Robert Fyson was born in 1807 at Exning (immediately north-west of Newmarket), the son of William Fyson, who was a yeoman farmer. Robert was one of the younger members of his family, which had started out in Soham (further north of Newmarket) before he was born. However, it seems the family were actually from Exning originally (see the Fysons for more details). Robert Fyson grew up to start one of the four practices that dominated 19th century Newmarket, and his long life perhaps gave him a unique bird’s eye view on the whole century (see below).
Nothing yet is known about his early education, but in 1822 aged 15 he was apprenticed to William Addison, who interestingly was a Soham based medic. That was for 5 ½ years, followed by some hospital experience at St Thomas’s Hospital (which would have been the one in London). He took the Society of Apothecaries LSA examination in 1830, but was unsuccessful at the first attempt. However, some interesting comments in the margin (see image above) stage that he was ‘Approved as to his fitness to actt [sic] as an Assistant to an Apothecary’. He entered again the following year and passed fully, in 1831.
Likely that was when he came to Newmarket, since in 1882 he was said to have been in practice at Newmarket for 50 years (and in 1867 for nearly 40 years). However, the earliest actual record of Robert Fyson as a medic in town is from several years later in 1836, when he became a medical officer of the Newmarket Union poor law institution. At that time he was described as ‘Robert Fyson of Newmarket Surgeon’ implying that he’d been in practice in the town for at least a little while already.
So he was a classic early 19th century surgeon and apothecary, although interestingly he never obtained the MRCS surgical qualification, which unlike the LSA was not compulsory at that time for those wanting to practise as generalist medics. Despite that, he was primarily referred to as a surgeon though. That’s because ‘surgeon’ was the normal term for a generalist medic in the 19th century, hence their successors (GPs) working from GP surgeries today. He was however described as being in general practice in 1847 and as a general practitioner in 1861, some of the earliest examples of these terms in Newmarket, although the concept goes back centuries, even millennia (see The history of medical treatments, training, qualifications and regulations for more on these issues.)
Robert Fyson married Maria Hill (daughter of the rector of Snailwell) in 1839, and they had three children. Their eldest son Nicholas became a church minister in Derbyshire, their youngest son Frederick went to Cambridge University but never graduated and was at home defined simply as a ‘gentleman’ aged 27 on the 1871 census. Frederick died aged 35 in 1878 (perhaps he had some form of chronic ill health? – although a Newspaper report from the time said that his death was sudden, possibly but not necessarily implying unexpected?). Their daughter Francis initially married a local solicitor, but after he died she remarried. Significantly this was to Ernest Last Fyson, her first cousin, the son of Robert’s brother William (see below, and the pages on Ernest Last Fyson and The Fysons for more details). Ernest was a fellow medic and was in partnership with Robert long before he married Frances; in fact Robert had retired by the time of their marriage. The family can be followed through the census records.
The 1841 census shows Robert Fyson, his wife, and new born son Nicholas, living on Newmarket High Street, roughly where Calzone is now. Interestingly he had an assistant called Thomas Leeson living with him at that stage, who it appears was medical and perhaps actually an apprentice (later he can be found in practice at Snaith in Yorkshire). However, by the time of the 1861 census the Fysons were at the far north-east end of the High Street, at its then junction with Exeter Road (see map on the right – their property must have been the one set back with a garden in front; sequential census returns clearly show them on the end of the High Street and in that position relative to other identifiable properties – see details in the notes regarding the 1871 census in the references below). That corner even became known as ‘Fyson’s Corner’ as shown in the image below from the 1871 census. It’s not known at what point they moved there; unfortunately the 1851 census for Newmarket St Mary’s is missing, which would have been informative in that regard. After Robert Fyson’s death a veterinary surgery was built on the site of this property, which now has a row of shops round the curve that must have been the Fyson’s front garden. However, that was after at least three if not four decades of the Fysons of Fyson’s Corner!
The 1861 census shows Samuel Gamble living with the Fysons, his partner in practice at that time (before Ernest). He was an Irishman, 13 years younger than Robert, who’d originally trained in Ireland, gaining the Scottish LRCS surgical qualification in 1841, then the English LSA in 1851, after which he’s listed in the Medical Directories at Newmarket. However, the records of Samuel Gamble’s 1851 LSA examination show Robert Fyson providing a testimonial of moral character for him, suggesting they’d known each other for a while (see an image of that on the page about Samuel Gamble). Most likely Samuel had been doing some preparatory training with Robert before taking his LSA, which he would have required to practise (again see The history of medical treatments, training, qualifications and regulation). In fact the earliest mention of Samuel Gamble in Newmarket comes from 1845, so perhaps this was quite a long arrangement. Subsequently Fyson & Gamble are mentioned in partnership until the early 1870s (including on the 1871 census – again see an image on the page about Samuel Gamble), after which Samuel Gamble moved on, to Torquay (so they were together for well over 20 years – see the page on Samuel Gamble for further details).
