Benjamin Gooch, founder of the N&N

Benjamin Gooch and the Cottage Hospital (This article was originally published on the old Shotesham website, now closed down) (c) Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation In t

Painting by Thomas Bardwell, can be seen in the N&N. Courtesy of BBC website

The churchyard of Shotesham All Saints, just below the East window, there is a little collection of five graves, whose inscriptions read as follows: Sacred to the memory of Benjamin Gooch, surgeon, who departed this life February 11th 1776 aged 68 years. Also of Elizabeth his wife who departed this life November 21st 1784 aged 74 years. Sacred to the memory of Shute D’Urban, the son of John D’Urban MD who departed this life January 18th 1776 aged 15 years. Also of Dorothea D’Urban who departed this life 28th November 1785 aged 13 years. Sacred to the memory of John D’Urban who departed this life October 16th 1782 aged 61 years. Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth wife of John D’Urban MD late of this parish who died January 1st 1810 aged 74 years. Sacred to the memory of Flite relict of John D’Urban MD late of this parish. Died 1st January 1810 aged 74 years. His forebears Henry Gooch, Benjamin’s grandfather, was a farmer at Wrenningham in Norfolk. His name appears several times in the Wrenningham register as church guardian. He married Elizabeth who bore him a son Benjamin in 1668. His birth appears in the 1670 register as follows: “Benjamin, the son of Henry Gooch and Elizabeth his wife was born on the third day of September and was baptised in the same month 1668 but was forgotten to be placed in the right place”. Henry’s son Benjamin was admitted to Caius College Cambridge at the age of sixteen in 1685. He was ordained as a priest at Norwich on 22 may 1690. He was the Rector of Ashwellthorpe in Norfolk from 1693 until his death on 25 March 1728. His signature as Rector appears in the Ashwellthorpe registers for the years 1694-1705. In 1695, 1697 and 1699 his wife Anne Phyllis gave birth to three daughters Mary, Elizabeth and Anne, their names appear in the Ashwellthorpe and Carleton Forehoe registers. A son was baptised Benjamin twice, first on 20 June 1700 at Ashwellthorpe and again at Carleton Forehoe on the 29th. He died and was buried a month later 29 July 1700 at Ashwellthorpe. Perhaps he was so poorly at birth that he was baptised in a hurry, undergoing the full ceremony later. On 26th March 1701 another Benjamin was born. The following day he was buried with his mother Elizabeth at Carleton Forehoe Church. She had died in childbirth. Benjamin soon married again. No record of his marriage to Sarah has been located and she only appears once in the records, in her husband’s will of 1728. Her grave has not been found. Benjamin chose to be buried with his first wife at Carleton Forehoe, when he died on the 27th anniversary of her death in 1728. Another Benjamin was born on 11 November 1708. He was to live to become a famous surgeon and founder of the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital.  His early life Not much is known about Gooch’s early life. He studied at the London schools and hospitals, returning to Norfolk to be apprenticed to Robert Bransby the general practitioner at Hapton. Later they both moved to Shotesham. When Bransby died in 1748 Gooch succeeded to the practice. He practised from his home Dukes Head, which still stands. “I practised for more than thirty years in a country situation with a large circle of business where I was obliged to act in the capacity of a physician as well as a surgeon” Gooch married Bransby’s daughter Elizabeth. By this marriage he acquired many medical relatives. Elizabeth’s second cousin Maria Susannah Bransby of Shottesham married the Rev Samuel Cooper (1740-1800) who was the son of a successful apothecary and the brother of William Cooper surgeon at Guy’s Hospital from 1783-1800. One of their sons was Astley Cooper (1768-1841) born at Brooke three miles from Shottesham. Sir Astley Cooper, as he later became, was eight when Gooch died so the professional paths of these related surgeons did not cross. Another medical relative was the Rev Thomas Havers, the celebrated lithotomist, who married the aunt of Bransby’s wife.  The Cottage Hospital at Hawes Green, Shotesham Gooch became friendly with William Fellowes (1706-1775), the philanthropic squire of Shotesham known as “The Man of Shotesham”. Together with the one’s philanthropy and money and the other’s surgical skills they established a cottage hospital in Shotesham for the benefit of the sick and the needy of the neighbourhood. The year in which William Fellowes erected the Shotesham Infirmary is not known. He purchased the estate on which it was built in 1731 from the D’Oyley family. The first dated reference was made by Gooch in 1754. Describing a case in 1756 Gooch wrote that this was admitted “into Mr Fellowes’ Infirmary at Shotesham which I had use of then and afterwards, as long as my health permitted”. The hospital buildings stand to this day. Local tradition has named them the “Red House”, “The Doctor’s House”, “The Hospital”, “The Nurses’ Home”, “The Mortuary” and “The Mad House”. The latter because inside there is a wooden rail partition which may have been a lunatic’s cage. It is doubtful that such a structure could restrain a man, it is more likely that it was a store room. It has been discovered that the rafters are longitudinal rather than the more usual transverse arrangement. Also one of the rear windows is made from seventeenth century spun glass. Perhaps Fellowes adapted an existing building for his hospital. There is no map of the district prior to 1776 and no record of the Hawes Green Hospital in the Fellowes papers recently deposited at the Norfolk Record Office.  