The Dorchester Dispensary

The Graphic 27 December 1879 (detail)

Patients queuing at a Victorian dispensary

The Dorchester Dispensary opened on 15 August 1836 to “enable the Independent and Laborious Poor to obtain proper Medicines without throwing themselves on the Parish”. The dispensary served the people of Dorchester and villages within a five mile radius.

Access to most treatment was via a ticket from a subscriber, which cost 5s. Poor people not in receipt of poor relief could be vaccinated against small pox free of charge. In its first ten months the dispensary treated 317 patients. With the building of the hospital, the dispensary became redundant and it closed on 31 March 1841.

You can read more about the Dorchester Dispensary here. There appear to be no surviving records for the dispensary. The only information we have is from newspaper articles and advertisements, which are reproduced on this page.

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Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 12 May 1836, page 4

It is with feelings of no ordinary pleasure that we call the attention of our readers to a notice in our advertising columns of a proposal to found a Dispensary at this town. The want of some benevolent Institution of this nature in this neighbourhood has been long felt and frequently deplored, and there cannot be a more fit period selected for the establishment of such than the present, when that repugnance to apply for parochial ad, so frequently felt by the honest and deserving poor, when pressed by sickness, has been rendered more keen by the publicity required by the provisions of the New Poor Law. The benevolent character of Institutions of this kind, the blessings which they confer in soothing the bed of sickness and alleviating the woes to which humanity is heir, must bear the strongest appeal to every heart. We are satisfied that such an appeal will not be made in vain to the charitable feelings of the inhabitants of our town and neighbourhood ; and we trust, therefore, that such benevolent support will be rendered a proposal, in which all distinctions and prejudices merge, as will enable the projectors not only to found the Dispensary, but also to add to that Establishment the important advantages of a Casualty Hospital.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 12 May 1836, page 1

Proposed Dispensary at Dorchester.

ALTHOUGH the Law now in force for the Relief of the Poor provides for the Medical Attendance of those who are obliged to resort to their Parishes ; yet, to enable the Independent and Laborious Poor to obtain proper Medicines without throwing themselves on the Parish, it is proposed to ESTABLISH a DISPENSARY at DORCHESTER, with a Circuit of Five Miles. In order to ascertain to what extent this Institution can be carried, Subscription Lists will be left at the Banks and Libraries until the 24th instance, when an early day will be fixed for a Meeting of the Subscribers, to make the necessary arrangements.

May 11th 1836.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 19 May 1836, page 1

DORCHESTER DISPENSARY.

ALTHOUGH the Law now in force for the Relief of the Poor provides for the Medical Attendance of those who are obliged to resort to their Parishes ; yet, to enable the Independent and Laborious Poor to obtain proper Medicines without throwing themselves on the Parish, it is proposed to ESTABLISH a DISPENSARY at DORCHESTER, with a Circuit of Five Miles. In order to ascertain to what extent this Institution can be carried, Donations or Subscriptions will be received at the Banks and Libraries until the 24th instance, when an early day will be fixed for a Meeting of the Subscribers, to make the necessary arrangements.

The Tickets will be at the rate of 5s. per Annum for one Admission.

May 11th 1836.

[Subscriber list follows]


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 19 May 1836, page 4

We refer our Readers with please to the subscription list in our advertising columns, which shows that we were not mistaken in what we said last week of the readiness of the Gentry of this town and neighbourhood to come forward for the establishment of a Dispensary for the relief of the industrious Poor who did not like to apply for Parochial Assistance in the time of sickness. We cannot imagine a more valuable institution than this is likely to prove among the lower classes, not only for relieving their bodily calamities, but for inculcating and keeping up that spirit of independence which we believe to be one of the primary objects of the late alterations in the Poor Law system. There can be no doubt that the meeting on the 24th, for the permanent establishment of the “Dorchester Dispensary,” will be attended by all the influential persons both in the town and neighbourhood.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 2 June 1836, page 1

DORCHESTER DISPENSARY.

AT a MEETING of the INHABITANTS of DORCHESTER and its Neighbourhoold, held at the County Hall, on MONDAY, May 30, 1836, pursuant to announcement, for the purpose of ESTABLISHING a DISPENSARY,

ROBERT WILLIAMS, Esq. in the Chair,

the following Resolutions were unanimously agreed to :–

RESOLVED,

That this Meeting, encouraged by the Amount of Donations and Annual Subscriptions for the Establishment of a Dispensary for this Town and Neighbourhood, are of opinion that the Funds are adequate to commence the formation of such an Institution, and that the same be established under the title of “THE DORCHESTER DISPENSARY.”

RESOLVED,

That the following Gentlemen, viz:–

Dr. COOPER, Mr. ARDEN,
Dr. JACKSON, Mr. WALLIS
Rev. G. WOOD, Mr. TAPP,
Rev. J. M. COLSTON, Mr. CURME,
Rev. E. DAVIES, Mr. PLOWMAN,
Rev. H. MOULE, Mr. ALDRIDGE,
Rev. Mr. CHURCHILL, Mr. GUNNING,
Rev. R. CUTLER, Mr. STYLE,

be requested to for a Committee, for the purpose of drawing up a Code of Rules and Regulations, to be submitted to ANOTHER MEETING of the SUBSCRIBERS, to be held MONDAY, the Thirteenth day of JUNE next.

