THE GRAHAMS AND MISS HICKS
(WOODCOTE END HOUSE)

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


The Grahams

Portrait of Dr Thomas John Graham
Portrait of Dr Thomas John Graham
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Dr Thomas John Graham was born in about 1795 in London and graduated from Glasgow University; he received his MD in 1828, although he had already written and published one of the most popular and well-received books on medical matters for the domestic reader.

Dr Graham was a surgeon in Cheltenham when he married Susannah Horsman on 16 July 1821. Susannah was originally from Llandaff, Glamorgan, born in about 1792, but she had been resident in Southampton before her marriage. In the 1830s the couple moved to Woodcote End House, Epsom, where they remained until their deaths.

Mrs Susannah Graham
Mrs Susannah Graham
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Dr Graham held a licence to take in private mental patients at his house, although it seems there were only ever one or two present. One of these ladies was Caroline Matilda Dawson, born 1800 London, the daughter of William and Sophia (née Aufrère) Dawson. She was admitted to Woodcote End House as a lunatic on 2 June 1847 and died there on 10 March 1878. The Dawsons were a well-to-do family and William was a second cousin to Sophia. The Dawson daughters were apparently wildly attractive and romantic and moved in very high (e.g. royal) society, so I am not sure how Caroline came to grief, but it may have had something to do with the death of her widowed mother in 1845.

Dr Graham's most popular book, 'Modern Domestic Medicine', ran to about a dozen editions, and a notable copy of it is held by the Brontë Museum at Haworth, the reason being that it is heavily annotated by the Brontë family and is alleged to have been used by Charlotte as a reference for the medical matters in 'Jane Eyre'. We assume that the insane Mrs Rochester in the attic at Thornfield Hall was a creation of Charlotte's literary imagination, but commentators say that her description of the condition most probably drew on Dr Graham's book.

Image from the 1847 edition of Jane Eyre.
Image from the 1847 edition of Jane Eyre.
Drawing by F. H. Townsend

Title Page from Modern Domestic Medicine.
Title Page from Modern Domestic Medicine.
Image source Archive.org

'Modern Domestic Medicine' was not the only one of Dr Graham's publications. The following review appeared in The Atlas of 1 March 1829.
A Chemical Catechism; in which the Elements of Chemistry, with the recent Discoveries in the Science, are clearly and fully explained. Illustrated by Notes, Engravings and Tables; and containing an Appendix of Select Experiments, &c. By Thomas John Graham, M.D. Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, &c . London 1829.

EXCEPT MR PARKE'S Chemical Catechism, which is allowed by all scientific men to be an ill-arranged and incomplete work, we are not aware that we possess another publication of this nature; the necessity for a clear, progressive view of chemistry is obvious, and the want of such a treatise has long been felt by students. Dr. GRAHAM has well supplied the want. His book is systematic and comprehensive, perspicuous in its plan, and extensive in its compass. Unlike former analyses, it does not confound and complicate the various parts of the science, but ascends from the first principles and simple elements to the compound and illustrative branches of the study. It is eminently calculated to afford agreeable relaxation to the uninitiated, and to improve the knowledge of the learner.
There is evidence that Dr Graham's written works lived on for a long time, since the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 12 November 1890 (14 years after the doctor had died) advertised a 15-part reissue of a work on household medicine, based on his 'Modern Domestic Medicine' and the writings of others. The parts were to be issued monthly at a cost of sixpence each and the first part was to contain a free and valuable colour diagram of the human body. There's nothing new under the sun, is there! Even now they issue part-works containing objects (e.g. toy soldiers, components for a model of The Mallard locomotive), with the first few issues designed to draw you in and then you are required to subscribe.

We don't really know anything about Mrs Susannah Graham, but I imagine that she was good friends with Mary Hicks (see below) and running Woodcote End House must have been a considerable task, as it was a large and rambling property. Mrs Graham died in March 1870 at the age of 77 and was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Headley. Dr Graham joined her following his death on 28 October 1876, aged 80.


