Isaac Maddox(1697 ~ 1759)

Isaac Maddox, future Bishop of Worcester Cathedral and hospital founder, was born July 27, 1697 in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, which was in the southeast shire of Sussex not far from London. His father was Edward, a stationer. His parents died when he was young. He was apprenticed to be a pastry chef, but was expelled for spending all his time reading book.

In 1718, he obtained a scholarship from a Presbyterian Fund and began attending Edinburgh University where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in three years. However, he was always loyal to the Church of England.

On March 10, 1723 at age 26, he was ordained a deacon in London and licensed as curate of St. Bride's on Fleet Street. The following year he began attending Oxford's Queen's College, and was inducted into the vicarage of Whiteparish near Salisbury. At that time he was also appointed chaplain to the bishop of Chichester.

In 1729 he was appointed Clerk of the Closet to Queen Caroline. The following year he was the prebend to the Archibishop of Canterbury. In 1730 he earned the Doctor of divinity degree at the Cambridge University.

In 1736 he was appointed Bishop of St. Asaph. He remained there until 1743. Then he became Bishop of Worcester, a position he held the rest of his life ~ seventeen years.

In 1745, he launched a successful campaign for the building of an infirmary in London ~ but of such size that we today would call it a hospital. "It is a Christian duty," he told his congregation, "no less than a social obligation of citizenship to relieve the distress wrought by sickness and poverty....Who can calculate what numbers totally perish or are disabled for life by the ignorance of unskillful practioners."

But he knew medicine alone did not heal. "The art of Medicine extends to many considerations; it is by no means therefore depreciating that valuable Science to observe that few cures are effected by physic, by drugs alone; proper food, due regimen, necessary attendance, and above all ease and tranquility of mind have a large share in every recovery." He also believed in rehabilitation, part of which was developing a sense of religion.

The following year he became president of the Smallpox Hospital of London, known today as the Silver Street Hospital, and which is still standing. At that time, those who had not contracted smallpox lived in continual dread that they might. Some believed in smallpox inoculations and some did not. By 1755, Bishop Maddox was preaching sermons in favor of inoculation. In the same pulpit just 20 years earlier it had been called a work of the devil.

He was well read in all parts of medicine. He wrote a friend, "Good sir, I am greatly obliged by your very friendly and ready account of the Scarboro stones...whether these stones are Limestones....If they cause a heat and fermentation, the physicians I find account account all such to be Limestones...lime water made with limstone, chalk or oyster shell calcined, as having been of grt service in relaxation of the urinary passages, or other parts of the body."

His printed sermons are mostly on the topic of aiding charities. "Attend these Hospitals. Examine the mournful cases they offer. See what pitiful objects appear; such dismal spectacles as would pierce the hardest heart. 'Tis not in human nature to be insensible of so much human misery. But if your apprehension of the relief to be administered alleviates the horror of such sights in the Hospitals themselves, enter the wretched abodes, the dismal cellars and garrets, where both poverty and sickness dwell! Can you behold poor helpless children with their afflicted mother, shedding their unavailing tears around a meager spectacle of pain and disease...."

"How little able would you be to bear the sight of collected pain and anguish; the hundreds, the thousands of these poor miserable beings tortured in their limbs, their bodies, with great variety of grievous and painful distempers...destitute, afflicted tormented.

"Could you hear the melancholy sound of bitter cries, the piercing groans of real distress; could you see at once all this deplorable collection of pain and torture, aggravated by the cutting anxieties of destitute poverty? Good God!"

"Go to the house of mourning, or carry even your thoughts into the dismal chamber of but one dying man; dying for want of that kind of assistance which you may now, and perhaps only now administer! I can go no further. God almighty speaks the rest to every Christian heart."

When speaking of the hardships and loneliness of victims of smallpox, he said, "Is any sorrow like unto their Sorrow? No food, nor physic, nor Bed to lie upon, nor House to cover their diseased Bodies from the coldest Blasts of the Open Air! This is no picture drawn by imagination, but real and certain, tho most melancholy Fact. Persons expelled from private Families, and unavoidably kept out of all other Hospitals.

When Bishop Maddox preached on behalf of the Hospital for Exposed and Deserted Young Children, he explained that during the previous twelve years there had been 14,548 infant baptisms, and 10,4444 infant deaths. "Where numbers of poor languishing children, whose tender lungs require the nutritious refreshment of free and uncorrupted air, are crowded in one confined apartment, there to pine and die away....How terrible and ghastly a spectacle, the emaciated, meager countenance, the earnest and expressive looks and tears of abused tortured expiring innocence!"

Isaac Maddox was married to Elizabeth Price of Hayes, a woman of some wealth. But he also participated in the eighteenth century stock market such as the fishery business. He had three children, but only one of them, a daughter named Mary, survived him. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, died at age eleven. His only son, Isaac Price maddox, died of consumption in Bristol at age sixteen and was buried in worcester Cathedral. Two years later Isaac maddox died.

[Excerpted from "History of Worcester Royal Infirmary: Isaac Maddox, the Man and His Mission" and "Isaac Maddox, Psychologist and Preacher."]

An imposing monument to Bishop Isaac Maddox is in Worcester Cathedral. The following two photos were sent to us by officials of the cathedral and used with their permission.

Today Bishop Maddox's Silver Street Infirmary/Hospital is still standing and still known as the Isaac Maddox House. The address is Shrub Hill Road, Worcester Wr4 9RW. It houses medical psychological and social clinics.