**Project Conference Programme Announced**

We are pleased to confirm the programme for our project conference, Medical Practice in Early Modern Britain in Comparative Perspective, and are delighted to have attracted such a strong programme of speakers, across a broad range of topics.

For the full programme, please click this link: comparative perspective_programme

The conference will be held at the XFi Building, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, on 4 – 6 September 2017.

For further details about registration, and for any other questions relating to the conference, please contact:

Mrs Claire Keyte
Centre for Medical History
University of Exeter
Rennes Drive
Exeter
EX4 4RJ

Telephone: 01392 723289
c.e.keyte@exeter.ac.uk

Latest Project News.

Things are moving on apace with the project, and the database continues to grow. So far we have records of over 30,000 individual medical practitioners, ranging from the middle of the sixteenth century through to the first half of the eighteenth century.

Our Twitter feed has been re-activated, so please follow us at @UoE_emp for all the latest news about the project, together with some little snippets from the archive.

Please check out the different tabs here, including our ‘practitioner of the month’, working papers and samples from the database.

Also, please see the call for papers below, for our forthcoming conference.

Call for Papers: International Conference: Medical Practice in Early Modern Britain in Comparative Perspective

Papers are invited for an international conference to be held at the University of Exeter (UK) on 4-6 September 2017, funded by the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award for the project ‘The Medical World of Early Modern England, Wales and Ireland 1500-1715’ led by Professor Jonathan Barry and Dr Peter Elmer at Exeter (see the project website at http://practitioners.exeter.ac.uk/). This conference will consider the outputs from this project, in particular the database which has been created of more than 30,000 medical practitioners operating in the period, and the opportunities this offers for new research in the field. It will also consider comparative perspectives on early modern Britain, both spatially and temporally, and so welcomes papers from colleagues working on medical practice in other parts of Europe or its colonies, on other cultures (Islamic, Indian, Chinese etc) and also on the periods either side of our 1500-1715 focus, so that we can place the findings of the project in the widest possible context. Proposals for panels will be welcomed, but so will individual paper proposals, including from research students (for whom bursaries covering the cost of attendance will be available). Those attending will be given exclusive access in advance of the conference to research findings from the project database, which they will be encouraged to consider in their contributions, which we expect to be pre-circulated to encourage the highest level of focused debate during the conference. Senior scholars willing to act as commentators on papers are also encouraged to express an interest in this role, as well as in offering their own papers.
Major themes for consideration include the following:

  • Continuity and change in the character and scope of medical practice, including the impact of war and imperial expansion on pre-existing medical culture,
  • the influence of new ideas and/or persistence of established approaches across the period, as well as the significance of attempts at regulation.
  • Trends in education, training and career patterns, encompassing hereditary succession, patronage, apprenticeship and university study, and levels of provision in different regions and types of settlement.
  • The roles played by women, in popular and domestic medicine and beyond, and by other alternatives to orthodox male practitioners, and by the growth of new methods fro the production and sale of medicines.
  • The place of medicine within processes of social and cultural change in the British Isles more generally, and the wider parts played by medical practitioners in scientific, intellectual, political, military, confessional and other spheres.
  • The opportunities for comparative research across national boundaries, both in tracing the movement of medical practitioners and in comparing levels and types of medical provision in different cultures.

If you are interested in participating please send an email to Professor Jonathan Barry at J.Barry@exeter.ac.uk, with an abstract of c. 200 words indicating the proposed topic of any paper or panel, preferably by 15 September 2016.

Working Paper number 5 now available – by Dr Margaret Pelling

We are pleased to announce the fifth in our series of Working Papers:
`The Life and Times of Dr Richard Frewin (1681-1761): Medicine in Oxford
in the Eighteenth Century’, by the late A. H. T. Robb-Smith. This was
originally the fifteenth Gideon de Laune lecture, given to the
Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London in 1972. It has been edited
for publication, with a bibliography, by Margaret Pelling. Frewin was a
successful rather than a remarkable physician, and the value of
Robb-Smith’s work lies in its being about a provincial practitioner’s
career and interconnections with the university milieu around him. Much
is revealed about how the eighteenth-century university operated, its
personal politics and scandals, the failings of its medical faculty, and
how physicians of that date educated themselves and then tried to get on
in the world.

To see the paper, click on the ‘Working Papers’ tab above, and scroll down the list for a detailed synopsis, and link to a PDF of the papers itself.

Alun Withey.

New: Working Paper Number 4 – by Dr Peter Elmer

We are pleased to announce the latest in our series of working papers. This new paper, ‘East Anglia and the Hopkins Trials, 1645-1647: a County Guide’, by Dr Peter Elmer, offers a county by county gazetteer of seventeenth-century witch trials. It offers new perspectives on the role and significance of Matthew Hopkins, and locates the trials within the broader context of attempts by puritan minorities to rid the country of perceived enemies.

