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Clerks' letter books

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2130 F/1/1
Held at: Society of Apothecaries
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Full title: Clerks' letter books
Date(s): 1876-1953
Level of description: Series
Extent: 12 large archival boxes (58 volumes)
Name of creator(s): The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The office of Clerk is that of secretary to the Court and Chief Executive Officer of the Society. James Richard Upton held office 1872-1901, succeeding his uncle Robert Brotherson Upton. He died 8 December 1901 during a visit to India and a silver cup was presented to the Society in his memory. Archer Mowbray Upton held office 1901-1916, a solicitor like his father and great uncle, until he was dismissed from the Society's employment in 1916 for criminal proceedings against him. He was convicted of embezzling clients' funds from Upton and Co, Solicitors, the practice he held jointly with his brother. He was sentenced to three years' penal servitude and struck off the Roll of Solicitors. He had not, however, defrauded the Society.

Arthur Bingham Watson took up the post 16 May 1916 at a fixed salary of 300 per annum. He too was a solicitor and a partner in the firm Watson, Sons and Room. On 4 April 1917 Watson was admitted to the Freedom of the Society and was in office when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, became the first ever Honorary Licentiate of the Society. He died 23 October 1927.

Philip Beaumont Frere was also a solicitor and held office 1928-1932. He was appointed 3 March 1928, having been admitted as a solicitor in 1920, and for thirty years was a senior partner in the firm of Frere, Chomley and Co of Lincoln's Inn Fields, established 1750. Frere was admitted to the Yeomanry of the Society in 1932 and promoted to the Livery in 1933. He was a member of the Grocers' Company and was elected to its Court in 1932, which is when he resigned his Clerkship. However he was then appointed solicitor to the Society. He became Master of the Grocers' Company, 1938-1939; it is probably unique for the former Clerk of one Livery Company to become Master of another. He was co-founder with Sir William Goodenough of the British United Provident Association, the foremost insurance company for private medical treatment. He retired from active practice in 1954.

Henry Cooper attained the rank of Colonel in all three armed services having already qualified as a doctor at the London Hospital in 1904. Cooper held office 1932-1941. He received the Distinguished Service Order and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium for notable conduct during World War One. Cooper retired from the services in 1932, having been previously appointed Principal Medical Officer of the Air Defences of Great Britain, Honorary Surgeon to the King, 1930-1932, and had been honoured as an Officer of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Cooper was admitted to the Yeomanry of the Society in 1933 and the Livery in 1934. He also served in World War Two as Principal Medical Officer, Balloon Command, 1939-1942, and as Assistant Director of Personnel in the Emergency Medical Service, 1942-1945. He resigned the Clerkship in March 1941 and died in 1948.

Ernest Busby entered the Society's service in 1926 as Bursar. He was acting Clerk and Registrar from 1941 until December 1945, when he was confirmed as Clerk and Registrar. He became a member of the Livery in 1939. Busby was made Honorary Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery in 1967, during the celebrations for the 350th anniversary of the Society's Charter. He received an MBE. Busby retired in August 1977 after 50 years' service.


Scope and content/abstract:

Society of Apothecaries of London: Clerks' letter books, 1876-1953, comprise volumes of outgoing correspondence, originating from the Clerks, James Richard Upton (1871-1901), Archer Mowbray Upton (1901-1916), Arthur Bingham Watson (1916-1927), Philip Beaumont Frere (1928-1932), Henry Cooper (1932-1941) and Ernest Busby (1941-1977). Each volume is indexed by subject, name and place and the letters reflect the range of duties, responsibilities and activities of the Clerk on behalf of the Society, as its most senior Officer.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in chronological order.

Conditions governing access:

Open for consultation. Please make an appointment with the Archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Archivist.

Finding aids:

A temporary detailed box list is available, held by the Archivist in the Brande Room/Archivist's office. Please contact the Archivist for more information.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The archives, a new repository, has been formed since 1998, by combining the substantial quantity of historical records recently discovered at Apothecaries' Hall with those previously on deposit at Guildhall Library.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Internal acquisition

Allied Materials

Related material:

Additional correspondence exists throughout the collection. Please contact the Archivist for further information.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources:Clerks Bedels and Chemical Operators of the Society of Apothecaries: The Gideon De Laune Lecture for 1977 by T D Whittet, Chairman, Faculty of the History and Philosophy of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Society, 1975-1978, Court Visitor to the Faculty, 1978-1979, and Court Assistant (E R Squibb and Sons Limited, 1978).
Compiled by Dee Cook, Archivist and Sam Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
May 2008

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