WILLIAM BAIGENT M.B.E. (1863 - 1935)


Dr. William Baigent was born in Darlington on 18.12.1862. (not 1863 as indicated on his grave stone), the son of Thomas George Baigent, a druggist and grocer. Baigent studied medicine at the University of Durham College of Medicine in Newcastle upon Tyne and graduated M.B. in 1885, proceeding to M.D. five years later with a gold medal for his thesis. Before settling down in general practice at Northallerton, he had held posts of Senior House Physician and Resident Anaesthetist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle and Resident Medical Officer to the Dunston Lodge Asylum. He was for many years a member of the British Medical Association and, from 1919 to 1925, served on the Rural Practitioners' Subcommittee of the Insurance Acts Committee. During WW1, he organised and conducted the Northallerton Red Cross Military Hospital and was Commandant of the local Voluntary Aid Detachment, for which services he received the M.B.E.

More interestingly in terms of 'uniqueness' to Jesmond Old Cemetery, Dr. Baigent was very well known as an authority on fly fishing and fly-dressing, being an accomplished tyer of flies by hand. Additionally, he invented the Baigent's Brown fly, which has been used to great success by thousands of fly fisherman over the decades - apart from my Dad and I this year in South Uist!!! Dr. Baigent also wrote a book, 'A Book on Hackles for Fly Dressing'; he had the book privately printed and it is thought that only 65 copies were produced. As such, it is a particularly rare book, with collectors paying over £5,000 for a copy. Wish I had one!!

Dr. Baigent and his wife were childless but adopted their niece, Sheona, who married a surgeon and become Shona Lodge. She wrote a couple of books, one of them entitled 'Swan Feather', published in 1993, which tells of her childhood in Northallerton and how her Father taught her to fish and tie flies.

Additional details provided by Mr John Austin.

          Dr. Baigent is on the right, standing next to Mrs. Baigent.

                         The Baigent's Brown. 

                                                                                        Frontispiece from Baigent's Book

The huge boulder on the grave is Aberdeen granite; perhaps a reminder of his favourite river, The Don, in Aberdeenshire.

The quotation on Dr. Baigent's grave is from 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834). 
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