Heritage 31b Bejamin Gooch

No. 31b                      Benjamin Gooch

Gooch, born in 1708 the son of the rector of Ashwellthorpe, was Norfolk’s foremost physician of the time. He had studied at the London schools and hospitals, returning to Norfolk to be apprenticed to Robert Bransby, the GP at Hapton. Later they both moved to Shotesham, and Gooch married Bransby’s daughter, and succeeded to the practice when Bransby died. When Gooch was 23 he became friendly with William Fellowes who was known as “the Man of Shotesham”. Fellowes was an enlightened man, introducing to the village such things as public baths and the old people’s home. They combined their skills and built up a small cottage hospital complex where Gooch acquired much of his surgical skill and developed a reputation, which spread locally, nationally and internationally. He also became the writer of internationally renowned books.

Gooch was also famed for his comments on bladder stones from which he suffered himself and in 1758 was commissioned to tour the London hospitals and prepare a report with a view to building a hospital in Norwich. This project was allowed to lapse but 12 years later the idea was revived by William Fellowes and Gooch was appointed the first consulting surgeon in 1771 although he never performed an operation there due to ill-health and age. His practice at Shotesham was carried on by his son-in-law. Only one grand­child survived into adult life. Baptised Benjamin after his grandfather, he went on to become a soldier and diplomat. Port Natal in South Africa was renamed after him: it became Durban, after his surname D’Urban.