Biography of Ralph Barnes Grindrod MD (water cure doctor) 1811 - 1883
Transcription of obituaries
More about family
Janet Grierson (biographer)
Dr Ralph Barnes Grindrod (1811-1883) was an orthodox
physician, and a vigorous promoter of teetotalism, that is abstension from
alcohol, who came to Malvern about 1850. Mostly forgotten now, but he would have been well known,
both locally and nationally, in his day.
Janet Grierson has written extensively about Dr Grindrod,
and you will find a copy of her well researched book (ref 1) in the Local Reference section
of Malvern library.
By all accounts he was a philanthropic and good man, and
our intention in creating this page for the Internet is to remember his small part in shaping
Ralph was the fourth son of James
Grindrod, who in 1851 was a publican, and Mary, nee Stones. Janet Grierson
thinks James Grindrod had earlier been a farmer.
Ralph's eldest brother Thomas William Grindrod
(1804 - 1836) was a surgeon, who sadly died a young man; his brother
James Newton Grindrod (1808 - 1867) was a restaurateur, but we know little
about their brother, Joseph Stones Grindrod, who may have worked as a 'Dyer'
in the cotton trade and who died at Manchester in 1852.
On 30th August 1837 at the Collegiate and Parish Church
Manchester, the forerunner of Manchester Cathedral, Ralph Grindrod married,
Mary Whiteley Hull, the daughter of a Worsted Dealer (ref 2); she was also a
supporter of the Temperance movement. They
had one son, physician Charles Frederick Grindrod (1847-1910) who was born on
the Isle of Wight; Charles, who lived in Malvern Wells, was a
friend of Elgar and the author of 'Malvern What to See and Where to Go'.
Ralph Grindrod set up his practice at Townshend House in
Malvern about 1850; we wondered if the house was so named because it was
then at the 'end of the town'.
Townshend House still stands next to St
near the NE corner of
College Road. See photo below, which
shows a side view of the house and a glimpse of St
Edmund's Hall beyond.
A picture in Malvern Library, showing the rear of the
house, suggests the property once had a large rear garden where patients and
visitors could promenade. Mrs Grindrod is said to have held a four day
bazaar there to help raise funds for the building of the Lansdowne Methodist
Church which opened in 1866. Cora Weaver and Bruce Osborne record there was once a spring
and drinking fountain in the grounds (ref 3).
Rear of Townshend House, courtesy of Malvern Library
Grindrod was at Townshend House from about 1850 to 1880
when he retired due to ill health. His obituaries (ref 4, 5, 6) relate that
he had been a vigorous promoter of the Temperance movement - he is said to
have spent a 'fortune' promoting it - and
in 1833, he was probably the first medical man in
England to sign the total abstinence pledge. Perhaps he had
observed the damage drink could do both at his father's pub and as a doctor
ministering to the poor.
Ralph travelled widely in England lecturing and
publishing in support of the Temperance
movement and was president of the Manchester and Salford Temperance Society
The Temperance movement must have had some
influence on Great Malvern, as the Malvern Book Co-op in St Ann's Road now occupies the
dining room of what was once the Central Temperance Hotel (ref 9). Interestingly it
is located midway between the Unicorn and Red Lion!
Former Temperance Hotel viewed from car park behind Unicorn
As late as 1900 a drinking fountain was erected by
the Members and Friends of the British Women's Temperance Association, on
the edge of Malvern Link Common, near the railway station, so that visitors
could get a drink without having to go into a pub (see photo opposite).
Dr Grindrod also wrote books, promoted the education of
the children of the poor, analysed local water supplies and was a member of
the Town Board. In 1855 he founded the Malvern Advertiser newspaper
which he passed on to John Sloggett
Jenkins in 1867.
He was interested in geology and was a member of the
Geological Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
He amassed a large collection of fossils which in 1882 was acquired by the
University of Oxford Museum of Natural History; some would have been
unearthed when the railway tunnel was dug under the Malvern Hills.
By about 1861 his business must have been doing well, as a large extension was added to the rear of
Townshend House designed by Edward C
Allflatt, Architect and Surveyor, (1832-1890) of Leigh in
Worcestershire. In 1861 Dr Grindrod can be found living at Dr Wilson's
Hydropathic Establishment in Abbey Road (now Park View).
Grindrod became a Freemason and helped
Lodge which was consecrated at Townshend House in December 1867.
Nowadays Royds Lodge meets in rooms off Belle Vue Terrace.
