Adam Read, Barber Surgeon of Dudley

Adam Read was a Barber Surgeon in Dudley, who lived from approximately 1658 to 1717. He left a will dated 20 Jan 1716/17, which clarifies a number of points about his life

It would appear that he only had one surviving child, Mary (bap St Thomas Dudley, 21 Mar 1685/86) , who was married to Daniel Shaw, a mercer in the town of Dudley. He married firstly Mary Coleborne on 17 Aug 1684 in St Mary’s, Old Swinford and secondly Katherine Harris, on 13 Aug 1705 in St Michael All Angels, Himley. Katherine is mentioned in his will and together with his son-in-law Daniel Shaw they were named as the executors.

Adam Read signature

Adam Read Signature and Seal, 1716

Adam Read was possibly baptized in St Mary’s Old Swinford in 1658, which ties in with the 1684 marriage. His first wife Mary Coleborne was baptized on 16 Apr 1665 in Rowley Regis and was almost certainly a grandchild of Humphrey Coleborne (d 1659), who is discussed on this site. Adam Read has a number of land dealings in Rowley Regis, that corroborates these links. Her parents were John Coleborne and Margaret Parkes married on 26 May 1659 in St Giles Rowley Regis. (The baptism in 1652 of another Mary Coleborne in Rowley to William Coleborne and Jane Wiley does not work as the will of William Coleborne in 1683 makes it clear that this Mary is married to a ‘Harrison’). Mary must have died around 1694 after a series of sons were baptized in St Thomas’s Dudley but none seem to have made it to adulthood. In John Coleborne’s will of 1695 he only mentions his one grandchild Mary Read and omits any reference to his daughter, who it is presumed is dead at that date. His son-in-law, the recently widowed Adam Read is not mentioned in the will at all. Instead the task of overseers of his father-in-law’s will fell to John Coleborne’s brother Humphrey Colebourne and his nephew Josiah Bach. Josiah Bach was the brother-in-law of Edmund Darby. Both lived in Rowley Regis whilst Adam continued to live in the town of Dudley itself.

Adam Read looks as if he was largely self taught. He was literate and his Books on Physick are passed down the generations to a series of his descendants, all surgeons practising in 18th Century Dudley and all called ‘Read Shaw’. The presumption is that his father was John Read, a yeoman of Old Swinford who died in 1700. In John Read’s will he mentions his son Adam but he would appear to be a second son and there is no mention of him living in Dudley or of his profession. Significantly John Read was a literate man, and it would be very plausible that this was the base from which Adam was able to advance himself further and be very successful in accumulating land and professional status in nearby Dudley. Subsequently, Adam’s grandson James Shaw became an important attorney in the town. And indeed, his grandson Daniel Shaw became Mayor of Dudley in 1768.

Adam’s tools of the trade are also mentioned in the will of his son-in-law Daniel Shaw, which were passed to Read Shaw another grandson born in 1717 a few months after Adam’s death and we can presume christened by that name in his honour. Thus the will written in 1739 states “Likewise I, [Daniel Shaw] give to my son Read Shaw all my books whatsoever relating to Surgery and Physick with one Furnace Copper Head and worm with One Limbeck with all other instruments as were his late grandfather’s Adam Read”

The marriage allegation of 4 Aug 1705 to Katherine Harris has also survived. It states that Adam Read of Dudley is forty years old and his bride from Swinford Regis is thirty five (or possibly twenty five)

Adam Read died in Dudley at the age of about 59 in 1717.


  • Will of Adam Read, Barber Chyrurgeon, Probate 24 Aug 1717, Worcester Record Office
  • Will of Daniel Shaw, Probate  11 Aug 1740 (Son-in-law), Worcester Record Office
  • Will of William Coleborne, Probate 20 Sep 1683 (Wife’s cousin), Worcester Record Office
  • Will of John Coleborne, Yeoman, Rowley Regis, Probate 22 Feb 1695/96 (Father-in-law)
  • Will of John Read, Yeoman, Old Swinford, Probate 6 Mar 1700 (Father)
  • Lichfield Marriage Allegations, 1636-1893, Findmypast