THE SAD TALE OF EVELYN’S ARM

Bible6a

There is a family story than Louis and Fanny’s son Evelyn was dropped by his nurse as an infant, which caused paralysis of his left arm.  Louis later recorded in the family Bible the various treatments that were tried.  It is a poignant and very personal account, and shows his love for his children.

Louis wrote:
“Evelyn Bazalgette, born Oct 20th 1801, lost the use of his left Arm January 1803.  Dr. Richard Croft was consulted thereon who was of opinion that it was occasioned by the child’s Teething.  He lanced his Gums several times and ordered dry frictions with other remedies – in a few months he could use his fingers but the arm continued much the same.  In March 1803 Dr. Denman advised Electricity which was tried for near 3 Months without perceiving any benefit.
In July 1803 Dr. Bailey was consulted and joined with Dr. Denman in advising the child’s taking steel [i.e., tincture of iron] by way of strengthening his general habit and the using an artificial Tepid salt water Bath.  This plan was persever’d in for some Months without any visible amendment in the arm, but the child’s general health improved.  Drs Denman and Baillie wished to take the opinion of Dr. Pritcam who advised continuing the same plan as that presented by Drs Baillie and Denman. On Feby 7 1807 the Pere Eliser was consulted who order’d Evelyn to try the Baths of the prepared Barye [barytes?] Waters.  This was persevered in for four Weeks and the child’s health altered visibly and he became weak and relaxed.  Upon this the bath was given up and the child continued until Jan 1808.  A Mr. Peyt was recommended as having wrought several cures of lost limbs.  This Mr. P– attended for several months daily and used the feeble arm in a variety of muscular motions from which are Life Benefits but as yet no perception of amendment has been perceived.”
 
Dr Thomas Denman of Old Burlington Street is listed in the Universal Directory of 1791 as licentiate in midwifery of the Royal College of Surgeons. He attended George III for a time during his ‘malady’ as well as the confinements of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.  His son-in-law, Dr. Richard Croft, attended, with Dr. Matthew Baillie, the fatal confinement of Princess Charlotte.  No ‘Dr Pritcam’ has been traced but it is very likely that this was Dr David Pitcairn of Lincolns Inn Fields, Physician Extraordinary to the Prince of Wales and also a surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.  Perhaps Louis only saw the name written down, and it is easy to mistake ‘rn’ for ‘m’ in the script of the day, especially if it was written by a doctor!  ‘Dr Bailey/Baillie’ was Dr Matthew Baillie, who was the mentor of Pitcairn.  It is another indication of Louis’ good connections, as well as his wealth, that he was able to procure the services of four of the most eminent surgeons practising in London at the time.  They were all Scots, and the families intermarried, further strengthening their pre-eminence in the profession.   For example, in 1791 Dr Baillie married Sophia Denman, daughter of Thomas Denman and Elizabeth Brodie. His other daughter married Dr Richard Croft.  We have found no trace of ‘Pere Elliser’ or ‘Mr Peyt’ – they were probably practitioners of what we would now call ‘alternative medicine’.  It is somewhat sad, but not too surprising, that despite the best efforts of current medical science no cure could be found for Evelyn’s paralysis, which probably resulted from neurological damage. According to notes in the Bible of Louis’ great-grandson, the Reverend Evelyn Bazalgette, the arm remained useless all of Evelyn’s life. However, although he never married, it did not prevent him from pursuing a distinguished career as a barrister, King’s Counsel and bencher, and becoming treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn.

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One Response to THE SAD TALE OF EVELYN’S ARM

  1. Pingback: EVELYN BAZALGETTE, QC (1801-1888) | Prinny's Taylor – Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830)

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