Lady Bridgeman and the Painful Case of a Tooth for a Tooth

Staffordshire County Records Office holds the Bradford MSS – the papers that tell much of the story of the Earls of Bradford and their ancestors together with the estates that the family have owned. All sorts of gems are within the care of the dedicated team of staff there, ranging from Capability Brown’s plan for Weston Park, through to designs for the mansion itself by John MacVicar Anderson, the Victorian architect who made many changes to the House.


Recently a number of late eighteenth century journals that belonged to Elizabeth Simpson, Lady Bridgeman, have been transcribed by volunteer Joy Pownall. Joy’s patience, in getting to grips with the often-illegible scrawl and the names of the late seventeen hundreds have been phenomenal although the rewards, in terms of human interest and historical interest for Weston Park, have been very rich indeed.


Not only do we have details of meetings that Lady Bridgeman, rather than her husband Sir Henry, had with the architect James Paine, as plans of the family’s London house and for Weston Park were discussed, but we gain an insight into the family’s opulent social life. Lady Bridgeman’s family home of Stoke Hall in Derbyshire, had an estate that ‘marched’ with Chatsworth and so parties, often lasting until 3am it seems, were very much the norm at Chatsworth, with the Bridgemans in attendance. In 1786 Lady Bridgeman and her daughters went to Bath to take part in the fashionable social season there. During the course of their stay, though, Lady Bridgeman requires dental treatment and so visits a Mr Troy to have her tooth taken out and a replacement inserted. The pain and discomfort is one that transcends the ages, although the remedies for this are perhaps a little unconventional to twenty-first century readers:


Thursday Morn Dec ye 14th – fine

before I went out I sent for Mr

Troy ye Dentist who conned my

Gumbs & to whom I agree to go at

7 o clock to have tooth taken

out – another put in – I then

walk’d up to a shop in ye Circus

call’d at Lady D Monalts[?} &

one or two more places & came

home where I staid a little

while then went to Troys with

North only – he left me under

the operation from different

untowerd events from three

till above ½ past 5 o clock


when I returned to ye Bear, with

a tooth badly put in – I was

too late for dinner consequently

took up with a snack drest

& went to ye Rooms with Lady

Lucy Boyle who came in ye Morn[?]

my Girls & Mrs Grey – the pain

in my face brought me home

sooner than ye rest went to bed

in great pain taking in con=

sequence 25 drops of Opeit not

enough to deaden ye

toothace consequently I spent

a wretched night which was Friday ye 15th in ye Morn

I saw Troy again & drew another tooth

Mrs Grey calld upon me and

advised me to see Mr Spoy[?} her

apothecary – who presented formen

tatins[?] made of Camomile


flowers put into Linnen bags

sprinkled with Spirits of wine

 & Camphire – and after ye applic:

ation of the 6th – I took my Opeit

of 35 drops of Laudanam which

jointly gave me relief & at

one o clock in ye Morn I woke

as if were in heaven I slept

ye rest of ye time till daylight

sound – and remained comfortably

free from pain – but found my

face swel’d up on Saturday

Morn Dec ye 16th – I had never

been up from Thursday night

except on Friday whilst my tooth

was drawn till Sunday when

I took a Dose of Phisice y

Even of which day Mr Spoy


perceived the tooth I had

had put in was become

loose & my face suffered much

pain in consequence he

sent for Troy who took it

out hurting me much at ye

time he took ye tooth out be:

tween 9 & ten o clock at ye

time Sr H & ye Girls were at

Mrs Maecetings[?] where they

were to sup

Monday Morn Dec ye 18th

 having taken an opeit I dozed

all morning –