby Norfolk with their two daughters. Richard's occupation was record as the Rector of Rollesby - Richard was born March 26th 1847 the 3rd son of Charles Tacon, of Mansion House, Eye and Mary Anne, daughter of Robert Girling. Richard's father was a solicitor, a member of the family who bought the Eye Brewery from Richard Cobbold and mayor of Eye for nine successive years and held many public offices. He was a very wealthy and generous man who gave money to many deserving causes including a new clock and bell tower for the Town Hall in 1897. Rev Richard did his M A at University of Cambridge was J P For County Norfolk and Lord Of Manor Of Claydon, Suffolk. By 1891 they had seven children. Richard John Tacon was born in the June quarter of 1845 and was Rector St George's church Rollesby for nearly sixty years. The gift of £657 a year was in the hands of the Tacon brewing family. In 1872 Richard was the current owner and presented himself to the living. He transformed the interior of St George's Church and it is because of Rev Richard St George Church has a large collection of Victoria glass windows. Caroline died in 1921 age 71 and Rev Richard died March 11th 1929 age 82.

John's son Rev Richard Warcup Pitt married Charlotte Heyhoe Taylor the daughter of our next parish doctor - see below......

Second - Dr George Taylor (below)


Dr. George Taylor: 1817 - 1900
The above picture is taken from a newspaper sadly we don't have the original. It shows Dr George Taylor who is seen with his horse and gig. He retired after 46 years service. The article states this picture was taken early 1900's although it was probably taken in the 1890's as the doctor died in 1900 aged 82.
With him, we now believe is his groom and gardener, Mr Thomas William Jarrett, born in the June quarter of 1841 at Swanton Morley. It is believed Thomas had been in the employ of the doctor for several years as he is found on both the 1881 and 1891 census living next door to the doctor on South Green, Mattishall with his wife Sarah Anne Jarrett nee Whiterod and their family. Thanks to Mark Britton for spotting this.

Dr George Taylor was born in 1817 at East Beckham near Upper Sheringham, Norfolk the son of Edmund Taylor a Farmer and his wife Susannah. Nothing is known of his early years but we can assume he had private schooling before entering medical school and then on to a hospital as a Junior Doctor. In 1849 at the age of 32 he married Charlotte Heyhoe Howlett at Western Longville Norfolk. Charlotte was the daughter of the late Thomas Howlett and his widow Charlotte Heyhoe a Farmer of 200 Acres at Hungate, Western Longville. Dr Taylor's wife's Aunt (mother's sister) was Sarah Carnell Howlett, she married Wright Godard Wigg a Farmer who's daughter would in 1886 marry Dr William Henry Griffith-Williams (picture below) the next doctor to practice at Mattishall (hope you can follow this!). Dr George and Charlotte had two daughters, Charlotte Heyhoe Taylor named after her mother born 1850 and Mary Heyhoe Taylor born 1852. Mary died at six weeks old and is buried at All Saints churchyard Western Longville. In the earliest census of 1851 Dr Taylor was living on Church Square but by 1861 he and his family were living at South Green in the new house he had specially built which also included his surgery.

Dr Taylor's wife Charlotte Heyhoe Taylor died suddenly on November 12th 1887 aged 63 at Noth Lopham where she had gone the day before to prepare the house for the homecoming from their honeymoon of her daughter and new husband Mr. and Mrs. Pitt. The writer in the Parish Magazine said - To say that Mrs. Taylor will be missed is only to say half the truth - we have lost a true friend. Charlotte Taylor's funeral took place at Yaxham on Novermber 18th where she was buried in St Peter's Churchyard with her mother and two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary - There is a window in the south aisle of All Saints Church Mattishall in her memory.

Dr George Taylor continued working in Mattishall and the large area around it for another six years, retiring at the age of 75. He died on Saturday, the 6th January, 1900 after only a day's illness aged 82 and was buried on June 10th also at St Peter's Churchyard Yaxham with his wife and her family. In 1919 the clock in the tower of All Saints Church was donated in Dr Taylor's memory. There is a brass plaque on the wall:

AD 1919 The Clock in this tower was given to mark the hour for prayer or work or rest and in ever loving memory of
George Taylor for forty six years a surgeon in Mattishall.
And of Charlotte Heyhoe his wife who lie interred in Yaxham churchyard.
And also as a thank offering to Almighty God for a time of peace after The Great War.
By C.H.P and R.W.P daughter and son in law.*
Days and months quickly flying blend the living with the dead.

* Charlotte Heyhoe Pitt nee Taylor and Rev Richard Warcup Pitt.

