William Raby is one of two Newmarket medics referred to as a barber-surgeon, the other being Nicholas Searle earlier in the 17th century (see The history of medical treatments, training, qualifications and regulation for more on barber-surgeons generally). William Raby was very close to an uncle, also called William Raby, and they are frequently differentiated from one another in the archived documents by the addition of either senior/junior or elder/younger. This uncle was very wealthy judging by the amount of property distributed in his will, and in it he is referred to as a ‘Gent’ – i.e. Gentleman, part of the gentry. However, there’s an interesting mortgage document from 1709 in which ‘William Raby the Elder of Newmarket’ is referred to as a ‘Barber’. So it seems likely that the younger William Raby, the barber-surgeon, had been his uncle’s apprentice at some point. It’s not known whether the uncle therefore had a surgical repertoire too, but perhaps he did, which might partly explain why he’s also referred to as a ‘Gent’, or perhaps the younger William Raby acquired further skills?
There are three documents that refer to William Raby the younger’s occupation. The first is from 1684 (see image below), a deed declaring the uses of a fine, in which he’s referred to as ‘William Raby the younger of Newmarket… Barber Chirurgion’. The second is from 1687, a lease of some arable land for a year, in which he’s likewise referred to as ‘Willm Raby the younger of Newmarkett… Barber Chirurgeon’ – so presumably he derived some of his income from arable farming too. The final document is his will of 1713, written shortly before his death in early 1714 in which, like his uncle, he’s referred to simply as ‘William Raby of Newmarket… Barber’ (written after the death of his uncle, which had been only two months earlier, but likely explaining why the phrase ‘the younger’ was dropped). This also perhaps suggests that by the end of his life the younger William Raby was also more barber than medic, like his uncle?
However, the timing of their deaths with regards to the arrival of Wotton Braham the ‘surgeon’ in town is interesting. Wotton Braham arrived in Newmarket some time between 1714 and 1716. So it’s possible he took over the ‘practice’ of William Raby – in which case the chain of medics leading to The Rookery Medical Centre of today, which can be traced back to Wotton Braham (see The Rookery practice chain) could have started with a 17th century barber-surgeon, or if the uncle is taken into account perhaps even a plain barber! There’s another intriguing piece of evidence that might support that possibility. William Sandiver 1, the later apprentice of Wotton Braham, appears to have been a close relative of the Rabys, and half-brother to the interestingly named Raby Sandiver. In fact it’s quite possible that William Raby the younger, the barber-surgeon, was the step great uncle of William Sandiver 1. Moreover, the father of William Sandiver 1 appears to have been closely involved with the administration of both William Rabys’ wills at the very time that William Sandiver 1 was working with Wotton Braham (see details further below).
The other thing to consider is that at the turn of the century, after the death of Thomas Fraser in 1696, there was no-one else providing surgical services in Newmarket as far as we know until the arrival of Wotton Braham (except perhaps Thomas Searancke 1 the apothecary, which is possible, since his son Thomas Searancke 2 was both a surgeon and apothecary).
Raby was a prevalant name in Newmarket at this time, so it’s quite difficult, perhaps impossible, to work out a clear family tree for them all. However, William Raby the younger was probably the William son of Richard Rabie baptised at St Mary’s church in Newmarket on 24th October 1647. This would be about right for what was almost certainly his marriage to Margaret Oawen at nearby Barrow in 1675 (both are described as ‘of Newmarket’) – he would have been in his late 20s and we know from his will that his wife was called Margaret. The deed and lease referred to above would then have been in his late 30s / early 40s, again perhaps what would be expected. Interestingly, both of these documents were witnessed by his uncle, who signed his name as ‘William Raby sen’ (i.e. senior), crossing both of the lls so that his name looks like Wittiam. The next time the younger William Raby is referred to is in the uncle’s will written in 1705, in which ‘Wittiam Raby sen’ signed his name in the same characteristic way, and in which a key beneficiary and his executor was ‘my nephew William Raby’.
