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Thomas Richard Fisher (1811–1846)


Thomas Richard Fisher was born in Oxford in 1811. His father, William Fisher, was a builder, and his mother was called Ann, and they were probably the William Fisher of St Peter-le-Bailey parish who married Ann Serey of St Ebbe’s parish on 1 June 1902 at St Ebbe’s Church.

Thomas and his siblings were baptised as follows at St Ebbe’s:

  • Emily Fisher (10 August 1803)
  • Ann Fisher (17 december 1806)
  • William Fisher (14 October 1808
  • Thomas Ricahrd Fisher (15 November 1811)
  • Marianne Fisher (28 March 1815
  • Frances Fisher (15 November 1816)

He was an apprentice of the surgeon George Hitchings, and moved on to St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He then returned to Oxford, and was matriculated as “Chirurgus” on 24 July 1835. He describes himself as a “surgeon of this city” when he gave evidence at an Oxford inquest soon afterwards (Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 24 October 1835).

At the time of the 1841 census he was described as a Surgeon and living in Cornmarket Street in St Martin’s parish (probably Frewin Hall). With him were his older sister Anne, and also staying in the house at this time was the surgeon Charles Parker.

On 26 July 1842 Fisher married Mrs Elizabeth Copland Bishop, daughter of the brewer Charles Tawney and the young widow of the physician Charles Joseph Bishop. The following announcement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 30 July 1842:

On Tuesday the 26th instant, at Clifton, Bristol, by the Rev. Richard Tawney, Rector of Willoughby, Warwickshire, Thomas Richard Fisher, Esq. surgeon, to Elizabeth Copland, widow of the late Charles J. Bishop, Esq. M.D., and eldest daughter of Charles Tawney Esq. of this city.

Elizabeth already had four children by her first marriage, and the couple had another three together. The first two were:

  • Arthur Thomas Fisher (baptised at Holywell Church on 14 June 1843)
  • Emily Bishop Fisher (baptised at St Michael’s Church on 28 February 1845).

The family was described as being “of this parish” (Holywell) at the first baptism, so it is possible that they lived for a time in 1 Holywell Street, the Bishop family’s former house, before moving back to Fisher’s practice in Cornmarket.

Fisher was appointed Consulting Surgeon of the Warneford Asylum in October 1845, and was elected Surgeon to the Radcliffe Infirmary on 17 June 1846, but less than four months later, on 4 November, he committed suicide at the age of 34. The inquest into his death, described in detail in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 7 November 1846, came to the conclusion that “the deceased died from taking a certain deadly poison called Scheele’s Prussic Acid, not being at the time of sane mind”.

Although described in the burial register as being of St Michael’s parish, Fisher was buried at Holywell.

Around the time of her husband’s suicide, Mrs Elizabeth Fisher gave birth to their third child, who was evidently baptised while she was staying at her father’s house:

  • Frances Tawney Fisher (baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 18 December 1846).

Mrs Elizabeth Fisher was back in her first husband’s old house at 1 Holywell Street by the time of the 1851 census, and living with her were the three daughters of her first marriage, Anne (27), Mary (25), and Martha (21), plus Arthur (17) and Emily (16) from her second marriage. The household had a governess and four servants. Her youngest daughter, Frances, died at the age of 9 in January 1856.

Mrs Fisher is listed as the occupant of the House in Gardner’s Oxford Directory of 1852, and remained there until the late 1890s. The 1881 census shows her there at the age of 71, with her unmarried daughter Mary Ellen Bishop (45), her grandson Walter E.B. Walton (a schoolboy of 16), her widowed sister Mrs Martha C. Tannard, and four servants, including a companion. She died on 20 February 1898, aged 89, and is buried at Holywell Cemetery with her youngest daughter Frances who had died 42 years earlier.

Below: Mrs Fisher’s grave in St Cross churchyard:

Grave of Mrs Fisher

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
ELIZABETH COPLAND
FISHER

WIDOW OF THE LATE
CHARLES JOSEPH BISHOP M.D.
AND OF THE LATE
T. R. FISHER M.R.C.S.
BORN DEC 12 1809, DIED QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY
FEB. 20, 1898, AGED 89

AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY, THESE
THREE; BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS CHARITY

Frances Fisher

Reverse side:

AND OF
FRANCES TAWNEY
YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF THE LATE
E. C. AND T. R. FISHER
WHO DIED JAN: 19 1856 AGED 9 YEARS

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