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A History of Homeopathy in Britain

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Homeopathy was introduced into the UK by Dr F.H.F. Quin (1799-1878) in the 1830’s. Born and schooled privately in London, Quin was of aristocratic birth, and is widely regarded as the love-child of Lady Elizabeth Cavendish (1758-1824), the Duchess of Devonshire and Sir Valentine Richard Quin, 1st Earl of Dunraven (1752-1824, visit the Dunraven webpage). Along with the
Dukes of Westminster and Marlborough, the Dukes of Devonshire were at that time among the top five richest families in Britain (see Cannadine).

After graduating MD in 1820 in Edinburgh (his thesis was about Arsenic poisoning), Dr Quin then became the Duchess’s family physician and travelled with her entourage. He met Hahnemann, and travelled extensively in Europe, residing for a time both in Rome and Naples. He successfully used Camphor against Cholera in Moravia (Czechoslovakia) and cured himself of the condition on Hahnemann’s advice (Bradford, Cook, Hobhouse, Haehl). During the
1830’s and 40’s he was often in Paris among the inner circle of Hahnemann’s protégés. He was a lifelong asthmatic, which was eased by homeopathic treatment.

A fluent French-speaker and francophile, Quin was revered by the French as Hahnemann’s greatest successor, and appointed on Hahnemann’s death as the Honorary President of the Gallic Homeopathic Society (see Bonnard, p.32 and Blackie, p.29): a post he held until his death. Whenever he attended their meetings, Quin could occupy the special chair which had been originally created for Hahnemann, and which always remained empty in his absence (see
Haehl, Vol 1, 233, 429; Blackie pp.26-29).

He introduced homeopathy into the very highest levels of English society: to Dukes, Counts, Lords, minor Royals and Baronets [Leary, 1998, pp.252-3]. That was the world he was at ease with and in which he had moved since birth. As a young man he was a very popular socialite and wit on the fashionable London circuit, a great friend of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), William Thackeray (1811-1863) and the Royal portraitist, Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873), amongst many others, and no society party, or social gathering, it was said, was complete without him. By nature of a very pleasing disposition, he was a man of great personal charm (Leary, 1998, p.252). He was also latterly one of the regular dining partners of Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910), the future King Edward VII (Leary, 1998, p.252-3; see also Hobhouse, p.248; Handley, p.99 and Quin’s entry in the Dictionary of National Biography). As a measure of the respect and affection with which he regarded Dr Quin, the Prince sent four empty horse-drawn royal carriages to join the cortege at his funeral: probably the highest honour ever paid by a Royal to a commoner.

The modern British royal devotion to homeopathy also began through Dr Quin.Though Victoria never used it, but all later Royals have:

“Queen Mary and King George VI were firm followers of homeopathy, the King even calling one of his horses Hypericum which won the 1000 Guineas race [in 1946].” [Inglis, 1964, p.81-2]

‘The practice Samuel and Melanie Hahnemann established in the heart of Paris soon became fashionable. The wealthy people of the city and, indeed, of Europe generally, were more than ready to try a new medicine…they were predominantly members of the French and British upper and professional classes: nobles, clergy, military officers, doctors…the British were among the earliest visitors: Lord Elgin…Lady Kinnaird represented Scottish aristocracy…Dr Quin…Baron Rothschild…Viscount Beugnot…countess Musard…Lord Capel…Lady Belfast and Lady Drummond, the Duchess of Melford…’ [Handley, 1997, pp.20-22]

Sir John Weir, once the Queen’s physician, was reputedly Physician Royal to six monarchs: Edward VII, George V (1865-1936), Edward VIII (1894-1972), George VI (1895-1952), Elizabeth II, King Gustav V of Sweden (1858-1950) and King Haakon VII of Norway (1872- 1957). The latter’s wife, Princess Maud (1869-1938), was the youngest daughter of King Edward VII.