At that point John Rowland Wright became Robert Fyson’s assistant, but soon Ernest Last Fyson (as mentioned above, Roberts nephew) joined him in partnership. A few years later, on the 1881 census, Ernest can be seen living with Robert and family, well before his marriage to their daughter (see the page on Ernest Last Fyson for an image of this census return as well). In the meantime, John Rowland Wright had joined and succeeded to Richard Faircloth’s practice in 1877/8, eventually founding the branch of that practice that evolved into Orchard House Surgery (see the pages on John Rowland Wright, Richard Faircloth, The Orchard House Practice chain and The Oakfield Practice chain for this key and interesting juncture in the medical history of Newmarket, and more on Robert Fyson’s perspective on those developments below). In the late 1880s Robert Fyson retired and Ernest moved to Cheveley House, so the Fysons’ practice continued from there (see the pages on Ernest Last Fyson and The Fyson practice chain for more details). Robert Fyson remained living at the old surgery until his death in 1894 (his wife died 2 years earlier – they were both well into their 80s). Their stone cross memorial is in Newmarket cemetery (see image at the end of this account, but first more details about his long career and the interesting perspective it gives on the 19th century medical scene in Newmarket).
Regarding Robert Fyson’s Newmarket Union role mentioned above, he was one of the original medical officers at the time of that institution’s foundation in 1836 (see The Newmarket Union for details). There were seven districts at that time, his being the sixth. The precise geographical area that involved is not known, but later the same year the system was reorganised into five districts, and Robert Fyson was allocated District 1, which comprised Newmarket St Mary’s, Exning, Burwell with Reach, Landwade and Snailwell. However, he resigned from that role the following year, but in 1839 became a medical officer of the Union again. The districts had been reorganised yet again in the meantime, and he took on a smaller segment of the area he’d covered before. It was called District 2 by that stage, comprising Newmarket St Mary’s, Exning and Landwade (perhaps he was not happy with the size of the earlier district and was more comfortable with this new arrangement?). Following further re-organisations in 1840, 41 and 42 (again see the Newmarket Union for details) he eventually settled on the then District 1, which comprised Newmarket St Mary’s and Newmarket All Saints’, i.e. the whole of Newmarket without any surrounding villages. He continued in that role for over three decades, until he resigned from the Newmarket Union in 1873. However he continued in practice for over a decade beyond that.
Aside from his Newmarket Union role Robert Fyson was also Medical Officer for the Newmarket Board of Health. In addition, he was medical officer for the local ‘Oddfellows’ organisation for 43 years, a role which he retired from in 1884. The medical Directory records him as retired completely from 1887, so he appears to have tailed off during the 1870s and 80s during his 60s and 70s.
Some records have survived regarding details of Robert Fyson’s medical activities, mainly in the Newmarket Union records and Newspaper reports and detailed in the references below. In 1844 he was involved with a mental health patient being admitted to St Luke’s Asylum in London. In 1847 he treated a respiratory infection with a ‘blister’ and other unspecified medicine. There are a couple of instances of him reporting various public health issues, and as with all medics of this period he performed his own post mortem examinations, sometimes reported in the press. In 1857 he successfully treated a patient with dislocated feet, but then in 1858 also provided a ‘fit note’ for someone with ‘distortion of the feet occasioned by atrophy of the bones’ saying that he was fit to train as a basket maker. There are other similar examples in the records. Later in 1858 he’s mentioned trying to prevent inflammation of the brain following a head injury by bathing the patient’s head in some form of lotion (it’s interesting that there is often a very obvious logic behind these old remedies, despite their lack of efficacy. cf. his later partner Samuel Gamble applying leeches to the temple in 1845 for a similar case). It’s not known how they attempted to treat a rabies case together in 1865! Alongside some non-medics the pair helped to contain a smallpox outbreak in 1867. There’s also some interesting evidence of continuity of care with a patient whose death from sudden shock was reported in 1868, which was no surprise to Robert Fyson, who thought that she was suffering from a ‘diseased brain and heart’ and ‘that sudden mental emotion or excitement might at any time cause her death’. He was also present at Clement Gray’s extraordinary cæsarean section in 1883, as was his nephew Ernest and several other Newmarket medics of the time.
Regarding contemporaries, Robert Fyson started his career at a time of great change in Newmarket. The Pecks’ practice was already well established and continued, but the 1830s saw the precipitous demise of the other main long established practice in town, that of (the Edwards, who’d already died), Norton, Taylor, Kendall, Thomas and Bullen. Robert Fyson would have known the elderly Walter Norton, his younger partner John Thomas, and their successor Mark Bullen (Thomas and Bullen being about the same age as Robert Fyson). He might even have known James Taylor and Henry Kendall of the unusual for the time Norton, Taylor and Kendall triple partnership, if he was in Newmarket by the early 1830s. Everyone associated with that practice was dead by 1840, leaving the four practices that would dominate Newmarket in the 19th century: Robert James Peck, Robert Fyson, Richard Faircloth and Frederick Page. The 1839 trade directories capture the two old and three new practices together (see the page on Frederick Page for an image of one).
During his long career, Robert Fyson would have seen Floyd Peck train with and succeed to his father’s practice, then witness Floyd emigrate to Australia, passing that practice on to William Henry Day, who in turn was succeeded by the Grays. He would have known Frederick Clement Gray (who was about the same age, but didn’t arrive in Newmarket until his mid-50s), and Clement Frederick Gray, who succeeded to Robert Fyson’s Newmarket Union Role. (Long after Robert’s death, it’s also of note that the Fyson’s practice was probably absorbed into that of the Grays on the death of Ernest Last Fyson in 1917 – see The Fyson practice chain for details.)
