No. 38 & 39: Former doctor’s surgery

Nos. 38 and 39 Broad Street was the fourth house from the right of the thirteen houses dating from the first half of the seventeenth century that were that were demolished to make way for the New Bodleian Library in the late 1930s. This area was a cluster of doctors’ surgeries from the nineteenth century

John James Sims Freeborn (1795–1873) was matriculated as a “medicus” (doctor) on 15 September 1834, and Robson’s Directory of 1839 lists him as an apothecary at  38 Broad Street, where he was residing at the time of the 1841 census.

By 1851 John J. S. Freeborn had moved next door to No. 39, and his 27-year-old physician son Richard Fernandez Freeborn (1823–1883), who had been matriculated by the University as a chirurgus or surgeon on 15 October 1847, was occupying No. 38 with his wife Clara, and their baby daughter plus two servants; ten years later they had six children and five servants, including a footman. By around 1860, the Freeborns had combined the two houses into one.

In the 1881 census Richard Fernandez Freeborn is still shown as a physician here and has four grown-up children living at home: John (a graduate of Exeter College who was studying medicine at London), Albert (an undergraduate at Christ Church), Clara, and Mary. They were looked after by a cook, housemaid, indoor manservant, and under-housemaid. Richard Fernandez Freeborn died at 38 Broad Street on 20 April 1884.

John Charles Richard Freeborn (1853–1934) took over his father’s practice, and remained in the house until 1928.

It then became a private house, and was demolished in 1937.

Occupants of 38 and 39 Broad Street listed in directories

After 1852, this pair of joined houses is often given just one number, 38





J.J.S. Freeborn, Apothecary

1841– 1852:
John William Sims Freeborn
& R.F. Freeborn, Surgeons

1841, 1846, 1847:
Edward Townsend

John Williams Sims Freeborn, Surgeon


1861–1883: Richard Fernandez Freeborn, MRCPE, MD of Scotland, FRCPh
(Kelly’s Directory, but not Valter’s, continues to list him to 1890)

1884–1928: John Charles Richard Freeborn, LRCP London, MRCS, Surgeon


Thomas M. Grylls
sharing the house with (1) the Revd George Merchant Lawson (Private Tutor) from 1930–2,
(2) David Fenwick in 1934, and (3) Mrs R.G. Wright in 1935

These two houses were demolished with eleven neighbouring houses in 1937
to make room for the New Bodleian Library

See the bound typescript in the Bodleian Library entitled “The Demolished Houses of Broad Street and the Freeborn Family” (1943), attributed to Emily Sarah Freeborn, and the webpage by Alan Simpson which reproduces some of the material in it.

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