William Robson Jaques 1803 - 1862

William Robson Jaques was the 7th child of Jonathan and Elizabeth Jaques of Yorkshire, born in 1803.  Jonathan moved his family to Droitwich when he became rector of St Andrew’s Church.


William trained in surgery and qualified as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and was also a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1826.  He returned to work in Droitwich living in the HIGH STREET now number 8 with other members of his family.

In the summer of 1832 there was a countrywide epidemic of Asiatic cholera,[1]  a water borne disease, and in Droitwich there had been 162 cases with 39 deaths.  Eight new cases and five deaths were recorded on 30 August 1832.  William Jaques wrote to the Birmingham Gazette – ‘I beg to state that in the course of my practice of the present week, being called to five cholera patients who were in a complete state of collapse.  I was induced to try the effect of a warm stimulating bath of brine, and to my utmost satisfaction found it produced in every case almost immediate re-action'.

By 6 September the cholera returns from several towns were:

                                                                                                          Cases                    Dead

Bromsgrove                                                                                           58                          17

Kidderminster                                                                                      119                          64

Droitwich                                                                                              220                          57

Tewkesbury                                                                                         146                           65

Stourport                                                                                                33                             6


A report of 13 September stated that ‘Droitwich was nearly free from cholera, there had been only one case during the last three days, and no deaths – Total Cases: 227      Deaths: 63 – one case in ten and one death in thirty of the whole population within the Parish of St Andrews, 20 of the 29 deaths were in the Asylum, Asylum Lane’ (now Ricketts Lane).

William was recorded as being a member of the parish of St Bartholemew, Edgbaston when he married Sarah Trenow on 10 July 1835.  He continued to practice from the house in High Street, Droitwich and in Pigot’s Directory of 1835 he is listed as a surgeon, and in Pigot’s Directory of 1841 is recorded as the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.  On the 1841 census, William and Sarah, together with daughter Hannah aged two, were visiting Sarah’s sister and brother-in-law, George and Hannah Farley in Henwick Road, Worcester.  In 1843 they had a second daughter; Margaret Eliza Perham Jaques.

In December 1842 the executors for Edward Bookey Penrice had put PRIORY HOUSE, Friar Street, Droitwich up for auction and William Robson Jaques placed the highest bid of £750.  During his time at Priory House he appears to have altered it to form two dwellings, for when  it was offered for sale in September 1866 it was occupied by Mrs Jaques and Mr Charles Smith but was not sold at this time.

In Billings Trade Directory of 1855 William was recorded as Medical Officer of the Coventry Charity and the Droitwich District of the Droitwich Union.

Upon his death on 22 November 1862 aged 59 the local newspaper included the following obituary:

“William Robson Jaques, Esq., Surgeon, Droitwich was the youngest son of the late Jonathan Jaques, Rector of St Andrews Church, Droitwich.  Dr Jaques was an eminent and skilful surgeon beloved by a large circle of friends.  His name will long be cherished and remembered on account of the great courage, perseverance and skill displayed by him when that severe pestilence – the “asiatic cholera” broke out so fearfully and fatally raged in Droitwich in the year 1832.  He manfully stood by his post when many fled the place.  He at that time discovered a great boon to mankind in the mineral and medicinal properties of the valuable saline waters of Droitwich and causing warm baths to be used for persons affected with cholera he found they recovered, even in cases of collapse.  He was also the cause of the brine being used medicinally.”

A great tribute to an exceptional man.

He was interred in the family grave in Dodderhill churchyard.


The London & Provincial Medical Directory 1850

Pigot’s Directory 1828

Bentley’s Directory 1840

Pigot’s Directory 1841

Bentley’s Directory 1842

Billing’s Directory 1855

1831 Census

1841 Census

1851 Census


[1]Asiatic Cholera Epidemic 1830 and Homeopathy by Dr William E Thomas MD

Asiatic cholera is an epidemic disease which became pandemic in the 19th century, attacking nearly every major country in the world. The disease is caused by Coma bacillus – Vibrio cholerae – discovered in 1883 by Dr. Robert Koch (1843-1910), and its toxins. The bacilli are ingested with contaminated water or food.  The cholera epidemics had devastating effects among the population, when mortality averaged almost half of its incidence.