Killed by an epidemic. Scarlet fever raged across Tasmania and other places and in the period 1850 to 1859, over 6,900 children died. An enormous number of deaths, never recorded anywhere, that was until the descendants of Thomas Jillett found the family crypt nothing but a piece of rubble in St Peter's Cemetery at Oatlands. Next to his was his brother's crypt John and his wife lost 4 children in 1859, and another in 1854.
A terrible tragedy, for a family, who brought their children to Hobart for treatment, and were ostracised by the local medical folk for doing so. There is every possibility that they sought the assistance of Dr Richard Bright or his son Dr Richard Bright Junior. Little did we know that we would be staying at his home in Hobart!
What would be the connection? In 1868, John Jillett died of diphtheria, in Hobart at the house of his sister in Liverpool Street. Just around the corner from Dr Bright, and the second house of Robert and Elizabeth Jillett.
John passed away, and less than 6 weeks later so did his wife Phoebe. It is 150 years since those deaths.
Thomas's family, contributed significantly to the restoration of the Thomas Jillett Family Crypt.
We are very proud of that achievement, and on the crypt we recognise it as a Memorial to those other 6,900 children.
Restoring a Heritage Listed Crypt in a Heritage Listed Cemetery was not easy, however we were fortunate to obtain 50% funding from the Historic Sites Programme from the Federal Government, and the help and assistance from the people of Oatlands and the Council. Our restoration is the only one ever done in Tasmania in a Heritage Listed Cemetery.
$25K was only part of the cost of the restoration, and as family, none of us even knew each other. To find them and then ask them for a huge commitment for the restoration was not easy.
Over those 8 years so many of the descendants are now connected, something that is fantastic to achieve. It is vitally important to preserve history, and just as vitally important to ensure that historical facts are correct.
There is a time for all things, and I believe now is the time for every-one to speak his mind.
I am from circumstances placed in a different situation to any other medical man in the colony, forever since I have been in this colony my character has been attacked; for what? Is it that some p '-. ties took a dislike to me on my arrival, or that f would not fall into a net or belong to a clique, or that I possessed more credentials than many others, remembering that produced testimonials that I was ti Phj aldan, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, and a Licentiate of the Apothecaries Company, and, I might have added, I was sworn in , a Chemist before the Lord Mayor of London Now, him, for what has my character been attacked? Is it that I have been more unsuccessful than some, or is it that I interfered with their practice, or is it that have been more successful and have never interfered with them, except in defence? The latter I believe to be the cause.
It is my duty to state facts, and what can be proved. It is well known that for many years I attended the late Mia, Wilson, and why? Because nearly fifteen years since other medical men then said more than once she could not survive 21 or 48 hours.
Yet, wither tho assistance of the Almighty, she lived, solely under my care, between 14 and 15 years, such or friends can testify to the truth of. I shall mention another case of a similar nature, where a child was dangerously ill and insensible, and when the distressed mother repeatedly asked him other medical gentleman, if her daughter lived, would she regain her senses, his repeated answer was "Don't distress your mind about her senses, no power on earth can save her." My opinion was totally different through the whole of her illness, and I am happy to say she is now in the full enjoyment of health and senses.
I extract the following from a letter before me from Mrs. Walker, of Moreton Bay, formerly of this colony :
" Gratitude compels me to make a public acknowledgment of the blessings that I have received at your hands, as I could not express to you what I had suffered, having been treated by four medical practitioners, and regret to say I always found myself worse than before. My dear sir, I can assert that I was not undergoing your treatment a week before I was much relieved, and ultimately you entirely removed not only tho disease but the cause, as I have never felt the slightest symptoms up to the present time."-For the truth of this I am authorized to give references.
A great many similar cases I could mention?
We have had of late years epidemics. What has been the result Why, two, three, four, and in one instance five were cut off in a family. A father and mother lost every child. I proposed a plan of treatment which I had adopted and watched very closely before l promulgated it. It was ridiculed and sneered at. I persevered in that treatment and only lost one patient during the last epidemic, that I was called to as tho first Medical Man. We are now visited with another fatal disease which has carried off two in two different families.
I have been called to severe cases of Diphtheria (in one that had boon given over) ; my treatment has been as it always is in dangerous cases, active from the first ; the result has been that I have not lost a single case up to the present time.
I shall only add that with all the fractures or dislocations, I have been called to attend in this Colony, how few have terminated otherwise than favourable to the patient, many are living at the present time to speak for themselves.
Successive generations of Crowthers - William Lodewyk (1817-1885), Edward Lodewyk (1843-1931), and William Edward Lodewyk Hamilton (1887-1981) - practised medicine. W.L. and E.L. Crowther both entered politics: W.L. was Premier 1878-9. W.E.L.H. Crowther served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front during the First World War. Knighted in 1964, he donated a large collection of books, manuscripts, pictures and other artefacts to the State Library of Tasmania.