Regarding Richard Faircloth’s practice, Robert Fyson would have seen his own assistant John Rowland Wright join that practice, succeeding to it on Richard Faircloth’s retirement in 1878. Then later in his career Wright and Hutchinson (who’d joined Wright) diverged to form the two branches that would eventually become Oakfield and Orchard House surgeries respectively (however, Robert Fyson wouldn’t have witnessed anything beyond Walter Hutchinson on the Oakfield branch, but he did just live long enough to see his former assistant John Wright die quite young aged 47 in 1893, to be succeeded by John Hansby Maund on the Orchard House branch).
So when it was said of Robert Fyson in 1894 that he was ‘The oldest medical practitioner in the town’ it was certainly true and he would have been full of interesting memories of what it was like to live and work as a medic in 19th century Newmarket. Regarding his character, at his death that year it was said that he had a ‘kindly, courteous, and charitable disposition, and he was highly respected by all sections of the community.’ Earlier George Mead senior had mentioned ‘great pleasure in bearing personal testimony to his kindness and the justice and high principle with which he acted towards his professional brethren’.
Image 1: From The Society of Apothecaries’ Court of Examiners Candidates’ Qualification Entry Book 1829-1832, reference MS8241/5 (cropped); image ©, reproduced with kind permission of The Society of Apothecaries Archives, London.
Image 2: Map of Newmarket. Southampton: Ordinance Survey; 1886 (surveyed 1884), sheet 42.6 (cropped); image © Crown Copyright 1886, reproduced with kind permission the Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds and the Ordnance Survey.
Image 3: The 1871 census, reference RG10/1596 (cropped); image ©, reproduced with kind permission of The National Archives.
Image 4: Photograph taken in 2018, by the author of talkingdust.net.
Note: see comments regarding images and copyright © etc. on the Usage &c. page as well.
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 as to his fitness to actt [sic] as an Assistant to an Apothecary’ (see image above) 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.]
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).
1836, 9th September: the Newmarket Union medical districts redefined and reduced to five from seven ‘having regard to the residence of the Medical Officers’. Robt Fyson was allocated District 1, named the Newmarket district, which comprised Newmarket St Mary, Exning, Burwell with Reach, Landwade and Snailwell. Reference: 611/11, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: Newmarket All Saints’ was part of the ‘Cheveley District’ (No 3), which went to Walter Norton and John Thomas.]
1836, 21st October: Robert Fyson Registrar for District 1, Newmarket District. Reference: 611/11, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1837, 3rd February: ‘Mr Fyson medical officer sent in his resignation’. Reference: 611/11, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note. it appears that this was from the registrar role too, since that was taken on by John Thomas. Norton and Thomas also took on the bulk of his medical role, the districts being reorganised at this time (perhaps in response to Robert Fyson’s resignation?); Newmarket St Mary’s, Exning, Burwell with Reach and Landwade were called District 2. Snailwell was combined with the other northern villages of Chippenham and Isleham and called District 4; interestingly, this was taken on by William Addison of Soham who Robert Fyson had been apprenticed to – see 1830 above. And see the Newmarket Union page for more details regarding these re-organisations.]
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.]
1839, 15th January: Following the death of Mark Bullen (who had succeeded to District 2 following the deaths of Thomas then Norton in late 1837 – see February 1837 note above) Burwell with Reach was hived off to form a new District 7, and ‘Robert Fyson of Newmarket Saint Mary Surgeon was elected Medical Officer of District No 2’ which comprised part of his original District 1 (see 1836 above) i.e. Newmarket St Mary’s, Exning, and Landwade (perhaps he was not happy with the size of the original district and was more comfortable with this new arrangement?). Reference: 611/12, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1840, 11th May: Robert Fyson, aged 34, bachelor, surgeon of Newmarket, son of William a yeoman, married Maria Hill, aged 34, spinster gentlewoman, daughter of Nicholas Isaac Hill, Rector of Snailwell, at Snailwell, Cambridgeshire. Reference: An indexed transcription of the parish registers of Snailwell. Cambridgeshire Family History Society; 2007, (Cambridgeshire County Record Office [called Cambridgeshire Archives], Cambridge – subsequently relocated to Ely).
1841, 23rd March: ‘Mr Robert Fyson of Newmarket’ continued to cover Newmarket St Mary, Exning, and Landwade of the Newmarket Union as Medical Officer, but now this was called District 5. Reference: 611/13, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1841, 6th June: Robert Fyson, aged 33, surgeon, with an unnamed unidentified 33 year old female Fyson (i.e. his wife) and 2 week old son marked ‘n.k.’, a ‘nurse’ likely in connection with the son, not in the medical sense, a 27 year old assistant called Thomas Leeson, and three servants, living in Newmarket St Mary’s parish on the High Street. Reference: The National Archives, 1841 census. [Note: this appears to be a building on the north side of Newmarket High Street, in the row heading west from the Wellington Street corner, about where Calzone is now, and the end of the new Hughes Electrical shop, a building formerly known as Phoenix House; the upstairs of the building is more obviously an old 19th century house – whether that was actually Robert Fyson’s surgery building is currently unclear], [Note also, ‘n.k.’ for the son might mean ‘not known’ him not yet having been named, but it could be short for Nicholas, since he was subsequently baptised Nicholas Isaac Hill Fyson (see below and his maternal grandfather’s name above).], [Note also, Thomas Leeson MRCS can be seen aged 36 on the 1851 census living in Snaith, Yorkshire; the Medical Directory for that year shows that he was in a partnership called Hanks and Leeson, and that he gained the MRCS in 1848, so likely in 1841 he was an apprentice to Robert Fyson.], [Note also, the 1851 census for Newmarket St Mary’s is missing, and Robert Fyson and family are not on the 1851 census, so presumably he was there, but it’s not clear whether he was in this building or his later residence at the clock tower end, both of which would have been on the St Mary’s 1851 census – note though that the clock tower had not been built at that stage, appearing in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, but also that was the year Robert Fyson appears to have retired, so perhaps he thought of it as his retirement clock!]
