KATHERINE ROSEBERRY DRINKWATER 1872 – 1939

by annette edwards

Katharine’s husband Harry is well documented but little seems to have been written about his second wife.

Katherine Roseberry Jay was the daughter of Henry Mason Jay  and Katherine Sarah Butler who married in 1870 at Chippenham .  Katherine  was born  there on   11 Nov  1872.

Henry Mason Jay was a Doctor of medicine and his wife`s father was a surgeon, so there was already a medical background.

Katharine was educated at Bath High School, Bedford College London, and the London School of Medicine for Women. She obtained her BSc in 1896 and qualified as a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries London (LSA) in 1903 before graduating MB BS from the University of London three years later. She then studied for a Diploma of Public Health (DPH) at Liverpool University, becoming one of the first women to hold that qualification.


There was an announcement in the Bath Chronicle on July 30 1903.

“Marriage arranged  and will take place in November between Harry Drinkwater M.D. , C.M., M.R.C.S., etc of Grosvenor Lodge Wrexham , and Katherine Roseberry Jay, BSc London”

The couple married on 18 November 1903  at St Pancras , London.

Harry was a widower, MD, residence Grosvenor Lodge, Wrexham.  Father- James Frederick Drinkwater, artist.

Katherine was a spinster, her father was Henry Mason Jay, an MD .

In 1907 Katherine became assistant school medical officer under the Wrexham Education Committee , but her medical speciality appears to have been gynaecology,  she was a recognised teacher for the Central Midwifery Board,  a member of the North of England Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society and also held the post of Assistant Gynaecologist at the Women’s Hospital Liverpool.

Katharine’s duties at Brymbo School arose once she had become assistant school medical officer in 1907 under the Wrexham Education Committee.  She was also medical inspector of children under the Denbigh County Council but her speciality was  gynaecology. She also held the post of Assistant Gynaecologist at the Women’s Hospital Liverpool

By 1911 Katherine was a physician surgeon for the town county council. Both Katherine and Harry were well known in the West Highland Terrier circles, she was later active in the breed as an exhibitor and a judge. She was also a committee member of the WHWT Club of England.

In 1915, The Wrexham  published an article about a meeting of the Wrexham Women’s Suffrage Society  in Wrexham.  The report ended with the words   “Dr Katherine Drinkwater pointed out various vocations in which women were urgently needed.” She was already doing what she could for the  war effort and, by example, to demonstrate female emancipation.

In July 1916 Katharine was in the first group of women doctors to join  The  Royal Army Medical Corps . She was contracted to work for 12 months as a Civilian Surgeon attached to the RAMC.

On  2 Aug 1916 Katherine  embarked for Malta as part of the Women’s Medical Unit RAMC.

She  was on  duty there from August 1916 to July 1917 and  was in charge of the women’s wards in the Military Families Hospital at Malta for over a year.

While Katherine was away  Harry continued to enter their dogs in competitions; the North Wales Chronicle of  25 August 1916, reported one such success at the Llanrwst Show. Once Katharine had returned, they were both winning prizes at  many  shows.

In June 1918 she was awarded the OBE  for her work in Malta. In 1918 The Medical Directory lists her address as 71, Lister House, Ruabon Road, Wrexham,

Harry died in 1925.

For the rest of her life, Katharine continued to be involved in both local and medical matters. She was appointed a Denbighshire JP in 1920 and was  chairman of the Denbigh and Flint Division of the British Medical Association (1927-9). In the last years of her life, Katharine was Assistant Medical Officer for Maternity and Child Welfare and Medical Officer to Ante Natal Clinic for Wrexham and President of the Wrexham and District Clinical Society (1937-8).

She was living at Holly Cottage, Eyton, near Wrexham, when she died on 29 December, 1939.

Katherine and Harry never had children together; they are buried in the same grave in Wrexham Cemetery quite close to the entrance. Ellen, Harry`s first wife is buried nearby.


Sources: Researched and written by Annette Edwards; many thanks to Moira Cholerton for allowing Annette to use much of her research.

Visit Moira’s site here


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