A Miscellany Concentrating on the 18th and 19th centuries
with material of interest to North West England

by Craig Thornber

This website arises from an adult education class "The Buck Stops Here - Fine Arts and Society in late Georgian England", run by Leslie Edwards, under the aegis of Keele University at Tabley House, Knutsford. Each student chose a topic for investigation and mine was the medicines used by the Leicester family of Tabley as reported in the accounts for the 1820s. The study gradually extended to a more general investigation of the history of medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries and here I present some of the data collected and some comments on it. What follows may be useful to those with an interest in social history and the history of science and medicine. It is a view from the perspective of a research chemist who has spent a career in the pharmaceutical industry and takes a hard-nosed view of quackery in all its forms!

What can I add to the study of the history of medicine? Here you will find for the first time on the web, John Wesley's Primitive Physic, presented in a form that can be read with any pdf reader and the Materia Medica from the Manchester Hospital Pharmacopoeia of 1827 together with extracts from a variety of antiquarian books on the history of medicine. In addition, there are notes on death and disease statistics from parish registers that I have transcribed and/or examined in East Lancashire.

"The history of medicine is a monument to human folly" - Sir George Pickering, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University*

*Quoted in 'The White Death, A History of Tuberculosis' by Thomas Dormandy, Hambledon Press, 1999, ISBN 1 85285 169 4


A. Mortality and Population Data
B. Diseases and their Classification
C. Therapies and their classification.
D. Advances in Science, Medicine and Public Health
E. Biography of Peter Holland, surgeon of Knutsford
F. Biography of Sir Henry Holland, physican, socialite and traveller.
G. Talks given to Family History and Local History Societies
H. "Journal of the Plague Year" by Daniel Defoe, a special addition during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Page updated 11 September, 2023 : links checked 2 May 2023

Craig Thornber, Cheshire, England, UK.  Main Site Address:

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