Worth a mention - Dr Taylor had a very loyal live-in servant, her name was Harriett Skipper who was born in Mattishall in 1841 the daughter of William Skipper a farm labourer and his wife Esther Frost who lived at Welgate. Harriett worked for the Taylor's from at least 1861 till Dr Taylor's death in 1900. It appears Harriett was very much thought of by Charlotte, Dr Taylor's daughter for Harriett had been part of her life since she was a young girl. In 1901 Harriett had moved to Saxlingham Nerthergate to be with Charlotte and her husband (Rev Pitt). From all accounts Harriett had been given her own cottage where she was recorded as a Retired Domestic Servant. Harriett died in the December quarter of 1921 at Saxlingham Nethergate aged 80. This would equate to over 60 years of service.

Dr Taylor's daughter Charlotte Heyhoe Taylor married the Rev Richard Warcup Pitt on October 25th 1887. Richard Warcup Pitt was born in 1848 in Scarning, near Dereham the son of Mattishall's first mentioned doctor (above) John Ballard Pitt a Surgeon of St Stephens Street Norwich and his wife Jane Elizabeth Gandon Warcup of East Dereham. Although by 1881 the family had moved to Grove House Scanning as mentioned above.

Taken from 'Towards A History Of Mattishall'
Young Charlotte married Richard Warcup Pitt, Clerk in Holy Orders, Curate of North Lopham, formerly of Great Yarmouth, on the 25th October, 18872° The marriage ceremony was performed by the Vicar, Mr. A.J. Hunter, assisted by the Revd. Canon Du Port, Rector of Denver, who had been twenty-three years Vicar of Mattishall. On arrival at the South door of the Church, the bride, leaning on her father's arm and attended by six bridesmaids and two pages, was met by the Clergy and choir. The familiar wedding hymn 'The voice that breathed o'er Eden' was sung as the procession moved up the nave to the Chancel step. After the ceremony the newly-weds signed the Register in the side chapel and then returned to the Taylor residence (now known as Murlough) at South Green through a series of triumphal arches which had been erected for the occasion between their house and the Church. Meanwhile .... the bells then rang out a merry peal which was continued at intervals during the day.

Luncheon was served in a beautifully fitted up marquee in the garden. Later the wedding presents, numerous and handsome, were on view to the guests and our informant wishes us to understand that among them ..., none touched Miss Taylor more deeply and none will be more valued than the handsome lamp given by those with whom she had been so long associated - the teachers in our Sunday School.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor with their usual kindliness invited the choir, the ringers and the poor of the Parish to a dinner which was served in the large room at the Swann Inn at 5 o'clock on Thursday, the 27th October, 1887. A meal of hot meats and plum pudding was enjoyed by 120 persons. The Taylors received their guests and ministered to their comfort by carving the joints and waiting at the tables, assisted by the bridesmaids and by Miss Hurdley, Mr. Sidney Taylor, Mr. Riches and the Vicar. Songs were sung by son of the guests during the evening, and at 8 o'clock ended the .... joyous celebration of the marriage of one who had endeared herself by her quiet, unassuming and loving work to all the people among whom she had lived from her childhood.

Rev Pitt went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University in 1868 and received his BA in 1872 and MA in 1875. He was ordained a deacon in York in 1873, and priest in 1874. He was Assistant Master at Doncaster Grammar School between 1872 and 1881; Curate of Christ’s Church Doncaster 1873 – 1881; Curate of St. Paul’s, Burton on Trent 1881 – 1885; Curate at Great Yarmouth 1885 – 1887; Curate at North with South Lopham 1887 to 1892. He joined St. Mary’s Saxlingham Nethergate with Saxlingham Thorpe in 1892. Following his retirement, aged 69 in 1918, he was a licensed Preacher for the Norwich Diocese until his death in 1943. In 1883 the Rev Pitt was admitted as a member of the Midland Counties Association of Change Ringers.

Charlotte died on March 14th 1928 age 77. Rev Pitt died on March 20th 1943 age 94. They are both buried in St Mary's churchyard Saxlingham. Charlotte and Peter had one daughter Winifred Heyhoe Pitt (born in the June quarter of 1889) who married Vyvyan George Hooper Hicks, a solicitor. The Rev. Pitt left an estate valued at £44,788 18s which in today's money (2016) would be worth just under £2M.

Third - Dr William Henry Griffith-Williams (below)


Courtesy of
The late Dr Richard Hughes & Mattishall Surgery
Dr William Henry Griffith-Williams with his wife Emily Marian Wigg and their son Athur Griffith-Williams
Location is unknown but could be the rear of one of the houses on Church Plain.

