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Medical Library

8 The Fenway

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From Branivhlte s painting.

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Illustrated by
Portrait, and Forty-eight Drawings by Dr. Pole.


Headley Brothers, 14, Bishopsgate Without, E.C.


Herman Newman, zozo Arch St David S. Taber, 51 Fifth Avenue.


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A BBiEF notice of Thomas Pole, M.D., in The Friends'
Monthly Magazine for November, 1829, concludes as follows :

"He was greatly respected, more especially for his active and
persevering benevolence. He came forth in the ministry first
in his twentieth year, and probably at the time of his death
was one of the ministers of longest standing in our Society."

Nearly eighty years have passed since his death, but
personal recollections of some in his profession and of
other individuals — given me about seventeen years ago, when
I was preparing an article on Dr. Pole for the Dictionary
of National Biography — and his voluminous journals and
other MSS. clearly exhibit his strenuous life, and enable
me to present a sketch of his career with more detail
than was possible in the Dictionary article. At the same
time the records preserved are far from being complete and
this will explain some obvious omissions. I trust therefore
that any judgment on the portrayal of his life will be
tempered with lenity.

Whilst conscious that the work might have been in far
abler hands, I have, as his great-grandson, gladly accepted
the . privilege of contributing an account of one who has
been held in revered memory. In his zeal on behalf of
Adult Schools, and in other directions, he was undoubtedly
far ahead of his generation.

Wherever practicable, I have used his own words to
tell the tale, though I have condensed his narrative. But
records of many illuminating thoughts and work throwing
further light on his life and character have been excluded
for want of space. The story will, I believe, be fresh to
most readers.

E. T.W.

Bristol, May 1908,

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Introductory Note. ^^®'

His Ancestry . . . . . i

His Father - - - 2

Himself - -... 4

He leaves America ..... 5

In England - - - - - . 6

Adopts his Profession .... 7

At Falmouth . . . . . 8

Assocutions - .. - 9

A Typical Excursion - - - - 11

Sussex and Hants - - - - - 12

In London - - - 14

His Marriage - - - - - 18

Excursion to France - - - - 19

Labours outside the Society - - - 21

Eeligious Visit to Bristol and SoBiERSET - 22

Last Years in London - - - - 29

In Bristol - .... 31

Adult Schools . . . . . 34

Personal ...... 37

Infant Schools . . . . . 33

Closing Years ..... 39

Genealogical Chart - - - to face 42

Notes on Dr. Pole's Drawings - - - 43

Index ...... 49

Illustrations of Dr. Pole's Drawings - i— xxxvi

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Battlbhay was a noted house for the entertaiiiment of
Friends in the early period of the Society. The road
leading to it was known as Quakers' Boad, and it was so
written up on the sign-post directing thereto. It is situated
in the parish of Wiveliscombe, Somerset ; its prospect agree-
ably undulating; the soil warm and fertile.

Here Thomas Pole's great-grandparents, Edward and
Mary Pole, lived, having settled upon the Battlehay estate
and built the house about 1666, shewn in the drawing
(No. 18). It seems most probable that they migrated
from Wales. His grandfather, Edward Pole, was born at
Battlehay in 1670, and he appears to have been convinced
early of Friends' principles. He married Grace Jones, one
of a high church Welsh family, in the Friends' Meeting
House, Wellington, Somerset, in 1702, she herself having
been convinced by the preaching of William Penn in the
sixteenth year of her age, and in consequence was turned
out of her father's family and disinherited.

Edward Pole was prosecuted in the Exchequer for
Tythes in 1708 and at other times, for various sums, by
Parsons Collins and Burton, vicars of the parish. He was
"distrained of valuable fat beasts." Nearly thirty years
before, his father with four other Friends were fined £88 for
being at a meeting at Nathaniel Atwood's of Wiveliscombe.

The widow, Grace Pole, and her eldest son, Edward,
were prosecuted for Tythes in 1784, and she was to have
been imprisoned on that account. They were settling their
domestic affairs accordingly, when Thomas Story, coming

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to the house in company with other Friends, interfered
on her behalf with the Justice and was the means of
her acquittance. Edward (1708-1762) continued to live at
Battlehay after the death of his mother in 1744. He was
never married, but he was given to much hospitality, and
devoted himself to the service of Eriends. His brother
John was Dr. Pole's father, his brother Thomas married
and removed to Milverton (drawing No. 19).