The fact that this aristocratic patronage of homeopathy in the UK extended well into the 1940’s, and beyond, can be easily demonstrated. In the Homeopathic Medical Directories there are lists of patrons of the dispensaries and hospitals. They read like an extract from Burke’s or Debrett’s. Some examples include: The Dukes of Beaufort, Dukes of Cambridge, Marquesses of Anglesey, Earl of Essex, Lord Gray of Gray, Viscount Malden, Earl of Donoughmore, Lord Ernle, Earl of Kintore, Earl of Kinnaird, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, Earl of Wemyss & March, the Lords Paget, Dukes of Sutherland, Earls of Dudley, Lord Leconfield, Earl of Wilton, Earl of Albermarle, Viscount Sydney, Lady Radstock, Duchess of Teck, Duke of Northumberland, Earl of Scarborough, Earl of Dysart, Marchioness of Exeter, Countess Waldegrave, Countess of Crawford & Balcarres, Lord Headley, Earl of Plymouth, Lord Calthorpe, Earls of Shrewsbury, Lord Horder, Lord Gainford, Lord Moynihan, Lord Ernle, Lord Ampthill, Lord Home, Viscount Elibank and the Earls of Lichfield. And to this list we can also add numerous knights, barons, Army officers and clerics.

[this data extracted from the Homeopathic Medical Directories 1867, 1874, 1895, 1909, 1931; see also Morrell, 1998 thesis; see also Nicholls, 1988 and 1998 op cit; see also LHH, Sixty Five Years Work: A History of the London Homeopathic Hospital, London, 1915; for Earls of Shrewsbury see also Hobhouse, op cit, 247; re Lord Donoughmore, see his Obituary, Health Through Homeopathy, BHA, 7:11, Nov 1948, 250; also his Obituary, Daily Telegraph, London, 19 Oct 1948; re Lords Ernle, Gainford and Ampthill, and Viscount Elibank, see Heal Thyself 1935; re Lord Home see Heal Thyself 1931-2; re Pagets see Heal Thyself 1938; re Lord Horder Heal Thyself 1937; re Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon see Heal Thyself 1932, 1933 and 1938.]

Royal patronage of homeopathy also continues. The Queen Mother continues her work as Patron of the BHA [see BHA, Birthday Greetings to our Patron, HRH Queen Mother, Homeopathy 40:4, July 1990, 97, and BHA, The Physicians Royal, Homeopathy 40:4, July 1990, 98], while the homeopathic pharmacy Ainsworth’s in New Cavendish Street, London, holds all three Royal warrants as ‘Chemists Royal’ — ie. for Prince Charles, the Queen Mother and the Queen.

Quin concentrated exclusively on introducing homeopathy amongst medically qualified doctors and their predominantly upper-class clientele (Inglis, p.85). This level of high society support for homeopathy, generated by Quin’s efforts, worked enormously to its advantage, smoothed its passage and greatly assisted its easy acceptance into the British medical marketplace. The fact that many of the German relatives of the British Royal family were also devoted patrons of homeopathy, including Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), wife of King William IV (1765-1837), also assisted its rapid social acceptance in Britain (Morrell, 1995; Leary, p.252-3). Rich patrons of homeopathy (eg. the first Marquess of Anglesey, Sir Henry William Paget (1768-1854), companion at Waterloo of the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)) not only formed its client-base, but also funded and numerically dominated the committees which ran the many homeopathic hospitals and dispensaries of the last century. Leading figures of this period include Drs William Bayes (c1820-c1890), Robert Dudgeon (1820-1904) and Richard Hughes (1836-1902) (Morrell, 1995).

Homeopathic Dispensaries
year – No
1840 – 80?
1850 – 155?
1857 – 33
1860 – 120?
1867 – 64
1868 – 70
1870 – 80
1874 – 117
1876 – 120
1880 – 45
1895 – 39
1900 – 35
1909 – 34
1930 – 25

[Source: Homeopathic Medical Directories: 1867, 1874, 1895, 1909, 1932]

Quin established the British Homeopathic Society (BHS) in 1843, a London hospital in 1850 and the British Journal of Homeopathy (BJH) in 1844. The BHS became the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1944, while the BJH became the BHJ in 1911. The Faculty is the training and controlling body of medical homeopathy in the UK and also trains many homeopaths from abroad, especially many from India. Through his many influential contacts in the world of politics (eg. Lord Ebury, 1801-93), Quin was able to obtain an amendment to the 1858 Medical Act, withholding a recommendation about the type of medicine approved in Britain (Leary, 1998, p.253; Nicholls, pp.144-5; Inglis, p.80). As a result of this skilful manouevre, homeopathy was indirectly tolerated without challenge and thus never censured by Parliament as an unacceptable or deviant mode of medical practice.