1842, 19th April: ‘Mr Robert Fyson of Newmarket St Mary’ was elected to cover District 1 of the Newmarket Union, the districts having been reorganised again (see the page on the Newmarket Union for these frequent early re-organisations) – he now covered Newmarket St Mary’s and Newmarket All Saints’ i.e. the whole of Newmarket. Exning and Landwade (see March 1841 above) had been re-connected to Burwell (see January 1839 above). Reference: 611/14, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: the minutes note that he did not have an MRCS qualification, which was required unless the candidate had some military experience pre-1826 (see the page on Robert James Peck in 1844 for details), so the appointment was subject to the consent of the Poor Law Commissioners.]
1842, 15th June: Nicholas Isaac Hill Fyson baptised, son of surgeon Robert and Maria, St Mary’s church, Newmarket. Reference J552/10, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1844, 25th January: Frederick William Fyson baptised, son of surgeon Robert and Maria, St Mary’s church, Newmarket. Reference J552/10, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1844, 1st October: Robert Fyson involved with a mental health patient being admitted to St Luke’s Hospital. Reference: 611/16, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: this would have been St Luke’s asylum in London.]
1845, September: The earliest mention of Samuel Gamble in practice at Newmarket, in which he’s reported attending a head injury case and treating him with ‘leeches to the temple’. Reference: The Ipswich Journal. Saturday Sept 13 1845: 1. [Note: see the page on Samuel Gamble for an image], [Note also, interestingly he called in Mr Peck for help – the patient subsequently died and they performed a post mortem together – this would have been Robert James Peck, his son Floyd Minter Peck being in Folkestone at this time.]
1847: ‘FYSON, ROBERT, Newmarket, Cambridge – General Pract.; L.S.A. 1831; Medical Officer to the Union.’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1847. [Note: this was the first edition with a provincial section.]
1847, 18th May: A patient complained that Robert Fyson had been negligent. The case was investigated by the Newmarket Union board and he was cleared of neglect. The patient had a respiratory infection and interestingly was treated with a ‘blister’ and unspecified other ‘medicine’. Reference: 611/17, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: it’s interesting that complaints were received and dealt with in the 19th century like this. There were later examples in the minutes too – see others mentioned alongside one involving Richard Faircloth’s assistant in 1849.]
1847, 31st August: ‘A certificate signed by Mr Robt Fyson and Mr Richd Faircloth, two Medical Officers of the Union, pointing out the pestilential condition of a certain building at Snailwell’. Reference: 611/17, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1849, 26th November: Frances Maria Fyson baptised, daughter of surgeon Robert and Maria, St Mary’s church, Newmarket. Reference J552/10, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1850: ‘Fyson Robert, High st’ listed under ‘Surgeons’ in Newmarket. Reference: SLATER’S (LATE PIGOT & CO.)… DIRECTORY… of… CAMBRIDGESHIRE; London: Isaac Slater; 1850, pg 36. [Note: Faircloth Richard, High st, Page Frederick, High st and Peck Ffloyd Mentor [sic], High st are listed separately – it’s interesting that Samuel Gamble is not mentioned separately, suggesting that he was part of one of these practices, so presumably the assistant/(apprentice) of Robert Fyson at this stage before gaining his LSA qualification. cf. 1851 and 1855 below.]
1850, 9th August: ‘A certificate signed by Mr Faircloth and Mr Fyson, two Medical Officers of the Union, stating that upon certain premises situate in the parish of Newmarket All Saints… there is a foul and offensive Drain constructed so as to be a nuisance’. Reference: 611/18, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: aside from the August 1847 reference above, there are various other similar entries to this regarding public health ‘nuisances’ being reported and subsequently dealt with by the authorities – see the page on The Newmarket Union also on nuisances more generally.]
1851, 20th March: Samuel Gamble passed his LSA examination. The record mentions that he was born on 25th December 1818, that he had served a 7 year apprenticeship to William Leney of Strabane, County Tyrone [Ireland], a surgeon and apothecary, the indenture being dated 10th November 1832, and that he had already been a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh since 21st December 1841 (technically he was LRCS – see Medical Directory entries). Testimonials of moral character came from Robert Fyson, surgeon, Newmarket and a Dr John H Power. Reference: Court of Examiners Candidates’ Qualification Entry Book, The Society of Apothecaries Archives, Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ. [Note: see the page on Samuel Gamble for an image.]
