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?

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 27-Jan-14 12:42:10

Were there medical schools in other countries that took women at that date? If it turned out there were a few you could see if they have her in their records.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 13:09:26

Ooh, that's a good idea, Tunip. Wimmin's herstory now being a "thing", they might be happy to help look for her.

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 27-Jan-14 13:12:10

She does sound totally intriguing. Do update if you find anything!
The thing about her being back with her parents while her husband is with another woman sounds like there's a story there, too.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 13:38:52

Also, let me type out her various names here, for Google.

Mary Jones Hume TURNER
Mary Jones TURNER

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 13:57:40

Oh I know, Tunip.

He's the only Stephen B TURNER in the Manchester census, and rather satisfyingly, there's a personal advert in the Manchester Guardian in December 1871 saying:

"If STEPHEN B. TURNER does not take his THINGS from 23, Lingard-street, Moss Side, they will be sold."

It's unsigned, alas, as I'm dying to know who wrote it! It's also the other side of town from the Humes, who all live in Cheetham Hill and Broughton, so not the marital home.

Looks like things are not going well for Mr Turner.

He dies in 1879 and gets a CofE burial: not one of the Wesleyan Methodist mafia brotherhood.

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 27-Jan-14 13:59:15

That ad is amazing! How on earth did you find it?

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 14:04:09

The Guardian's digital archive is a thing of wonder, and powerfully searchable. You can spend days frolicking in it!

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 14:42:20

It goes back to 1791, and of course the Guardian was a Manchester paper. It's awesome: Peterloo, the industrial revolution, Chartists, unions - all local news.

The WWI stuff is pitiful reading: not just death notices but adverts asking "does anyone have news of".

Also very hard are the situations wanted in the 1930s, along the lines of: "Educated couple, 36, speak English, German, French, seek positions as governess & gardener. Reply Box 203 Vienna." They can see it coming down the tracks towards them.sad

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 15:02:30

From the GMC website:

"Checking historical information in the Medical Register

The Medical Register was published in book form between 1859 and 2004. We have worked in partnership with genealogy company to make the majority of this information available online. has digitised every fourth register from 1859 to 1959. These are fully searchable and you can also view original register entries online. Please visit their website at for further information.
If you wish to consult an original copy of the Register, most large public libraries hold copies of it. Alternatively you can contact one of the UK and Irish copyright libraries (pdf). "

So you have a 25% chance of finding her on Ancestry. Sadly my sub lapsed years ago or I'd check...

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 15:06:01

I have indeed tried the Medical Register on Ancestry, although actually this is a good prompting to try again in case new years have been added.

Hang on.

scarfaceace Mon 27-Jan-14 15:10:55

Moonbells - I'm pretty sure that most public libraries have a subscription to Ancestry so you could always pop in for an hour if there are specific things you want to check.

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 15:17:30

Going back to births: is this her?

Births Jun 1839
Hume Mary Prescot 20711

Do you think this might be her? Can't check the wretched images, and the city's blanked because I'm not subbed but...

1891 England Census 1890s
Name: Mary J Turner
Birth: abt 1842 - city, Lancashire, England
Residence: 1891 - township, city, Yorkshire, England

Not sure however because of the 1842: I'd have thought a highly literate medic would get her birth year right!

moonbells Mon 27-Jan-14 15:19:05

Other one would be passenger listings to overseas? I know they've got a lot of those too.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 15:23:00

OK, she's not in the 1871 Medical Register under Turner or Hume. But I have just indulged myself by looking at Elizabeth Garrett's entry in the Register!

I'll have another look later, but am short of time just now.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 15:23:40

Haven't found anything helpful in the passenger listings, under either surname or using the name of her son.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 15:24:53

I've slogged away at Ancestry and a few others (FindMyPast?) over several years without getting any forrader, but of course new stuff does keep getting added.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 15:28:28

Hmm, I've had her down as this birth (as Scots in Manchester, they're often misspelt):

Births Sep 1841 (>99%)
Hulme Mary Prescot 20643

Not sure I knew about Mary Hume 1839, thank you moonbells. Shall have to explore further!

HauntedNoddyCar Mon 27-Jan-14 15:29:41

I assume you've checked for remarriage or death?
What about her son? Does he appear again?

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 27-Jan-14 15:51:58

Could the 'abt 1842' in the 1891 census be because someone else was answering on her behalf, if she wasn't in at the time, and they didn't know exactly?

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 15:57:45

Yep, unable to find remarriage or death (as HUME or TURNER).

Son Henry Edward isn't identifiable either. Can't remember off top of my head whether there are no possibles, or too many possibles, but think it's the latter. That includes Australian & American marriages & deaths, such as I can find them.

mummytime Mon 27-Jan-14 16:03:50

The abt is usual, because the Census asked how old people were, and then it calculates a rough year of birth. It is often out by a year because it was carried out in April and takes the age of that date and subtracts it from the year. (Also with illiterate/semi-literate people I'm not sure they kept too close a count on their children's ages, to be honest DH could get it wrong for our children - and my ancestors often had 10 or so, and copied names).

scarfaceace Mon 27-Jan-14 16:10:39

Spelling mistakes often happen too. Could Hume have been written as Home? Something like that? (I'm sure you've checked already though).

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

Hume/Hulme/Home/Hum/Hom are the main spellings.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Mon 27-Jan-14 17:36:30

The 1891 census "Mary J TURNER b1842" mentioned above definitely isn't her.

Join the discussion

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

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: