English Contagionism and Hans Sloane’s Circle

  • Margaret DeLacy


DeLacy explores the work of Hans Sloane, an Ulster Irishman trained in chemistry and botany who studied with Sydenham and became President of both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society. She considers Sloane’s Baconian epistemology and relates it to his approach to taxonomy, medicine, and the editorial policies of the Philosophical Transactions. Sloane became a supporter, patron, and colleague to many contagionist authors. His patronage of foreigners and Dissenters contributed to the survival of a cosmopolitan medical community in London in parallel with the more chauvinistic and conservative Anglican community. Most important, Sloane’s curiosity, cosmopolitanism, extensive correspondence network, and open-minded approach to ethnography and folk medicine led him to spearhead the introduction of smallpox inoculation.


Royal Society Philosophical Transaction Spontaneous Generation Smallpox Inoculation Early Eighteenth Century 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    Londa Schiebinger combines feminist and anticolonialist narratives in “Feminist History of Colonial Science,” Hypatia (Winter 2004) 19, no. 1:233–54. Schiebinger argues that Sloane deliberately suppressed information about the use of botanical abortifacients in the West Indies.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Margaret DeLacy 2016

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