Stephen Hemsted

Date published: 04/09/2015
© Newbury Field Club







The names of very few persons have been so long and widely known throughout the length and breadth of the County as that of the late STEPHEN HEMSTED, Esq., whose death took place at his residence, Newbury, April 10th, 1885; and it is difficult to realise the extended and varied associations which pass away with such a man.


Mr. Hemsted sprang from an ancient family, originating amongst the Protestant refugees driven to England by the persecution of the Duke of Alva, in the sixteenth century. They first established themselves at Norwich, when they removed to Ipswich and Haverhill, in Suffolk, of which latter place one of Mr. Hemsted's ancestors was appointed Vicar in the year 1729. another branch of the family settled at Halstead in Essex, was connected by marriage with the Alstons of Saxham Hall, in Suffolk. Stephen Hemsted, surgeon of Haverhill, married in 1746, Susanna, the second daughter of Tobias Rustat, lineal descendant of Tobias Rustat, the founder of the scholarships bearing his name in the University of Cambridge, distinguished for his loyalty to the Stuarts and one of the greatest public benefactors of his age. He erected at his own expense the equestrian statues of Charles II at Windsor Castle, and Chelsea Hospital; and also the statue of James II, which still stands at the back of the Banqueting House, Whitehall.


The late Mr Hemsted, born in 1802, was the eldest son of Henry Hemsted, Esq., M.D., many years Coroner of the Borough of |Newbury; grandson of Stephen Hemsted, Esq., M. D., of Ilsley Hall, one of the coroners for the county of Berks.; and great grandson of Stephen Hemsted, Esq., surgeon of Haverhill, who married a daughter of the Tobias Rustat, above mentioned. Adopting the profession in which so many of his immediate relatives had acquired considerable distinction, Mr. Hemsted began his career as a surgeon under the eminent Dr. Abernathy, lecturer in surgery and anatomy at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Having obtained the diploma of membership of the Royal College of Surgeons of London in 1825, he commenced practice in Newbury, and soon acquired an extensive reputation: and his success in the management of disease sustained the good name which drew so many patients to him. Fully self-reliant, he ventured to perform operations which others had declined to undertake, his skill and manual dexterity almost invariably ensuring success.


He was perhaps made of too stern materials to be a universal favourite, but few men had warmer or more devoted friends amongst those who knew him well; and his high mental culture, and inexhaustible fund of illustrative and amusing anecdotes, made him one of the most agreeable of companions. Although not a member of the Field Club, he took great interest in the objects of the Society (see Vol. II, pp.242-3), and he was at all times ready to communicate the information he had acquired on scientific and other kindred subjects during his long and active life.


He retained his physical powers almost to the last and his fine, handsome figure, although he had long passed the grand climactoric, was little changed by time: it was old age, the dying out of the lamp that had burned so clear for more than four score years, that gave him his passport through the shadowy gate to the land of rest. Sincere in his professions, neither fearing or courting the favour of any man, his name will be missed and regretted in many circles where his bright and cheery presence was ever welcome.


We may add that he married the daughter of the Rev. Charles Townsend, who predeceased him. His remains were interred in a grave adjoining the family vault in Newbury Cemetery.


From Newbury Field Club book


Family vault contains Charlotte, possibly his daughter, died 5 December 1868

and wife Ann 1806-1876

Sources:Newbury Field Club book

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