The link to the full paper can be found under the ‘working papers’ tab, by scrolling down the list.

The Medical World of Early Modern Ireland – Conference 3-4th September 2015

Conference: The Medical World of Early Modern Ireland, 1500-1750

This conference is taking place at Trinity College Dublin on 3-4 September as part of the Early Modern Practitioners Project. It will feature papers on a broad range of topics, including natural history, midwifery, witchcraft and Gaelic medicine. The research team from Early Modern Practitioners will also be presenting an overview of key aspects of their work.

Professor Marian Lyons of Maynooth University will deliver a keynote address on ‘The Professionalization of Medical Practice in Seventeenth-Century Ireland’.

To view the full programme and to register for this conference, please visit: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/medicalhistory/newsandevents/
events/medical_world_early_modern_ireland/

If you have any queries about the event, please contact Dr John Cunningham at cunninjo@tcd.ie.

Working Paper Number 3 now uploaded.

We are delighted to have a brand new working paper – Professor Christopher Whitty’s hand list of medical texts published in Britain, in English, between 1475 and 1640. The list, together with an introductory essay by Dr Margaret Pelling, will be of interest not only to scholars of the history of medicine, but also anyone interested in vernacular publishing and the place of medical texts within the broader catalogue of published books.

To see the hand list and other materials click on the ‘Working Papers’ tab.

Working paper number 2 now uploaded

Professor Jonathan Barry’s essay ‘John Houghton and Medical Practice in William Rose’s London’, about the early modern apothecary, journalist and Fellow of the Royal Society John Houghton, has now been uploaded to our ‘Working Papers’ series.

For a link to the full paper, plus an introduction by Professor Barry, click the ‘Working Papers’ tab.

 

A New Addition to the Site: Working Papers

As part of the project’s commitment to disseminate the findings of our research, we have set up a new section of the website where we will post working papers, drawing out key themes or promoting new research findings.

The first of these papers, a study of barber-surgeons’ ordinances by Dr Margaret Pelling has now been uploaded and can be accessed through the link under the ‘working papers’ tag.

Researching Medical Practitioners in Early Modern Ireland

In October 2013 I joined the team on the Early Modern Practitioners project as a relative newcomer to medical history. Since then I have enjoyed the opportunity to approach early modern Ireland from what is, for me, a new and rewarding direction.

In my previous research, encompassing landownership, politics, religion and various other subjects, I had frequently come across medical practitioners. For example, at least four Catholic physicians were among those who received assignments of land in the transplantation to Connacht, the scheme that was the focus of my doctoral thesis. Another physician, William Petty, played a fundamental role in the implementation of the Cromwellian land settlement.

Image from Wikipedia Commons

Image from Wikipedia Commons

While figures such as Petty need no introduction, the vast majority of medical practitioners enjoyed far less contemporary prominence. The evidence that has survived concerning this majority varies greatly in content and extent. Still, there can be few, if any, historians of early modern Ireland who have not encountered a medical practitioner of one kind or another at some point in the course of archival research.

When addressing the issue of archival resources for the history early modern Ireland, it is always tempting to focus on gaps and absences. After all, a few well-known disasters have served to deprive scholars of an enormous body of source materials. In a western European context, the Irish archive can appear meagre in some respects, especially when compared to England.

Within the Early Modern Practitioners project, the evidence available from wills provides one of the more striking contrasts between Ireland and England. All but a handful of Ireland’s surviving prerogative and diocesan wills were destroyed in 1922, and many of the surviving indexes lack occupational data. Identifying and analysing what has survived in miscellaneous copies and genealogical abstracts is a challenging task, but also a very worthwhile one. Among the more useful resources is the collection of transcripts of medical wills made by Sybil Kirkpatrick in the Public Record Office in 1910-11 and now housed in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Image copyright National Library of Ireland

Image copyright National Library of Ireland

The problem of gaps and absences is not simply due to the subsequent destruction of archives. It is also worth keeping in mind that the administrative and corporate structures that generated some important sources for medical history in other early modern states were sometimes lacking or ineffective in Ireland. For example, ecclesiastical licensing of medical practitioners does not seem to have been widespread. This is, however, a subject that requires further exploration. The relative weakness of the Church of Ireland and the fact that most of the population adhered to Catholicism was undoubtedly of importance in this context.

This very brief recital of some of the limitations imposed by the available sources is not intended as an exercise in pessimism. It is helpful, I think, to go about establishing where the existing boundaries are and where they might usefully be pushed back. Drawing contrasts with the richer source bases often available for other countries and regions is part of the task of locating and making sense of the medical history of early modern Ireland in wider contexts. There is plenty of work to be done and much to be optimistic about. Stay tuned.