The Fyson practice chain

This chain of Newmarket medics is surprisingly simple, given that it ran for over 80 years, from Robert Fyson starting the practice in the 1830s until the death in 1917 of his appropriately named nephew Ernest Last Fyson, who he’d passed the practice on to. There were a few others involved during that time though as well.

Robert Fyson was a farmer’s son from Exning, who’d trained in Soham then London, before coming back to set up in practice at Newmarket (see the pages on Robert Fyson and The Fysons for more details). The Newmarket Union minutes from 1836 provide the first mention of him as a medic in the town, but likely he’d been around a few years by then, not least to get the job, but also since in 1882 he was said to have been in practice at Newmarket for 50 years (and in 1867 for nearly 40 years).

The 1830s were an interesting time of change for Newmarket medical services. The precipitous end to the old and recently dominant practice of Walter Norton (see The Edwards-Norton-Taylor-Kendall-Thomas-Bullen chain) had coincided with the start of three new practices: this one, Frederick Page’s practice, and that of  Richard Faircloth (which later diverged, eventually leading to both Oakfield and Orchard House surgeries). The 1839 trade directories record a snapshot in time when these practices existed alongside each other (see the page on Frederick Page for an image from one). The only practice with continuity during this period of change was that of Robert James Peck, which had roots going back to the 18th century and continues as the Rookery Medical Centre today (see The Rookery practice chain). Interestingly, the Fyson’s practice was likely largely absorbed by this practice in 1917 (see below).

More details regarding Robert Fyson’s practice over the next couple of decades can be seen on the page dedicated to him, but of special note is that he worked with Samuel Gamble for two or three decades, apparently initially with Samuel as his assistant/apprentice, then as a business partner (see the pages on Samuel Gamble and Robert Fyson for full details – in particular the page on Samuel Gamble has an image of the 1871 census with him in Robert Fyson’s household, which was on the corner of the High Street with Exeter Road – see the page on Robert Fyson for a map). However, Samuel Gamble married and left for Torquay in 1872, so is not a link in the chain as such. After that John Rowland Wright became Robert Fyson’s assistant, before he joined Richard Faircloth in 1877/8, succeeding to that practice (see the pages on John Rowland Wright, and the Orchard House and Oakfield practice chains for further details).

Ernest Last Fyson grew up in Exning, the son of Robert’s farming brother William. He trained in London, and qualified in the mid 1860s. For about a decade his whereabouts was a bit unstable (between Newmarket, Tewkesbury and London – see the page on Ernest Fyson for details), but from the late 1870s onwards at least he was in practice with his uncle at Newmarket. The 1881 census captures him living in Robert’s house as his business partner (see the page on Ernest Last Fyson for an image of that).

Robert Fyson retired in stages, but it seems he finally retired in 1887, at which point Ernest moved the practice to Cheveley House (the other side of the clock tower – which interestingly was built the same year, so is known unofficially on as the Robert Fyson retirement clock!).

Aside from a couple of assistants recorded in the early days of Cheveley House, it appears that Ernest Last Fyson practised alone until his death three decades later in 1917 (see the pages on Ernest Fyson and Cheveley House for more details). He was a close friend of Clement Gray, who took charge of his patients during his final illness, so it seems likely that the Fyson practice was largely absorbed into that of the Grays, who were three by that stage, Clement, Gilbert and Norman, so with capacity to expand. It’s likely therefore that the Fyson practice chain was a tributary of what flowed on to become The Rookery Medical Centre (again see The Rookery practice chain).

Relevant references in chronological order

1801, 1st January: Wm son of Wm Fyson and Sarah (late Sizar) baptised, Soham (born 17th October 1800). Reference: An indexed transcription of the parish registers of Soham. Cambridgeshire Family History Society; 2009, (Cambridgeshire County Record Office [called Cambridgeshire Archives], Cambridge – subsequently relocated to Ely).

1807, 1st June: Robert Fyson born, son of Mr Fyson and Sarah Peachy Fyson (late Sizer), baptized 11th June at Exning St Martin. Reference: Microfiche of Exning St Martin parish register (fiche 11), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: obviously this is listed on 11th June.]

1830, 6th May: Robert Fyson failed his first attempt at the LSA examination, but the following details were recorded: apprenticed to ‘Mr. William Addison of Soham, Cambridgesh’ for 5 ½ years, with an indenture dated 4th October 1822. It records his hospital training having been 6 months at St Thomas’s Hospital. His date of birth was recorded as 1st June 1807. He’s noted to have attended lectures in chemistry; materia medica, anatomy and physiology, anatomical demonstrations, principles and practice of medicine, and midwifery. Reference: Court of Examiners Candidates’ Qualification Entry Book, The Society of Apothecaries Archives, Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ. [Note: although on this occasion he was ‘Rejected as to a certificate to practise as an apothecary’ a note in the margin states that he was ‘Approved to his fitness to actt [sic] as an Assistant to an Apothecary’ (see the page on Robert Fyson for an image) and he subsequently retook the examination a year later on 26th May 1831 and passed, an entry in the book referring back to these 6th May 1830 details.]

