Richard Prior, a Surgeon in London, England

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I love an interesting story– even if it’s a Pryor in another country. An old English newspaper report that mentioned a Richard Prior who was a surgeon caught my interest. The report places Richard in Tooting which is now well into the region considered London, however a couple hundred years or more ago it was probably outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.  I was also intrigued by the magistrate who was looking for the bad guys involved in the reported assault. Yes, Sir John Fielding was pretty interesting guy in his own right as well as the brother of the author Henry Fielding (best known for the bawdy novel Tom Jones).

It sounds like a tale of an attack by 18th century highwaymen…

On Tuesday Night last, about Eleven o’Clock, a Man — a little black Horse, and dressed in a Horseman’s Great Coat, came to the House of Mr. RICHARD PRIOR, surgeon and Man Midwife, at Tooting in Surrey, and asked if Mr. Prior was at Home and delivered the following Message, via. that Mrs. Bromley, living near Mrs. Evley’s was ill, and desired his immediate Assistance and then rode away in great Haste, on which Mr. Honathn Craton, Journeyman to the said Mr. Prior, his Master, noticing at home, set out immediate to — the said Mrs. Bromley’ but Mr. Crayton had not gone far before he overtook two Men on foot and saw the Man on Horseback, a little before them, but he had no sooner passed one of the aforesaid Persons on foot, than he received a Stab in the Side, and endeavouring to make a Defence, he received another, which, if it had taken Place must have destroyed him, as appears from the Cut through his Clothes and Shirt, he also received a violent Blow from the other Man on foot, which brought him to the Ground. At this Instant a Carriage advancing with a Flambeaux the Villains departed, and Mr. Crayton, with some Difficulty, reached Home, and has been dangerously ill of his Wounds ever since. As there is no such Person as Mrs. Bromley living at the Place above mentioned, and as no Money was demanded of this young Gentleman and Mr. Prior was particularly asked for at his house, it is imagined that this was Plan laid by some evil-minded Person to destroy the said Mr. Prior; if therefore any one can give such information to Sir John Fielding as may be the Means of discovering these shocking Offenders, shall receive Fifty Pound Reward on the Commitment of either of them and if any one of them will surrender himself to the Magistrate and discover his Employers or Accomplices —be admitted as Evidence for the Crown and on either of the Convictions be entitled to the same Reward, to be paid by Mr. Alderman Plumb, by the Directions of the Inhabitants in that Neighbourhood, who think themselves highly interest in the Safety of the said Mr. Prior. as well on account of his Character as a Gentleman, as of his Abilities in his Profession and being at the same Time desirous of bringing Offenders to Justice, who are capable of such horrid Attempts.
J. Fielding

The Person who stabbed Mr. Crayton was with a thin pale Vissage, his own, Hair in one —, blue jacket like a Posillion’s, Buck-skin Breeches, half boots. The other was a short Man. If… Persons have been seen loitering at the Alehouses … Neighbourhood, the are desired to give Notice —-
The Public Advertiser, London, 31 Mar 1767


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