Dr. William Henry Griffith-Jones: 1862 - 1917
Kellys Directory of 1900 lists Mattishall's surgeon and medical officer as being Dr. William Griffiths-Williams. By 1916 his son Arthur is listed as surgeon. As there was no dentist in the village they also extracted teeth. The Doctor lived and had his surgery at Doctors House in Doctors Lane, South Green (now New Lane). The lane was called Doctors Lane by the locals as in those days many people took that route to visit the surgery. The surgery had two rooms, a waiting room with partly glass walls and benches round the walls, and Dr. Williams’ consulting room.

Dr Williams was born in the June quarter of 1862 at Llanfynydd a small village, parish and community in Carmarthenshire, Wales the son of the Revd George Griffith Williams and Jane Margretta Lewis. From what we see of the 1881 census Dr Williams and his future wife Emily Marian Wigg were living within only a few miles of each other in Cardigan, Wales.

Emily's father was Wright Godard Wigg a Norfolk famer who was born at Dereham in 1822. For reasons unknown after farming in Weston Market near Thetford in 1861 then Shipdham Road, East Dereham in 1871 we find he had moved all his family to the other side of the country to farm in Wales according to the 1881 census. In 1886 the family were back in Norfolk as Emily and Dr William married in the September quarter of that year in the Mitford district. It is unclear at this time precisely as to what church but it is likely to have been Mattishall for in 1891 we find Emily's father farming at the west end of the village, on the census record it has 4 Dereham Road Mattishall. It is possible that they choose Mattishall for their new home as Dr Taylor's wife Charlotte was Wright Godard Wigg's Aunt (his mother's sister) and as Dr Taylor was now in his 70's and a widower an ideal replacement would be his new great nephew, Dr William Griffith-Williams who was living at Church Square with his wife Emily and their three year old son Arthur Griffith Williams where we think the above picture was taken. It is also noted that Emily and her sister Sarah Heyhoe Wigg were married at the same time so it is possible this could have been a double wedding. Emily's sister Sarah and her husband Jermyn William Wigg were farming at Dumpling Green in the same census. In the early days.

Dr William Henry Griffith-Jones died in 1917 aged 55 and was buried on November 21st at Mattishall Cemetery. His wife Emily died in 1930 age 67 and was buried on November 15th also at Mattishall Cemetery - Their son Arthur Griffith-Williams took over the practice from 1917 -1949

Fourth - Dr Arthur Griffith-Williams (below)


Dr Arthur Griffth-Williams: 1887 - 1957 - Sadly we don't have a picture of Dr Arthur as an Adult.
There was a medical payment scheme run by the Oddfellows Club where you paid a yearly subscription which entitled you to free medicine and sickness benefit. People had to pay for treatment until the National Health Service started in 1946. If Dr. Williams put you on ‘the panel’ because you could not work you were paid a meagre sum of money to live on. Home visits were said to cost 5s. in the 1930s. Many of the villagers said that if you had a cold you were given brown medicine, and if you had stomach ache then it was white. It was a last resort for you to be sent to hospital. There were very few proprietary medicines and people used to treat themselves. Blackcurrant tea, with camphorated oil rubbed on the chest was a treatment for colds, and children had brown paper smeared with lard or goose fat wound round their chests until their cough or cold had gone. If you suffered from indigestion you took hot water in spoonfuls.

Dr Griffith-Williams was driven in a pony and trap by Mr. Wake, who was also the gardener, and later when he had a car by Mr. Harry Eastell. When most of the cars were black Dr Arthurs was a bright green. Mr. Eastell lived in a cottage in Doctors Lane. Medicines to outlying farms would be delivered by Hewitt the butcher whilst he was on his rounds. Dr Arthur married Dorothy Isbell Gillett in March quarter of 1922. Dorothy was the daughter of Robert Howard Gillett a Farmer of 680 acres at Halvergate near Acle, Norfolk and his wife Ellen Isbell Doyle of Lewes Sussex.

The Gillett family are mentioned in 'The Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain', their linage can be traced back to the early part of the 14th centry and Dorothy's father was at that time the then representative of the family. Arhur and Dorothy had one daughter Theodora Ursula Griffith-Williams born 1924 at Mattishall.

Dr. Arthur Griffith-Williams retired after the second world war in about (1948-49) and the practice was taken over by Dr. Thompson, who bought the Doctors house and grounds. Dr Arthur, his wife and daughter apparently moved to Halvergate the birth home of Dorothy and her family. Dr Arthur died in 1958 age 71 and Dorothy died 1973 aged 87 both are buried in St Peter's & St Paul's churchyard. Their daughter Theodora never married and died September 29th 1998 age 76. She is also buried in the parish churchyard with her parents.