This uncle’s will is key to the link between the Rabys and the Sandivers referred to above, since ‘Wittiam Raby sen’ (otherwise referred to as ‘the Elder Gent’ in the will) also mentions his ‘cousin Dennis wife of John Sandover’ (Dennis being equivalent to the modern Denise, and cousin meaning near relative; he refers to his great nieces as ‘cousins’ in the same will). This must be John and Dionysia Sandiver (the origin of the name Denise is the Greek Dionysus). They had several children baptised at St Mary’s church in Newmarket between 1702 and 1709, including Raby Sandiver in 1703. He is also mentioned in the will (as Raby Sandover son of Dennis), and both were significant beneficiaries. Dionysia died in 1710, from which point a John Sandiver (presumably the same one) started having further children by a new wife Mary – their marriage appears to have been at All Saints in 1711 (John Sandever of St Mary’s and Mary Disbuyrow). Their offspring included William Sandiver baptised on 9th September 1713, who must be William Sandiver 1 the later medic, who died aged 56 in 1769 (1769 – 56 = 1713) and who we know from his apprenticeship record to Wotton Braham was the son of John. If Dennis/Dionysia Sandiver were a great niece of William Raby the elder then this would be the right generation from a medical history point of view also, since she would then be two generations down from William Raby the elder, so likewise her son Raby (and William Sandiver 1) would be two generations down from William Raby the younger, the barber-surgeon. If Dennis/Dionysia were a daughter of one of this William Raby’s siblings, it would make Raby Sandiver his great nephew and William Sandiver 1 his step great nephew. So, as mentioned above, it’s quite possible that William Raby the younger, the barber-surgeon, was the step great uncle of William Sandiver 1. Even more intriguingly, both the will of ‘Wittiam Raby sen’ and his namesake barber-surgeon nephew have a Latin footnote written on them dated 5th May 1730 referring to ‘Johannes Sandifer’ as if he had in some sense become involved in the administration of both much earlier wills. This is very interesting, since Raby Sandiver died in 1728 (when he would have been about 25 years of age, and as far as we know unmarried). Perhaps it had fallen upon John Sandiver his father to administer in some sense the estate of both William Raby’s? This would have been quite a task, since the older William Raby the ‘Gent’ in particular had a huge estate, including property and lands in Newmarket, Woodditton and Freckenham, and his will is extraordinarily complex, but it appears Raby Sandiver would have inherited from it when 10/11 years of age. As mentioned above, from a Newmarket medical history point of view it’s fascinating that the father of William Sandiver 1 appears to have been so closely involved in the estate of William Raby the barber-surgeon and his uncle, and at the very time he was sorting this out William Sandiver 1 was working with Wotton Braham the surgeon, who had tuned up in town right on cue to fill the gap left by the death of William Raby the younger.
Sadly he died just 2 months after the probate of his uncle’s will, when he would probably have been 66 years of age if the date of his baptism above is correct. In his own will of December 1713, written less than a month before he died, he left his entire estate to his wife Margaret, which after her death was to be passed on to his nieces Elizabeth and ffrances (also mentioned in his uncle’s will above, where they are described as the ‘daughters of my nephew Richard Raby’, showing that he had a brother Richard who pre-deceased him – in fact in 1702. Richard mentions his daughters Elizabeth and ffrances in his will too, so they feature in the wills of both Williams and Richard, clarifying the relationship between all three).
It’s also of interest that the older William Raby appears with his very characteristic signature (minus the ‘sen’.) on the inventory of Dennis Raby in 1675 (the inventory of her possessions after her death). Her will made the same year (in which she has a different surname – see references below) mentions her sons William and Richard Raby, i.e. William Raby senior and his brother Richard, the father of William Raby the younger. We have seven specimens of William Raby the elder’s signature (on his mother’s will and inventory, on the 1684 deed, the 1687 lease, and three times on his own will. Six of them are identical with the crossed ‘ll’ and a very characteristic ‘R’. It’s quite a sharp signature with a degree of flair, perhaps as would be expected of a barber(surgeon?). His signature on the 1687 lease has the characteristic crossed ‘ll’ and is the same as the others except the construction of the ‘R’ is a little different. It’s more like the ‘R’ of William Raby the younger, but he was witnessing the document of ‘Willm Raby the younger of Newmarkett… Barber Chirurgeon’ and included the ‘senr’ differentiator, so this must be the uncle, perhaps experimenting with a different type of R (?) – perhaps copying his nephew? We all experiment with our signatures at times, and it’s otherwise quite clearly his.
The signature of William Raby the younger appears on both the 1684 deed and his 1713 will and despite the 1/4 century time difference between the two they are remarkably similar, especially the construction of the ‘R’, which as mentioned above is different from that of his uncle. However, the 1713 will signature is quite shaky and involves two false starts, one just ‘Wi’ smudged, then another false start ‘Wi’, before he starts again underneath and finally signs. Presumably he was ill – he was buried within 3 weeks of signing. Both times, in contrast to his uncle, he signs his name ‘Will Raby’, rather than the full William, so presumably he was known as Will. Interestingly in 1684 he crosses the double ‘ll’ like his uncle, but in 1713 he doesn’t. It seems that Will and Margaret had no children of their own, surviving at least. None are recorded in the Newmarket registers.
