Charles Thompson
Source: The Life of Francis Thompson

Charles Thompson M.R.C.S. L.S.A. (1824 – 9 April 1896) was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become House Surgeon at the Manchester Homeopathic Hospital, and a member of the British Homeopathic Society.

Charles Thompson also practiced in Bristol, and he was married to Mary Turner Morton. Their daughter Helen died of tuberculosis aged 15 months in 1864, so the family moved to Manchester. There, Dr. Charles Thompson, re-opened his homeopathic surgery from the Thompson residence, at 226 Stamford Street, of Manchester’s Ashton under Lyme.

Charles Thompson was born in Oakham, Rutland in 1824, the son of tax inspector Robert Thompson (1789 – 1853) and Mary Jane Costall (1784 – 1867).

Thompson took up medicine and, while residing in Salisbury, in 1847, he was admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the same year was awarded the diploma of the Society of Apothecaries.

It is not clear when Thompson adopted homeopathy, but he relocated to Manchester where, in 1855, he held the position of resident surgeon at the Dale Street Manchester and Salford Homoepathic Dispensary, and medical officer at the dispensary in Oxford Street.

Around 1854, Thompson set up in practice at 7 Winckley Street, Preston, where he remained for about 10 years, until the latter part of September 1864, when he succeeded Dr. William Clare of Ashton-under-Lyne, who had recently moved to Leeds.

In September 1857, Thompson married Manchester-born Mary Turner Morton (1822 – 1880). They had four children: Francis Joseph (1859 – 1907), Mary (known as Polly) (b. 1862), Helen (1863 – 1864), and Margaret (1865 – 1949). After Mary died in 1880, Thompson remarried in 1887 to Anne Richardson.

Charles Thompson died on 9 April, 1896. His Obituary was in The Homeopathic World and The Monthly Homoeopathic Review:

We regret to have to announce the death of Mr Charles Thompson, of Ashton-under-Lyne, who died on Thursday April 9th, in his 72nd year. Dr Thompson took to his bed on Good Friday after suffering from a very severe cold for a week or more. Up to that time he continued to discharge his professional duties and was quite active. Congestion of the lungs and nephritis made the prognosis very grave, and although on the following Monday afternoon Dr Douglas Moir, of Manchester, arrived to see his old friend, and did all that medical skill could for the patient, his efforts were unsuccessful, and Dr Thompson passed away somewhat suddenly on Thursday evening after so short an illness.

The deceased was greatly respected by a very wide circle of friends in Ashton and surrounding district, where for the last thirty-one years he had enjoyed a successful and continuous practice.

He was interred at Dukinfield cemetery, on Monday, April 14th, a solemn requiem being held in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, of which he was a devoted member.

Arrangements are almost completed for a successor, and in the meantime the practice is being superintended by Mr. Charles S. Spencer of Royton.

Of interest:

Francis Thompson (1859 – 1907), son of Charles Thompson, was an English poet and ascetic, and a friend of William Butler Yeats:

Born in Preston, Lancashire, his father was a doctor who had converted to Roman Catholicism, following his brother Edward Healy Thompson, a friend of Cardinal Manning.

Thompson was educated at Ushaw College, near Durham, and then studied medicine at Owens College in Manchester. He took no real interest in his studies and never practised as a doctor, moving instead to London to try and become a writer. Here he was reduced to selling matches and newspapers for a living.

During this time, he became addicted to opium, which he first had taken as a remedy for ill health. Thompson came to London in 1885 and lived a life of destitution until in 1888 he was ‘discovered’ after he sent poetry to the magazine Merrie England.

He was sought out by the editors of Merrie England, Wilfrid and Alice Meynell and rescued from the verge of starvation and self destruction. Recognizing the value of his work, the couple gave him a home and arranged for publication of his first book, Poems in 1893. The book attracted the attention of sympathetic critics in the St James’s Gazette and other newspapers, and Coventry Patmore wrote a eulogistic notice in the Fortnightly Review of January 1894.

Subsequently Thompson lived as an invalid in Wales and at Storrington. A lifetime of extreme poverty, ill-health, and an addiction to opium took a heavy toll on Thompson, even though he found success in his last years. Thompson attempted suicide in his nadir of despair, but was saved from completing the action through a vision which he believed to be that of a youthful poet, Chatterton, who had committed suicide almost a century earlier.

Shortly afterwards, a prostitute – whose identity Thompson never revealed – befriended him, gave him lodgings and shared her income with him. Thompson was later to describe her in his poetry as his saviour. She soon disappeared, however, never to return. He would eventually die from tuberculosis, at the age of 48.

His most famous poem, The Hound of Heaven describes the pursuit of the human soul by God. This poem is the source of the phrase, “with all deliberate speed,” used by the Supreme Court in Brown II, the remedy phase of the famous decision on school desegregation.

A phrase in his The Kingdom of God is the source of the title of Han Suyin‘s novel and the movie Love is a Many Splendored Thing. In addition, Thompson wrote the most famous cricket poem, the nostalgic At Lord’s. He also wrote Sister Songs (1895), New Poems (1897), and a posthumously published essay, “Shelley” (1909). He wrote a treatise On Health and Holiness, dealing with the ascetic life, which was published in 1905.

Francis Thompson’s grave is in St.Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.

