Patient Case Study: Parsons, Henry

In-patient, 1859-60



Hospital Dorset County Hospital Patient type In-patient
Number 4770 Date admitted 1 Dec 1859
Name Parsons, Charles [sic – see comment below] Renewed
Age 25 Under whose care Dr. Cowdell
Occupation Plasterer Disease Rheumatism
Parish Bradford Abbas Discharged 26 Jan 1860
Recommended by Winchester College Outcome Cured
Source Dorset History Centre, Dorset County Hospital in-patient admissions register 1859-67, NG/HH/DO(C)/5/2/2



  1. Henry, son of Joseph Parsons, labourer, and his wife Ann, baptised on 7 Sep 1834 at Sandford Orcas. [Dorset History Centre, Sandford Orcas baptism register, PE/SDO: RE 2/1, p. 30, entry 235]
  1. 1851 census – Henry Parsons, ag lab, aged 16, unmarried, born Sandford, Somerset, living in the house of his father, Joseph Parsons, ag lab, aged 60 at Bradford Abbas. [The National Archives, 1851 census, HO107/1859, folio 422, p. 29]
  1. “Case II. Henry Parsons, aged 25, plasterer, was admitted with chronic rheumatism December 1st, 1859. He had for ten days before admission had so much pain in his loins, that he was quite unable to turn in bed. He had been unable to work for six or seven weeks. He was treated guaiacum and Dover’s powder, and an iodide of potassium mixture, until January 12th, 1860, when, as he complained of additional pain in the lumbar region, the atropine injection was ordered. 13th. He complains of pain in the stomach and bowels, thinks it is the medicine ; the pain in the back was greatly relieved by last night’s injection. He was ordered the syrup of iodide of iron two drachms three times a day.  Jan. 15th. The patient is much better. He has no pain in the back, but feels soreness in muscles of thigh. The injection was repeated.  Jan. 17th. The pain and soreness are relieved, but not quite gone. The injection was repeated.  Jan. 23rd. The patient is much better ; he feels that the rheumatism is entirely gone. He has had three injections, at intervals of two days. He says he is cured thereby.  Jan. 26th. He feels able to work, and has no pain whatever. He was discharged well.” [Dorset County Hospital. Cases of neuralgia, etc., successfully treated by narcotic injection. Under the care of Charles Cowdell, M.D., Physician to the Hospital. Cases reported by D. W. Phillips, esq., House-Surgeon. British Medical Journal, 11/02/1860, pp. 103-04]
  1. “Case 2.—H. P., aged 26, plasterer, admitted with chronic rheumatism, December 1st, 1859. He was somewhat relieved by the use of guaiacum and iodide of potassium, which was continued until January 12th, 1860, when complaining of an additional pain in the lumbar region which caused him to walk with his hands on his knees, the atropine injection was used. January 13th. The pain in the back was greatly relieved last night by the injection. Omit. omn. meda. B. Syr. ferri iodid. 3ij. ter die.  Very much better; no pain in back; can walk quite erect; has a pain in the tensor vaginae femoris muscle. Inject. repetatar.  17th. Pain gone from the tensor vaginae femoris muscle, but experiences slight pain in the gracilis and inner hamstrings. Repet. inject.  26th. Feels well and able to work; no pain whatever; says he is cured by the injections. Discharged well. [Cases treated by the hypodermic injection of atropine. Under the care of Dr. Cowdell, Dorset County Hospital. Medical Times & Gazette, 17/03/1860, p. 267]
  1. Henry Parsons, mason (journeyman), aged 27 years of Bradford Abbas, died of “prolonged suppuration in the thigh, hectic, certified” on 17 Oct 1860 at Bradford Abbas. [General Register Office death certificate]
  1. Henry Parsons, aged 27, of Bradford Abbas, was buried on 22 Oct 1860 at Bradford Abbas. [Dorset History Centre, Bradford Abbas burial register, PE/BRA: RE 4/1, p. 82, entry 649]

Comment: All the details in the admissions register – including the diagnosis, occupation and dates of admission and discharge – match the details in the clinical reports, except that the register calls him ‘Charles’ rather than ‘Henry’. No matching Charles Parsons has been found. Henry Parson’s connections with Bradford Abbas (in the 1851 census, on the death certificate and in the burial register) confirm that this is the correct individual.