The 1881 census
recorded Dr Grindrod as a retired medical practitioner living at
Montpellier House in
Albert Road North, which later became Ivydene and part of Malvern Girls'
College; the college eventually sold Ivydene which has recently
been modernised and converted into apartments.
Ralph Grindrod Barnes MD died at a property named The Ruby
in Malvern Wells in 1883. He was survived by his wife and son. The
possibly dating from the 17th century, is rumoured to have been named, by a
Ruby which served in the fleet of
In 1881 The Ruby was occupied by George Moorcroft, a
lodging house keeper, and later in 1911 it was occupied by Arthur Walker,
born Bewdley about 1839, and Ralph Grindrod no doubt rented an apartment
there to be near his son and daughter in law at Wyche-Side.
Dr Ralph Grindrod does not appear to have come from a
particularly wealthy family, so we wondered by what route he became a
doctor, when educational opportunities were more limited than they are now,
and how he could afford to buy Townshend House in Great Malvern; likely he got a
The medical register records he was admitted to the
Society of Apothecaries (London) in 1830 - probably after working as an
apprentice to his elder brother Thomas, and was admitted MD by Doctorate in
1855 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been given authority to grant
Other sources say he had been awarded the degree of MD
by the university of
Erlangen, which is in Germany, on the strength of his publications.
It is of note that the preface of a book of sermons,
commemorating the founding of Lansdowne Methodist church, contains a tribute
to Dr Grindrod (ref 7).
The Wesleyan Methodist Pulpit in Malvern.
THE OPENING SERVICES
WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL
by Rev WM Punshon, Rev W Arthur, Rev JH James, Rev C Prest, Rev J Priestley, Rev G Smith, Rev G Wood.
RALPH BARNES GRINDROD
MD, LLD, FLS,FRGS, FGS
This Volume of Sermons is respectfully inscribed in thankful acknowledgment of the learned doctors great gift of healing but more especially of his large charity
and high christian character.
Dr Grindrod had helped raise funds for the building of
the church and may have supported the Methodists partly as a means to
further the Temperance cause.
Dr Grindrod's death was reported in the newspaper he
founded, the Malvern Advertiser, on 24th November 1883. To quote:
DEATH OF DR R B GRINDROD
It falls to our lot, in the round of duty, to record the
death of Dr R B Grindrod, which happened on Sunday last at Malvern Wells.
With the history of Malvern the name of Dr Grindrod has
been intimately associated for upwards of 30 years, while as a public man,
of even national prominence, he occupied a foremost position in the great
Temperance movement for 40 years. Of the labours of those years their
magnitude and their valuable results, we purpose to give a sketch.
Born in Cheshire in 1811, he was at a suitable age
apprenticed to his brother, who had a good practice in Manchester; and while
studying there he had excellent opportunities for gaining a sound education
in the principles and practices of the medical profession.
At the comparatively early age of 20 he received his
first licence to practise medicine at Halton Castle, near Runcorn; and it
was while exercising his calling as medical officer to some Working Men's
Clubs that he was painfully impressed by the scenes he witnessed and came to
the conclusion that drink was the Working Man's great bane.
He set to work at once and introduced many changes in the
rules of these societies, and in other ways dealt some heavy blows at what
he saw was working such mischief among artisans. His removal brought him
into close connection with the Manchester Temperance Society a society
which aimed at making men moderate drinkers; but Dr Grindrod speedily saw
that to work on such lines was not only a fallacy but a mockery. He
therefore, in 1833, threw his heart and soul into the advocacy of entire
abstinence, and was unquestionably the first medical man in England to sign
the pledge and to advocate teetotal principles.
In 1835, in conjunction with the early apostles of the
great reform, Dr Grindrod delivered lectures on the nature and injurious
properties of alcohol; he also recommended classes and lectures for the
benefit of reformed drunkards; the establishment of coffee taverns, of late
so largely developed; the closing of public houses on Sunday; Temperance
Societies and Bands of Hope.
It was after one of these lectures that
John Cassell, at
that time working as a carpenter, signed the pledge, and thus laid the
foundation of that fame with which in after years his name was so widely
From that time forward Dr Grindrod's labours as a
lecturer were very onerous and their results were incalculably great. He
visited principal towns in England, to each of which he gave two or three
evenings. Vast crowds listened to the exposition of the new doctrines, and
very many signed the pledge. Everywhere the lectures were a success, and in
those places not a few where public discussions followed, the temperance
lecturer was declared not simply to have the best of the argument, but the
opponents were left unsupported.
