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North Tawton: Okehampton Poor Law Union Doctors


Although only 3 miles away from Bow, North Tawton formed part of the Okehampton Poor Law Union.

From May 1836, Medical Officers were appointed to No 3 District, comprising Bondleigh, Broadwoodkelly, Exbourne, Honeychurch, North Tawton, Sampford Courtenay and Spreyton.


Samuel Budd (1772-1841) was the first Medical Officer, appointed in 1836 when he was 64. He held this post until his death. See this link for more information.

Christian Budd (1813-1891) held this post after his father's death in 1841, until he fell out with the Poor Law Union and resigned in November 1842. He was reappointed when Dr Lane, his successor, resigned after a year in the post. He finally resigned in 1848 after his request for an increase in salary was refused  Link.

Charles Henry Butler Lane (1815-1853). Appointed in May 1843. He resigned after a year and moved to London.

Charles Drew (1826-1857). His parents farmed at Alfordon, between Okehampton and Sampford Courtenay. He was appointed in September 1848 and lived at Exbourne. He too fell out with Okehampton Union and resigned after less than two years. He moved to Wiveliscombe where he married Matilda Newton. He was a surgeon to the East India Company and also a botanist, sending plant samples from India to Kew Gardens. He died in Vellore aged 31 leaving a widow and two sons.

John Martin Birom (1819-1870). He was Medical Officer for about a year 1855-56. He had married Elizabeth Crossley Tharp in 1845. They had no children. He died in Topsham. His widow later married Rev John Arundell Leakey, Perpetual Curate of Topsham.

William Densham (1833-1872). He was born in Chulmleigh where his father was a saddler (and whose apprentice in 1827 was William Partridge Longman). He was appointed in 1856 on an annual salary of £50. The following year he married Mary Ann Turner Cole in Bideford. He died aged 40 in North Tawton.

John Deans (1839-1918). Born in Leicester, a vicar’s son, he married Jane Bousfied in 1871. After her death he came to North Tawton in about 1881 with his sister and his children. He resigned and left North Tawton in 1883. He gained an MD and in Bristol in 1889 married a nurse tutor, Mary Robinson. In about 1891 they settled in New Norfolk, Tasmania. She died in 1894. 4 years later he married Jeanne Gard. They then moved to Melbourne where he died aged 80 in 1918.