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Photo of Dr Robert Wilson Christian Spence

Dr Robert Wilson Christian Spence

Assistant Works Surgeon
Birthplace West Lothian Linlithgow ScotlandPlace of Death London Wandsworth Date of Birth: August 16, 1884 Date of Death: August 8, 1939


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Dr Robert Christian Wilson Spence MD.

Gender: Male.

Date and Place of Birth: 16th August 1884. Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland.

Date and Place of Death: 8th August 1939. Wandsworth, London, England.

Nationality: British.




Parents: Father- Robert Spence Esquire M.D; Mother- J.P. Christina Miller Wilson.

Parent’s occupations: Father was a medical practitioner. Mother was a chemist and druggist.

Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: Edinburgh.

Occupation: Medical practitioner.

Place of residence at Gretna: N/A.

Job title at Gretna: “assistant works surgeon to H.M. Explosives Factory, Gretna”.

Marital status: Helen Muriel Purves (1891-1966).

Children: Robert Spence (1910-1987). ‘he leaves a widow, a daughter, and four sons’, including twins.

Travels: ‘he also served in various hospitals in France’.

Awards/recognitions: Became a Burgess and Freeman of Linlithgow.

Trivia / any other information: ‘After graduating from Edinburgh, Dr Spence acted as house surgeon at Cumberland infirmary’.

‘He came from an old family of medical practitioners and pharmacists’.

Also served in hospitals in England.

Spent seven years as ‘deputy medical superintendent at Tooting Bee Mental Hospital’.

‘Then he resigned and started as a medical practitioner on his own in Longley Road, Tooting’.

He died due to ‘heart trouble’.

May 1926: appointed District Medical Officer for the Tooting No. 2 District, under the London County Council.

Valued member of Tooting Constitutional Club and Balham Club.

His twin sons also became burgesses and freemen in June 1939.

In 1908 he and another medical student, Edward Spence, went on trial accused of the assault of Dr John Thorn, a medical practitioner from Linlithgow. It was an unusual case which was hit by a number of delays. There was a lot of public interest in the trial. Accused of doing it on 24th July. Ultimately (December 2, 1908) were fined £2 each, with the alternative of 21 days imprisonment.


In the Perthshire Advertiser on Wednesday 22nd 1911, a story was reported of Robert Christian Wilson Spence being charged that on November 14th he had “thrown a quantity of ashes on the doorsteps and in the lobby of the house occupied by Dr Thorn”. He denied it but was charged £2 with the alternative of 18 days imprisonment.

Linlithgowshire Gazette – Friday 09 June 1939: Twin sons Mr William Purves Spence and Mr Alexander Wilson Spence. “The Spence family for generations had been burgesses and freemen of the burgh”.


Linlithgowshire Gazette- Friday 11th August, 1939: Served in Great War then was medical practitioner to the parish of Streatham.

“member of the incorporation of Guildry, a Burgess and Freeman of Linlithgow, and a member of the Fraternity of Dyers, in which society he held office”.

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