John Morgan, surgeon and apothecary of Waters Upton – Part 1

John Morgan was not a native of Waters Upton (nor even of Shropshire), but he lived in the parish for almost three decades prior to his death in 1878. During that time, while conducting business as a surgeon and apothecary, he also took on two public roles. What’s more, he and his wife have descendants living in Waters Upton today.

Westcountry origins

Bath - Walcot St Swithin

I have not found a baptism record which can be attributed with certainty to John, but census records show that he was born at Bath in the county of Somerset, probably in 1807 or in the early part of 1808. He may have been the John Morgan, born April 30th, who was baptised at Walcot St Swithin (pictured above). The register gives the father, also named John, the prefix “Mr.”, indicating that he was a gentleman, but names the mother as Mary. It is the mother’s name (which may of course have been recorded incorrectly) that doesn’t fit the known facts regarding John junior’s parentage: John Flower Morgan, “of the Parish of Walcotes in the City of Bath, a batchelor”, married Rebecca Worrall of Kineton in Warwickshire on 24 Apr 1806 in the bride’s parish.

There seems to be no record of John Flower Morgan’s baptism either, but he is said (by a source that is not altogether accurate about other aspects of his life) to have been a son of Philip Morgan and Mary Flowers, a couple who were married at Bristol St Philip & St Jacob on 12 January 1785. “John Flower Morgan, Gent.” was appointed as an Ensign in the ‘Kington’ (Kineton) Volunteer Infantry in 1804. As John Flowers Morgan he then received a Commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Cheshire Militia on 17 June 1808 (Gazetted 25 June 1808). He later accepted an Ensigncy in the 2nd Battalion of the Lancashire Militia to which he was appointed on 21 Oct 1813 (Gazetted 22 January 1814). One source states that John served in that Regiment as a Surgeon’s Mate (Assistant Surgeon), but in a draft release dated 25 March 1814 (at which time he was stationed at Plymouth) he was described as “John Flower Morgan, surgeon”. (His position as Assistant Surgeon – as we will soon see – is confirmed by later records.)

Family life continued alongside John Flower Morgan’s service in these various militia units. A second child, “Mariah, dr of John & Rebecca Morgan” was baptised at Kineton on 6 March 1809. Sadly, this happy event was evidently followed not long afterwards by the untimely death of Rebecca Morgan née Worrall. John took a second wife in a wedding held on 12 September 1812 at Wells in Somerset, the marriage register of which recorded the bride’s name as Mary Goldesbrough. This lady was “Mary Daughter of Mr. Edward Goldesborough and Rebekah his Wife born 4th. July” in 1786, who was privately baptised at Wells on 10 July that year and “received into the Church 18th. January 1787”. A family tree published in Memorials of the Goldesborough family shows that Edward was a Postmaster, and that he had as elder brothers two clergymen, a Rear-Admiral – and two surgeons.

In addition to taking on John’s children by his former wife, Mary added three children of her own to the Morgan family. Charles Henry Morgan was baptised at Wells on 8 May 1816; tragically, he drowned at the Cleveland Pleasure Baths in Bath on 5 August 1840 aged just 23. He did at least live a lot longer than his sister Emma Charlotte Morgan: baptised at Wells on 23 July 1818, she was buried there on 8 October that same year, having died at the age of three months.

By the time Frederick Williams Morgan was baptised on 28 September 1822, the Morgans had moved to Walcot, at Bath. Frederick survived into adulthood, married, settled in Leamington, Warwickshire and pursued a career as a dentist, according to information I have extracted (pun intended) from the censuses. John Flower Morgan meanwhile remained in his favourite part of Bath for the rest of his life, as was shown by his entry in successive editions of The London and Provincial Medical Directory – which always followed the entry for his son, John Morgan, M.R.C.S., L.S.A. The snippet below is from the 1857 edition of that publication.

Book - London and Provincial Medical Directory (1857)

Getting out of Bath (or, One good Tern deserves another)

With immediate possession,
A Genteel RESIDENCE, situate in the pleasant Village of WATERS UPTON, the county of Salop, with two parlours in front, kitchen, back kitchen, cellar, pantry, and five good lodging rooms, with stable, cow-house, piggeries, and all other convenient out-offices, together with three acres of capital grass land. This is a very desirable situation for a small retired family, or a Medical Gentleman, as there is no one in the profession within six miles of the Village. The above premises have been recently built, and are in an excellent state of repair, and the situation is beautiful, having a commanding view of the Wrekin and surrounding country.—For further particulars, and to treat for the same, apply to Mr. Felton, Rowton, near Wellington, Shropshire; if by letter, post-paid.—This advertisement will not be continued.

Within two years of the above notice being published (on page 1 of the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 2 October 1835), there was a ‘Medical Gentleman’ within six miles of Waters Upton. Although I doubt that the former led to the latter, although exactly why and when John Morgan came to settle in Shropshire I do not know.

The earliest evidence I have found of John’s presence in the county are records of his marriage to Emma Woodfin at Stoke upon Tern in 1837 – the same year in which he became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. The marriage register stated that he, like his bride, was “of Stoke”. A notice of the wedding in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 9 June 1837 (page 3) read: “23d. ult. at Stoke-upon-Tern, by the Rev. S. H. Macauley, John, eldest son of Mr. Morgan, surgeon, Bath, to Emma, only daughter of Thomas Woodfin, Esq. of Petsey, in this county.”