Miss Mary Hicks

Mary Hicks
Mary Hicks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Miss Hicks was live-in companion to the Grahams from at least 1841 until Dr Graham died in 1876. It is unclear what her exact role was in the household, but I doubt she was a nurse to the one or two patients who resided on the premises. I wonder if the Hicks family knew Mrs Graham, who had lived in Southampton at the time of her marriage. Mary was from Gosport, which is not that far away. It may be that Dr Graham was not at home some of the time (we know that he undertook regular consultations in London), and he must have spent many hours on his writing, so perhaps Mrs Graham was lonely or uncomfortable on her own with only the servants and patient(s).

Mary was born in Gosport on 9 September 1808; the family had close links with the village of West Meon, near Petersfield in Hampshire. Mary's father was Henry Hicks (1772-1855) and her mother was Jemima Roberts (1779-1846): they were married in Gosport on 5 December 1799. There were 11 children, some of whom died young. Henry was a commercial traveller and in the 1841 and 1851 censuses he lived in Kennington/Lambeth. One of Mary's younger sisters, Charlotte, was unmarried and lived with their parents until their deaths and then she gravitated back to West Meon, after a stint as a governess for a family who had homes in London and Yorkshire: she survived until 1902.

Charlotte Hicks
Charlotte Hicks
Image courtesy of Stephen Van Dulken © 2019

Another of Mary's younger siblings, James, was a GP in Newington, but lasted only until the age of 40, dying in 1858. I understand that family legend says he dropped dead whilst examining a patient, but that may be apocryphal.

James Hicks
James Hicks
Image courtesy of Stephen Van Dulken © 2019

It's interesting to note that the female offspring were fairly long-lived, whereas most of the males died as children - James lasted longer than any of the other boys.

There was another glass negative with the one of Mary in the Cuthbert Hopkins collection and this was labelled 'Miss Hicks' uncle'. It turns out to be Francis Hicks, brother of Henry, born around 1777. He was a solicitor in London from about 1803 until at least 1836 and was described in the 1851 census as a landed proprietor; his wife, Jane, had died as long ago as 1817. It was often the case that Cuthbert's customers took in a framed portrait or photograph of a deceased family member, probably borrowed from someone else in the family, so that he could take a new photograph of it and make prints. That will be what happened here.

This is Cuthbert's glass negative of the original. I have been wanting to show the raw state of an image (in most of Cuthbert's original glass negatives where he had a living subject there were all sorts of surrounds, such as tatty walls and doors, floorboards etc, and the webmaster has done the same sort of thing as Cuthbert did when making a final image - in Cuthbert's case, he would have masked off the unwanted portions and produced an actual photograph on card, which you could frame or stick in an album). However, because of the fragility and age of the original glass negatives - over 150 years in most cases - and the fact that they have changed hands over the years, they have acquired all kinds of blemishes, and cracks in some cases, which need to be cleaned up as far as is possible for website purposes, which is one of the many talents of our webmaster. So this is the raw image we have of Francis Hicks.

'Raw' photograph of Francis Hicks
'Raw' photograph of Francis Hicks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Retouched and trimmed photograph of Francis Hicks
Retouched and trimmed photograph of Francis Hicks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Francis died on 27 January 1861 at West Meon and, no doubt, this is why Mary took the picture in to the studio.

We have a second photo of Mary, which is 99% certain to be another one of Cuthbert's because we recognise the table and drapery. In this case we didn't have a glass negative but were allowed to use the final image for the purposes of this article.

Carte de Visite of Mary Hicks
Carte de Visite of Mary Hicks
Image courtesy of Stephen Van Dulken © 2019

Mary went back to Hampshire after Dr Graham died and settled in Winchester. She died at her home on 29 March 1879.

Linda Jackson 2019
With thanks to Stephen Van Dulken for his assistance with
images and information concerning the Hicks family.