In 1838, the National Temperance Society, of which Earl
Stanhope was the president, offered a premium of a hundred sovereigns for
the best essay on the Temperance question. Twenty competitors entered the
lists: 'Bacchus' and 'Anti-Bacchus' divided the judgement of the three
appointed adjudicators, two of whom were in favour of the former, while the
third pronounced judgement for the latter. 'Bacchus' to which the first
prize was awarded was found to be from the pen of Dr Grindrod. Well do we
remember the interest excited by the publication of this work. It was marked
by extra-ordinary research, and by the collecting and collating of facts,
and the statement of great principles; indeed it remains to this day a
marvellous and matchless storehouse of argument, illustration, and sound
scientific knowledge; and had Dr Grindrod done nothing beyond this he would
have attained an imperishable fame.
But his pen was incessant, as his brain was active, and
in his leisure moments pamphlets, leaflets, and brochures on various
subjects were sent forth the 'Wrongs of our Youth' and the 'Slaves of the
Needle' being among his productions.
The heavy and continuous strain which Dr Grindrod's busy
life entailed, and the necessity for rest, caused him in 1850, to make
Malvern his permanent abode permanent alas! at longest in the sense of a
For thirty years Dr Grindrod was at the head of Townshend
House, and for that long period, he was in labours abundant. To all who are
in any way acquainted with the town, the story of his work is well known. In
all efforts to benefit society, especially among the working classes, he was
sure to be found, and his advocacy was always enlisted on the part of the
poor and helpless. Dr Grindrod had a large heart; and if the largeness of
his heart could have met the needs and supplied the necessities of the
suffering of the distressed, there would have wanted no better, no other,
Liberal in his views and catholic in his sympathies, Dr
Grindrod, though an earnest Churchman, was the friend of all Christian
movement and readily lent his Winter Promenade to his Conformist and
Non-conformist friends, and many and important were the meetings in aid of
Christian philanthropy and benevolence held there.
About two years since Dr Grindrod retired from Townshend
House in enfeebled health, and soon after he had a severe illness which
developed symptoms of disease of the heart. A lengthy sojourn in Wales,
whither he had removed, for a time seemed to do him much good, but a return
of his old symptoms in an intensified form gave proof of serious evils which
at no very distant day would tell their fatal tale.
A few months ago he returned from Wales and took up his
residence near his son, Dr C Grindrod, at Malvern Wells. He suffered much
during these brief but mournful months; and on Sunday last death terminated
his mortal career and released him from the pain and afflictions of a
checkered life crowded with work and teeming with philanthropic purposes and
We have sketched Dr Grindrod as the active and energetic
man whose powers were devoted to some of the noblest pursuits and aims of an
unselfish life; as a Christian he was a humble follower of the great Master,
into whose presence and glory we cannot doubt the disciple has now entered
and is forever at rest. Dr Grindrod has left a widow who, during the years
of her husband's great work, was a fit and noble help, and to her aid much
of the success of the early days of Temperance is due.
We need hardly ask the sympathy and condolence of our
readers for the widow.
The funeral took place at St Peter's, Malvern Wells, on
Thursday, the Rev RFS Perfect and Rev CL Banister being the officiating
Amongst those who attended were Dr C Grindrod and Mrs C
Grindrod as chief mourners, Rev DF Perrott, Rev FW Davenport, Dr Fernie, Dr
Pike, Dr Holbeche, Messrs WS Burrow, W Marshall, JS Jenkins, Henry Wilson,
T Cox, J Nott, R Melvin, Henry Jones, James Jones, HJ Jones, John Jackson, J
Bray, A Sparkes, W Davis, A King, W Price etc.
From the Births Marriages and Deaths column of the
GRINDROD On the 18th inst, at Malvern Wells, Ralph
Barnes Grindrod MD, formerly of Townshend House, Malvern, in his 73rd year.
Friends will kindly accept this intimation.
HURD On the 21st inst, Thomas Hurd, many years porter
at the Newland Almshouses, aged 82 years. Much respected.
(Note: nowadays we might be tempted to think that his
book 'Slaves of the Needle', mentioned above, was about drugs but in fact it
was about the poor working conditions of dressmakers and needlewomen.)
The Manchester Guardian
Newspapers from the place of his birth, in reporting Dr
emphasised how he had supported the Temperance movement. To quote:
The Manchester Guardian November 24th 1883 says: - The
Alliance News announces the death on the 18th November, at Malvern Wells, of
Dr RB Grindrod, in his 73rd year.