1852: ‘GAMBLE, SAMUEL, Newmarket – L.R.C.S. Edin. 1841; Lic. Midw. Dub-lin, 1841; L.S.A. 1851; late Med. Off. of Mt.-hill and Mt.-Norris Disp. Ireland.’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1852. [Note: this was his first mention in The Medical Directory, likely representing his gaining the LSA qualification the year before – see above, which mentions Robert Fyson.]
1852, 23rd March: Samuel Gamble gave evidence at a manslaughter trial regarding an incident that took place on 9th November 1850. After being struck on the head the patient was taken ‘into Messrs. Fison [sic] and Gamble’s surgery’. Reference: Supplement to the Bury and Norwich Post. Wednesday Mar 31 1852: 5. [Note: the actual newspaper was four pages long and supplement two pages, this being on the first page of the supplement, hence page 5.], [Note also, see the page on Samuel Gamble for more details from this reference.]
1855: ‘Fyson & Gamble’ and ‘Fyson Robert’ listed under ‘Surgeons’ in Newmarket. Reference: HISTORY, GAZETTEER, AND DIRECTORY OF SUFFOLK…; Sheffield: William White; 1855, pg 820. [Note: Faircloth Richard, Page Frederick and Peck Floyd M are listed separately.], [Note also, it’s interesting that there is one entry for the business partnership and one for Robert Fyson as a separate line – perhaps Samuel Gamble was responsible for one entry and put it like that as the junior partner?]
1856, 4th April: ‘Mr Rob [the b is crossed like a t] Fyson Medical Officer of District No 1 named to the Guardians his partner Mr Samuel Gamble being a legally qualified Medical Practitioner to whom application for medicines and attendance may be made in his absence’. Reference: 611/21, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1856, December: ‘Mr. Robert Fyson, Newmarket, made a post mortem examination’ on someone ‘FOUND DEAD IN THE SNOW’. Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Wednesday Dec 31 1856: 2.
1857, 27th February: ‘Mr Robert Fyson Medical Officer undertaking cure of a case of dislocation of the feet’. Reference: 611/21, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1858, 23rd April: Example of what we might call a ‘fit note’: ‘“I the undersigned Robert Fyson being a Medical Practitioner residing at Newmarket in the County of Suffolk Do hereby certify that I have examined… and that he is deformed, the nature of the deformity being distortion of the feet occasioned by atrophy of the bones which renders him unfit for out of doors or any laborious employment but he is suited to any sedentary occupation such as that of a Basket maker”’. Reference: 611/21, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1858, 20th August: Robert Fyson was requested to attend a Newmarket Union meeting to explain why his deputy Mr Gamble had admitted a patient to the Suffolk General Hospital deemed to be an inappropriate admission. Reference: 611/22, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: the following week an explanation was given and ‘deemed satisfactory’.]
1858, 21st August: ‘Mr. Fyson, surgeon, Newmarket’, gave evidence at an assault trial in which he said that he ‘was fearful that inflammation of the brain would follow, and therefore ordered his head to be bathed with lotion’ and made the additional interesting for the time comment that he ‘should not consider four pipes of tobacco a very good thing after the infliction of such in-juries’. Reference: The Cambridge Independent Press. Saturday Aug 28 1858: 8.
1861, 7/8th April: Robert Fyson, aged 53, ‘Sur. & Lic. of apothecaries Hall. London / Gen Practitioner’, born in Exning, Suff., together with his wife Maria aged 54 , born in Snailwell, Cambs, 17 year old son Frederick W. an undergraduate at Cambridge, 11 year old daughter Frances M. still at school (both born in Newmarket, Suffolk), Samuel Gamble his business partner, aged 40, with qualifications listed, also described as ‘Gen Practitioner’, and two servants (a cook and a page), living in Newmarket St Mary’s parish on the High Street. Reference: The National Archives, 1861 census. [Note: his eldest son was likely away at university, but I have not found him on the census – but see later census records below.], [Note also, Frederick was recorded as entering Cambridge University in 1860, but does not appear to have completed a degree. Given his early death (see 1878 below) and apparent lack of career on the 1871 census, perhaps he had chronic ill health? Reference: Venn JA. Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Cambridge: At the University Press; 1944; Part II (from 1752 to 1900), Vol II (Chalmers – Fytche).]
1861, 29th November: An example of what might be called a pre-employment medical: ‘“I certify that I have this morning examined… a deaf and dumb Boy residing at All Saints [sic] Newmarket and consider him free from any disease to disqualify him for being apprenticed to a shoemaker”’. Reference: 611/23, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: the poor law guardians funded the apprenticeship.]
1865, September: ‘Messrs. Fyson and Gamble’ dealt with a case of ‘HYDROPHOBIA’, an old word for rabies, and despite their unspecified efforts the patient died. He had been bitten ‘while giving some physic [i.e. medicine] to his dog’. Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Tuesday Sept 19 1865: 6.
1867, February/March: ‘NEWMARKET. SMALL POX.- This disease was brought into the town a week or two ago by some tramps, who have been in a bad state, but under the treatment of Messrs. Fyson and Gamble they are recovering; and by the care and discretion of the occupiers of the Lamb public-house, where they were lodging, and the inhabitants of that part of town, the further spread of the disease has been, we hope, prevented.’ Reference: The Bury Free Press. Saturday Mar 2 1867: 5.
