Alexander Henley Attwater 1821 - 1906

Alexander Henley Attwater was born on 9th December 1821 at Newington Butts, London. He was the son of Alexander Henley Attwater, Attorney and Anne (Faulconer) Noakes. He married Malena Ellen Treatt on 10th January 1845 at Littleham, Exmouth, Devon.

It is unclear when he first came to South Molton but a daughter, Malena Ellen Ann Attwater was born at South Molton towards the end of 1845 (the birth was registered December Quarter). Two sons followed, Alexander Henley (Sept. Quarter 1847) and Louis Falconerstet (April 1849).

On April 11th 1849, his daughter Malena died aged 3 years and 6 months, to be followed three months later by his son, Louis who died on July 20th 1849 aged 3 months. The following year, on November 5th 1850, his wife Malena died aged 25 years. (Information from "South Molton Churchyard Gravestones" - researched by David Ryall and published by South Molton Archive & Local History Society).

The 1851 census records Alexander Henrystet Attwater as a widower aged 29, occupation "Medical Chemist". His address is given as Broad Street, South Molton. Also living in the household are Thomas Chippen Attwater, his brother, aged 20, occupation "Apprentice", Mary Meldon, unmarried aged 40 (Housekeeper) and Fanny Bawden unmarried aged 19 (Servant). The 4-year-old Alexander Henley was listed as a scholar living on Barnstaple Street with several other scholars – the head of the household is schoolmistress, Eliza Stanbury.

On 30th December 1851 Alexander married Elizabeth Lukey Huxtable, daughter of Robert Huxtable who was a draper who traded from a shop in Broad Street, he later also became a wine and spirits retailer. The couple then settled down to married life at Medical Hall, Broad Street, South Molton.

Alexander Henley Attwater with his 2nd wife Elizabeth Lukey Huxtable

The South Molton Peace Record, published in 1856, which describes the celebrations that took place in the town at the end of the Crimean War gives the following description:

Medical Hall was beautifully decorated with flowers, evergreens and flags and a large Banner, with white background and black border "To our Fallen Heroes"

Advertisement printed in The South Molton Peace Record, published in 1856

The Billings Directory of 1857 has the following two entries under SOUTH MOLTON:

  • Under Classifications of Physicians and Surgeons – Attwater Alexander H., Square
  • Under Alphabetical List of Clergy, Gentry etc., - Attwater Alexander Henley, surgeon and chemist; agent to the Legal and Commercial Life, and Manchester Fire Insurance Companies, Square.

The 1861 census for South Molton records Alexander H Attwater as married, aged 39, occupation Surgeon MRCS England. He is living with his wife Elizabeth aged 44, his sons Alexander Henley aged 13, Louis Faulkner aged 7, Henry Huxtable aged 6, Augustus F. W. aged 3 and Ellen Jane aged 2, plus two female domestic servants aged 50 and 10. Their Address is given as East Street.

During the early 1860s Alexander Attwater and his family moved from South Molton. The 1881 census records the family living at Mill Head, Bampton, Devon. Alexander’s occupation is given as Surgeon and his age as 59.

Alexander Attwater died aged 84 (the death was registered at Tiverton ref: 5b 297). The South Molton Gazette dated February 24th 1906 printed the following obituary:

"Dr. Attwater developed an extensive medical practice in South Molton. He superintended a dispensary known as Medical Hall. About 1860 he moved to Dulverton."

Researched by Shirley Bray - June 2007 (updated November 2012)  The photographs of Alexander Henley Attwater and his wife Elizabeth Lukey Attwater née Huxtable, are published courtesy of Keith Stait-Gardner.

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