The Sanitary Condition of Malton 1854

It is perhaps difficult to imagine Malton without a system of sewage disposal, without drains and without a water supply other than pumps around the town. However a report in 1854, focuses on the then 'Sewerage, drainage, and supply of water, and the sanitary conditions of the inhabitants of the parliamentary borough of Malton' [1]
The inspector making the report concludes that the rate of mortality is excessive, that there is neither efficient sewage nor drainage; that their are many nuisances dangerous to health; that there is no public water supply; that there are covered cesspools attached to houses and that here are many nuisances arising from open cesspools, exposed middens, and from foul pigsties; that there are nuisances arising from slaughter-houses; that roads and lanes are unpaved; that many yards and courts are constructed so as to block out sunshine and fresh air; that many houses and rooms are most imperfectly ventilated so as to induce disease in excess; that preventable disease (fever) is common, and that the mortality from such disease is excessive and costly.
The recommendation of the report was to apply the Public Health Act 1848 to the parliamentary borough of New Malton and in consequence a Local Board of Health be created.
[1] Yorkshire Gazette, 15 July 1854

Nuisance Removal

On Wednesday 21 September 1853 the streets of Malton were placarded with notices calling on residents of the town to remove any nuisances which might arise on their premises. In response to the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act, the guardians had appointed Dr. Francis Borton medical inspector of nuisances. Hand-bills were also distributed inviting anyone with knowledge of a nuisance to report it to Dr. Borton [1] Joseph Rowlandson, tripe boiler, was summoned by the guardians of the Malton Union, for a nuisance caused by his keeping pigs on his premises. He pleaded guilty and promised to refrain in future [2].
[1] York Herald, 24 September 1853
[2] Yorkshire Gazette, 21 October 1854

Local Board of Health

Local boards of health assumed responsibility for street cleansing, paving, sewers and the slaughter-house. They appointed a treasurer, clerk, officer of health, surveyor and inspector of nuisances.
The legal creation of the Malton Local Board of Health is documented in issue 6437 of the Edinburgh Gazette, page 955 'The first election of said Local Board of Health should take place on the first day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four. At the first election, William Charles Copperthwaite, of The Lodge, Malton, was granted powers to perform all duties to ensure completion of the first elections.
The Malton Local Board of Health was abolished by the Local Government Act 1894 and became Malton Urban District Council.

The Dispensary

The annual meeting of subscribers to the Malton Dispensary held in January 1838 reported that ‘Patients admitted since the establishment in 1832, 2,294’ [1] – the same meeting reported the numbers of admissions, discharged, deaths, cured etc for 1837 together with a summary of the accounts, including an amount of £30 17s 6d spent on ‘drugs and leeches.’ Late in 1831 the Leeds Intelligencer carried an advertisement for an Apothecary 'Salary £50 per annum, with rooms at the Dispensary, Coals and Candles' [2]. It was at the top of Saville Street close to the junction with the Market Place (Ordnance Survey map 1850), and a predecessor of the cottage hospital. Newspapers carried summaries of the quarterly reports. One example for the quarter 1st January to 31st March 1842 told readers ‘Remaining at the last quarterly report, 42; admitted out-patients, 67; visited at their own home, 44; total 153. Discharged cured, 57; relieved, 9; time expired 23; dead, 5; remaining under treatment, 59.’ The report continues to give the names of the staff: ‘Physicians Dr. Travis and Dr. Boston; Surgeons – Messrs. Rymer and Teesdale; Apothecary – Mr. R. Meggison.’[3] There was a hint at the state of the finances of the Dispensary when in March 1854 a meeting was held at the Malton Institution on Friday March 24th of Subscribers to the Malton Dispensary. The aim was to derive means of placing the charity on a better footing following a report delivered by a committee appointed to investigate their affairs. Various economical suggestions were put forward and implemented to improve the financial state of the charity and to help self fund it a decision was made to charge adults 1/- and children under twelve 6d on presenting the ticket at the dispensary [4] The Dispensary appears to have been funded by donations and subscriptions. A popular supporter being a Mr. Aspland who ran a steam ‘switchback’ or mountain railway in the Market Place and made generous donations [5]. Early in 1895 a meeting was held to discuss the idea of Malton having a ‘Cottage Hospital’ [6] However, a year later, at the annual meeting of subscribers to the Malton Dispensary it was reported that ‘insufficient promises of support to the scheme of providing a new hospital had led the committee to suggest, as an alternative, that the present dispensary be re-arranged so as to provide a temporary accident ward ....’ [7]
[1] York Herald, 10 February 1838
[2] Leeds Intelligencer, 29 December 1831
[3] Yorkshire Gazette, 9 April 1842
[4] The Malton Messenger, 1 April 1854
[5] Yorkshire Gazette, 6 June 1891 and 24 November 1894
[6] York Herald, 14 January 1895
[7] Yorkshire Gazette, 7 March 1896

