Hackney Characters #5 The Threepenny Doctor

Henry Percy Jelley (b. 1866) trained as a medical student in Edinburgh and opened a surgery in  Homerton High Street in 1911. A man of the working class people he was much loved and respected by the local community.Described as being a spitting image of Neville Chamberlain with a forthright manner he always wore black clothing and a bowler hat and would travel around by horse or three wheeled bicycle. Henry Jelley would charge Threepence for a home visit and this is how he became known as ‘The Threepenny Doctor’. He practised in the Homerton area with one of his surgeries being on the corner of Mackintosh Lane. His remedies were unconventional sometimes recommending a wholesome meal or even giving out a good ticking off instead of prescribing medicine. He claimed that he had treated 80,000 patients a year! Despite being prosecuted and jailed for an illegal abortion his patients remained loyal to him. Following his stint in prison he bought a motor coach and organised trips to Southend for poor people. Over 7,000 local people turned up to his wedding at St Barnabas Church in Homerton High Street.Look out for plays about Dr Jelley occasionally held at Hoxton Hall and an old out of print Centerprise booklet which you can still find on the secondhand market. http://www.flickr.com/photos/traxcitement/6548201547/in/photostreamThe Threepenny Doctor – Hackney WEA published by Centerprise 1974 cover artwork by ‘Brooksie'”

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  1. The affection and respect for Dr. Jelley remained  after he died. People of my parents age spoke of him for years. I never heard a bad word about him.

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