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Barrie Mackay 2015
Early Poor Law Medical Officers: Burton Latimer

Following the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, the year 1835 saw the formation of the Kettering Union and in 1838 completion of the new Kettering Workhouse off London Road (what remains of it is now part of St Mary’s Hospital). By 1859 (the year that the new Medical Act regulating the profession came into force), the Kettering Union Board of Guardians had divided the area for which it was responsible into a number of Poor Law Medical Officer Districts, two of which were designated No. 1 District and No. 2 District, and encompassed –

No. 1 District, Kettering Union

Kettering and the parishes of Great Oakley, Little Oakley, Geddington, Newton, Weekley, Warkton and Grafton Underwood. (The Workhouse was treated as a separate entity, but in effect became the responsibility of the No. 1 District Medical Officer.)

No. 2 District, Kettering Union

Burton Latimer, Broughton, Cransley, Pytchley, Barton Seagrave, Cranford St Andrew and Cranford St John.

The unexpected resignation of Dr John Winter Dryland (1833–1906), Medical Officer of No. 1 District, after 46 years service (he had hoped to complete a full fifty years, but that was not to be), recorded in the Guardians’ Minutes of 19 Feb 1906, prompted a fresh look at and the reconstitution of the existing Medical Officer Districts, plus the creation of a third “Kettering” designated District, as follows:

No. 1 District

Kettering parish

No. 2 District

Broughton, Cransley, Pytchley, Great Oakley, Little Oakley, Geddington, Newton, Weekley, Warkton and Grafton Underwood.

No. 3 District

Burton Latimer, Barton Seagrave, Cranford St Andrew and Cranford St John.

Medical Officer annual salaries, “inclusive of ordinary medicines”, were set as follows: the Workhouse – £75; No. 1 District – £75; No. 2 District – £75; No. 3 District – £25. Additional fees for medical extras, vaccinations and for visiting lunatics were also to be met. The Guardians’ Minutes of 14 May 1906 recorded that the Medical Officer contracts had at that stage been sealed with the following appointments: the Workhouse and No. 1 District – Dr Leslie W. Dryland (son of Dr J.W. Dryland); No. 2 District – Dr Arnold G. Tolputt; No. 3 District – Dr Herbert Burland; plus Weldon District – Dr Arthur S. Stokes.

Dr James Logan (c.1826–81) is the earliest known Medical Officer of the first No. 2 District (also called Burton Latimer District), who from press reports of his attending accident victims was certainly in post by 1860. Guardians’ Minutes of 28 Nov 1863 reflect that at that stage he was receiving from the Union a quarterly cheque of £16-17-6 (his counterpart in No. 1 District/Workhouse, Dr J.W, Dryland, was being paid £29-10-0). Born at Dorchester, Dorset, Dr Logan studied medicine in Edinburgh, qualifying to practise in 1845–46, and was to be found in Warwickshire (where in 1849 he married Jane Horley) before moving to Kettering in 1850–51. The family initially lived in Kettering High Street, later in Gas Street. Dr Logan’s resignation as Medical Officer of Kettering No. 2 District was recorded in the Guardians’ Minutes of 26 Aug 1867, which also noted that Dr John Lowe Price (1841–1916) had applied to replace him, his application having been submitted to the Poor Law Board. The Logan family subsequently left Kettering to take up residence in St Mary Redcliff, Bristol, where Dr Logan continued to practise medicine and lived for the rest of his life. Dr Price’s appointment as Medical Officer of Kettering No. 2 District was confirmed in the Guardians’ Minutes of 9 Sep 1867, initially “until Lady Day next the end of the Parochial year at a yearly salary of £67-10-0 exclusive of the Extras allowed by the General Medical Order.” He was also appointed Vaccinator for the District, to be paid “3/6 above two miles and 2/6 under two miles” for each vaccination. His entries in various commercial directories between 1869 and 1903 show him as based at 18 Gold Street, Kettering. Guardians’ Minutes taken in Mar 1904 and Mar 1905, when his appointment as Medical Officer of Kettering No. 2 District was renewed, reveal that Dr Price’s annual salary was still the same as when he was first appointed in 1867, i.e. £67-10-0! His final annual contract with the Kettering Union expired on 25 Mar 1906. Dr Price did not apply to fill one of the new District Medical Officer posts in 1906, although his son, Dr Ernest Aubrey Price, did so, unsuccessfully, in respect of No. 2 District, which went instead to Dr A.G. Tolputt. The Price medical practice of father and son is shown in Kelly’s Directory for 1910 and 1914 as being based at 23 & 24 Gold Street, Kettering. [For Dr J.L. Price’s background click here]

