Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Doctor Thomas Ilott Surgeon Prescription Accounts Ledger

Bromley Archives and Kent Online Parish Clerks have entered into an agreement to transcribe the surviving accounts ledger which covers 1809-1812. The Project is scheduled for completion in 2015 and will involve online publication as well as providing searchers at the Archive with an electronic index of persons named in the practice accounts. The index will also describe some treatments offered. This additional index within years of the rare survival Bromley 1801 census will provide additional information about residents of the town and district.
Thomas Ilott came to Bromley in 1808/9 and Horsbrugh in Bromley: From the earliest times to the present century describes him as a surgeon.
One of the challenges facing me as I conduct a pilot sample of over 1100 named accounts in the ledger is to learn more of Thomas Ilott life before his successful practice in the town. The Ilott father and sons were to provide medical service to the town and district including the poor of several parishes for most of the 19th century. Thomas died in 1849 and was buried in the parish churchyard not far from his home. His will mentions the surgery coach house and stable and a fine Georgian House on the corner of Church Lane and Market Square . The footprint of this faces the Old Bell in Bromley High Street and part of the land forms a Bank to the present; the remainder was acquired to build Medhurst's department store.
His partner in the practice Doctor Robert's wife bequeathed to Ilott Beechfield in Widmore Lane which passed to one of Ilotts sons James William Ilott who made it his home until his death in 1897. Edward Ilott M.D. Surgeon another son lived at 2 Dunbar Villas according to an entry in Strongs Directory of Bromley 1866.
Thomas Ilott was born in 1780 at Broadwell in Oxfordshire and the parish register records his christening.
I am very grateful to  the Archivist and Records manager at the Royal College of Surgeons for establishing in the Societys Examinations Book 1800-1820 that Thomas Ilott  was examined for a Diploma on 16 March 1804  and paid a fee of 15,,15 (sic) which I take to mean 15 guineas.Some 4-5  years later he arrives as a surgeon in Bromley and the accounts and prescription register records that he possessed both skills as an apothecary, set fractured bones in plaster and was accomplished in obstetrics as he records the delivery of children as well as regularly carrying out dental extractions. It is known that one of his grandsons qualified at Barts and this is suggestive that this is where Thomas also trained.
In Hayes Ilott is conducting smallpox inoculations within 8 years of David Jenner writing of the efficacy of inoculation. The burial registers of parishes in the Bromley district indicate the scale of death from smallpox. Ilott was therefore well trained and aware and his work in parishes which employed him saved many young lives from disease.
There is also evidence of Ilott prescribing electrical therapy;this in years before the stethoscope was devised as a wooden stick to listen to the heart in action.
I have learned a good deal about the fairly primitive medical practice of the 1800's and Ilott had a substantial income.
The ledger is in good condition but had not been examined for several years and recent daily handling have reduced the initial dust and odour; I have found it essential to wear gloves as leather rust on the covers and the danger of paper cuts were present. The volume is large but the inks are well preserved and pose few challenges for the transcriber.
I am interested to try to discover how Ilott entered medical practice;it is quite difficult to trace medical qualification  in the 1800's as over 30 institutions may have trained a practitoner usually by apprentice to a surgeon or physician. Further research is being undertaken to try to identify if possible Ilott's career prior to Bromley.
The Transcripts of all record series relating to Ilott including correspondence with Lady Byron is available at the Bromley Parish page Kent Online Parish Clerks under "other Records". It is in three parts for household accounts.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015