Archive for the ‘doctor’ Tag

Clarinda Boddy (c1844-1909) part 1

When I first came across Clarinda Boddy, she didn’t particularly stand out… Clarinda was just an unmarried daughter who I made a note of from census returns for her father – Clarinda’s father being John Marlett Boddy (c1791-1875), a son of my direct ancestor George Boddy who I have described in earlier posts (here and here).

 Clarinda Boddy first attracted my attention when I found the following interesting news report in The Times Digital Archive:

“FEMALE MEDICAL STUDENTS – At the preliminary examination in arts at the Society of Apothecaries, which has just been brought to a close, 109 candidates presented themselves, when 72 passed and received certificates of proficiency in general education. Among them were the following ladies, placed in the first class and in the order of merit:- Annie Jacob, Mary Susan Mungearn, Clarinda Boddy, Elizabeth Longheed, and Catherine Mitchell. The following were placed in the second division:- Julia Cock, Elizabeth Grace Evans, and Janet Michie. At the half-yearly preliminary examinations in arts, &c., for the diplomas of fellowship and membership of the Royal College of Surgeons, to which young ladies are not admitted, the large number of 410 candidates presented themselves—viz., 128 for the fellowship and 282 for the membership; of this number 71 passed for the first-named distinction and 180 for the latter.”

from The Times 28 Sept. 1878 p6 colA (my enboldening)

Clearly there was more to Clarinda Boddy than I had realised! I reviewed my known facts. Her father, John Marlett, had died in 1875, and her mother, Mary, a year later. Her father had worked for the Admiralty, and the probate value of his effects was about £20,000.

So, it looks like once her parents were gone, Clarinda could please herself, and it clearly pleased her to look into medical training. As can be gleaned from the comments in The Times news report, and from any casual reading around about the history of women in medicine (for example), 1878 was right in the middle of when women were finally being allowed to qualify as doctors. Indeed, the first five women doctors qualified and were placed on the Medical Register in 1877.

So, now I was motivated to look further into Clarinda’s life, and the next step was tracking her through later census entries:

  • 1881 Clarinda is visiting a sister in Paddington, London, but is described as a medical student
  • 1891 cannot find an entry
  • 1901 Clarinda is a boarder in Maidstone, Kent and her occupation is a physician, living on her own means

So, Clarinda had succeeded in training and qualifying as a doctor! I knew the next step was to discover where she trained and when she qualified…

…but I’ve gone on long enough, and that will have to wait for another post 😉