Map - Stoke upon Tern and Eaton upon Tern

Emma had been baptised in the same church some 20 years earlier on 27 July 1817. Her marriage there was followed in due course by the birth of her first child with John, a son named after his father (and grandfather). John junior was also baptised at Stoke Upon Tern (on 12 April 1838), as was the next addition to the family, Sarah (baptised 20 October 1839), who was named for her maternal grandmother. Both of these children were born at Eaton upon Tern, situated about 3½ miles south of Stoke. This is where the members of the Morgan family – John Morgan, age 34, a Surgeon, with Emma (25), John (3) and Sarah (2), plus three servants – were enumerated on the 1841 census. As the maps above and below this paragraph (both to the same scale) show, Eaton is closer to Waters Upton (less than 3 miles away) than it is to the village after which the parish it lies in was named.

Map - Waters Upton and Eaton upon Tern

Downriver to Waters Upton

Ten years later in 1851, the Morgans were enumerated in Waters Upton itself, a different parish, but still adjacent to the River Tern. They had not been there for very long – perhaps about four years. Four of the five children added to the family since the previous census were born at Eaton upon Tern and three of those were baptised at Stoke upon Tern. They were: Thomas (age 9, baptised as Thomas Woodfin Morgan after his maternal grandfather on 26 September 1841), Rebecca (8, named after her paternal grandmother and baptised on 20 July 1843), and Robert (6, baptised as Robert Flower Morgan on 24 July 1845; his second forename presumably given in honour of his father’s paternal grandmother Mary Flowers).

Based on his age on the 1851 census (4), William Edward Morgan was born – at Eaton upon Tern – in 1846-47. He was not baptised there however, and neither, it seems, was his birth registered. Perhaps these matters were forgotten in the midst of a house move? This may be borne out by the fact that John Morgan’s name first appeared in the register of voters at Waters Upton in the 1847-48 edition of the register (for the Northern Division of Shropshire, prepared in the latter part of 1847). John was, incidentally, not an elector at that time but was named as the occupant of a freehold house and land which belonged to a Robert Blantern (and which entitled said Mr Blantern to vote there). John Morgan was listed as an elector himself in the electoral registers from 1850-51 onwards, but it was not until the register of 1860-61 that the location of the property he was renting from Robert Blantern became clear. “Herbert Bank”, otherwise known as Harbut or Harebutt Bank, was situated to the north-east of Waters Upton village on the road to Bolas.

William Edward Morgan was finally baptised at Waters Upton on 13 February 1848 – along with his older brother Robert Flower Morgan who had been baptised already at Stoke upon Tern!

The newest addition to the Morgan family recorded on the 1851 census was 11-month-old Emma, named after her mother. She was the first member of the family to be born in the parish of Waters Upton, and she was baptised there on 1 May 1850. One of the three servants in the household in 1851, Jane Wooley (actually Jessie Jane Wooley, or Woolley), was there specifically to look after baby Emma as she was employed as a nurse. (The other two servants in the household – Henry Cartwright, age 25, a groom and gardener, and Mary Cliff, 20, a house servant – went on to marry and raised their own family in Waters Upton – a story for another time.)

Distress and delight: the death and delivery of daughters

Sadly, little Emma was not only the first member of this Morgan family to be born at Waters Upton, she was also the first to die there – less than a week after the 1851 census was taken. On 11 April 1851 the death notices published on page 5 of the Shrewsbury Chronicle included the following: “5th inst. at Waters Upton, near Wellington, aged eleven months, Emma, daughter of Mr. Morgan, surgeon.” No hint there that nurse Woolley was in any way to blame thank goodness, but I wonder how the loss of the babe in her care affected her – not to mention the impact on the rest of the Morgan family. Infant mortality was commonplace at that time, but amongst other things I wonder how a surgeon and apothecary dealt with being unable to save the life of his own child?

The grief and the feelings of helplessness and loss that I imagine John and Emma Morgan experienced in 1851, were things they had to go through all over again the following year. This time it was their eldest daughter, Sarah, who was taken from them by death. “9th inst., aged 12 years, Sarah, eldest daughter of Mr. Morgan, surgeon, of Waters Upton, in this county”, reported the Shrewsbury Chronicle on 16 July 1852 (page 4).

At the time of her daughter Sarah’s death, Emma Morgan née Woodfin was pregnant with her next child. Mary Ann Morgan was baptised at Waters Upton on 24 January 1853 – with her mother named in the register as Hannah. And to add to the errors associated with the recording of Mary Ann, according to the General Register Office’s online index of births her mother’s maiden name was Woodvine!

It does not appear that the latter error described above occurred in respect of John and Emma’s next – and last – child, another Emma born, I suspect, in December 1857. I say this because I have not found a registration of her birth. She was however baptised, at Waters Upton, on New Year’s Day 1858 . . . although her mother was once again named as Hannah in the baptism register. John and Emma Morgan were most likely blissfully unaware of the above errors – and, even more importantly, delighted to have brought two healthy baby girls into the world after the sad loss of two of their other three daughters.

Book - The New Medical Act (1858)

Having begun with the baptism of the daughter who completed John Morgan’s family, 1858 continued with a development of significance to John from a professional point of view. After years of campaigning and sixteen unsuccessful attempts over the previous eighteen years to enact legislation on medical reform, the Medical Act was passed and the “legally qualified Medical Practitioner” was recognised by law. It is John Morgan’s life as a Medical Practitioner, Surgeon and Apothecary – to use the description he gave himself on the 1861 census – that I will look at in the next instalment of this article.

To be continued.

Picture credits. Walcot St Swithin, Bath: Photo © Copyright Derek Harper; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence. Extract from London and Provincial Medical Directory, 1857: Taken from digitised copy at Google Books (original publication out of copyright). Maps showing Stoke upon Tern, Eaton upon Tern and Waters Upton: Extracts from Ordnance Survey One Inch map Sheet 138 published 1899; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence. Extract from the title page of The New Medical Act (published 1858): From a public domain work at Internet Archive.

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