‘Dr Quin was able to obtain an amendment to the Medical Registration Bill; a clause was added enabling the Privy Council to withdraw the right to award degrees from any university that tried to impose the type of medicine practised by its graduates.’ [Inglis, p.80]

The rather draconian 1858 Act established for the first time the professional status and legal regulation of formally qualified medical practitioners, as distinct from quacks, and still regulates the practice of medicine in the UK today. Very much a product of the times, the law was specifically designed to outlaw quackery, which was rife at that time, by establishing a Register of approved practitioners. Initially these guidelines were interpreted very strictly, confining those on the Register only to holders of UK medical degrees, licences and diplomas. The reasons at the time were clear enough:

‘…a need to restrict entry to what was seen as an overcrowded profession…. medical practitioners were concerned both to control the number of qualified practitioners entering the profession and to reduce the competition from practitioners who were not qualified.’ [Waddington, 1984, p.139]

‘…of the 10,220 practitioners listed in Churchill’s Medical Directory of 1856, 1524 possessed only the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons, and 879 possessed only the licentiateship of the Society of Apothecaries.’ [Holloway, 1964, p312]

‘In 1851 there were an estimated 6000 unlicensed medical practitioners operating in the UK but only 5000 regular doctors, apothecaries & surgeons’, [Griggs, 1981, p.224].

Even the holders of Continental medical degrees and diplomas (graduates of the esteemed medical schools of Vienna, Berlin, Heidelberg, Paris, Montpellier, Padua and Brussells, and clearly some of the finest European doctors), were excluded from the Medical Register, for fear of encouraging deviant forms of medical practice in Britain, ie. quackery. Probably a good example of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’. In more recent times these rules were relaxed, even allowing American medical graduates the right to practice, whose degrees had previously been scorned as worthless pieces of paper. All foreign graduates must still apply directly to the General Medical Council to be granted permission to practise medicine in Britain.

There were attempts by some more politically radical homeopaths in the 1840’s (distantly inspired by the French Revolution), comprising some medically qualified and some laypersons, who formed a breakaway but shortlived English Homeopathic Association, to popularise homeopathy amongst the lower classes in Britain, but in the nineteenth centurythese efforts were eclipsed by its continued dominance by the medically qualified and their wealthy clientele (Nicholls, 1988). Many of these radical and plebeian homeopaths were also linked to political radicalism (distantly inspired by the French Revolution) and religious non-conformity, as well as a host of other medical sects, such as Phrenology, Spiritualism, Mesmerism, Hydrotherapy, Galvanic medicine and Medical Botany (Barrow; Morrell, 1998). There was a remarkable medical eclecticism at that time. Many homeopaths also employed other techniques like hydrotherapy or Galvanic medicine. A good example is Dr James Gully (1808-83), a big friend of Charles Darwin (1809-82), who set up a highly successful hydropathic institution in Malvern (Desmond & Moore, p.364 and p.392).

“Darwin…was not alone in extending the ethical net from oppressed men to the forlorn brutes. The Quaker doctor John Epps – London phrenologist, homeopathist, and disestablishment campaigner – had ‘come to consider all creatures as being equally important in the scale of creation as myself; to regard the poor Indian slave as my brother.’ (Epps, Diary, p.61)…’the whole creation travaileth and groaneth’. This was Epps’s reading of St Paul. He was adamant that ‘animals enjoy mind – and with it personality, desires and pain’ (Epps, Elements, p.118).” [Desmond & Moore, Darwin, 1991, p.238]

Quin distanced himself entirely from the radical homeopaths and the other medical sectarians in general, regarding them all as thoroughly disreputable amateurs bordering on quackery, though he would never use that term himself (Nicholls, pp.110-14). Leading radicals included Drs John Epps (1805-69), Samuel Partridge (c1810-80), Spencer T Hall (1812-85), J J Garth Wilkinson (1812-99) and Paul Francois Curie (1799-1853).