Although seldom amongst us of late years, Dr Grindrod was
a native of the county of Chester, and was born in 1811, but his parents
came to live in Chorlton-upon-Medlock whilst he was very young.
He was apprenticed to his elder brother, who was a
surgeon practising in that part of Manchester. Mr Grindrod became house
medical officer of the Chorlton Dispensary, and contributed a paper on
hydrophobia to the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in 1836.
Some years before this, whilst living at Halton, he had
become interested in the question of temperance, and in 1834 he presided at
a meeting in Oak Street, when a Total Abstinence Society was formed. He was
the first medical man who joined the new movement, and probably was the
first of all the 'teetotal doctors', having taken the pledge in 1833.
He had soon a melancholy opportunity to show his skill,
for on January 26th, 1836, at a temperance meeting held in a new building in
Oldham Road, the floor gave way; two persons were killed and over 60
injured. One of those who visited the sufferers by this disaster was the
kind hearted Dr Stanley, then rector of Alderley, who was much interested by
Dr Grindrod's work, and by his conversations with the reformed drunkards and
others to whom he was introduced.
Bishop Stanley himself became an 'abstainer', but after a
time resumed his use of alcohol in obedience to the dictates of his own
physician, who did not share the new views.
Dr Grindrod was exceedingly active as an advocate, and
one of his converts was Mr John Cassell, the founder of the well known
publishing firm. Great interest was excited by a discussion he had with Mr
Youil, a local brewer, whose lecture on ale was delivered to an audience of
many thousands in Stevenson Square.
Dr Grindrod's book 'Bacchus' gained a prize offered by
the National Temperance Society, and had a large circulation. He wrote in
favour of the reduction of the hours of labour in shops and factories, and
was also active as an opponent of the socialism of
(We wondered why
and if this was because Owen was a Humanist rather than a Christian).
He contemplated taking orders in the Church of England,
but this intention was abandoned, and he devoted several years to a series
of lectures on the medical aspects of alcohol.
In 1850 he settled at Malvern where until his retirement
few years ago he had a large hydropathic institution, which was also a
centre of philanthropic and scientific work.
Dr Grindrod's first medical qualification, obtained in
1830, was that of LSA, and at later dates he received the degree of MD from
Erlangen and Lambeth. From Union College, New York, he had the diploma of
LLD which was presented in flattering terms by
Edward Everett, then the
American Minister in this country.
Dr Grindrod was also a Fellow of the
Linnaean Society and
of various other learned associations both at home and abroad. It was not
however as a man of science that he will be best remembered, but as a man of
philanthropic instincts and as one of the early workers in the temperance
movement, which since his labours began has made such remarkable progress.
From the Malvern News
The interment of the mortal remains of the deceased
gentleman took place on Thursday, in Malvern Wells churchyard.
The choir sang a hymn as the funeral cortege entered the
church, where the first part of the burial service was conducted by Rev FRS
Perfect (vicar), and Rev CL Banister, of the Wyche. The procession then left
the church, while the 'Dead March' in Saul was played on the organ by Mr FF
Rogers, and proceeded to the grave.
The mourners were Dr Charles and Mrs Grindrod and Rev
Powell, and numerous temperance and other friends fell in behind the funeral
procession as it left 'The Ruby' at Malvern Wells, the house in which the
deceased had died.
Amongst those who attended to show their last mark of
respect to the deceased doctor were: Rev WS Symonds, Rev FW Davenport, Dr
Fernie, Dr Pike, Messrs Holbeche, W Marshall, Henry Wilson, WB Burrow, H
Jones (Link), JH Jones, James Jones, J Nott, Davis, Melvin, Jackson, J Bray,
JS Jenkins, and W Wharton, and Messrs King and Price who attended as old
The coffin of polished oak was covered with a violet pall
and wreaths of beautiful flowers. Great sympathy is felt for the widow, and
her son, both of whom are greatly respected and beloved.
Philanthropist Ralph Barnes Grindrod is buried in the
churchyard of St Peter's Malvern Wells, on the corner of Green Lane. The
church has since closed and been converted into apartments, but the
churchyard is still there and Janet Grierson relates that his grave is
marked by a massive stone cross.
We have attempted to identify some of the mourners from
these reports. These included:
Rev William Samuel Symonds (1818 - 1887), rector of
Pendock, who was a geologist and author of scientific articles.
