A Medical Officer for Bromsgrove Poor Law Union

This article originally appeared in Belbroughton Parish Magazine in August 2012.

This letter is held in the National Archives.  It has been placed online as a result of a project, in which Belbroughton and Clent History Societies took part, to catalogue correspondence between Poor Law Unions and the Poor Law Commissioners in London. 

Chaddesley Corbett, Nr /Kidderminster

13 December 1836

To The Poor Law Commissioners

Gentlemen I have taken the liberty of laying before you the following case and request the favour of your opinion thereon.

The Board of Guardians of the Bromsgrove Poor Law Union advertised for Medical Gentlemen, legally qualified to practise, to apply for the different Districts, accordingly three applied for the Bellbroughton and Hagley District – Mr Bloxham of Halesowen and myself, both legally qualified, and although the Guardians were made acquainted with the fact – elected the third to fill the office, whose name I believe is Mr Hobbes [Jonathan Ian Hobbes].  His non-qualification consists in his not being a licentiate of Apothecaries Hall, nor having been in practice before 1815.  He certainly possesses a Diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons, but that gives him no power to dispense medicines and charge for them which he must do under the terms of the Guardians, and his salary will be a proof of payment.  I believe he has promised to pass his examination at Apothecaries Hall, but I ask – have the Guardians acted legally or properly in the election they have made?  I also question whether the appointed Medical Officer will have an opportunity of being examined, if prepared, before the 25th inst [25th Dec], when he must enter upon the duties of his office.  The election took place yesterday.

Edward Jackson

In a separate letter, Mr Jackson wrote:

Thus I contend and aver that Mr Hobbes on his appointment to the Union, was no more ‘licensed’ to practise as a ‘medical man’ … than his horse, supposing him to have one.

Can it be viewed in any other light than as grossly insulting to Mr Bloxham and myself, when the Board of Guardians … advertised for ‘duly licensed medical men’ to offer for the Districts, and when such candidates did offer, to argue the Board into the belief that a promise to become licensed was equal to being licensed and in conformity with the 109th section of the Poor Law Act, and lastly to appoint one not duly licensed.

It is interesting to note that Hobbes was duly elected, and re-elected in 1839 and 1842, at a salary of £50 pa plus 10s for each mid-wifery case.

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