1831, 27th October: William Fyson, bachelor of Exning, married Sophia Last, spinster of Newmarket All Saints’, at Newmarket All Saints’. Reference: Microfiche of Newmarket All Saints’ parish register (fiche 8), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).

1836, 11th March:Robert Fyson of Newmarket Surgeon’ elected as medical officer to district 6 of the newly formed Newmarket Union (there were seven districts, not defined). Reference: 611/11, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).

1839:Fyson Robert, High st’ listed under ‘Surgeons & Apothecaries’ in ‘Newmarket and Neighbourhood’ Cambridgeshire. Reference: Pigot and Co.’s royal national and commercial directory and topography of the counties of Bedford, Cambridge, Essex, Herts, Huntingdon, Kent, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex… . London & Manchester: J. Pigot & Co.; 1839, pg 65. [Note: Bullen Mark Edmund [sic], High st, Faircloth Richard, High St, Page Frederick, High St, and Peck Robert James, High St are listed separately.]

1839:Fyson Robert’ listed under ‘surgeons’ in Newmarket, Cambridgeshire. Reference: Robson’s royal court guide and peerage, with the commercial directory of London and the six counties forming the Norfolk circuit, viz. Beds, Bucks, Cambridgeshire, Hunts, Norfolk, and Suffolk:… . London: William Robson & Co.; 1839, pg 48. [Note: Bullen Mark, Faircloth Richard, Page Frederick and Peck Robert James are listed separately.], [Note also, see the page on Frederick Page for an image.]

1843, 24th July: Ernest Last Fyson baptised at Exning St Martin, son of  William and Sophia Fyson (farmer). Reference: Microfiche of Exning St Martin parish register (fiche 14), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: he was born on 1st July – see the 1863 reference below.]

1863, 5th November: Ernest Last Fyson passed the first part of his LSA examination, apprenticed to Edwin Jones of Blackfriar’s Road. It records his indenture being dated June 1860 for 5 years, having started attending lectures in 1861. It also notes that his father was ‘Wm Fyson Newmarket’ and that he was born on 1st July 1843. Reference: Court of Examiners Candidates’ Qualification Entry Book, The Society of Apothecaries Archives, Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ. [Note: he passed the second part of the examination on 11th May 1865, which is when he officially qualified.], [Note also, see the pages on Ernest Last Fyson and The Fysons for more on Edwin Jones.]

1866:FYSON, ERNEST LAST, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk – M.R.C.S. Eng. 1864; L.S.A. 1865.’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1866. [Note: this was his first entry in the Medical Directory, oddly marked with a *, which should indicate that he had not returned his information, but he must have done for this to be his first entry?]

1867, 6th April: A report in the newspaper mentioned that Dr Fyson had ‘practised in the town [Newmarket] nearly 40 years’. Reference: The Bury Free Press. Saturday Apr 6 1867: 8. [Note: see the page on Robert Fyson for more on this and associated references.]

1872, 19th March:Mr. Robert Fyson Medical Officer of no. 1 District of the Union rescinded his nomination of Mr. Samuel Gamble his late Partner and in his stead named his assistant Mr. John Rowland Wright a legally qualified medical practitioner to whom application for medicine or attendance may be made in the case of his absence from home or other hindrance to his personal attendance’. Reference: 611/28, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).

1878:WRIGHT, JOHN ROWLAND, Newmarket. Cambs (Faircloth and Wright) – M.R.C.S. Eng. 1871; (St. Mary’s); late House Surg. Male Lock Hosp. Lond.’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1878. [Note: this appears to be the point at which John Rowland Wright joined and succeeded to Richard Faircloth’s practice, although this might have taken place in the autumn of 1877 – see the page on John Rowland Wright for details.]

1881, 3rd/4th April: Ernest L. Fyson, aged 37, born in Exning, Suffolk, ‘surgeon in Gen Practice’, defined as a Partner, in the household of Robert Fyson, aged 74, also a ‘Surgeon in Gen Practice’ and born in Exning, and others. They were all living in Newmarket St Mary’s parish on the High Street. Reference: The National Archives, 1881 census. [Note: this was the last house on the High Street at that time, three down from the Crown heading towards the clock tower (which was not built until 1887).], [Note also, see the page on Robert Fyson for more details, and the page on Ernest Last Fyson for an image of this census.]

