William Lukyn, dentist (fl. 1830s)

William Lukyn (or Lukin) was a dentist in London Place, St Clement’s from 1829. He probably chose to live and work there because at that time only freemen and matriculated tradesmen could work within the city of Oxford, and St Clements did not become part of the city until 1835.

Lukyn and his wife Sarah had their daughter Fanny baptised at St Clement’s Church on 31 July 1831.

Lukyn’s career can easily be followed in the large advertisements he regularly placed in Jackson’s Oxford Journal. In his earliest advertisements he describes himself as “Resident Dentist to the University of Oxford” and emphasizes his tenuous royal connection. The following date from 28 May and 5 November 1831 respectively,

JOJ 28 May 1831

Lukyn advertisement of 1831

As the following notice published on 31 March 1832 shows, Lukyn soon opened a surgery in the High Street near the Market, while continuing to live in his house in London Place:

Lukyn notice of 1832

Lukyn was matriculated by the University as a “chirurgus” (surgeon) on 4 December 1832 after attending to the Vice-Chancellor. G. V. Cox in Recollections of Oxford writes:

An Oxford dentist, named Lukyn, about this time [1833] having had the good luck to operate successfully upon a Vice-Chancellor’s erkos odonton, asked and obtained the privilege of being matriculated. The consequence was, that wherever he could, in newspapers and by printed circulars, he was ever before one’s eyes as “Lukyn, the Matriculated Dentist”, accompanied in smaller type, by a reprint of the Vice-Chancellor’s acknowledgment of “having been benefitted by his skill”.

The following advertisement, which appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 5 January 1833, is the first one in which Mr Lukyn describes himself as “Dentist to the University of Oxford”:

Notice in 1833

In 1833 Lukyn’s daughter Elizabeth died at the age of 12 years and 3 months and was buried at St Clement’s Church.

The following advertisement, in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 18 October 1834, shows that during1833/4 Lukyn had moved his practice to Cowley House. Here he specifically boasts that he was matriculated by the Vice-Chancellor.

Notice of 1834

Cowley House (now the Hall building of St Hilda’s College) is in Cowley Place, and was at this time owned by an upholsterer called Cooke, and Lukyn would only have rented part of it. The postcard below shows the back of the house, which faces the River Cherwell.

Cowley Hall

The following notice on 11 July 1835shows that Lukyn soon took on assistant dentists at Cowley House:

Lukyn advertisement

Here, on 11 February 1837, Lukyn advertises for a new assistant:

Notice of 1837

On 15 April 1837, the arrival of the lucky assistant was announced:

Another 1837 notice

In Robson’s Commercial Directory of 1839, Lukyn (stretching a point as to his matriculation, which was actually in 1832) advertises himself as follows:

Lukyn, Wm. Cowley House (& at 24 Spring Gardens, London), Patentee Dentist, & Matriculated Dentist to the University from 1829.

At the beginning of 1839, Lukyn took out a patent on his method of attaching teeth:

William Lukyn, of Lower Cowley House, Oxford, dentist, for certain improvements in applying, and attaching original and natural teeth. January 29; six months.

The advertisement below, dating from 1 February 1840, shows that Lukyn had moved the London side of his practice to New Bond Street:

1840 notice of Lukyn

Lukyn’s last advertisement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal was on 9 May 1840:

Advertisement in May 1840

Less than five months later, on 3 October 1840, the dentist Edmund Bevers inserted a notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal to say that he had succeeded to Lukyn’s practice.

William Lukyn then vanishes, possibly under a cloud, as just two weeks later Bevers distanced himself from him in another advertisement stating that “In consequence of the unfounded reports, Mr Beavers takes this opportunity of informing his friends there is no connection whatsoever existing between him and Mr Lukyn, who formerly resided at Cowley House”.

It is possible that the former Oxford dentist is the “insolvent debtor” called William Lukyn whose case was heard in London on 19 February 1849.

Lukyn’s origins

There was a pair of dentist brothers with the surname Lukyn working in New Bond Street, London at the same time as William Lukyn was based in Oxford and London, and these may well be related. On 4 April 1846 an Edward Lukyn put an advertisement in The Times, saying that he was formerly with a Mr Bell, but had moved from Cheapside to 35 New Bond-Street. This gentleman later added that he was “sole dentist to the ex-Queen and King of the French”. His brother, Thomas Lukyn, worked with him for ten years and then opened his own practice at 3 Wyndham Place.

They may have been related to Paul Lukyn, a London stationer and manufacturer of ruled paper and account books, who was at 144 Cheapside in 1784; Mansion House Street in 1790; and at 48,St. Paul’s Churchyard 1792–1799 (trading alone 1784–1795, and as Lukyn, Winbolt and Co. 1796–1799).

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