The appointment in 1906 of Dr Herbert Burland (1863–1921) as Medical Officer of No. 3 District was not without controversy, his detractors favouring Burton Latimer resident doctor Thomas Arthur Ball Harris (1868–1942). The Guardians considered Dr Burland the more suitable candidate, taking into account his submission that he visited Burton Latimer every day of the week (Sundays included), also the Cranford parishes three times a week; that he had a surgery in Burton Latimer from which messages could be sent to him free of charge at any time day or night “by private telephone wire” to his house in Finedon, which was only two miles distant; that he had a surgery at Cranford where messages were left for him and if necessary telegraphed free of cost. Endorsing Dr Burland’s application, Burton Latimer Guardian Mr Tailby stated that from personal experience Dr Burland had been in attendance within 30 minutes of the telephone call and that on another occasion he was there within 23 minutes. The Board of Guardians also acknowledged Dr Burland’s nine years’ service as Medical Officer of the Burton Latimer Cottage Homes (annual salary £15), his long and satisfactory medical record, and his kindness to the poor. Dr Harris, on the other hand, had only recently become a resident of Burton Latimer.

That was not the end of the matter, however. Medical Officer appointments had to be sanctioned by the Local Government Board (the Poor Law Board's successor) which took up the issue of the No. 3 District Medical Officer appointment in a letter to the Guardians noted in the Minutes of 18 Apr 1906. Whilst giving its approval to the Districts 1, 2 and 3 Medical Officer appointments, the Local Government Board drew attention to an accompanying copy of a letter received from Dr Harris, together with a petition signed by nearly 500 persons in favour of his appointment. The Board commented that its Regulations “contemplate that whenever practicable a resident medical practitioner should be appointed as District Medical Officer, and that it does not appear to them that a non-resident Medical Officer should be appointed unless there are very special reasons for such appointment.” The Guardians set up a small committee to consider a reply and on 28 May 1906 it was noted that the Local Government Board had “in deference to the wishes of the Guardians consented to the employment of Herbert Burland as Medical Officer of No. 3 District to 1st April 1907” (which was renewed annually).

In early 1909, Dr Harris finally achieved his aim of replacing Dr Burland as Medical Officer of No. 3 District. Noted in the Guardians’ Minutes of 1 Feb 1909 was a letter received from Dr Harris applying for the posts of Medical Officer and Vaccinator of No. 3 District [salary £25 per annum]. The motion (by Mr Tailby) for Dr Harris to be appointed was duly carried, but “several members did not vote”. In a further letter received from him on 13 Feb 1909, Dr Harris thanked the Guardians for his appointment. For his part (Guardians’ Minutes 18 Jan 1909), Dr Burland thanked the Board for their confidence in him during the previous three years and stated that, although he was willing to continue his services, “he had too much respect for the Guardians and for himself to compete with another candidate with a probable repetition of the unpleasantness which his appointment appeared to involve.”
For further information on Dr Burland click here and Dr Harris click here

The two Medical Officers of No. 3 District to follow Dr Harris, both based at Osborne House, Burton Latimer, were his practice partner, Irishman Dr Edward Crofton Byrne, who replaced him in 1915 (previously Dr Byrne had been in the service of Llandilo Fawr Poor Law Union, Carmarthenshire, South Wales), and from 1923 Canadian Dr Edwin Lloyd Warner. The latter was still the incumbent on 1 April 1930 when the Poor Law reforms of Neville Chamberlain’s Local Government Act 1929 took effect, abolishing boards of guardians and transferring their powers and institutions to local authorities. In 1934, Dr Albert Prince Kingsley took over from Dr Warner to become Medical Officer of No. 29 District, Kettering Area Guardians Committee, Northamptonshire County Council.


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