1867, 4th March: Dr Gray offered his services to the Newmarket Board of Health free of charge, a role at that time held by Dr Fyson. Reference: EF506/1/2, Newmarket Board of Health minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: it was decided to approach Dr Fyson to see whether he would make the same offer. The minutes of 18th March record that he declined and so the post was offered to Dr Gray. Then on 1st April they record that Dr Gray withdrew his offer, desiring ‘to convey to the Board his thanks for the compliment passed upon him.’ Dr Fyson was appointed on the same terms as before. The meeting was reported in the paper where Dr Mead appears to have been the main supporter of Robert Fyson continuing in the role, who it was noted had performed the role for the last 16 years and had ‘practised in the town nearly 40 years’. It was felt that it would not be right for him to be ‘set aside for a stranger like Dr. Gray’ – showing that Dr Gray was still regarded as new in town (see the page on Frederick Clement Gray for more details). Regarding Robert Fyson, Dr Mead ‘had great pleasure in bearing personal testimony to his kindness and the justice and high principle with which he acted towards his professional brethren’. Reference: The Bury Free Press. Saturday Apr 6 1867: 8.]
1868, 21st September: Gave evidence at a coroner’s inquest regarding the sudden death of one of his patients, who was involved in a dispute in which a pudding was thrown, but didn’t actually hit her. ‘Mr. R. Fyson, surgeon… had attended [the] deceased professionally for several years past, and had for some time considered her to be suffering from diseased brain and heart [sic]. He had inti-mated to her family that sudden mental emotion or excite-ment might at any time cause her death…’ Reference: Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal. Saturday Sept 26 1868: 8. [Note: this interesting incident is included partly because to shows evidence of continuity of care, and also because it shows an interesting medical opinion, aside from the interesting nature of the incident itself, which can be read about in more detail in the newspaper for anyone who’d like to know more!]
1871, 2nd/3rd April: Robert Fyson, aged 65, ‘Surgeon &c’, born in Exning, Suff., together with his wife Maria aged 65, born in Snailwell, Cambs, 27 year old son Frederick Wm. defined as a gentleman, 21 year old daughter Frances M. undefined, and Samuel Gamble, aged 50, also described as ‘Surgeon &c’ and his ‘Partner’, and three servants, living in Newmarket St Mary’s parish on the High Street. Reference: The National Archives, 1871 census. [Note: comparing this census record with the 1861 census it’s possible to identify their residence on both as three down from the Crown heading towards the clock tower (see image on the page about Samuel Gamble). They were in the same house on the 1881 and 1891 censuses too (see the page on Ernest Last Fyson for an image of the 1881 census). This was in fact the end building in the High Street at that time, and the start of this section of the census names it ‘Fyson’s Corner’ (see image above), as do the census records of 1861, 81 and 91; it’s also of note that the first building next to the Crown in the direction of Fyson’s corner is consistently a chemists shop (see a postcard image of this on the page about Mentmore House), followed by one other residence, then Robert Fyson’s (see the 1886 map image above also).], [Note also, his eldest son was likely living elsewhere aged 29, but I have not found him on the census – but see later census records below.]
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). [Note: John Rowland Wright qualified in 1871 and joined the Medical Register on 27th March 1872 – a week after this, so he was very new (see the page on John Rowland Wright for his interesting role in the medical history of Newmarket, despite his relatively short life).]
1873, 2nd September: Robert Fyson resigned from his Newmarket Union medical officer role. Reference: 611/28, Newmarket Union minutes, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: Clement Frederick Gray took on his district.]
1874: ‘GAMBLE SAMUEL, Cotswold, Torquay – L.R.C.S. Edin. 1841; L.M. Dub. 1841; L.S.A. 1851; (T. Coll. Dub. And Univ. Edin.).’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1874. [Note: in the 1873 Directory he was still recorded in Newmarket, but the entry was marked with a *, indicating that he had not updated the entry since 1872. See also Ernest Fyson’s entry below and comments.]
1874: ‘FYSON, ERNEST LAST, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk – L.R.C.P. Edin. (exam) and L.M. 1871; – M.R.C.S. Eng. 1864; L.S.A. 1865; (Guy’s).’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1874. [Note: this was his first appearance in the Newmarket area. So he appears to have replaced Samuel Gamble who had moved on – see above. But also see the page on Ernest Last Fyson regarding his movements up until 1879.]
1874: ‘Mr. Fyson deposed to a scarcity of lymph while the small-pox raged, and was confirmed by his assistant, Mr. Wright’. Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Tuesday Sept 8 1874: 6. [Note: this was part of a report regarding an investigation by the Newmarket Union into alleged problems with the way in which Dr Mead had vaccinated some patients and some other issues.]
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.]
1878, 30th September: Frederick William Fyson buried, aged 35, Newmarket. Reference J552/10, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: see comments on the 1861 census above, and on Robert Fyson’s 1894 memorial below.]
1878, 5th October: Reported in the press under Newmarket, ‘The mortal remains of Mr. F. W. Fyson, younger son of Mr. Robert Fyson, surgeon, of this town, were deposited in their last resting-place in Newmarket cemetery on Monday last… The deceased, from his kindly and genial manner, had won the esteem of many friends, and great regret is felt at his sudden call, at the comparatively early age of 35.’ Reference: The Bury Free Press. Saturday Oct 5 1878: 8.