Eriends living in Wiveliscombe and Milverton at that
time possessed a Meeting House in common, built on an
intermediate spot on the country hillside, now and for
more than a hundred years past called the ^'Old Meeting
House." (See drawing No. 24). Subsequently one was built
in Milverton town, lying well back from the road, and of
this too we give Dr. Pole's drawing (No. 25) dated 1780.

John Pole, his father, (1705-1766), was bom at
Battlehay. He was bound apprentice to Daniel Smith, a
tailor of Wellington, served his time faithfully, and then
went into business for himself. This business did not
answer, and he became involved and emigrated to America
before he could discharge his obligations. But he was
determined to retrieve his former good character, and set
to work most industriously. Circumstances, however, were
adverse, and some ill-tempered creditors threw him into
gaol. Here he worked diligently at his trade, paid oflf
the debts, and obtained his liberty. His neighbours now
wishing to show their regard, favoured him, and he opened
a business in Burlington, New Jersey. As his circumstances
improved he was again in touch with relatives who had
likewise settled in the same province. He now sought to
discharge his debts in England, and remitted money
sufi&cient for the purpose to his brother, Thomas Pole, of
Milverton, who took great pains to find the creditors and
paid them all in full.

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John Pole then paid his addresses to Bachel Smith,
daughter of Richard and Ann Smith, of Bmrlington, with
a view to marriage. But the course of true love was not
smooth, for Bichard Smith opposed the union. Friends
remonstrated with him on the matter, and, after repeated
interviews, promoted the marriage, finding that John Pole's
proposals were unacceptable to Bichard Smith only on
account of his position being unequal to his own. The
certificate of removal came from England, and the union
was duly accomplished. Later they removed to Philadelphia,
and John Pole took voyages to Boston and the West Indies,
acquiring a knowledge of mercantile business, which he
forthwith entered into.

'^ Bichard Smith now recognising that his daughter
had a good husband," says Thomas Pole, '^ came to
Philadelphia with a present, which my father, glad as he
would have been to receive it when he was married, now
made over to his wife. He purchased a small estate on
the banks of the river Schuylkill, and improved it, spending
a sum in excess of the gift in building a dwelling house,
laying out the grounds and cutting a vista through the
wood of hickory trees, thus opening to view a varied and
beautiful landscape with crystal stream in the foreground.
This my mother enjoyed to the day of her death.

"About five years before I was bom, my father came
to England, settled an agency there and extended his
business. Whilst in England, being fond of shooting, he
took out his gun, accompanied by a servant, and shot a
hare in the parish of Buckland, Somerset. For this Justice
Proctor levied upon him a fine of £15, viz : £5 for shooting
the hare, j95 for carrying his gun, and £5 for his servant
carrying the same gun, they being deemed by the law
unqualified persons.

" From all accounts my father was very active, alert in
mind, and of friendly disposition. He increased in religious
experience as life advanced. He died before my remem-
brance. Of nine children, four survived him : Anna,

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Edward, Ann and Thomas. We lost our mother not long
after, so the care of the family devolved on our guardians,
William Callendar and Edward Catherall."


Thomas Pole was bom on the 18th of October, 1768, in
Philadelphia. He was the youngest child of John and
Bachel Pole. Bereft of his father when little more than
one year old, he was able to recall something of his
mother's tender and religious care, for she lived till he was
about six; and the records he has left also refer to his
indebtedness to his guardians. Anna too, his elder sister,
did her part towards the nurture of the younger children.
His brother was sent early to England under the care of
the uncles in Somersetshire, and the three others lived
with William Callendar, who says that Thomas had a very
active disposition. When Anna married James Bringhurst,
Ann went to live with her and Thomas was placed with
Joseph Noble. At this time, T. Griffiths, a friend of
Thomas Pole's, of Milverton, went to America, and being
asked to interest himself in the family and satisfy their
uncle as to their welfare, wrote thus from Philadelphia:
"I both saw and enquired particularly concerning thy
nephew. Tommy Pole, a young lad twelve years of age,
bearing a good character, and remarkably inclined to be
doing one nick-nack or other in wood — as little boxes, &c.,
and as far as I understand minds his learning. He lives
at present with Joseph Noble, who speaks well of him and
says when he gets a little money he is not apt to squander
it. He told me himself that he would like to learn to be
a carpenter and joiner. I went to see the two sisters, and
I hear nothing but well concerning them."

But later, by association with wicked schoolfellows,
Thomas was corrupted and gave way to an evil turn of
mind; he "yielded to sinful gratifications.'* Happily, the
voice of conscience pleaded and he was awakened to a

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sense of the depths to which he had slipped. For some
time '^a fearful battle raged within'' him, and he speaks
of a coarse of iniquity mercifully cut short, and says,
''I was early plucked as a brand out of the fire."

