He was, it seems, on every occasion, ready to take on the role of playwright, actor and stage manager in addition to that of medical superintendent.
He held the post at Brookwood post 16 years until 1882, when he was seriously assaulted by a patient, an incident which brought about his retirement to Budleigh Salterton.
Why Budleigh? The town had been specially praised for its health-giving properties in Thomas Shapter’s 1862 book The Climate of the South of Devon, and Brushfield was perhaps aware of this following the Brookwood episode.
His bibliography of Ralegh was published in book form in 1886 – with a 2nd edition in 1908; it first appeared serially in The Western Antiquary: or, Devon and Cornwall notebook. This began a series of papers, ‘Raleghana, research into Walter Ralegh’s life and literary work’, which were published in the DA’s Transactions between 1896 and 1907. ‘Ralegh Miscellanea’ – Parts I and II followed in 1909-10.
East Budleigh’s All Saints’ Church, where the Ralegh family worshipped and where Sir Walter’s father was churchwarden, was the subject of a series of papers published by Brushfield in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association between 1891 and 1894. He contributed other papers on similar themes to other journals.
He left a widow, Hannah, together with three sons and three daughters. Two of the daughters married medical men. Two sons followed their father into the same profession: one of them, Thomas, became a noted physician in his own right, being the first to describe ‘Brushfield spots’ – often observed in newborn infants with Down syndrome – in his 1924 MD thesis.
Dr Brushfield and his wife Hannah are buried in St Peter’s Burial Ground, Budleigh Salterton. Block C, row 6.
Publishing this tribute on New Year's Day seemed only right to me. People sometimes do question the workings of the British Honours system. However in Dr Brushfield's case I think that everyone would agree that he deserved at the very least an MBE - if such things had been around during his lifetime.