1881, 3rd/4th April: Robert Fyson, aged 74, ‘Surgeon in Gen Practice’, born in Exning, Suff., together with his wife Maria aged 76, born in Snailwell, Cambs, 31 year old unmarried daughter Fanny M., three servants, and Ernest L. Fyson his business partner, aged 37, also described as a ‘Surgeon in Gen Practice’, all living in Newmarket St Mary’s parish on the High Street. Reference: The National Archives, 1881 census. [Note: see the page on Ernest Last Fyson for an image.], [Note also, Nicholas I. H. Fyson, aged 39, born in Newmarket, Suffolk, can be seen as the curate of Farcett near Huntingdon on this census, with his wife and children, including a 15 year old son born in Oxford and 10 year old daughter born in Downham, revealing his earlier whereabouts.]
1882, 7th March: A report in the newspaper regarding proposals for ‘the formation of a Company for the supply of water to the inhabitants of Newmarket for private consumption… the promoters of the Company, urged that it was very important that Waterworks should be established in such a town as Newmarket… for sanitary and other reasons’. Interestingly, the article includes the comment ‘Mr. Robert Fyson, surgeon, practising in Newmarket for 50 years, said that Newmarket was a particularly healthy place, and he had never known of a case of illness arising from use of the water. He never remembered the town in a more healthy state than now. The Waterworks might be a boon to the town, but he did not see that there was a necessity for them.’ Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Tuesday Mar 7 1882: 6. [Note: the rest of this long and interesting article reveals that the town at that time was supplied largely by wells and hand pumps. There was a pipe system supplying the High Street from a water tower, but this was for ‘watering the streets’.]
1883, 8th July: With Clement Gray when he performed a cæsarean section operation in a patient’s house at Newmarket. Reference: Gray C. Case of cæsarean section in a dwarf: recovery of the mother. The British Medical Journal 1883;2(1189):727. [Note: Frederick Gray (Dr Gray), Walter Hutchinson, and Ernest Fyson were also present.], [Note also, click here for a full account of this incident.]
1883, 13th August: Hubert Tyrrell de Stuteville Isaacson, solicitor, bachelor aged 36 of Newmarket All Saints’, married Frances Maria Fyson, spinster aged 33 of Newmarket St Mary’s (father Robert Fyson surgeon), at Newmarket All Saints’. Reference: Microfiche of Newmarket All Saints’ parish register (fiche 17), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1884, 23rd April: ‘PRESENTATION TO DR. FYSON.- At a full meet-ing of the members of the Beacon Lodge of Odd-fellows, held on Wednesday evening last, at the Black Bear, High-street, an interesting ceremony took place, the late surgeon being presented with a case of silver salts, bearing the following inscription, “Presented by the members of the Beacon Lodge of Oddfellows, Newmarket, to Robert Fyson, Esq., their surgeon for the long period of 43 years, as a memento of their esteem and regard.” The presentation was made amid loud cheering…’ Reference: The Bury Free Press. Saturday Apr 26 1884: 8. [Note: see the page on Ernest Last Fyson for more.], [Note also, it’s not clear whether this implies that he had retired from clinical practice completely or just the Oddfellows role, but the White’s Directory entry below implies he was still in practice, as does the fact that he is not recorded as retired in the Medical Directory until 1887.]
1885: ‘Fyson Robert, L.S.A., surgeon, High street’ and ‘Fyson Ernest, surgeon, High street’ listed in White’s Directory under Newmarket. Reference: White’s history, gazetteer and directory of Suffolk. Sheffield: White Wm; 1885, pg 516. [Note: ‘Gray Clement’, ‘Gray Frederick Clement’, ‘Mead Geo. Borwick’, ‘Mead Owen’, ‘Hutchinson William’ [sic], and ‘Wright John Rowland’ are listed separately.], [Note also, this appears to show Robert Fyson still in practice on the High Street, with Ernest not yet in Cheveley House, contrasting with the 1888 Kelly’s Directory entry below after his Medical Directory entry changed to ‘retired’ in 1887.]
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.], [Note also, he first mentions ‘late Med. Off. Health’ in 1885, oddly not having mentioned that role beforehand. George Owen Mead took on that role, apparently in about 1883 – see the page on George Owen Mead for details.]
1888: ‘Fyson Robert, Exeter road’ listed in the private residents but not commercial section of Kelly’s Directory. Ernest Last Fyson is listed in Cheveley house in both sections. 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.]
1891, 5th/6th April: Robert Fyson, aged 83, ‘Retired Medical Practitioner surg’, born in Exning, Suff., together with his wife Maria aged 84, born in Snailwell, Cambs, 40 year old daughter ‘Frances de S. Isaacson’ a widow, and three servants, living in Newmarket St Mary’s parish on the High Street. Reference: The National Archives, 1891 census. [Note: Nicholas I. H. Fyson aged 49, born in Newmarket, Suffolk, can be seen as a ‘Clerk in Holy Orders’ in Boylestone, Derbyshire on this census, with his wife and children. He’s still in Boylestone on the 1911 census, with his full name Nicholas Isaac Hill Fyson.]
1892, 13th April: Maria Fyson buried, aged 85, Newmarket. Reference J552/10, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: see comments on Robert Fyson’s 1894 memorial below.]
