Advanced search

Help me find this amazing historical woman

(50 Posts)
SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Fri 17-Jan-14 11:48:04

I've been intrigued by this distant relative for years. If the record is right, she must have been one of the earliest female doctors in England, right next to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.

But I cannot, cannot find a single thing about her after 1871.

Her name is Mary Jones HUME, and she was born c1840 in St Helens, Lancashire.

Her father, Alexander HUME, born Scotland 1793, worked as a Wesleyan missionary in Ceylon until he settled in England in 1830. Her mother, Emma JONES, was born in New York in 1807, and married her father in St Helens in 1838. She also has a brother Henry who comes and goes between Manchester and Australia. So it's a well-travelled family.

In the 1871 census, Mary is living with her parents at Brougham House, 120 York St (now Cheetham Hill Rd, cnr with Knowsley St), Manchester, under her married name Mary JH TURNER, with her son Henry Edward TURNER b1860 Manchester. Her husband Stephen Balfour TURNER b1828 is living with another woman, and dies a few years later.

Her occupation is given as "Doctor of Medicine".

And then after this tantalising snippet... she disappears!

Where to? What did she do next? And intriguingly, where did she train in medicine?

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 21:04:16

moonbells, you star! I've just checked and bet that is indeed be her birth you found! (Not the only FreeBMD omission I've recently seen corrected recently.)

Not that that gets me anywhere, as I already know where she came from: it's where she went to that's the mystery! And where she qualified.

In the 1861 census, she's married and living in Manchester with Stephen and son Henry. Can she really have qualified between 1861 and 1871? Is the whole thing a ghastly error by a census clerk?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 27-Jan-14 21:08:38


I can't help, but I love this sort of thread :-)

HumpheadWrasse Mon 27-Jan-14 21:38:45

From my understanding - which is a bit shaky - there weren't any qualified female doctors after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson until 1876ish? I think a ruling was passed saying they couldn't take degrees?
In which case the two scenarios for your doctor of medicine in 1871 are 1) unfortunately it is an error/mis-transcription - or even a joke (women being allowed to become doctors would be a contemporary topic of debate) or 2) given her well-travelled family, your relative qualified in another country.

mummytime Mon 27-Jan-14 21:43:59

I though several early female doctors qualified in Switzerland.

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 21:46:55

Darn those blanks!

UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 Passenger Lists View Image
Name: Mary Turner
Birth: year
Departure: date - city, England
Destination: city, Canada

UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 Passenger Lists View Image
Name: Mary J Turner
Departure: date - city, England
Destination: city, USA

MrsCakesPremonition Mon 27-Jan-14 22:13:24

I found this book produced by the Manchester Medical Society. The preview has too much missing to know is Mary is mentioned, although they definitely seem to have records for the period.

It might be worth contacting the society to see what might be in their archives. Here's their website.

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 22:25:53

The Edinburgh seven were still fighting for the right to become Drs in the early 1870s, the law changed in 1876: "In 1876 new legislation enabled, but did not compel, examining bodies to treat candidates of both sexes equally." (wikipedia) so it's probably likely that Mary became a Dr after the death of her husband unless she went overseas to train. She would have been seen as quite old, 40-ish by then.

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 22:27:52

... but that doesn't explain the 1871 census. Argh! You have given me a puzzle and a half, Surely

ps love the name. Appreciated by this particular physicist!

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 22:28:52

Sorry Humphead that was a terrible crosspost of mine, didn't read previous posts properly!

ancientbuchanan Mon 27-Jan-14 22:34:31

Check Scotland, Glasgow and Ebro.

( EGA, married a great great great uncle).

HeeHiles Mon 27-Jan-14 22:47:12

This is fascinating - Hope you discover more about Mary - Women weren't awarded degrees until the 1940's shock

MrsCakesPremonition Tue 28-Jan-14 01:29:54

This transcript of the residents in York Street in 1884, shows an Alex Hume working as a dentist living in Brougham House. Perhaps a younger brother? He seems to be a witness at his sister, Margaret Hill Hume's wedding (conducted by their father Alexander) here.

