The Druitt papers, documents relating to a nineteenth century London physician and surgeon and his family
The collection contains a great deal of material relating to Doctor Robert Druitt's professional and private interests. These include medicine, sanitation, public health, wine drinking and temperance and church music. There is also much correspondence between the doctor and his family and other nineteenth century figures. Also included are the papers of the doctor's father, wife and children and some Tupper Family papers. The value of these documents may be deduced from the fact that the professions of the doctor's children, who were reasonably good correspondents, included those of a parson, a solicitor, a doctor (who emigrated to Australia), a naval officer, a teacher and a musician.
A very interesting feature of the collection is that a nephew of Dr. Robert Druitt - one Montague John Druitt, is the chief 'Jack the Ripper' suspect today. (Jack the Ripper, by Daniel Farson.) 'Jack the Ripper' was the man (or woman - 'Jill the Ripper'), who in 1888 murdered at least six prostitutes in the East End of London. There is a letter written by Montague to his uncle Robert amongst these papers. This reveals nothing sensational, but is an example of his handwriting, which up to now (his signature excepted) has not been found.
"The contrast between the be-wigged, cane adorned, and sometimes pompous medicus of former times, with the intelligent, self reliant unassuming physician of today is surely very remarkable." [From Photographs of Eminent Medical Men, ed. by Wm. Tindal Robertson. London.]
The documents listed in the medical section of Robert Druitt's part of the catalogue illustrate his career history in full. They include certificates, testimonials, letters and printed and miscellaneous material.
Many of his lectures and other notes on sanitation and public health are contained in the collection.
The papers include correspondence, notes and many printed works relating to wine and temperance.
There is a large group of letters written to Doctor Druitt, the majority from his family. Other correspondents include W. Bright, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Edwin Chadwick, Randall T. Davidson, Benjamin Ferrey (his brother-in-law), Henry Fitzalan Howard, James R. Hope-Scott, R. Knox, David Livingstone, Caroline Norton (Melbourne's confidant) and Charles Mayo.
The family correspondence is a very full group and well illustrates the life of a large middle class family in mid and late nineteenth century England. There are large numbers of condolence letters [Condolence letter writing appeared to be a popular Victorian pastime.] following the deaths of members of the family also over 200 letters written to her husband in Madras and more than 80 replies. Perhaps the most interesting group are those from her children beginning with their early education, moving on through Secondary and University education, then taking in their professions, marriages, holidays and many problems of which they tell their mother. Her eldest son Robert wrote 138 letters between 1866 and 1898, her second son Charles 353, between 1861 and 1898 and there are over 350 from the rest of her children. Her most prolific letter writing child Charles was ordained into the Church and all his struggles and successes in life, as well as much material on religious questions of the time - ritualism, the deceased wife's sister bill etc. - come through in his letters to her. Her third son Cuthbert, who was in the navy, wrote from all corners of the world describing his life in the navy and the places he saw. All the family holidayed in Europe too and corresponded with her from there.
A letter written to her in 1873 by Chas. Willcox of Warnham contains a photograph of the tombstone of Benjamin Jesty on which is written the claim he discovered vaccination. The date is earlier than that of Jenner's discovery. Other letters in 1883 from William Druitt relate to Charles Lamb's supposed love for Mary Druitt illustrated by an epitaph on her tombstone in Wimborne.
The other papers in her group include diaries, accounts and estate papers. She died in 1899 survived by three sons and three daughters.
There is a small group of papers pertaining to Robert Druitt (6.1847)
Much of Charles Druitt's career is illustrated by the few papers that survive, relating to him and also by the already mentioned vast correspondence to his mother. He wrote a number of hymns and small theological works and had published a series of letters between himself and Sir Thomas Grove, Bart., M.P. on 'the deceased wife's sister Bill'.
Of the four sons Cuthbert Druitt's papers are the most extensive and perhaps the most interesting. All his certificates gained in the navy, as well as lists of clothing required, abstracts of ships passages and other papers survive, and a small group relating to his employment in South America also.
There are few papers relating to Isabella Druitt (b 1852)
A few papers survive relating to the career of Lionel Druitt (b. 1854)
There is a large collection of general and family correspondence with Emily Druitt up to her death. Of particular importance is her correspondence with members of the armed forces serving in the First World War. There are letters from barracks in England, Egypt, Cape Town, the front line in France, a prisoner-of-war camp in Ebersdorf and an internment camp in Switzerland
There survives a small number of letters relating to Katherine Druitt (b. 1858)
The remaining papers in the collection pertain to Emily Ferrey [who married Benjamin Ferrey the architect and sister of Isabella Druitt], the Tuppers and a few nineteenth century notables. Deposited with the Druitt Papers was a small group relating to the Tupper family. The connection between the two families is two fold. First as mentioned previously Robert Druitt junior married Alice M. Tupper and secondly the Tuppers lived next door to the Druitts in Strathmore Gardens.
The first group of letters relate to Martin Tupper, who was the Duke of Wellington's physician. Apart from this his chief claim to recognition was that he twice refused a baronetcy, first from Lord Liverpool and secondly from the Duke of Wellington. The largest series relate to Daniel Tupper, who was the Inspector of Accounts in the Lord Chamberlain's office. There are 45 letters written to his wife, most of which are loveletters before and after their marriage. The letters also include two from his brother Martin Farquhar Tupper a nineteenth century poet of great repute. He was popular in England, but this feeling was lukewarm compared to his popularity in America where he was considered as great as Shakespeare. Towards the end of his life and afterwards he fell very quickly from favour to be virtually unknown outside literary circles today. In Druitt 510 there is an early, possibly unpublished, poem by him. After Daniel Tupper's death his wife Mary Ellinor wrote to the Queen asking for a pension. The reply granted the pension, but pointed out that this was an unprecedented act.