The younger William Raby, the known barber-surgeon, would have been working from perhaps the 1660s until his death in 1714. As already mentioned, it seems likely that he was an apprentice to and then worked alongside his uncle in their barbers’ shop, with perhaps only William Raby junior doing surgical procedures in the 1680s at least, or perhaps they both did? If so, the medical aspect to their practice might have gone back to the 1640s or 50s when Nicholas Searle was a barber-surgeon in town. It’s possible they succeeded Nicholas Searle in this role. The William Rabys would have been contemporaries of Frances Greene then Lambert Greene the apothecaries and later the Greenes’ relative Thomas Fraser the surgeon. They would also have been contemporaries of Gilman the apothecary, and later in life would have overlapped with the early career of Thomas Searancke 1 as mentioned above. The population of Newmarket was starting to become large enough in the second half of the 17th century to support several flavours of medic it seems, whose roles probably overlapped and complemented one another, but who to some extent were probably in competition with one another. Some, like the William Rabys, obviously derived part of their income from non-medical means, in their case including barbering and farming. However, on their deaths any medical role the William Rabys were fulfilling might well have been taken on by Wotton Braham the surgeon.
Note: as mentioned above, the name Raby was common in Newmarket in the 17th century, so presumably completely unconnected from the above (except they probably were all related) it’s interesting that William Harvey had a servant called John Raby. Perhaps he recruited him during one of his trips to Newmarket in his capacity as physician to James I then Charles I?
Image 1: An oil painting of barber-surgeons operating on what looks like a sebaceous cyst on the patient’s forehead, from the Wellcome Collection; image used under CC BY 4.0, reproduced with kind permission of the Wellcome Collection. [Note: click here for the source.]
Image 2: A 1684 deed declaring uses of a fine, reference 326/26 (cropped – red annotations mine); image ©, reproduced with kind permission of the Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds.
Image 3: Diagram drawn in 2019, by the author of talkingdust.net.
Note: see comments regarding images and copyright © etc. on the Usage &c. page as well.
1647, 24th October: William son of Richard Rabie baptised, St Mary’s church, Newmarket. Reference: J502/16, microfilm of archdeacon’s transcripts, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: the microfilm of the original register (J552/9) is barely legible but it is with the help of the microfilm of the archdeacon’s transcript, which is much clearer.]
1656, 20th June: John Raby servant to Dr Harvey witness to a land transaction. Reference: RCP-LEGAC/SR/11A/6, Royal College of Physicians of London. Summary obtained from http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/rd/f3856876-43f7-4c4c-ab83-7ca29555e6ad (accessed 24th January 2015).
1656, 28th December: John Raby mentioned as servant of William Harvey, and a beneficiary of and witness to his will. Reference: Willis W. The works of William Harvey, M.D… translated from the Latin with a life of the author. London: Printed for the Sydenham Society; 1847.
1675, 4th July: William Raby married Margarett Oawen, Barrow (includes the comment ‘both of Newmarket’). Reference: Microfiche of Barrow parish register (fiche 3), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1675, 17th July: The will of Dennis Warren, (probate 28th October 1675), mentions her sons William and Richard Raby. Reference: IC500/1/127(79) (original and probate) and R2/66/203 (registered copy and probate, on microfilm J545/39), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1675, 27th October: Inventory of Dennis Raby. Reference: IC500/3/16(93), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: Dennis is called Warren in her will above, and Raby on the inventory of her possessions made after her death by her son William Raby (the elder) with his characteristic signature. Likely she had remarried and acquired the surname Warren, but William used his surname (and her earlier surname) on the inventory.], [Note also, the date of the inventory is one day before the probate of the will.]
1684, 21st June: Deed declaring uses of a fine mentions ‘William Raby the younger of Newmarket… Barber Chirurgion’. Reference: 326/25&26, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: see image above], [Note also, this was witnessed by ‘William Raby sen’.]
1687, 1st November: Lease of some arable land for a year by ‘Willm Raby the younger of Newmarkett… Barber Chirurgeon’. Reference: HB517/A/17, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: this was witnessed by ‘William Raby sen’.]
