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Professional Organisation and the Development of Medical Knowledge: Two Interpretations of Homoeopathy

  • Glynis Rankin
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series

Abstract

That the medical profession in the period before the passing of the 1858 Medical Act was constantly riven by disputes amongst its practitioners was as evident to the laymen of the day as it is to the medical historian. Part of the explanation of this rapidly changing factionalism must be sought in an understanding of the medical politics of the period. However, the intensity of the disputes over matters of theory or practice seemingly unrelated to the political concerns of the profession needs further explanation. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest the lines which such an explanation might follow, by looking at the internal disputes of a small group of medical practitioners, the homoeopaths, who were themselves the subjects of hostility from other members of the professsion. In particular, consideration is given to the influence of lay support of homoeopathy on the disputes over issues of medical theory and practice that took place amongst homoeopathic practitioners. This necessarily precludes any attempt to analyse the development of the same knowledge as a consequence of the relationship between the homoeopaths and the orthodox profession — a task which also needs to be undertaken.

Keywords

Royal College Social Distance Political Ideology Social Interest Medicinal Substance 
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.
    For background on the Whigs, see Donald Southgate, The Passing of the Whigs, 1832–86 (London, 1962); F.M.L. Thompson, English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1963); John Vincent, The Formation of the British Liberal Party 1857–68 (London, 1972); and Norman Gash, Aristocracy and People: Britain 1815–1865 (London, 1979), esp. chs 8 and 9.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See George C.H.V. Paget, the Marquess of Anglesea, One Leg — Life of William Paget, the First Marquess of Anglesea (London, 1961), p. 319. For an account of Lord Alfred Paget’s conversion to homoeopathy see Rt Hon. Sir Arthur Otway, Autobiography and Journals of Admiral Lord Clarence Paget GCB (London, 1896), pp. 22–3. And see, Gervas Huxley, Lady Elizabeth and the Grosvenors, Life in a Whig Family, 1822–1839 (London, 1965), p. 164.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    R.R. Madden, Memoirs of the Countess of Blessington (London, 1855), vol.1, p. 110.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Sarah Uwins, The Memoir of Thomas Uwins RA (London, 1858), vol. 2, p. 24.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    John Epps, Diary of the Late John Epps, Edited by his Wife (London, 1874), pp. 403–6.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    For a discussion of the constitutions of the medical licensing bodies, see M. Jeanne Peterson, The Medical Profession in Mid-Victorian London (Berkeley, 1978), pp. 6–12.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    See BJH, 3 (1845) and 4 (1846), p. 11.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    The London and Provincial Homoeopathic Medical Directory (London, 1855), p. 65.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    See discussion in William Henderson, An Inquiry into the Homoeopathic Practice of Medicine (Edinburgh, 1846), pp. 24–26. Henderson (1810–72) was Professor of General Pathology at Edinburgh from 1832 until his retirement in 1869. He learnt about homoeopathy from John Rutherford Russell and was at the centre of the controversy over homoeopathy in Edinburgh in 1851.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    BJH, 4 (1846), p. 347.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    See discussion in Paul F. Curie MD, The Case of the Late Mr Cordwell (London, 1845), p. 80.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Sir Robert Peel, ‘Letter from Sir Robert Peel to the Electors of the Borough of Tamworth’. Edinburgh Review, 92 (1848), p. 155.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    J.F. Clarke, Autobiographical Recollections of the Medical Profession (London, 1874), p. 137; Roger Cooter, The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science: phrenology and the organisation of consent in nineteenth-century Britain (Cambridge, 1984), p. 281 and p. 134 ff.; John Epps, Homoeopathy and its Principles Explained (London, 1850), pp. 181, 307–8 and 325.Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    See Arthur Miall, The Life of Edward Miall (London, 1884); for Ashurst see Dictionary of National Biography and G.J. Holyoake, Sixty Years of an Agitator’s Life (London, 1900), p. 183; for Wilson see Walter Bagehot, ‘Memoir of the Rt Hon. James Wilson’, The Economist, 17 (1860), reprinted in Bagehot, Literary Studies, vol.3 (London, 1907), pp. 304–58, and Epps, Diary (note 7), p. 163.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    See the pamphlet The English Homoeopathic Association (London, 1845).Google Scholar
  16. 24.
    Marmaduke Sampson, The Progress of Homoeopathy (London, 1845), p. 184. Sampson worked for the Bank of England and became City correspondent of The Times in 1846. He also wrote for The Spectator and The Economist. He edited The Popular Record from 1843 to 1846 and carried on a regular correspondence with George Combe (the letters to Combe providing much information about the factions which were later to result in the secessions from the EHA of several prominent members and to their support of the BHS). Although Sampson played a major role in the founding of the EHA, he remained a member of the society for a relatively short time and then left to form the British Homoeopathic Association (1848).Google Scholar
  17. 26.
    Epps’ Domestic Homoeopathy (London, 1840) was the first of a long series of works for domestic use published by members of the society. The members of the BHS published no works of this nature.Google Scholar
  18. 32.
    BJH, 2 (1844), p. 143.Google Scholar
  19. 33.
    William Henderson, Homoeopathy Fairly Represented (Edinburgh, 1853), p. 173.Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    John Rutherford Russell, Letter to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on the rejection of the petition of Francis Black MD, Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1842): ‘…it is not that we are fettered by the doctrines of Hahnemann, for we admit no bonds of personal authority’.Google Scholar
  21. 37.
    See John Epps’ article in Journal of Health and Disease, New Series, 3 (1849), p. 217.Google Scholar
  22. 41.
    See ‘Proceedings of the second annual meeting of the EHA’, Journal of Health and Disease, 5 (1850), p. 299.Google Scholar
  23. 42.
    For example, Archbishop Richard Whately (1787–1863), on whose support of homoeopathy see William Bayes, Remarks Upon Archbishop Whately’s Letter on Medical Trades-Unions (London, 1863).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Roger Cooter 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glynis Rankin

There are no affiliations available

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