Thompson, an English poet, was suggested as the Ripper by author Richard Patterson in the 1999 book Paradox. Thompson was born at 7 Winckley Street, in Preston, Lancashire, on 18 December 1859 to a respectable Catholic family. His father Dr Charles Thompson, was a homeopathic doctor. His Mother Mary, was a governess, who had previously failed in her attempt to become a nun, she died at the age of 58 on 19 December 1880 from a liver complaint. Francis Thompson was named after St Francis of Assisi.

The family moved to Manchester in 1864, shortly after the death of his sister Helen, at the age of 15 months from consumption. Thompson, as a young man, was described as shy, untidy, unpunctual and unobservant. He entered the Catholic school of St Cuthbert’s, Ushaw College in Durnham, where he excelled in Latin, English and Greek. Taking an interest in poetry from an early age, his writing ability was described by the English master as the best production from a lad of his age.

In 1877 he failed his studies for the priesthood. His teacher Father Tate, wrote to Thompson’s father telling him, ‘With regard to Frank, I have been most reluctantly compelled to concur in the opinion of his director and others that it is not the holy will of God that he should go on for the priesthood’.

On the advice of his father he spent the next six years studying to be a surgeon at Owens medical college, but he was to fail the medical examinations three times. In 1878 he entered his name on the register of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he studied anatomy.

He continued writing poetry, and in April 1888 had one of his poems published in Merry England, a minor Catholic literary magazine. It was around this time, 1879, that he became addicted to opium, after being treated with laudanum for a lung infection. Laudanum was prescribed as a pain killer and sedative, it was also a popular method of suicide.

From 1885/88 Thompson spent the majority of his time as a homeless vagrant in the Dockland area of London. He died at the age of 47 in 1907, when his reputation as a poet was at it’s height. His poem, The Hound Of Heaven, was to sell over 50,000 copies.

When he died, he weighed only 70 pounds (5 stone).

At 29, Thompson was the right age to fit the Ripper descriptions, and we know he had some medical training. He was also said to carry a dissecting scalpel around with him, which he claimed he used to shave. We also know he owned a leather apron at the time the police were looking for a suspect wearing such a garment. He was described as medium height with a slight build, which made him appear taller, dark brown hair which appeared almost black, with a small grey beard, wearing a great Ulster coat and necktie.

There is no record of Thompson ever having been questioned by the police, nor suspected at the time of the murders. He also lived for 19 years after the murder of Mary Kelly.

In 1868, when Francis Thompson was almost nine years of age, and living in Ashton under Lyne, an anti-Catholic agitator named William Murphy arrived. He began a series of fiery speeches expounding his hatred for Catholicism. William Murphy appealed for the Protestant crowd to riot against the Catholics.

A large mob descended upon the two small churches of St. Mary and St. Anne. The interior of St. Anne was destroyed. The crowd then attempted to storm St. Mary while the parishioners, who included the Thompson family, mounted a guard inside.

The rioters attacked with bottles and stones. Shots were fired and the Riot Act was read. After three days of continual fighting, the army was called in.

By the end, of the rioting, the church of St. Anne’s school, and presbytery were broken into. They contained altars, paintings, and statues, which were incinerated. A further 111 houses of the Catholic congregation were gutted. For a month, the entire clergy was obliged to leave town….

On December the 19th, 1880, after suffering a complaint of the liver, Mary Morton Thompson, Francis’ mother died. Mary was aged fifty eight… In April of 1887, Dr. Charles Thompson married his second wife Anne Richardson.

Of Interest:

Reverend Henry Thompson (1816 – 1900), older brother of Charles Thompson, was a clergyman and author, who was curate at Wrington in Somerset. He was a member of poet and playwright Hannah More‘s circle in her later years.

John Costall Thompson (1822 – 1889), older brother of Charles Thompson, was an author and poet. He was best known for his collection, The Vision of Liberty, and Other Poems.

Edward Healy Thompson (1823 –1891), older brother of Charles Thompson, was an English Roman Catholic writer.

He was educated at Oakham School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Having taken Anglican curacy at Calne, Wiltshire. After some years of the Anglican ministry at Marylebone, Ramsgate, and elsewhere, he became a Catholic in 1846 orders, he obtained a a curacy at Calne, Wiltshire.

The rest of his life, the latter years of which were spent at Cheltenham, he devoted to religious literature….

The poet Francis Thompson was his brother:

Edward Healy Thompson married Harriet Diana Calvert, daughter of Nicholson Calvert of Humsden, born at Humsden, Hertfordshire, 1811; died at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 21 Aug., 1896. On her husband’s conversion she also joined the Catholic Church, and like him devoted herself to literary work. Her chief work is the Life of Charles Borromeo, but she also wrote stories of Catholic life. These include: Mary, Star of the Sea (1848); The Witch of Malton Hill; Mount St. Lawrence (1850); Winefride Jones (1854); Margaret Danvers (1857); The Wyndham Family (1876); and others, as well as articles in the Dublin Review.

Thompson and Capper [no evident relation] were British homeopathic pharmacists. The firm was founded in 1843 by Samuel James Capper, Henry Capper and Edwin Thompson. In 1865 they had premises at 43 , Bold Street, and 4, Lord Street, in Liverpool. By February 1911, the firm had chemists in Manchester, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Southport, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Bradford, and Leeds. However, that month the partnership was dissolved, with Samuel Capper and Edwin Thompson continuing the business. Later that year, Edwin Thompson took over as sole proprietor.

Professor Allan Thomson (1809 – 1884) [no relation] was a classmate at the University of Edinburgh of homeopath Professor William Henderson. Allen Thompson studied atropia, and his work was cited by British homeopath Richard Hughes in 1883.