1702, 28th November: The will of Richard Raby, in which he mentions his daughters Elizabeth and ffrances (probate 15th December 1702). Reference: IC500/1/156(110), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1702, 14th December: Richard Raby burried, St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Reference: J562/69, microfilm transcript, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1703, 5th February: Raby son of John and Dionysia Sandiver baptised, St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Reference: J552/9, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1705, 28th November: The will of William Raby senior, in which he’s referred to as ‘the Elder Gent’, ‘my nephew William Raby’ was a key beneficiary and executor, and in which he mentions his ‘cousin Dennis wife of John Sandover’ and Raby Sandover son of Dennis, both of whom were also significant beneficiaries (probate 17th November 1713). Reference: IC500/1/167(81), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: ‘cousin’ here does not necessarily refer to a cousin in the modern sense of the word, since he also refers to his ‘cousins Elizabeth Raby and ffrances Raby Daughters of my nephew Richard Raby dead’ (see 1702 above).], [Note also, there is a Latin footnote written on this will dated 5th May 1730 referring to ‘Johannes Sandifer’ as if he had in some sense become involved in the administration of the will – see also his nephew’s will in 1713 below.]
1709, 20th April: Assignment of a mortgage to ‘William Raby the Elder of Newmarket aforesaid Barber’. Reference: HB510/1/9/6, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1710, 8th June: Dionysia wife of John Sandiver burried, St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Reference: J562/69, microfilm transcript, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: the original register appears very damaged on the microfilm J552/9, which was taken after the J562/69 transcript was made, when it was apparently in better condition. The contemporary ‘bishop’s transcript’ is torn, but reads, ‘Dianisha ye wife of John Sa’. Reference: J520/41, microfilm of archdeacon’s transcripts, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).]
1711, 9th May: ‘John Sandifor of ye other parish widdower and Mary Disbuyrow of this parish single woman marid’. Reference: Microfiche of Newmarket All Saints’ parish register (fiche 1), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1713, 9th January: William son of John and Mary Sandiver baptised, St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Reference: J562/69, microfilm transcript, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: the microfilm of the original register (J552/9) is just about legible for this (see note below), on which William is abbreviated to ‘Wm’. The microfilm of the archdeacon’s transcript (J502/42) is legible and uses ‘Will’.]
1713, 23rd October: Mr* William Raby buried, All Saints, Newmarket. Reference: J562/69, microfilm transcript, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1713, 30th December: The will of William Raby, Barber, mentions his wife Margaret, and nieces Elizabeth and ffrances (probate 16th February 1714 – the original document says 1713, but this is our 1714 – see New Year change). Reference: IC500/1/167(36), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: as with his uncle’s will in 1705 above, there is a Latin footnote written on this will dated 5th May 1730 referring to ‘Johannes Sandifer’ as if he had in some sense become involved in the administration of the will.]
1714, 20th January: Mr* William Raby junior buried, All Saints, Newmarket. Reference: J562/69, microfilm transcript, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
1728, 17th January: Raby Sandiver buried, St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Reference: J552/9, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: this is on the 1727 part of the register – see New Year change.]
1728, 30th May: Tax paid regarding Will son of Jno Sandiver’s apprenticeship to Wotton Braham of Newmarket, surgeon. Indenture date 23rd February 1726. Reference: Online image of apprenticeship tax records held at The National Archives, ancestry.co.uk (accessed 27th March 2015).
1769, 4th February: William Sandiver 1 died, ‘in the 57th year of his age’ – i.e. aged 56. Reference: Memorial to William Sandiver Surgeon, St Mary’s church, Newmarket. [Note: this is in the base of the bell tower – and see the page on William Sandiver 1 for an image.]
* The use of ‘Mr’ seems particularly common with medics in the Newmarket registers, where some other notable people also have the title ‘Mr’ (as with both William Rabys here), but the vast majority have no title recorded. See also comments on The Greenes reference section.
Note: I have used transcript J562/69 for some references on this page and others. This is a transcript of the parish registers made about 1940. The early actual registers appear to have sustained significant damage between when the transcript was made and when the microfilm was taken, since many of the entries on the transcript are not readable on the later microfilm of the original. Where it is readable I have referenced the microfilm of the original. Where available I have used the microfilms of the archdeacon’s contemporary transcripts also if appropriate. These are referenced accordingly when used.
Microfilm transcripts of St Mary’s and All Saints’ parish records, Newmarket: Reference: J562/69, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
The research notes of Peter May. Reference: HD1584, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
The name meaning. Denise. https://www.thenamemeaning.com/denise/ (accessed 10th December 2018).
Suffolk Medical Biographies. Profile for Raby, William. http://www.suffolkmedicalbiographies.co.uk/Profile.asp?Key=2319 (originally accessed pre October 2013). [Note: at the time of writing, this website had only one reference to William Raby, the 1684 deed], [Note also, see comments regarding this website on the Francis Greene page.]
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.).