Dr Epps ‘was of short stature and sturdy frame, and had a beaming, self-confident expression. He was regarded by many of the working-classes as a prophet in medicine…he impressed many people with…his great earnestness…and his evident desire to benefit his fellow creatures. He had a great command of words, a fine sonorous voice, and an animated manner. His philanthropic efforts and personal acts of kindness were numberless.’ [DNB, p.800]

He was also ‘an ardent champion of liberal causes at home and of oppressed nationalities abroad.’ [Wheeler, BHJ 1912, p.525]. Which I suppose is a very polite way of saying he was also well-connected with many other rebels of the day. These include Guiseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), the Italian patriot; Lajos Kossuth(1802-94), the Hungarian revolutionary who stayed in London for a time in the 1850’s where he ‘was received with respect and sympathy’ [Chambers Dictionary of Biography, 1996, p.839]; and Guiseppe Mazzini (1805-72), another important Italian patriot who ‘found refuge in London in 1837’ [ibid, p995].

So great was their influence and popularity throughout the 1850’s that the medical radicals all seemed set to lay siege to orthodoxy (Barrow). Such great dreams were gently laid to rest by the 1858 Medical Actea

As a result of its continued domination by the medically qualified and by upper-class patronage (Nicholls, pp.114-16 & p.135), British homeopathy could never really shake off its aristocratic gloss, and thus it never established itself at a popular level amongst the lower classes, which was in marked contrast to the other sects, all of which enjoyed a good deal of mass, working-class support. Homeopathy was always regarded, therefore, as the ‘rich man’s therapy’, and the exclusive preserve of the wealthy, privileged and titled. While this allegiance with the upper classes had undoubtedly worked to the benefit of UK homeopathy in its early days, later on it became a great burden, especially when it sank into decline after the 1880’s. The aristocratic link meant that British homeopathy tended to be very largely confined to fashionable spa towns (eg. Buxton, Leamington, Harrogate, Bath), to wealthy coastal resorts (eg. Eastbourne, Brighton, Bognor Regis) and to London and southern England in general, unlike Botanic medicine, which was popular in northern, industrial cities. It thus never established itself at working-class level. And thus it had no popular support to fall back on as the aristocrats went into decline after 1890 (see Cannnadine).

‘…Quin’s social connections, useful though they were in introducing homoeopathy into Britain, gave it an aristocratic aura which it could not shed….it never really put down any roots among the workers, or the lower middle classes, except in a few scattered practices…they resisted overtures from…the unqualified lay homoeopaths… which… encouraged the development of an internal orthodoxy…which gave it, to outsiders, an appearance of rigidity…their original progressive ideas had crystallised into a narrow creed.’ (Inglis, 1964, p.85)

Three exceptions to this geographical pattern, and which are hard to explain, are Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool, all of which had large, thriving homeopathic hospitals. Liverpool and Bristol were major ports linked to the USA, where homeopathy thrived. They were also places where rich families were patrons of homeopathy: Wills the Tobacco firm in Bristol and the Tate sugar family in Liverpool. Glasgow might be explained as centre of great homeopathic activity, due to its subdominance to Edinburgh as an internationally renowned medical teaching centre and thus perhaps more tolerant of ‘medical deviance’ than its more conformist rival.

The continued decline of homeopathy caused some homeopathic doctors to despair for its future in Britain. As a result of these fears, a small minority of homeopathic doctors (eg. Dr J H Clarke, 1853-1931) broke away from the BHS (Clarke in 1908), began to teach some laypersons the rudiments of homeopathy and to publish books (eg. Clarke’s ‘The Prescriber’) directly aimed at the self-taught lay practitioner and home-prescriber.

