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English Contagionism and Hans Sloane’s Circle

  • Margaret DeLacy

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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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Notes

  1. 1.
    James Hamilton, the eldest son of the Reverend Hans Hamilton, minister of Dunlop in Ayrshire, came to Ireland as a secret agent for James VI of Scotland (later James I of England). Eric St. John Brooks, Sir Hans Sloane: The Great Collector and His Circle (London: 1954), 18.Google Scholar
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    Williamson, “John Martyn,” 366. The satire is in the Memoirs of the Society of Grub-Street (London: 1737) 1:86–9. It was first published in 1730.Google Scholar
  83. 167.
    See for example Fielding Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (Philadelphia: 1921), 369: “The names of many English physicians of Queen Anne’s time … have a literary and social, rather than a scientific interest.” Sloane and Mead are among those listed.Google Scholar
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    Maarten Ultee, “Sir Hans Sloane, Scientist,” British Library Journal (1988) 14:1–20, 1, and see MacGregor, “Sloane,” 41, nn. 132–3. MacGregor notes that the essays in his book contradict these claims. In one essay in MacGregor, Marjorie Caygill objects to claims that Sloane “can hardly be credited with founding his own collection.”Google Scholar
  85. 169.
    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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