RESOLVED,

That the above Resolutions be published in the Dorset County Chronicle and Somerset Gazette.

RESOLVED,

That the Thanks of the Meeting be given to ROBERT WILLIAMS, Esq., for his able and judicious conduct in the Chair.

May 30, 1836.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 2 June 1836, page 4

Dorchester Dispensary.–We rejoice that an Institution, the want of which has been so long felt in this town, is about to be established, and called “The Dorchester Dispensary.” The meeting announced for Monday last, with the view of founding this benevolent Establishment, was held at the County Hall and attended both numerously and respectably. Robert Williams, Esq., was called to the chair by acclamation. The most unanimous feeling pervaded the meeting as to the desirableness of the Institution, and in an anxiety that it should be rendered as extensive in its operation and on as comprehensive a scale as possible, The Resolutions passed at this meeting will be found in an Advertisement. The list of subscriptions and donations already is of a very satisfactory nature ; and we trust that the committee will find it so greatly supported as to enable them to propose an Institution of a somewhat more extensive character than a mere Dispensary.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 29 December 1836, page 1

DORCHESTER DISPENSARY.

THE Committee have resolved that TRUSSES be in future provided at the Dispensary to Patients recommended by Tickets, on payment by the Patient of One Shilling for a Single Truss, and Two Shillings for a Double Truss ; and that on application for a second Truss, before it be given the old one shall be brought by the Patient and left at the Dispensary.

By Order of the Committee,

THOS. ABBOTT, Hon. Sec.

DORCHESTER, 24th Dec. 1836.

N.B.–Subscribers of 5s. are entitled to One Ticket of Recommendation.

The Poor, (not receiving Parochial Relief) may be Vaccinated at the Dispensary WITHOUT a Ticket from a Subscriber.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 29 December 1836, page 4

At this season of the year, when all the kindlier sympathies of humanity are permitted freely to flow forth in favour of our poorer neighbours, we cannot do better than call the attention of our readers to the claims of the Dorchester Dispensary, the object of which we, from the first, sought to advance, as one of pure benevolence. It is matter of rejoicing to find that the proceedings of this Institution are making favourable progress, that the subscribers and funds are increasing, and its scope for usefulness consequently enlarging. By an advertisement in this day’s paper, it will be seen that an additional feature has been given to the Institution in a plan for lending trusses to patients. It should not be forgotten that the small annual subscription of 5s. entitles a subscriber to a Ticket of recommendation : and it is worthy of being generally known that the poor (not receiving parochial relief) may be vaccinated at the Dispensary without a Ticket from a subscriber.


Dorset County Chronicle, 29 June 1837, page 4

County Infirmary.–We have high gratification in stating that measures are in contemplation, and, we are inclined to hope, on the very eve of being publicly announced, with the view of establishing an Infirmary for the county of Dorset,–an Institution which we have frequently advocated, the want of which has been long felt, and which the increasing population of the county and the circumstances of the times render more and more expedient. We believe that an important and efficient stimulus has been given to this proposition by the satisfactory success that has attended the formation of that more useful establishment, the Dorchester Dispensary, the annual meeting of which is announced for Monday, July 3. We hope in our next number to be enabled to speak in more positive and detailed terms of this grateful intelligence.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 13 July 1837, page 4

Dorchester Dispensary.–The Committee of the Dorchester Dispensary have just published their Report of the first year’s proceedings. The Report states that from the 15th of August 1836, the day on which the Dispensary was opened for the reception of Patients, to the 30th of June, 1837, a period of ten months and a half, medical assistance has been afforded to 317 poor people, most of whom, if not permanently cured, have received very decided relief. The Treasurer’s Account states the receipts as follows :–Donations, £160 3s. 0d. ; Subscriptions, £85 12s. 0d. The payments for Drugs, fitting-up the Dispensary, Printing and Stationery, Rent, Dispenser’s Salary, &c. amount to £206 15s. 4d., leaving a balance in the Treasurer’s hands of £69 9s 10d.–The committee complain, and with justice, that a great number of the patients, after a few days’ attendance, have not returned to the Dispensary, so as to have the result of their cases registered, a circumstance which must be considered as exceedingly unsatisfactory to the Medical Officers, as they do not see the termination of many of the cases, and as ungrateful to the Subscribers, who have kindly given them their tickets. The Committee, therefore, suggest to the Subscribers, that they should exact a promise from each patient, to whom they give a ticket, that they will attended [sic] regularly one day in every week, until they are discharged by the Medical Officer under whose care they may be. Of those cases, the termination of which is registered, it appears that there have been but four deaths. The Small-pox having prevailed of late, to some extent in Dorchester and the neighbourhood, a great number of children, and some adults, have been vaccinated ; but the previous observation, as to subsequent non-attendance, applies in a still greater degree to these children and their parents, so that it has not been possible to keep up so regular a supply of vaccine lymph as could be wished ; nor to ascertain the result of the vaccination, which it is so desirable to extend as widely as possible. The Committee conclude their Report by recommending the foundation of an Infirmary, containing beds, which would admit in-patients, as well as out-patients ; this being almost the only – if not really the only – county town in the Kingdom, which does not boast of an Hospital, of a greater or less extent. It is suggested that an exceedingly eligible site for a building of this nature, is offered for sale at the present time, in the immediate neighbourhood of the town, and that if possible, such an opportunity for the foundation of a county Infirmary should be immediately taken advantage of.


