Friends of Hastings Cemetery

George Danford & Sarah De Hume Thomas

ER A63

Here rest in peace

George Danford Thomas MD

HM Coroner for the county of London and Middlesex

Who died at Hastings 5th August 1910
Aged 62 years

and Sarah De Horne, his wife

Who died in London 2nd July 1911

 Aged 62.

"Thou art not idle in thy higher sphere

Thy spirit bends itself to loving tasks,

And strength to perfect what is dreamed of here

Is all the crown and glory that it asks.”

Pro Aliis”

George Danford Thomas was born in London in 1846, the son of the Reverend Richard James Francis Thomas (died 1873), curate of Hammersmith, and headmaster and chaplain of Bancroft's Hospital, Mile End Road, and from 1855 vicar of Yeovil.  George began his education in Bath and afterwards entered as a student at St Mary's Hospital.  He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1871.  Some five years later he earned his MD at Brussels, taking honours in medical jurisprudence. He also studied at the Inner Temple, and was admitted to the bar.]

He observed the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) as an officer of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, a predecessor of the British Red Cross, and his name was mentioned in various reports on the war operations by French authorities, leading to the award of the French Order of Merit in acknowledgement of his services.

He married Sarah De Hornee Vaizey in Dorchester in 1872. Their son, Richard, also became a coroner.

1851 Census

at West Stafford, Dorchester, Dorset

Joseph Vaizey 37 1814 Halstead, Essex, head farmer of 600 acres employing 36 labourers

Julia Vaizey 29 1822 West Stafford, Dorset, wife

Mary F Vaizey 3 1848 Witcombe, Dorset, daughter

Sarah De H Vaizey 2 1849 Fordington, Dorset, daughter

1881 Census

at Paddington, London

George D. C. Thomas 34 1847 Bow, Middlesex, head. MD, deputy coroner for Middlesex

Sarah De Horne Thomas 32 1849 Fordington, Dorset, wife

Julia L. Vaizey 59 1822 West Stafford, Dorset, mother in law, widow, annuitant

Arthur R. Vaizey 21 1860 West Stafford, Dorset, brother in law, articled clerk

George Danford Thomas began general practice in Paddington, and was soon after appointed the first Medical Officer of Health for the district of Willesden.  In the 1870s he became deputy coroner to Dr. Hardwicke, and later coroner for Central Middlesex.  On Hardwicke's death in 1881, Thomas was elected to Hardwicke's post after a closely contested competition.  His work as a coroner thus extended over a period of upwards of thirty years, and was spent in what must be one of the largest in point of both area and population.

Dr. Danford Thomas estimated that he conducted around 40,000 inquests during his career. He was appointed to hear the enquiry into the human remains found in the basement of Dr. Crippen's home but he died before the enquiry could be completed.

The British Medical Journal said that his "success as a coroner was greatly aided by his medical training, his legal knowledge, his wide acquaintance with mankind, his clear, logically working brain, and a fund of sympathy for suffering of all kinds ... on two occasions he went so far as to take into his house professional acquaintances suffering from mental illness, and thus temporarily stranded in London, and treated them as his guests until their recovery."

Danford Thomas was a volunteer soldier with the British Army and founded a bearer company in north London, the predecessors of the army's modern field ambulance units.  He reached the rank of Brigade Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel of the North London Volunteer Rifle Brigade.

He was active in the Unionist Party in Paddington and the promotion of the Primrose League in that district.

Thomas died on 5 August 1910 while visiting his sister in St Leonards hoping to recover his health. He went there on the adjournment of the Crippen trial, on which he was engaged, when he was already ill.  Five years earlier he had experienced an attack of paralysis but had made a practically complete recovery. In their obituary of Thomas, the British Medical Journal attributed his death to an attempt by the London County Council to have Thomas removed from his position on the grounds of ill-health.  The council had first attempted to persuade him to resign and then, finding they had no legal power to force the matter, had appealed unsuccessfully to the Lord Chancellor to ask Dr. Thomas to give up his position.