The Cottage Hospital

The Malton Cottage Hospital was opened by Countess Fitzwilliam on Friday 18th August, 1905 Prior to this time, in cases of serious injury, persons had to be conveyed to York before their injuries could be properly attended to. The building was previously known as Mount Pleasant and was situated off Greengage. It was let to the Committee by Earl Fitzwilliam at a nominal rent. It had an operating theatre, electric light installed as well as gas - one signatory commenting ‘that it compared very favourably with the streets of Malton at the present time’. It also had a mens ward and a women ward each with two beds, a spare room easily convertible into a third ward of two beds, plus matrons room, kitchen and bedroom with a laundry in the basement. The funding came from donations and a subscription. The first matron was a Miss Lloyd who came from the Royal Chest Hospital, London. [1]
[1] Malton Gazette, 26 August 1905


The Apothecaries Act of 1815 defined a requirement for apprenticeship and qualifications. This allowed apothecaries in early Victorian times to prepare and prescribe medicines and give medical advice. They performed a role closer to that of a general practitioner today. Before the end of the Victorian period the medical profession had however evolved into constituent parts such as chemists and druggists, surgeons and physicians. The Medical Act of 1858 formalised the qualifications required for the profession.
William Willey was an apothecary in Malton in the late 18th century as stated in the death announcement of his wife [1] The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries granted certificates of qualification to the following, of Malton:
1834 Thomas Cobb [2]
1834 Alfred Temple [3]
1839 Frederick le Fevre [4]
1850 Joshua Hartley [5]
1851 William Taylor Colby [6]
1852 James Atkinson [7]
(this list not exhaustive)
[1] Leeds Intelligencer, 10 June 1788
[2] London Standard, 2 May 1834
[3] London Standard, 6 October 1834
[4] London Standard, 9 August 1839
[5] London Standard, 18 October 1850
[6] London Standard, 27 June 1851
[7] London Standard, 25 June 1852

Doctors and Surgeons

The following has been drawn from newspapers and censuses:
Mr G. Bartliff, who was in need of a 'Visiting and Dispensing Assistant' stating that 'none need apply who are not quite competent to attend Midwifery' [1]
Mr Pratt, who died on Tuesday, 10th March, 1840, aged 64 [2]
Mr Joshua Hartley, who gave his views to the Newcastle Chronicle on the case of Mrs Fred Williams, of Malton, and who was pronounced dead but whose family believed she was in a trance [3]
Mr Robert Sagg, whose daughter Mary married a Mr. Rowley at Deptford in 1821 [4]
Mr Robert Wilson, who in 1808 died on board the Elizabeth, a Greenland ship, whilst entering the harbour at Hull, aged 49 - 'he had been indisposed during a great part of the voyage home [5].

A short article, written by John Willmott, about the Hartley medical family (two generations of Malton doctors) can be seen here.