1892, 2nd June: Ernest Last Fyson, aged 48, bachelor surgeon of All Saints’ Newmarket (father William deceased) married Frances Maria Isaacson, aged 42, widow, of St Mary’s Newmarket (father Robert Fyson, surgeon), St Mary’s church, Newmarket. Reference: J552/10, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1894, 13th March: Under deaths, ‘FYSON – 13th inst., at Newmarket, Robert Fyson, aged 86 years.’ Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Tuesday Mar 20 1894: 5.
1894, 13th March: Memorial ‘IN LOVING MEMORY OF / ROBERT FYSON / BORN JUNE 1ST 1807 / DIED MARCH 13TH 1894 / THY WILL BE DONE’. Reference: Memorial stone cross in Newmarket Cemetery. [Note: his wife who died in 1892 and their son who died in 1878 are also mentioned on this memorial.], [Note also, this grave is at the far end of the older part of the cemetery. The grave of his successor and nephew Ernest Last Fyson is directly opposite one row back in the ‘New Ground’ part of the cemetery (on the other side of the path – see image above).]
1894, 16th March: Robert Fyson (surgeon) buried, aged 86, St Mary’s church, Newmarket. Reference: Microfiche of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register (fiche 8), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: although this is the St Mary’s church register of burials, he was actually buried in the cemetery – see 24th March below.]
1894, 17th March: ‘DEATH OF MR. ROBERT FYSON.- The oldest medical practitioner in the town has just passed away in the person of Dr. Robert Fyson, who died on Tuesday last, at the ripe age of 86 years. He had been in indifferent health for some time past. Dr. Fyson was a gentleman of kindly, courteous, and charitable disposition, and he was highly respected by all sections of the community. The funeral takes place today (Friday), at three o’clock.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Mar 17 1894: 5. [Note: Friday was 16th, consistent with the burial above, although this was published on 17th, and the funeral not written up until the following week – see below.]
1894, 24th March: ‘FUNERAL OF MR ROBERT FYSON.- On Friday last, at the cemetery, the remains of the late Mr. Robert Fyson, surgeon, were interred in the presence of a number of sympathising friends, including Dr. G.B. Mead, Dr. C.F. Gray, Dr. W. Hutchinson…’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Mar 24 1894: 5. [Note: it’s odd that this account does not mention family, including Ernest and Frances, but it’s a short account and includes ‘and others’. Perhaps for some reason it wanted to emphasise the sympathising friends?]
1894, 2nd June: Sale by auction of the real estate of ‘the late Mr. Robert Fyson’ including his family residence at Newmarket. Reference: The Bury Free Press. Saturday Jun 2 1894: 8. [Note: a later report in another newspaper appears to show it having been sold to Mr. E. H. Leach, it being described as ‘family residence, for many years occupied by the late Dr. Fyson, corner of High-street and Exeter-road’. Reference: The Bury and Norwich Post. Tuesday Jun 5 1894: 8.]
1894, 27th August: Planning application for a house, surgery and stabling etc. on the ‘Corner of Exeter Road & High Street’ for Edward H Leach, vet. surgeon. Reference: EF506/6/1/H81, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: there are two more documents apparently relating to this (H79&80 – see newmarketshops.info below) but they are deemed too fragile to be seen by the archive now.]
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. The deceased lady belonged to a family which has been resident in Newmarket for many generations. 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 page on The Fysons for more detail.]
1917, 24th February: When the death of Dr Ernest Last Fyson was reported in the Newmarket Journal the report recorded that he’d ‘succeeded to the practice of his uncle, the late Robert Fyson, whose daughter he married’. It also mentions ‘the Rev. N. Fyson (a brother of the late Mrs. Fyson) who has a living in Derbyshire.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Feb 24 1917: 3. [Note: see the page on Ernest Last Fyson for more details on him from this report, and the page on the Fysons for more detail from it about the family.]
Newmarket Union Minutes 1836-1873. Reference: 611/11-28, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: not all entries regarding Robert Fyson in these minutes have been detailed above. Those not recorded are largely about routine payments.]
Shops History Newmarket. http://www.newmarketshops.info/index.html. [Note: newmarketshops.info has been supplied with information regarding the medical history of Newmarket by the author of talkingdust.net since August 2013 (see footnotes on some of the pages, including on http://www.newmarketshops.info/No.16_High_Street.html with relevance to this page). Both websites continue to be developed, and in this sense are mutually symbiotic.]
Suffolk Medical Biographies. Profile for Fyson, Robert. http://www.suffolkmedicalbiographies.co.uk/Profile.asp?Key=342 (originally accessed pre October 2013). [Note: at the time of writing (January 2018), this website had only a handful of references relating to Robert Fyson.], [Note also, see comments regarding this website on the Francis Greene page.]
The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1847-1895. [Note: see above references for full 1847 and 1887 entries (and 1852 & 1874 for Samuel Gamble and 1874 for Ernest Last Fyson).], [Note also, as would be expected, Robert Fyson was not in the 1895 directory.], [Note also, 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 talkingdust.net.]
The Medical Register. London: General Medical Council; 1859ff. [Note: this began in 1859 – Robert Fyson’s entry remains very simple throughout, just stating his residence in Newmarket and LSA qualification from 1831.]
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.).