Sunday 23 October 2011


Hot on the heels of this wartime doctor's bill, comes a pre-war example, kindly loaned to us by Carole Hughes. The wording of the bill caused confusion initially, on my part at least, when I took the 'Dr' to be an abbreviation of 'Doctor' and wondered if 'To' was short for 'Thomas' or something similar.  Of course, this was complete nonsense, as Geraldine Williams gently pointed out:

 'I think it's actually the abbreviation of 'Debtor to J Murphy' - the old-style way of sending bills (not that I remember them of course!). I'm pretty certain his name was James.' 

This well known Middlewich practitioner was described by Geraldine  in our earlier posting as 'the formidable Dr Murphy'
The recipient of the bill for 'Professional Attendance' and/or 'Medicine &c' was Mr J H Sant of 40 St Annes Avenue, who paid £12. 12s. 0d (or 12 guineas) - a lot of money in 1932.
It's not clear quite what Mr Sant was paying for (and it's none of our business anyway) but it does show us once again how expensive medical treatment was in the days before the NHS.
Stamp Duty of 2d was payable on the transaction and two stamps have been affixed to make up the total - a 'halfpenny' and a 'three halfpence' (pronounced three a'pence).
The ins and outs of stamp duty are too complicated to go into here. It was largely abolished on small transactions many years ago, but still applies in certain circumstances to financial dealings. Notoriously, a form of it is still applicable when buying property worth more than £125,000.
But it's no longer necessary to 'sign over the stamp' as I used to do all those years ago in the Rates Office when I was selling dustbins to the good people of Middlewich.
You'll note that Dr Murphy's address is given, in the best autocratic manner, simply as 'The Beeches, Middlewich', implying that no further information was required.
At first we thought we had another 'where was this house?' mystery on our hands but, thankfully, the answer in this case is quite simple.
Photo: UK Real Estate listings
'The Beeches' is that very grand house on Chester Road with the intriguing turret on one side of it. Dr Brown lived there at one time.
People wanting to see Dr. Murphy would have to walk (or 'go traipsing' as they would no doubt have put it) all the way up to Chester Road to do so.
At the time of writing the house is on the market. And this is one property where Stamp Duty is definitely applicable.


  1. Well, now you have created a puzzle for me! Who was John Sant? He doesn't appear on my family tree! The address appears to be 48 St. Ann's Avenue, Middlewich, right?? Urgh.. now I'm going to have to email dad & see if he has any idea who this could have been.
    Thanks for the project! LOL

  2. Maybe Carole could email me... I'd love to find out more about her side of the Sant family & fill in the now seemingly big holes in my family tree! LOL

  3. Dr. James Murphy was my husband's Grandfather. Does anyone have any more information about his time in Middlewich.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Isabel. We'll see what we can find out. Dave Roberts (editor)


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