Salisbury and Winchester Journal, Monday 17 July 1837, page 3

Dorchester Dispensary.–The Committee of the Dorchester Dispensary have just published their Report of the first year’s proceedings. The Report states that from the 15th of August, 1836, the day on which the Dispensary was opened for the reception of Patients, to the 30th of June, 1837, a period of ten months and a half, medical assistance has been afforded to 317 poor people, most of whom, if not permanently cured, have received very decided relief. The Treasurer’s Account states the receipts as follows:–Donations, 160l. 3s. 0d. ; Subscriptions 85l. 12s. The payments for Drugs, fitting-up the Dispensary, Printing and Stationery, Rent, Dispenser’s Salary, &c. amount to 206l. 15s. 4d., leaving a balance in the Treasurer’s hands of 69l. 9s. 10d.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 22 February 1838, page 4

Dorchester Dispensary.–On Tuesday last, a meeting of the Subscribers to the Dorchester Dispenary, was holden at the County Hall, to take into consideration the state of the funds of that Institution. The Rev. J. A. Templer was in the chair. We regret to learn that the Committee had the unpleasant task of announcing that the funds of the Establishment were in a state of exhaustion. From the official circular that has been issued consequence of this lamented circumstance, we gather that the Dispensary, was was established in August 1836, for patients of the town and surrounding villages, has, since that time afforded gratuitous medical relief to upwards of 550 poor persons–most of whom, if not permantly cured, have received very decided benefit. The expenses, however, having proved to be considerably greater than was at first anticipate, the funds have been found to be totally inadequate to continue the objects of this more desirable Institution upon its present footing. With respect to future years, such alterations have been made at the meeting on Tuesday, in the Rules and Order of the Society, as to reduce the probable expenditure, and to lead to a hope, that, with a reasonable increase of subscriptions, the present difficult may be avoided, and the sick poor continue to derive the same advantages as heretofore. But with respect to the current year, which concludes on the 30th of June, without the aid of additional funds, there is not a sufficient balance in the hands of the Treasurer to warrant the Committee in carrying on the Institution beyond the present time. In order, therefore, to continue the benefits of the charity from this date till the commencement of July, the Committee have appealed to the public for fresh donations, to meet the actual emergency, and for additional or increased subscriptions for the ensuring year. When we reflect upon the claims of the poor upon the additional force with which those claims, under the pressure of temporary physical affliction, are used in these days under the operation of the Poor Law – when we observe the benefits that have already been effected by the Dispensary –and when we call to mind what has been heretofore done, in labours of charity, by the inhabitants of this town and neighbourhood, we cannot bring ourselves to believe for a moment that the appeal now made will be otherwise than efficiently responded to.


Sherborne Mercury, Monday 15 July 1839, page 3

DISPENSARY.–The Annual Meeting of the Subscribers to the Dorchester Dispensary was holden on Monday last at the County Hall, Dorchester, when C. B. Wollaston, Esq., was called to the chair. The Report of the Committee was read by Dr. Jackson, from which it appeared that at the last anniversary, there were 30 patients remaining on the books, and during the past year 256 had been admitted by tickets and 6 by the medical officers, making a total of 222 [sic, should be 262] patients who have participated in the benefits of the Institution during the year, of which number 48 remain at the present time. The expenses of the Institution were reported as having been considerably reduced in the past, compared with the preceding year (especially in the article of drugs, which now amounts to but £61 17s. instead of £103 18s. 11d.) yet the annual expenditure has, notwithstanding, exceeded the income of the year by £17 4s. 3d. which sum it has been necessary to direct the Treasurer to withdraw from the Saving’s Bank. The Committee, in the persuasion that no reasonable doubt can now exist of the advantages which the Dispensary confers on the sick poor of the town and neighbourhood, and trusting that by the next anniversary the benefits of the charity will be increased by the establishment of a County Hospital, expressed a hope that the public who have not yet contributed to the funds, would support the existing Institution.


Dorset County Chronicle, Thursday 25 March 1841, page 1

DORCHESTER DISPENSARY,

MARCH 23, 1841.

THE Committee hereby give Notice, that the DISPENSARY will be CLOSED on WEDNESDAY, 31st MARCH. It is understood that the COUNTY HOSPITAL will OPEN on the 6th MAY.


 

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