Victorian book which supported struck-off doctor is presented to Wisbech Museum

Wisbech Society returns Victorian book to the town. Wisbech Mayor Samantha Hoy presenting the book t

Wisbech Society returns Victorian book to the town. Wisbech Mayor Samantha Hoy presenting the book to Robert Bell . - Credit: Archant

A HISTORIC book which symbolised Wisbech’s community spirit has been returned to the town after more than a century.

Historic book that has returned to Wisbech

Historic book that has returned to Wisbech - Credit: Archant

Robert Ross, who had looked after the book since the 1970s, presented the book to Mayor of Wisbech Councillor Samantha Hoy at Wisbech & Fenland Museum last Wednesday.

The leather-bound book, signed by 247 dignitaries, was presented to Henry Thorns along with 100 sovereigns in 1896.

The museum’s assistant curator Robert Bell researched the book’s origins and discovered Mr Thorns practised medicine in Wisbech for many years before being struck off by the General Medical Council for lacking a licence.

The decision prompted 3,449 residents to sign a petition calling for the decision to be reversed.


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The General Medical Council ignored their protests but the Wisbech community was determined to help Mr Thorns and banded together to raise more than 100 sovereigns for him.

They presented the donation and the book to Mr Thorns in a town hall ceremony.

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Ray Johnson, chairman of the Wisbech Society, who arranged for the book to be returned to the town, said Mr Thorns’ plight united the people of the town.

He said: “I’m delighted that the Wisbech Society has helped return an important part of Wisbech’s past to the town, rediscovering a ‘lost’ story that underlines the generosity and community support traditionally found in Wisbech.

“When you consider the population of Wisbech was probably around 10,000 back then, the fact the petition got 3,449 signatures, nearly the entire adult population at the time, shows what benefit he must have brought to the town.”

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