[see Dr J H Clarke’s Obituary, British Homeopathic Journal 10, 1, 1932; Dr Clarke – Appreciation & Biographical Sketch, British Homeopathic Journal 79, 1990, 52; see also An Appreciation of Dr Clarke, by Dr Edgar Whittaker, The Homeopathic World, Jan 1932;see Dr J H Clarke’s Obituary, British Homeopathic Journal 10, 1, 1932, in which Sir John Weir, the King’s physician, admits being instrumental, during the 1920’s, in trying to woo Dr Clarke ‘back into the BHS fold’, but without success; Dr Clarke – Appreciation & Biographical Sketch, British Homeopathic Journal 79, 1990, 52; see also An Appreciation of Dr Clarke, by Dr Edgar Whittaker, The Homeopathic World, Jan 1932]

Dr Clarke certainly taught three laypersons: Canon Roland Upcher (1849-1929), a Church of England prelate, J Ellis Barker (1869-1948), a German immigrant and political writer, and Noel Puddephatt (1899-c1971), who had all been his former patients (Morrell, 1995). All three became practitioners to some extent, the two latter also becoming influential teachers of homeopathy in their own right (Morrell, 1995). It is notable that the tolerant, laissez-faire legal system of the UK (law of precedent) still allowed anyone to practise medicine, unlike most countries with written constitutions and rule by law of statute.

As a result of these developments, a new tradition of lay homeopathy was established in Britain. While the number of homeopathic doctors went first into decline and then into stagnation, the lay movement of the 1920’s and 30’s, by contrast, enjoyed great popularity, extending well into the 40’s and 50’s. There were approaching 300 homeopathic doctors at its peak in the 1870’s, but only 170 or so between 1900 and 1970 (Nicholls, pp.134-5; pp.215-6; Blackie, p.34; Inglis, p.81).

The Faculty of Homeopathy

year total females percentage
1939 219 28 12.8%
1969 125 41 32.8%
1972 244 43 17.6%
1974 259 37 14.7%
1985 487 106 21.8%
1988 586 154 26.3%
1998 1600 576 36%

[Source: Faculty Lists 1939-98]

Through stark recognition of the grim facts of decline (Nicholls, 1998), several notable attempts were made to resuscitate British homeopathy, as its fortunes began to collapse after 1890 (see Nicholls, p.215 & pp.218-19). For example, the re-establishment of the British Homeopathic Association (BHA) in 1902, to obtain more funds to train doctors; the setting up of the Missionary School of Medicine in 1903, to train Christian missionaries in the elements of homeopathy,tropical medicine and surgery (see Petursdottir); also the sending of young UK homeopathic doctors to Chicago to train with Dr Kent in 1908-13, under the Sir Henry Tyler Scholarship. Yet all these efforts failed to revive interest in the therapy amongst UK clinicians, or to elevate the numbers of homeopathic doctors, which continued to fall, andhomeopathy thus remained a stagnant backwater for most if this century, until the late 1970’s (Nicholls, pp.215-16 & pp.134-5).

In the 1930’s a diverse range of assorted lay therapists (mostly homeopaths, herbalists, vegetarians, antivivisectionists, bonesetters, diet therapists, hydrotherapists) became active, including probably 500+ lay homeopaths (see Morrell, 1995). Most towns at that time had a herbalist and a homeopath. Leading figures of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s include Noel Puddephatt, J Ellis Barker, Rev Harold Tyrwhitt (c1890-c1960), Leslie J Speight (1901-94), Edward Cotter (c1890-c1970), Arthur Jenner (born c1916), Frank Parker Wood (c1890-1965), Eric F W Powell (c1895-1991), George Pettitt (c1890-c1965), Harry Benjamin (c1890-c1950), Darnall Cooper (c1890-c1960) and Edwin D W Tomkins (1916-92).

