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Physicians, Surgeons and Apothecaries have been with us since at least the 16th century, but until the 18th century, training for these professions was largely as a resuly of apprenticeship. By late in the 18th Century, Edinburgh University, along with a number of new provincial medical schools, provided specialised medical training, and this led to the development of a class of professionally qualified doctors, and by the 1850's responsibility for medical education was vested in the General Medical Council.

After 1840, Witheridge was fortunate in that there always seemed to be at least two medical men practising in Witheridge, and, in compiling the following list of Doctors and other Medical persons, Trade Directories, Census Returns, and local knowledge have been used of Doctors.

1841 Census: Robert J Coster, Surgeon and Philip Furneaux Haley, Surgeon.

1851 Census: Robert J Coster, Surgeon and Philip Furneaux Haley, Surgeon.

1850 Directory: Henry Pullen, Druggist

1857 Directory: Dr Philip Furneaux Haley Surgeon.

1861 Census: Doctor Samuel J Burrows.

1865 Directory: Doctor Ernest G T Llewellyn

1871 Census: Doctor Samuel J Burrows and Doctor Ernest G T Llewellyn.

1878 Directory: Samuel Burrows, Surgeon and Doctor and Ernest George Thomas Llewellyn, Surgeon and Doctor.

1878 Directory: Edward Elworthy, Chemist and Druggist and Henry Pullen, Druggist.

1883 Directory: Samuel James Burrows Surgeon and Medical Officer, and Ernest George Thomas Llewellyn, Surgeon.

1881 Census: Doctor Samuel J Burrows and Doctor Ernest G T Llewellyn.

Although little is known about either, upon his death, the press wrote respectfully about Dr Burrows. The death of Dr Llewellyn in March 1888 drew a warm tribute, with his kindness towards the poor being particularly stressed.

1889 Directory: Francis Edward Haydon M B, Surgeon and David Johnston, Surgeon. Also listed was Edward Elworthy, Surgeon, Vet and Chemist,

Drs Pollock and McArthur followed Doctor Llewellyn with the latter breaking new ground in the winter of 1894 with a series of lectures on health, first aid and home nursing.

1891 Census: Doctor Henry L Gordon, a Registered Practitioner, living at Lawn Cottage, and Dr David Johnstone, Physician and Surgeon living at Cypress House.

1893 Directory: Henry Laing Gordon at Lawn Cottage, Physician and Surgeon, and Duncan Campbell McArthur, Physician and Surgeon.

1893 Directory: Edward Elworthy, Veterinary Surgeon and Chemist

1894 Directory: Gordon Henry Laing MB, Lawn Cottage and Duncan Campbell McArthur, Physician and Surgeon.

1901 Census: Dr Richard E H Leach, Physician and Surgeon at The Firs, George F Holt a Surgeon living in Fore Street, and Dr Percy W G Shelley MRCS living at Cypress House.

1902 Directory: Percy Wilfred Graham Shelley MRCS, LRCP - Physician, Surgeon, medical officer and public vaccinator - No. 6 District, South Molton Union and Cruwys Morchard district, Tiverton Union - Cypress House

1902 Directory: George Frederick Holt MRCS Eng., LRCP Lond, Physician and Surgeon living at Lawn Cottage

1906 Directory: Dr Charles Graham Meade, Physician & Surgeon was living at The Lawns, but he did not appear on any subsequent entries.

1906 Directory: Richard Ernest Howell Leach MA (The Firs)
This is the first mention found of the Firs. A check of South Molton RDC Records 1898 to 1910 turned up no mention about the building of The Firs. It is assumed, using local knowledge that it was built around 1902-06.

1907 Directory: Dr Archibald Houghton Brown took over the Witheridge Practice based on the Firs from Dr Richard E H Leach in 1907, and was to stay until succeeded by Dr Ernest Aubrey Price around 1919. Prior to moving here he had run a practice in the suburbs for some years, but without liking it much, however, his move to Witheridge proved to be much more to his liking. He was married to Agnes Mary (Molly) Stratton, and they had two children, Jack Houghton Brown and Christopher Houghton Brown.

1910 Dr Archibald Houghton Brown: 10th February 1910 Dr Brown applied to the South Molton RDC for connection to mains water supply.

1919 Archibald Houghton Brown, the Firs, Physician and Surgeon

1919 Dr Ernest Aubrey Price - The Firs

Dr Ernest Aubrey Price took over the Witheridge Medical Practice based at the Firs around 1919 from Dr Archibald Houghton Brown, and subsequently appeared in Kelly's Directories for 1922, 1930 and 1939. We do not have much information relating to his time here other than a few personal memories of residents which are reproduced below.

Mr Albert Knight, who was born in 1884, serviced Dr Price's car every Sunday morning for which Dr Price paid him "half a sovereign." If the Doctor was called out at night, he used to send William Brent (who worked as a groom and lived at Anstey's Court) down to Cannington to get (A K) to come up and drive him. He only allowed William Brent to drive Mrs Price. Others recall Dr Price as not charging half his patients in Witheridge, as never losing a pneumonia case and as visiting seven or eight times a day, if needed. He also employed Charles Leach who lived at Slew Park, now Gordon House as a gardener, he was locally known as "Doctor" Charlie Leach to distinguish him from another Charlie Leach. Another employee of Dr Price was a Miss Pickard who married a Jack Leach who came from Worlington. Jack Leach always chewed a pipe and slurred his words through his pipe. (AB) Dr Price used to drive his car to Westway while his groom took his pony up there, then Dr Price mounted and rode down through the river to Upcott. He always "rode downhill and galloped uphill."

It is interesting to note that the local Witheridge doctor, Dr Ernest A Price, owned one of the cottages, along with its woodshed and water closet at Anstey's Court, and which were subject to a Ministry of Health Inspector's Inquiry in 1937. Any opinions he had on the matter did not appear in the press

1923 Directory: Dr Ernest Aubrey Price - The Firs

1924 Directory: Ernest Aubrey Price MRCS eng., Medical Practitioner at The Firs, Miss Edith Locke, District Nurse of The Square. Also mentioned were Mrs Ellen Gunn, Midwife of South Street.

1930 Directory: gave us Anthony Fras Lavelle, Dentist who visits every Monday and Chas Wm H Eyres, Dentist who attended on alternate Mondays

1933 Dr Ernest Aubrey Price; Gazette 30/3/1933 Dr and Mrs Price leave after 14 years.

1933 Dr Newman

1935 Dr Ernest Aubrey Price returns to The Firs

1939 Dr Ernest Aubrey Price - The Firs

1939 Dr Finlay - The Firs

1939 Dr McKinnon who stayed at the Hare and Hounds

1939 Dr Morton was the last Doctor at The Firs.

1975 to 1994 Dr Coffin: (Dr Coffin began to rebuild the practice and started on the road to the excellent service we have today)

1975-76 Dr Stewart Hess

1976-77 Dr Ralph Burton

1977-88 Dr Mike Duffus

1977-79 Dr Theresa Parkyn

1980-91 Dr Richard Lawson

1988- Dr Peter Bull

1992- Dr Howard Friend

1994 Dr Chris Clark

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Last Edited 15/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

Unless otherwise indicated on the page in question, the photographic images reproduced on this site belong to the Witheridge Archives, and, as such may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission. However, you are welcome to use any of the photographs belonging to the archive for personal and/or non-commercial use. Any material shown as not being owned by the archive may not be reproduced in any form without first receiving written permission from the owner of the material in question. This article is based on notes written by Dr Houghton-Brown in 1942, and deposited in the Archive.