1957: Newspaper cutting - A noticeable record of 64 years in medical practice by father and son in the Mattishall area is recalled by the death of Dr Arthur Griffith-Williams who died on Wednesday age 70. He had been living at Saxlingham Nethergate since his retirement in 1949 following a breakdown in health due to over work. His practice covered 27 villages and when he retired there were many presentations from grateful patients. Educated at Haileybury and Trinity College, Cambridge Dr Griffith-Williams took his M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. at the London Hospital were he was for four years. Afterwards he became resident surgical officer and house physician at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital working under the late Sir Hamilton Ballance. On the outbreak of the First World War he joined the R.A.M.C. serving until late 1917, most of the time in France. On the death of his father Dr Griffith-Williams took over the Mattishall and district practice, father and son between them being the local doctor in that area for a total of 64 years. In the Second World War he offered his services to the R.A.M.C. again but his district practice was considered of first importance. In addition however he became medical officer to R.A.F. Hockering. Dr Girffith-Williams is survived by his wife and daughter, who is a radiographer at Colchester Hospital.

Dr Arthur's medical records have been deposited at the Norfolk Records Office:
Item 113 - Title Records of the medical practice of Dr A. Griffith-Williams, Mattishall - Date 1906-1949 - Description: Ledgers of patients' accounts and day books of visits made and treatments given - Access Status: Open - Access Conditions: Note that in accordance with practice relating to public medical records, access to this material is restricted for 100 years from the date of its creation.

Firth - Dr Charles Samson Thomson (below)


Dr Charles Samson Thompson
1913 - 1991

After the 2nd World War, Charles Thompson settled in Norfolk and was initially engaged in public health work, but in 1948 he took over a large singlehanded rural practice based in Mattishall, Norfolk. For the next 25 years he remained in this practice, managing without a partner until 1961. He was looked on by many of his patients as a friend and helped them in many ways beyond the bounds of duty. He succeeded in combining the virtues of the pre-NHS family doctoring with the practice of modern medicine. On his retirement he moved to Keswick, though he returned to Norfolk most years to look up his old friends while doing locum work.
His hobbies were tinkering about with motor cars and, more recently, oil painting. A sincere Christian, he was a church elder at the Presbyterian church in Norwich for several years . He married Betty in 1940; they had six children, of whom one son is a doctor. Written by Dr N R Houlston.

Charles Samson Thompson, formerly a general practitioner in Mattishall, Norfolk, 1948-73, died on May 18th 1995. Born Workington 1913; educated Haberdashers' Aske's School, London, and Queens University of Belfast (MB, BCh, BAO 1936). Medical Superintendent, Norfolk County Isolation Hospital and venereal diseases clinics, East Dereham, and medical officer of health, Mitford and Launditch rural district and Dereham urban district. During war served as Royal Army Medical Corps in Middle East and Greece (mentioned in dispatches twice).

At his retirement presentation about 800 hundred crowded into the Secondary Boys’ School at Dereham where he received a silver salver and cheque and his wife received a carriage clock. In all £1019 was contributed to the presentation fund and the doctor and his wife plan to spent the balance on a sailing boat to use on Derwent Water when they retire to Cumberland shortly.

On behalf of his patients the Rev H.L.H Townsend of Lyng said there was a fear with the introduction of the Welfare State in 1947 that doctors would become ‘glorified civil servants’ and that something precious would be lost. It was soon after this that Dr Thomson moved to Mattishall and he showed himself from the outset to be entirely old-fashioned - not in medical knowledge or methods, but in the wonderful way he undertook his duties. In the course of his work he always went far beyond the call of duty. Dr Thomson said that there was a tendency in some quarters to think that the day of the family doctor was ending and that life was becoming less and less personal. This wonderful evening, he said proved that this was far from being the case, and it was a great comfort to him.

As an epilogue, Dr Thomson a dedicated Presbyterian preached his farewell sermon at Holy Communion at Mattishall Church which was packed for the occasion on Sunday evening. One of the treasured gifts he took away with him was the Book of Honour which had been signed by his friends while it was on view in Mattishall Post Office for 28 days.

The Thomson family has medical blood in their veins, and his father Dr Charles I. Thomson was with the Ministry of Health in his native Ayr for 20 years. Before taking over the Mattishall practice Dr Thomson also work for the Ministry of Health. His wife Elizabeth was a nurse in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, and their son Andrew, is a medical student at Glasgow University, where his grandfather commenced his medical training.


Courtesy of
The late Dr Richard Hughes & Mattishall Surgery

Picture taken in 1987
More familiar faces - Dr Kenneth Rhys Webb, Dr Richard John Ribbon Hughes, Dr Nigel Ravenscroft Houlston and Dr Adrian Hodge.

Mattishall Surgery Website: HERE
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