‘Dear Mr Barker…I intimated some years ago to the BHA that a vigorous campaign was needed to ‘create a demand’ for homeopathy, but I was taken to task because such a procedure would ‘offend against professional etiquette’. I said then, and believe more strongly than ever, that publicity is needed…’.[Letter, Edward Barnett, Essex, The Homeopathic World, June 1932, 223]

‘Dear Sir, I am delighted with your vigorous criticism of those doctors who have mismanaged homeopathy for so many years…'[Letter in The Homeopathic World, June 1932, 224]

‘..we shall never be able to get a sufficiency of homeopathic doctors
unless homeopathy is made popular by suitable propaganda… ‘[Letter, The HomeopathicWorld, June 1932, 224]

‘…organised homeopathy followed a policy of secretiveness, that no list of homeopathic doctors was obtainable, that homeopaths did not indicate their speciality on their brass plates and on their stationery…the leaders of the homeopathic organisations must be crazy, cowardly or utterly stupid.'[ibid, 225]

‘..a distinguished homeopath…said to me: The British Homeopathic
Association is useless, absolutely useless, worse than useless. Unfortunately, this is only too true….’founded in 1902 for the extension and development of homeopathy in Great Britain’. Since that time the number of homeopathic doctors, chemists and of homeopathic hospitals, dispensaries and other institutions has steadily shrunk in the most lamentable manner.'[JEB in The Homeopathic World, June 1932, 226]

‘…it is declining and decaying in this country owing to the disastrous policy which incompetent leaders have followed for decades…during the last sixty or seventy years the number of medical men and chemist’s shops has approximately trebled, the number of practising homeopathic physicians has shrunk by about one half and the number of homeopathic chemist’s shops to about one fifth of the former figure…this is a disgraceful state of affairs…and the leaders who have caused this debacle ought to retire and to hide their heads if they possess any sense of responsibility and of shame.'[ibid, The Homeopathic World, June 1932, 231-2]

These letters clearly demonstrate a deep rift between the plebeian homeopaths of the thirties and their medically qualified brethren. Ellis Barker castigated both the BHS and the British Homoeopathic Association (BHA) for blocking any further expansion or popularisation of homeopathy at grassroots level. Editorial after editorial of his lambasted them mercilessly just as Drs Clarke and Burnett had done as Editors in the 1880’s and 1890’s [see The Homeopathic World, July 1932 267-8, 279, 290; September 1932 367, 371-2, 394-8; June 223 & 221-234]. Barker also incited the lay practitioners to ‘take homeopathy to the masses’. He was thus the inspiration for the first, brief though glorious, mass movement of alternative medicine in Britain.[see Morrell, 1995, Stuttgart Paper, op cit and Brief History, op cit; and J Ellis Barker, Why This Ridiculous Secrecy?, The Homeopathic World, May 1932: 177-82; Barker, J Ellis, My Testament Of Healing, John Murray, London, 1939, 73; see also Who’s Who, 1948, 144; see Barker’s Obituary, Heal Thyself, sept 1948, 235-8]

Leaders in the sixties and seventies include Phyllis Speight (born c1920), John Da Monte (1916-75) and Thomas Maughan (1901-76) (see Morrell, 1995, 1996). Suddenly, in 1978, and after two decades of inactivity, a group of lay practitioners established their own Society of Homeopaths, a Register, College (The London College of Homeopathy), Journal (The Homeopath) and Code of Ethics, inadvertently imitating the medical professionalisation process of the 1850’s. These had all been London students of Thomas Maughan and John Da Monte, and included Elizabeth Danciger, Misha Norland, Peter Chappell, Robert Davidson, Martin Miles and Sarah Richardson (see Morrell, 1995). Growth of the Register of the Society can be easily demonstrated:

Year Total RSHoms Female RSHoms
1979 15
1980 28
1981 41
1982 45
1983 50
1984 54
1985 62
1986 65
1987 67
1988 82 40 (48.8%)
1989 132 81 (61.4%)
1990 165 99 (60%)
1991 180 112 (62.2%)
1992 210 137 (65.2%)
1993 260 182 (70%)
1994 360 264 (73.3%)
1995 427 310 (72.6%)
1996 465 357 (76.8%)
1997 493 381 (77.3%)
1998 542 418 (77.1%)
1999 595 459 estimate