Interestingly, it also lists a "clinical hospital and dispensary for children" in York Street - perhaps Mary was working there? I've found a reference to it opening in May 1867. And Alex is listed as Hon. Dentist to the Hospital in 1884, so there appears to be a family connection.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Tue 28-Jan-14 09:10:31

That's exactly right, MrsCakes. The family in Manchester consisted of:

Rev Alexander HUME 1793-1876
his wife Emma née JONES c1897-1882
their children
– Mary Jones HUME c1840
– Henry HUME 1841-1939
– Alexander HUME 1842-1911
– Margaret Hill HUME 1847-1901
– Edward HUME 1849-1860

The Rev Alex also had a surviving daughter, Sarah HUME c1826-1891, from his first marriage in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). His first wife, Sarah Rebecca Ladbrook FULLER, and at least one child died there in 1829.

They're a fascinating family.

Alex jr, as you say, became a dentist.

The children's dispensary looks interesting. Methodists were a huge force for social support and "bettering oneself" in Victorian Manchester, and the Humes' extended family were involved in schools, Sunday Schools, church committees (esp the Victoria Wesleyan Methodist Chapel where Margaret marries) and local politics, for several generations. A dispensary in York St - a strongly Methodist and Jewish corner of the city - was likely to have Methodist fingerprints all over it. I shall investigate further.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Tue 28-Jan-14 09:28:58

Sarah HUME c1826-1891, Rev Alex's eldest surviving child of whom I know, married a chap called Alfred George Edwin MORTON born c1821, who became mayor of Chelmsford. He had an iron foundry manufacturing agricultural machinery, and has several patents for improvements to machinery.

Sarah and her daughter in law Charlotte Frances née BOUSFIELD were very active in with the British Women's Temperance Association and Charlotte's very readable diaries have been published as The Bousfield Diaries: A Middle-Class Family in Late Victorian Bedford. (Sarah features as "Mrs Morton".)

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Tue 28-Jan-14 11:47:19

Sorry, it's really freaky doing this at the moment.

Family history is usually my relaxing distraction, but between starting the thread and the first reply, my dad has died unexpectedly.

I'm up to my neck dealing with the coroner, and registration, and funeral, and wills, and saying things like, "It's reasonable to compensate executors, because Rev Alex's bro George did this in his will of 1876."

And it's just dawned on me I need to call the coroner's office again, as they didn't get his profession exactly right and that's going to be Him now in the documentation forever. When someone looks him up in 2114, that's what they'll read.

HeeHiles Tue 28-Jan-14 12:15:59

So sorry about your dad x

moonbells Tue 28-Jan-14 12:25:06

I am sorry about your dad too. Take care.

nervousgulp Tue 28-Jan-14 12:36:33

I'm so sorry about your dad. I hope you are OK and have some RL support.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 28-Jan-14 14:41:21

So sorry to hear about your dad. Best of luck with dealing with all the paperwork - I hope it all goes smoothly and doesn't become any harder than it needs to be xxx

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Thu 30-Jan-14 21:03:42

Thanks all. This thread will be tasty treat to come back to in a little while.

ElizabethMedora Tue 15-Jul-14 21:59:13

How has your hunt progressed?

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Wed 20-Aug-14 09:05:05

Thanks for asking, Elizabeth, and sorry I've only just noticed.

Embarrassingly, I've done nothing on this since January. Sorting out my dad's stuff is still taking up a lot of time, and I've also been diverted from DP's part of the tree to my own.

It's one of those stupid ironies that, after years doing other people's trees, I had finally sat down to do my direct line, and had actually arranged - and then postponedsad - going to stay with my dad to go through family papers.

Anyway, the flurry of contact with far-flung family, which happens when someone dies, has also prompted a sharing of photos and stories. So I'm capturing and sharing as much as I can, before we lose anyone else.

It's not nice to have failed to do this before dad went. He doesn't get to enjoy my discoveries, and to share how things fit with his memories.

But I do want to come back to Dr Hume eventually. Though as I've just discovered that, no word of a lie, we're actually illegitimate descendants of someone rich and famous in the C19th, whose exploits could do with a book written about them, it could be some time...

WinifredTheLostDenver Mon 08-Sep-14 22:53:21

Sorry about your dad flowers hope the paperwork is getting there.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Tue 09-Sep-14 09:38:58

Thanks, Winifred. Actually had a paperwork breakthrough yesterday, so getting there.

I can't devote time to Dr Hume for a while yet, so if anyone wants to grab this thread and run with it - go for it!

cdtaylornats Fri 23-Jan-15 22:52:50

You could try the various Slaters and Post Office directories for Manchester which are accessible here

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now