Contributed by Diana Bevan
Most people could tell you that there is a veterinary practice in the Brampton but I suspect that very few know the fascinating story behind the Mayer family who founded it in 1812.
Many families in Newcastle have the surname Mayer! They may or may not be related. There are several theories behind its origins. Some claim it to be French. Others say it has its roots in the village of Maer.
The spelling of the name varies, Mayer/Mare, and in North Staffordshire it is usually pronounced like the female horse!
Thomas Mare, baptised at St. Giles church, Newcastle, in 1732, was the son of a tailor, Thomas Mare and his wife Elizabeth (Viggars).
Thomas junior became a farrier, a trade which combined the skill of a blacksmith with that of a horse-doctor. His training would have been a practical one, working with an experienced farrier, then maybe branching out on his own.
This family in question had at least five generations called Thomas Mayer/Mare, maybe more.
The next Thomas Mare was baptised at St. Giles in 1764. He followed in his father’s footsteps and he too became a farrier. He had a very successful business in the Ironmarket. His son, Thomas, born in 1791, joined him there after training at the London Veterinary School.
This Thomas was well educated and ambitious
In 1813 he married Mary Smith, and in the same year his father moved his business from the Ironmarket to Queen Street, where he had purchased a substantial house with land. (The house had been the home of John Pepper, a Newcastle architect and builder).
An extension provided for two households. With great enterprise they also erected a purpose built veterinary surgery and a stables withy accommodation above it.
The 1818 Staffordshire Directory mentions the following:- Thomas Mayer and Son, Veterinary Surgeons, Queen Street.
Their investment paid off and their reputation grew. They were acknowledged as experts in their field and counted amongst their patrons the Sneyds of Keele Hall and the Leveson-Gower family of Trentham. (Later to become Duke of Sutherland in 1833).
The younger Thomas and his wife had five children. Their two sons, Thomas Walton Mayer and John Smith Mayer both trained as vets.
Thomas Walton qualified in 1835. In that year his grandfather died aged seventy two and was buried in St. George’s churchyard opposite his house in Queen Street.
From 1835 onwards, Thomas Mayer and son continued but it was a different father and son!
So far this has been a family history story but the vets in Queen Street were always forward-looking and wanted progress not only in their business but in the veterinary world at large.
Since Thomas Mayer (born 1791) had qualified he had always dreamed of having a regulated and trained profession with practical skills and academic knowledge.
So it was that Thomas Mayer and his son, Thomas Walton Mayer led a campaign which led to the granting of the ‘Charter of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ in 1844. This created a profession from what had formerly been a trade, and restricted the title ‘Veterinary Surgeon’ to qualified practitioners only.
In veterinary circles the name Mayer is legendary.
The house, stables and surgery constructed around two hundred years ago remain In Queen Street.
Very soon there will be a Civic Society plaque on the old surgery to remember the achievement of the two Thomas Mayers of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Look out for the continuing story of the Mayer family in the next issue; the problems, intrigue and scandal!