[1] Yorkshire Gazette, 29 January 1842
[2] Yorkshire Gazette, 14 March 1840
[3] Western Daily Press, 15 November 1877
[4] Yorkshire Gazette, 8 September 1821
[5] York Herald, 20 August 1808


Dentistry in early Victorian times consisted of extractions and false teeth. There was no formal dentistry qualification and many barbers would provide tooth extraction as an additional service. In 1841, Mr. Mosely described himself as a 'surgeon-dentist', and visited Malton in private apartments at the Talbot Inn, every other Friday and Saturday. He promoted 'Newly Invented Mineral Teeth' which were 'Fixed without Ligatures, or any other injurious attachment whatever, from One to a complete set on a Principle so certain that Mastication, External Appearance, and Articulation are astonishingly restored and guaranteed to the patient' [1]. Mr. Mosely was still in business in 1845, visiting the Talbot Hotel every Saturday [2]. Mr. R. Parsons, also surgeon-dentist attended the Talbot Hotel on the last Saturday of every month [3]. The 1871 Census shows Thomas J. Blanche, dentist, living in Yorkersgate with his family. He is still there in the 1891 Census. In 1889, Ruth Richardson, servant to Thomas Blanche, pleaded guilty to stealing linen and other articles from her employer and was sent to gaol for one month [4]. Mr. Blanche was clearly successful with his business as in August 1888 he was the successful bidder for shares in the Malton Gas Company and also the Gas Company in Scarborough [5].
Mr. Blanche also instigated a series of charity concerts, inviting the gentry of the area. The first of these was in 1870 for the poor of Malton and repeated in 1871 for the poor of Norton - 'On Tuesday night one of the most aristocratic gatherings ever got together in Malton assembled at the Subscription Room. … Somewhere about 850 ladies and gentlemen attended, and the receipts will be about £50' [6].
[1] Yorkshire Gazette, 27 March 1841
[2] Yorkshire Gazette, 17 May 1845
[3] Yorkshire Gazette, 22 February 1845
[4] Northern Echo, 13 May 1889
[5] York Herald, 11 August 1888
[6] York Herald, 18 February 1871

My Image

… Mr. Chris Bell, of Malton, merchant, appeared in answer to a summons preferred by Mr. G.A. Shackleton, inspector of roads for the borough of Malton Local Board of Health, for having, on the 9th ult., neglected properly to clean, sweep, and remove from the flags all mud and dirt in the front of his house, in Yorkersgate and the railway-street. Notices had been issued to the inhabitants, warning them that unless the footways opposite their premises were cleansed before nine o'clock each morning, they would be liable to a penalty and costs. Not withstanding these notices, inattention to the requirements of the Local Board of Health was so general that the committee instructed their officer to prosecute. … … A similar information was preferred against Mr. James Moon, ironmonger …
Yorkshire Gazette, 7 February 1857
WANTED, A Resident APOTHECARY for this Institution, who willl be allowed a Salary of £50 per Annum, in addition to Coals, Candles, and Attendance found him.
A Licentiate of the Apothecaries Company will not be Eligible.
Application, with proper testimonials, to be made to me on or before FRIDAY, the 11th day of March next. The Election will take place on the THURSDAY following.
By Order,
Malton Feb. 17, 1842 Honorary Secretary
Yorkshire Gazette, 26 February 1842

Health and Housing in 1909

The Yorkshire Gazette ran a short series of articles in 1909. These contain potentially useful statistical information and are transcribed here:
Population and Health Statistics
Infectious Diseases in Malton and Norton


For information about cholera, typhoid (including the 1932 outbreak) and smallpox see here.


Mr. J. Walker described himself as a professor of galvanism practising from his house in Castlegate everyday from ten o'clock until four. He declared that he had been 'singularly successful in removing the various diseases of the Spine, Rheumatism, Gout, Palsy, headache, Toothache, Tic Doloreux, Nervousness, Indigestion, Loss of appetite, Dimness of Sight, Stiffened Joints arising from Sprains, &c. in short, all those uncleasant symptoms attending a muscular rigidity and muscular relaxation; together with different anomalous Complaints which have for a length of time baffled all other means' [1].
[1] Malton Messenger, 3 March 1855

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