[Source: Soc Hom Registers 1979-98]

This sudden burst of renewed activity led to a very rapid expansion of homeopathy in the UK, and more Colleges became quickly established during the 1980’s and 1990’s, such that there are now more than 20, including 1 in Wales, 2 in Scotland and a dozen in London and the south of England. The lay movement is now a semi-legitimised profession with its own mode of registration, unified teaching syllabuses, training procedures and self-regulation. It sits on the brink of full legal recognition. There are approximately 1000 registered homeopaths working in the UK at present with probably the same number of licensed and unregistered homeopaths, and around 1000 medical doctors who practise some form of homeopathy. Many of these practitioners only practise on a part-time basis, and thus these numbers are slightly misleading. The movement is expanding at roughly 8-9% per year. There are thus two strands of the current movement — the medically qualified, and the lay practitioners. The latter dislike the pejorative title ‘lay homeopath’, preferring to be referred to as ‘professional homeopaths’.

By way of summary, we can make an interesting point about British homeopathy today as compared with its condition in the 1840’s. How sharply the two now differ! Then, homeopathy was entirely dominated by a medically-qualified elite with a wealthy clientele of artistocrats and only a microscopic lay movement. Today the opposite holds true: it is numerically dominated by professional homeopaths, who have, singlehandedly, brought about its resuscitation from a ‘near-death experience’ in the mid-seventies. And their client-base is almost entirely composed of middle and lower-class patients. The medically qualified today are in a minority and seem always to be responding to new ideas and techniques originating in the lay movement, rather than being the leaders they once were.

Homeopathy in Wales, Scotland and Eire

Homeopathy in the British Islea has not been entirely confined to England. There has been almost no homeopathy at all in Wales and no-one seems to know precisely why. There was a homeopath in Dolwyddelan in mid-Wales in the 1860’s and also one in Llandudno in north Wales, but no others that I know of. It seems strange because British homeopathy tended to become associated with religious non-conformism and that should have suited the Welsh.

There has also been very little in Ireland, where it was confined to certain towns like Dublin, Cork and Limerick, as well as some in the Belfast area in the north. Apart from that almost none. The single most active Irish homeopath was probably Dr W H Roberts, who ran the Dublin Homeopathic Dispensary for many years until its demise in the early 1950’s (Heal Thyself 1932-55). In more recent years there has come into being the Irish Society of Homeopaths, based in Galway.

Homeopathy in Scotland has a long and very distinguished record. It has been practised there from the very origins of the therapy in the UK and has also enjoyed repeated flowerings, quite independent of the tradition in England. It has tended to be centred mainly in Glasgow. Many of the greatest homeopaths in Britain have come from Scotland, born and educated there, even though they may have ‘made their mark’ south of the border. Examples include Dudgeon, Weir, Drysdale, Henderson, Skinner, George MacLeod, John Paterson, Ephraim Connor, Gibson Miller and William Boyd, and more recently David Taylor Reilly, and all of whom probably rank as great homeopaths in world terms. Dr Robert Gibson Miller was enormously influential and trained with Kent in St Louis in the 1880’s. There have been many important and influential Scottish homeopathic doctors since, based mainly at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital. That requires a separate history of its own.

Peter Morrell
Honorary Research Associate in the History of Medicine, Staffordshire University, UK

This article was originally published at :

About the author

Peter Morrell

Peter Morrell is a medical historian and freelance researcher. He completed an MPhil thesis on the history of British homeopathy in 1998 and was Hon Research Associate at Staffordshire University (1999-2009). He has published many articles on the history of homeopathy and the life of Hahnemann. In recent years his research has focused increasingly on the Casebooks of Hahnemann's medical practice. Peter graduated in zoology from Leeds University and has taught life sciences since 1975, mostly in colleges in the UK. You can find many of Peter Morrell's excellent articles here: http://www.homeoint.org/ morrell/articles/index.htm

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