It was in the nineteenth year of his age that he
experienced this change, and then had to pass through the
darkness of Atheism before emerging into the light of God's
Spirit. His conflicts humbled him, and after long wrestling
a degree of faith was kindled within him, and at last he
rejoices: "Then did the Lord break forth in His power,
burstmg open the prison doors, proclaiming a glorious
deliverance to my captive soul. May all the faculties of
my soul bow in reverent thankfulness for this mercy, and
may my life be devoted to the service of my Redeemer."

Before he was twenty he appeared in the ministry.
In the prosecution of this important service his joum^s
record his spiritual trials at this time as at later times
throughout his life. The presence of former evil-disposed
associates in the meeting to which he then belonged,
their taunts at his religious ardour, the aloofness of fellow
apprentices in the tanning industry, added to his difficulties,
and were as snares set for him amidst new temptations.
"But the loving-kindness of the Lord," he says, "encom-
passed me, and I was brought to walk humbly and to seek
after Truth."

%t havtB America.

Thomas Pole left Burlington to visit his relations in
England in 1776, being recommended to Bristol Meeting
in a certificate signed by nearly forty Friends. He was then
in his twenty-second year. In fulfilling this design and in
visiting Friends and their meetings, within the two or three
years following he travelled in England and Wales 6642
miles, partly on foot and partly by coach, but chiefly on

Setting sail down the Delaware on April 80tfa| he

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arrived off Dover on June 16th. His account of the
voyage describes the vicissitudes of crossing the Atlantic
in a sailing vessel of those times, when a propitious or
unfavourable wind made all the difference. For the passage
he paid ten guineas and agreed to find his own provisions.
His stock of sea stores was drawn upon for nearly seven
weeks, as The Two Friends, a brig, was driven far out of
her course on many days. On some days she sailed only
a knot an hour, on others she sped seven knots before the
breeze, whilst on some occasions she was tossed, buffeted,
and struck by the seas, till the water poured into the
cabin reserved for the ladies of their party. He was
fortunate in his companions, the cabin party, numbering
eight, included Jabez Fisher, George Logan and Bartholomew
Wistar, besides Mary Leaver and Elizabeth Bobinson, who
were returning to England from a ministerial visit.

3n ^ngfdnb.

The Lizard was sighted on June 9th, and they were
accosted by a smuggling sloop demanding rum — then not
an uncommon occurrence. At Dover, Thomas Pole soon
found himself among friends, for he says, '^ About 4 o'clock
(a.m.) Bichard Baker had come off with the pilot to us and
invited us to his house, where we breakfasted and lodged.
We attended the mid-week meeting, and called on Friends."
The day following his arrival he reached London by coach,
where in the inn yard he was met by William Dillwyn,
who had been his neighbour in America. A month later
he was in Bristol, and was taken for an early morning's
walk by his relatives to "the village of Jacob's Wells."*

Li his travels it is impossible, in the space at our
disposal, to go with him in detail, although his journals
set forth the events of every day. He favoured the West
of England and Midland Counties most because his relations
lived in these localities, but he made himself acquainted

* Now a populous district of Bristol, overlooking the harbour.

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with people and places as far north as Eendal, east as
Yarmouth, and south as Land's End. His travelling map
and charts show the routes taken and distances covered
day by day. We may glance at some features illustrative
of his life at that time and of those amongst whom he

He had resided in the neighbourhood of Bristol with
Edward and Sally Young only a few weeks when we
find him engaged in bringing into play that personal
influence which often brought forth good in the lives of
those he dealt with : his benevolent bent of mind soon
made itself felt. Then, naturally, habits and customs in
a new country interest him, such as his opportunity of
riding double with a fair relative, the roughness of roads,
finding himself in tbe midst of a country town mop or
hiring fair, the candidates for employment wearing emblems
of their craft; the pursuit of stocking knitting by men,
coal carriers and tram drivers as they walk by their horses ;
the singing of men, women and children at work in a silk mill
and the beginning of weaving machinery ; the close quarters
of fellow travellers of whatever sort in a coach ; the ringing
of bells in a steeple night and day and firing of guns to
celebrate local events when feeling ran high ; the good or
rough accommodation at inns; and the cordial hospitality
offered him by Friends, previously strangers, to wit, John
Hoyland of Sheffield, John Elam of Leeds, William and
Esther Tuke of York, John Storer of Nottingham, Sampson
Lloyd, Junr., of Birmingham, and others too numerous to
name, whose kindness was appreciated. Although not on
a religious visit to England, he had a part in tbe ministry
of our Society both public and private, and united in the
home life of a great variety of persons.

