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1890: Town mourns loss of eminent Cuckfieldian after nearly 60 years of Service to the community

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Mid Sussex times Tuesday 15th July 1890

death of doctor T S BYASS

Today it is our painful duty to record the death, on Sunday morning, of doctor Thomas Spry Byass, of Marshalls Cuckfield, than whom, we venture to say, there was no one so eminently known throughout mid Sussex, and indeed, we might almost add, in the County generally.

Marshalls - Dr Byass' home

The venerable gentleman -he was in his 83rd year- has been gradually breaking up for some months from sheer old age, and took to his bed about three weeks ago, under the care of his son, Dr E. S. Byass, and Doctor A. E. Wells. He passed peacefully away at 9:40 AM on Sunday. The sad intelligence was announced to Cuckfield by the tolling of the passing bell at the close of the midday service. In the evening Mr J. Goode Smith (organist at the parish church), played the ”Dead March” in Saul, and fitting illusion was made to the sad event by the reverend Canon Cooper (vicar) in his sermon.

Doctor Byass was the eldest son of the late Mr Lovell Byass, surgeon of Cuckfield, and Mary Frances his wife, and was born at Cuckfield on the 17th of August, 1807, so that he had resided in the parish the whole of his long life. He studied at Guy's Hospital to get an insight into the medical profession, and became an MD of Saint Andrews. He was also a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. After leaving Guys he returned to Cuckfield and became a partner in the practise which his father had founded in 1805 and carried it on with him till he became sole possessor on his father’s death on the 22nd of July 1863, aged 80.

In due time his son Mr Edgar S Byass entered into the partnership with his father, and later on they were joined by doctor A. E. Wells, who in 1886 became closely allied with doctor T.S. Byass by marriage with his granddaughter, Miss Edith H. Saunders, daughter of doctor C.E. Saunders, the present medical Superintendent of the county lunatic asylum, Haywards Heath.

Throughout his life, Doctor Byass was respected by everyone with whom he was brought into contact, and in the early days of 1885, on the completion of 50 years of medical service as district medical officer, he received a pleasing token of this esteem in the shape of a silver salver, a silver casket containing a cheque for 500 Guineas, and a superbly illuminated album with address and the subscribers’ names. The presentation was made by the late Major Warden Sergison in the drawing room at Cuckfield Park, in the presence of between 70 and 80 gentlemen. It was at this time commented upon as an interesting coincidence that doctor Byasses late father received as substantial a recognition of 50 years service many years before.

The practise has now passed into the third generation owning this honoured name, having been in the family a period approaching 90 years. Doctor Byass had held the appointment of medical officer to the Cuckfield workhouse for a long period of years and fulfilled the same duties for districts one and two of the union.

He had been a valued member of the Cuckfield Local Board since its formation, and was one of the retiring members in April, all being returned unopposed. Doctor Byass was also a director of the Gas Company, a member of the Burial Board, et cetera. His wife died the 14th of may, 1885, aged 79 years, the surviving issue of this marriage being Dr E.S. Byass and three daughters. The eldest son, Lovell Bowles a Major of the Madras staff core, died at Bangalore, India, in 1879. As at present arranged, Dr Byass’ funeral will take place at the parish churchyard on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock.

We cannot do better than conclude this obituary with the words of the tablet “to the memory of Mr Lovell Byass in Cuckfield church, erected by his neighbours, rich and poor, to perpetuate the remembrance of a much loved friend”. After giving the name, age, et cetera, of deceased, it goes on “having for nearly 60 years practised in this town and neighbourhood by his untiring attention to his professional duties, by his charitable disposition and ever active kindness, by the integrity of his character and his blameless life, he gained the respect and affection in no common measure of those among whom he lived and worked”.

Equally are these words appropriate to the venerable gentleman whose death, as at a like ripe age, Cuckfield now laments.


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