Rev Francis William Davenport was the vicar of Christ
Church in Avenue Road.
Dr William Thomas Fernie had taken over Dr Gully's water
cure business at Tudor House on the Wells Road.
Henry Wilson could have been a schoolmaster at the
Link boarding school.
Dr Thelwell Pike (1834 - 1915) had an apartment at
Montpellier House in 1881 and so would have been a neighbour of Dr Grindrod.
He was probably a convential doctor, rather than a hydrotherapist.
Arthur Oliver Holbeche was a physician and surgeon in West Malvern.
Possibly W Marshall was William Marshall, a solicitor of
Walter Beeken Burrow of Malvern Wells was the elder
brother of John Severn Burrow. The brothers were Chemists and Druggists and
later bottlers of mineral water on Belle Vue Terrace.
John Nott ran a grocery shop on Church Street.
A John Bray, of Abbey Road, was a fishmonger.
John Sloggett Jenkins was the proprieter and editor of
the Malvern Advertiser newspaper which had been founded by Dr Grindrod in
A Sparkes and W Davis had shops in Church Street.
Another view of Townshend House
Most of Ralph Grindrod's family did not live to a great
age; his mother Mary died, aged 45 years, in 1825, when Ralph was aged 14
years, and his sister Elizabeth died a teenager.
Ralph's father, James, however, lived to a good age and
died at Manchester in his 87th year (ref 2). In 1829, then aged 52 years, he had
married, second, Elizabeth Waller, aged 22 years and the couple had two
sons, Ralph's half brothers (ref 8).
Edmund Waller Grindrod (1838 - 1878) became a publican
like his father and died aged 40 years. He left a widow, Ellen, and three
surviving children; in 1891 she was running the Griffin Inn in Stockport
William Wilby Grindrod (1839 - 1868) became a pawnbroker
and died aged only 39 years. He left a widow Ellen nee Baker, a dressmaker,
and four children.
So when Dr Ralph Barnes Grindrod died in 1883 he was the last of
his generation. Perhaps moving to Great Malvern away from the squalor of Manchester and
abstaining from alcohol had promoted his longevity!
Quite possibly his family line has been continued by
nephews and nieces.
On the front of Townshend House can be seen a green plaque, placed by Malvern Civic Society.
inscription on the plaque reads,
Formerly Townshend House, where Dr Ralph Grindrod practised the Water
Townshend House is now owned by Malvern College and has lately been used as a
Ralph's son Charles Frederick Grindrod became a physician,
in 1873, like his father,
and lived in Great Malvern at Wyche-Side in Malvern Wells. At one time he was a neighbour and friend of
Edward Elgar who lived at Craeglea, now 86 Wells Road. He was a keen photographer and took a portrait photograph of
Elgar about 1903 which was gifted to the National Portrait Gallery in 1934
by Elgar's friend, architect, Arthur Troyte Griffith (who is mentioned in
Charles like his father was a writer and was the author of 'Malvern
What to see and Where to go' (1899). He married Mary Ellen Higgins, but they
had no children.
We thought you might like to see the covers of Janet
Grierson's excellent and well researched biography about Dr Grindrod, which
we borrowed from Malvern library, see
below. If you are interested in either the history of Victorian Malvern or the
Temperance movement it is worth a read.
Historian Janet Grierson, also wrote a
charming book about 'Dr Wilson and his Hydro', copies of which can be obtained
from Malvern Museum. Janet lived at the Hydro for
fourteen years, after of course it was converted into apartments. She died
at Davenham in 2011 aged 98 years and is buried in Great Malvern cemetery.
Go to beginning
of The Victorian 'water cure' doctors of Great Malvern
continue with next section, about Doctor James Loftus Marsden
If you can add to this story do please get in touch.
Back to top
- Grierson Janet, Temperance, Therapy & Trilobytes, Dr Ralph Grindrod:
Victorian Pioneer, published by Cora Weaver, printed by Aldine Press,
ISBN 1 873809 42 5
- Indexes of births, marriages and deaths
- Weaver C, Osborne B, Aquae Malvernensis
- Malvern Advertiser, 24th November 1883
- Manchester Guardian, 24th November 1883
- Malvern News, 24th November 1883
- The Wesleyan Methodist Pulpit in Malvern, 1866 John Snow and Co,
1866 transcribed by David Price
- England and Wales Census
- Conversation with Angus MacDonald, January 2016