(^'bopiB ^{b (pxoUBBion.

Thomas Pole's move to England proved permanent,
for he never again crossed the Atlantic. He had left his

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affairs in the hands of a relative, and owing to the troubles
caused by the War of Independence, be had much cause
for anxiety. He received marked sympathy from Thomas
Shillitoe, who in a letter at this time enters into the
difficulties of changing one's occupation and of the peace
of mind in eating bread earned by one's own labour,
and ends thus, "I never opened my mind so freely to any

Among the people who had favourably impressed him
in his travels was Joseph Bickman, surgeon and apothecary,
of Maidenhead; and having concluded to devote himself to
medicine and desiring to settle down to its study, he sought
to be apprenticed to this Friend. Indentures (dated
September 5th, 1777) were agreed upon and premium paid
entitling him to learn the mysteries of the profession, and
besides board and lodging to be furnished with a horse
when needs be. The correspondence proclaims that Thomas
Pole feels in his right place with Joseph Bickman, though
his occupation is so different from that to which he had
been brought up (the trade of tanning), for he is "stepping
along" with satisfaction and peace of mind. He remained
at Maidenhead two years and five months. He also studied
at Beading. In 1780 he removed to Falmouth on becoming
assistant surgeon and apothecary to Dr. Joseph Fox, who
was appointed to take care of the sick and wounded
seamen in the King's Service. This was to be followed by
Hospital experience in London, after which he commenced
work on his own account, as we shall see.

The wounded in the King's Service were brought into
the port of Falmouth, and in this time of war many came.
"At one time," says Thomas Pole, "we had between two
and three hundred patients landed and put under our care.
Capital operations were frequent and we had an instructive
variety of cases. Dr. Fox was likewise appointed by the

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Post Office surgeon to the men belonging to the Packets
whUst in the harbour, and these numbering many hundreds,
proved another plentiful source of practice. He also had
most of the Privateers' men and most of the private
practice in the to^m. Three of us were employed in
visiting and prescribing, and we were obliged to apply
ourselves very assiduously to get through the work. In
the pharmaceutical department we had to employ occasionally
other assistants. The sufferings of the men from recent
engagements, with flesh lacerated from cutlass wounds,
balls and splinters of wood, excited our deep sympathy."

Thomas Pole's colleagues helped him in his concern
to attend meetings whenever possible, and he was led to
exercise his ministry more at this period than heretofore,
often addressing the young, towards whom, remembering
his own experience, he was particularly drawn.

Whilst in Cornwall he travelled 900 miles, mostly on
horseback, more than once accompanying Friends — John
Townsend of London, and Mary Ridgway and Jane Watson
from Ireland — on religious service. He sums up his ex-
perience thus : "The longer I live and wherever I live the
more I see the necessity of adhering to the dictates of
Divine Wisdom and bringing all our deeds and fruits to
the test of this most sure Touchstone."

Before passing on from these periods of training and
work, allusion should be made to the value of association
with Joseph and Sarah Bickman, both professional and
personal. Their friendship was long and attached. In a
letter to Robert Dudley, Clonmel, Thomas Pole says, " Our
hearts are knit together as the hearts of David and
Jonathan, and the love wherewith we are filled is as the
ointment poured upon the head of Aaron, which ran down to
the nethermost skirts of his garments," and this is illustrated
by Joseph Rickman's arrival at midnight at Cirencester,

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where his friend had been taken ill, having come 64 miles,
fearing that Thomas Pole had not fully disclosed his case
in his letters, and having to return to Maidenhead after
only a few hours' stay. No wonder the diaries speak of
him with affection.

In the course of the first two years' travels in England
Thomas Pole had become acquainted with a great many
Friends. His correspondence with many of these was
carried on with a freedom and candour unusual in so
young a man, both to men and women, and was reciprocated.
When a duty was apprehended, especially if it might be
helpful to someone else, Thomas Pole put aside convention,
as well as other obstacles, to act on the impulse. In one
case he retired from company to communicate by letter to
a friend "with a freedom the world may censure yet I
hope truth approves." In another, when the day's work
showed how careful he needs be of his time, he is "willing
to dedicate some of it" to another friend to whom he
thereupon writes.

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