Benjamin Gooch’s Chirurgical Works At Shotesham Hospital Benjamin Gooch acquired much of his surgical skill and developed a reputation which spread locally, nationally and internationally. His ill health provided him with the time and opportunity to write his books which soon became renowned. Gooch wrote his books for the benefit of young surgeons of the day. He dedicated one of his volumes, Cases and Practical Remarks in Surgery (1758), to William Fellowes: “It was your erecting an Infirmary for the benefit of the poor which gave me an opportunity of making some of the following observations in surgery, and when the opinion of my friends inclined me to publish them a sense of my obligations to you called for this profession of my gratitude”. He published two volumes of a second edition in 1766. The second was a revised version of Cases and Practical Remarks in Surgery. The first entitled ‘A Practical Treatise on Wounds and Other Chirurgical Subjects to which is Prefixed a Short Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Surgery and Anatomy, Addressed to Young Surgeons’. It contains mainly information on wounds and fractures but also chapters on trepanning, the use of sutures, the treatment of aneurysms, how to open a dead body and embalming. A third volume was published in 1773 “as an appendix to them”. This he dedicated to the Governors of the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital “a testimony of the honour done me in electing me as consulting surgeon”. One case which he mentions tells of a parson who fell off a runaway horse and fractured his skull. Eleven days afterwards Gooch trepanned his skull to let out the pus. The parson recovered and lived for some years. He also describes operating successfully on cancerous breasts. “The utmost attention should be paid to the eradication of every diseased glandular substance that can possibly be discovered, be it ever so small, and not leave any in the axilla; and when the operation shall be thought advisable, even when there is some adhesion of the tumour to the pectoral muscle, it is certainly right to dissect off a considerable portion of that along with it”. The book also contains a description of an outbreak of mumps. Gooch and Bladder Stones Gooch’s accounts of bladder stones are of particular interest, for with John Harmer of Norwich he was the leading lithotomist of the first half of the eighteenth century, when bladder stone was more common in Norfolk than elsewhere in the country. There is an account of a stone removed by John Harmer in 1746 at which Gooch assisted (Norwich Gazette, 14/7/1746 2071/2). “On Sunday last (June 8th) was cut for the stone by Mr John Harmer surgeon in this city, John Howse, a gardener from Poringland aged 48 years, from whom he extracted a stone of prodigious magnitude; measuring 12 inches one way and eight the other and weighed upwards of fourteen and a half ounces; and is said to be the largest ever extracted from any person who recovered the operation, as this man is likely to do, not yet having had a bad symptom” and a week later “John Howse …… is in a final way of recovery and is judged to be out of danger. Mr Harmer has cut for the stone upwards of 170 persons, and that with as much success as any man living, but never extracted one so large before.” (Norwich Gazette 21/7/1746) John Harmer is buried in Stoke Holy Cross churchyard, his monument bears carvings of his lithotomy instruments. Gooch says of the operation “It was found impracticable to extract the stone through a wound of common size, which the operator had made, or to break it by the force of the forceps, therefore at his desire I divided the parts occasionally, as he continued gentle extraction. The stone was of hard texture and was covered by a substance like spar of a considerable thickness on many parts of its surface.” The wound remained in a foul and bad condition and was made worse by the continued wetting of urine which prevented applications from healing it. The poor unhappy sufferer’s secret of how he managed to survive is revealed next. He tempted a little favourite dog to lick the parts. It became such a habit for the little dog that whenever his master laid down and uncovered them he immediately set to work with his tongue; this gave the sufferer a pleasing sensation; “As long as he lived his dog was his surgeon” , and the wound kept tolerably clean and easy “to his great comfort and satisfaction” as he often told Gooch. Gooch was most inventive, devising many instruments, splints and so on to help him in his everyday work. by Dr G Clayton