1882, 7th March: A report in the newspaper mentioned ‘Mr. Robert Fyson, surgeon, practising in Newmarket for 50 years…’ Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Tuesday Mar 7 1882: 6. [Note: see the page on Robert Fyson for more regarding this reference.]

1887:FYSON, ROBERT, Newmarket, Cambs (retired) – L.S.A. 1831; (Guy’s and St. Thos.’s); late Med. Off. Health Newmarket.’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1887. [Note: this is the first mention of him being retired; his entry remains unchanged from this point.]

1888:Fyson, Ernest Last, surgeon, Cheveley house’ listed in Kelly’s directory. ‘Fyson Robert, Exeter road’ is listed in the private residents but not commercial section of Kelly’s Directory. Reference: Kelly’s directory of Cambridgeshire… . London: Kelly & Co.; 1888, pg 116 (114-119 Newmarket section). [Note: Gray Clement Frederick, Gray Frederick Clement, Hutchinson Walter, Mead George Borwick, Mead George Owen and Wright John Rowland, are listed separately.], [Note also, Robert Fyson was still in the same house on the end of the High Street at this time, at its junction with Exeter Road, but interestingly here uses Exeter Road rather than High Street for his address.]

1907, 16th February: ‘DEATH AND FUNERAL OF MRS. FYSON.– We record with deep regret the death of Mrs. Fyson, who passed away at Cheveley House, Newmarket, on Monday last… She was the only daughter of the late Dr. Robert Fyson, and married her cousin, Mr. E. L. Fyson, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., who succeeded his uncle in practice.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Feb 16 1907: 5. [Note: see The Fysons for further details.]

1917, 24th February: Under a heading ‘Death of Dr. Fyson’ a report that included, ‘We record with much regret the death of Dr. Ernest Last Fyson, who passed away at his residence, Cheveley House, Newmarket, on Tuesday, about 3.30 a.m., after a lingering illness. / Dr. Fyson was born at Exning, his father being a farmer there, about 73 years ago, and succeeded to the practice of his uncle, the late Robert Fyson,… During his last illness he was attended by Dr. C. F. Gray (an old friend as well as a pro-fessional confrére), who also took charge of his practice for some months.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Feb 24 1917: 3. [Note: see the pages on the Fysons and Ernest Fyson for more details from this report.], [Note also, it seems likely therefore that the Fysons’ practice was absorbed into the Grays’ at this point, who likely had the capacity now being three, although a notice appeared in the paper the following week to say, ‘We are requested by the relatives of the late Dr. Fyson to state that throughout his illness Dr. Ernest Crompton was most assiduous in his attendance upon him, visiting him night and day.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Mar 3 1917: 3. This appears to be an addition rather than correction? There’s nothing to suggest Ernest Crompton’s practice was expanding at this point. In fact he retired due to ill health a few years later and his practice also appears to cease at that point.]

Some other sources consulted include:-

Newmarket Union Minutes 1836-1873. Reference: 611/11-28, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: see the pages on Robert Fyson and Samuel Gamble for more references from here than mentioned above – Ernest Last Fyson does not feature in the minutes.]

Shops History Newmarket. [Note: has been supplied with information regarding the medical history of Newmarket by the author of since August 2013 (see footnotes on some of the pages). Both websites continue to be developed, and in this sense are mutually symbiotic.]

Suffolk Medical Biographies. (originally accessed pre October 2013). [Note: see the pages on Robert Fyson, Samuel Gamble, Ernest Last Fyson, and The Fysons for more comments regarding this website.] 

The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1847-1917. [Note: this publication has been known by various titles over the years. Initially it just covered London, but from 1847 it had a wider remit, being variously known as the London and Provincial Medical Directory, The Medical Directories, The Medical Directory, etc., essentially the same work with minor variations and developments. It is usually referred to as The Medical Directory (as opposed to The Medical Register), so that is how it’s consistently referred to on]

The Medical Register. London: General Medical Council; 1859ff.

Note: For published material referenced on this website see the ‘Acknowledgements for resources of published material’ section on the ‘Usage &c.’ page. The sources used for original unpublished documents are noted after each individual reference. Any census records are referenced directly to The National Archives, since images of these are so ubiquitous on microfilm and as digital images that they almost function like published works. Census records are covered by the ‘Open Government Licence’ as should be other such public records (see the ‘Copyright and related issues’ section on the ‘Usage &c.’ page for which references constitute public records, and any other copyright issues more generally such as fair dealing/use etc.).