Martin Ricketts 1791 - 1859

Martin's father William Ricketts was born in 1763 in Tewkesbury and became a surgeon.  He married Elizabeth Stiles of Wick, near Pershore on 11 October 1785.  They first lived in Tewkesbury where their first child, William Henry Charmon Ricketts was born in 1786.  They subsequently moved to Chipping Camden where their daughter Harriet was born in 1789.

William had the ambition of opening a private lunatic asylum and this brought him to Droitwich.  He took a lease on two properties on the corner of Friar Street and Bag Bridge Lane, later called Asylum Lane and now Ricketts Lane. He also leased a large mansion at the rear of 99 TO 105 FRIAR STREET which had its main access from Bag Bridge Lane. William settled his family there, including his sister Sarah

Martin Ricketts, their second surviving son, was born in Droitwich in 1791 and was baptised at St Andrew’s Church, Droitwich.

He studied at Westminster Hospital where he was a house surgeon.  He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons on 28th August 1813 and he returned to Droitwich and worked with his father at the asylum. 

Martin married Lydia Owen at St Andrews Church on 1 November 1816.

Their firstborn was a daughter Elizabeth born in 1817.  She was followed by William in 1819 who died in 1827 aged 8 years, Lydia in 1820 who died aged 5 months, Owen in 1822 who died aged 9 months, Martin Henry Ricketts born in 1825 and Susan Ricketts born in 1826 and lastly Harriett in 1828 who died in 1835 aged 7 years. To lose so many children must have caused much heartbreak for them. There were just three siblings who survived to adulthood: Elizabeth, Martin Henry and Susan.

When Martin’s father William died in 1817, he bequeathed the business to his wife Elizabeth Willoughby Ricketts and to Martin.  Martin’s elder brother, William Henry, was also a surgeon but had chosen a military career having been at the Battle of Waterloo for which he was presented with a medal by George IV.  He was later presented with a war medal by Queen Victoria.  After his military career he too came to Droitwich to assist his brother with the work at the asylum; his sister Harriet  assisted there too.

Martin and his family bought 64 FRIAR STREETand were residing there by 1831.  It was a convenient location being opposite the asylum. They resided there for more than ten years.

He had formed a partnership as joint proprietors of the Asylum with Dr Steward but according to the Worcester Journal in March 1843 it would terminate at Lady Day next after which time the entire management would be under the direction of Mr Martin Ricketts and Dr Charles Hastings. Martin became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons on 26th August 1844.

In an advertisement for the Asylum in the Transactions of Provincial Medical & Surgeons Association (the forerunner of the British Medical Association) in 1844 it records Martin Ricketts of Droitwich was the Surgeon & Sir Charles Hastings from Worcester Infirmary was the Physician, attending twice a week. The non-restraint system, with its important precautionary measures, was adopted at this Asylum.  Religious observances were not neglected.  Amusements and exercise, appropriate to the condition of the patients, both in and out of doors, were carefully attended to, being found of great importance in the moral management of the insane.  In 1851 Martin was joined in the practice by Dr Sergeant Samuel Roden.  This partnership lasted until 1854 when Martin retired from the practice and Dr Roden bought 64 FRIAR STREET from him.

By 1851 Martin and Lydia had moved to West Ford, Dodderhill (which is now the Droitwich Golf Club) but later moved to Hill End House, Salwarpe.  In 1856 Lydia died at Salwarpe aged 68.

There is a tablet on the south wall of St Andrew's Church ‘Sacred to the memory of Lydia, the beloved and affectionate wife of Martin Ricketts, Surgeon, formerly of this parish who died 23rd of December 1856 at Salwarpe in the 69th year of her age and whose body lies buried in a vault near this place. She had only one hope’

It also lists their four children who died and finally ‘In the same vault lies also the body of the above named Martin Ricketts.  He died on the 25th of July 1859 in the 68th year of his age.  And now Lord what is my hope? Truly my hope is even in Thee.  Psalm XXXIX. 8.

The porch on the south wall of Salwarpe Church was built and dedicated to the memory of Lydia Ricketts.  A stained glass window in Salwarpe Church was dedicated to Martin's memory by his children “Given, devoted and dedicated by the surviving children to God, most great, most good in his honour and also in memory of Martin Ricketts, a most beloved father, died 25 July 1859 aged 68”