Homeopathy Papers

Edward Jenner and “Variolae Vaccinae”

Written by Alastair Yarrow

Homeopath Alastair Yarrow documents the controversy around the cowpox vaccine of Jenner with fascinating quotes. An informative exploration and cautionary tale.

The majority of what is presented has been taken directly from the books shown below. The aim is to illustrate the controversy and the depth of feeling surrounding the subject of vaccination during the lifetime of Edward Jenner. I have briefly added the parallel life and works of Dr S. Hahnemann, as it demonstrates how advanced his scientific, medical and analytical thought processes were.

Jenner  1759-1823

Hahanemann  1755–1843

“The closing years of Jenner’s life were far from bright. Proofs of the fallacy of his vaccination fetish crowded around him; gathering clouds of discontent and failure darkened his spirit. “Never was I involved in so many perplexities” he wrote to his friend Gardiner. It is said this was his last recorded sentence. Within two days he passed suddenly away whilst sitting in his arm chair.”

Jenner died penniless in 1823. Before his death he declared that cowpox was smallpox of the cow and non-infectious. A view shared by Sir John Simon (high priest of the vaccination cult) who said “cowpox is smallpox and that a person who has had cowpox has really passed through smallpox.”

Jenner was born in 1759, into a prosperous family in Berkley.  His father was the vicar. At the age of 14 he became apprentice to the apothecary of Mr Ludlow of Sodbury, near Bristol. At 21 he was sent for 2 years to John Hunter, noted Doctor and Naturalist, to train to be a doctor.

Jenner did not need to stay for the full duration of the “medical apprenticeship” as he had completed 2 years of indentures with Ludlow. While resident with Hunter he rarely completed scientific projects.

Hunter was regarded as the leading medical thinker of the Empirical tradition. He emphasised the importance of a person’s constitution and that two or more similar diseases could not exist simultaneously. He advocated the idea of provings for medications on healthy people. Hunter’s ideas and approach were adopted by Hahnemann as early 1789.

While at Hunter’s house, Jenner met many influential people including  Joseph Bank,s recently back from Cooke’s 1771 expedition. Banks gave him specimens from the expedition to draw for records but Jenner never completed them.

Later when Banks became the President of the Royal Society he offered Jenner a position as naturalist on Cooke’s 2nd. Expedition, but with no government funding he could not take up the opportunity.

In 1775, Jenner was offered a post in anatomy in London by Hunter requesting (as was practice) 1000 guineas for the post but Jenner’s father objected to the sum so this never happened.

Around 1777 he returned to his native village of Berkley but not till 1782 did he set up his medical practice at the vicarage of his brother Stephen. He had no diploma nor medical examination, neither being compulsory and he thought them a superfluity. Later, in order to get his vaccination work recognised and accepted,  he would see the need to be a fellow of the Royal Society and to be a qualified physician.

1785 – Hahnemann had temporarily relinquished his medical practice and concentrated upon chemistry and writing.

In 1789, through his friendship with Hunter, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society,  “upon the questionable merit of a singular paper concerning a fabulous cuckoo, wittily termed “the bird that laid the vaccination egg.”

Besides a few “common-place facts, the paper was a tissue of absurdities and imaginative freaks.” An early biographer, Dr Norman Moore, regarded his election as little more than a fraud.  Jenner did present original observations of the cuckoo’s nesting habits, and solved the question of the  parasitic behaviour when  observing  a young cuckoo ejecting nestlings and eggs from the nest.

“But such was his imagination that he added the idea that there was a platform on the back onto which the egg or chick was put to aid the ejection, as a proven fact. This structure then disappeared as the chick grew.”

Hunter would have been well acquainted with smallpox and inoculation but there is no evidence to suggest that Jenner had discussed it with him.

1805-10 Hahnemann worked upon and published first edition of the Organon of Medicine.

In 1813 after several applications Jenner obtained the Oxford University degree of Honorary MA. Confidence boosted, he applied to the Royal College of Physician’s hoping to gain their diploma on the same easy terms.  The College refused “to admit this less than ordinary and very disappointing man, unless he submitted to the usual examinations”. He bought his degree of Dr of Physic for £15 from Edinburgh University.

When the Anti-Vaccination League grew in the late 19th century, the sanitation officer Creighton wrote in evidence (to be ignored) to the Royal Commission on Vaccination “Jenner has been magnified as a great scientific investigator, who from country folk-lore made a master-piece of medical induction. Yet under clearer historic light he appears vain, petulant, crafty, and greedy, with more grandiloquence and bounce than solid attainment. It may be that our standard is higher now (1890’s), but I’m bound to say, that when I did come to study thoroughly Jenner’s 3 essays on “Cowpox Inoculation,” I seemed to find myself dealing with reasonings which were anything but masterly, and with a writer who was never precise when he could be vague, and was never straight forward when he could be secretive.”

Inoculation in Europe

Everyone was aware of smallpox and it was believed that the idea of vaccination came to Jenner, in 1774, when he came across the gravestone of  local farmer Benjamin Jesty in Worth, Dorset, with  the inscription saying he had inoculated his wife and two sons with Cowpox.

The practice of inoculation has an ancient history and it is believed now that the withered arms of some of the Egyptian mummies show inoculation marks. But it was Lady Montague, wife of the Ambassador to Constantinople, who is attributed with the introduction of the practice of “ingrafting”  to the ladies of  British Society around 1722.

Later Lady Montague introduced and convinced  King George III to inoculate his children. Was the madness of King George the 1V attributable to inoculation? By the late 18th century these inoculators were giving increased doses of smallpox which was soon to be regarded as too severe and dropped in favour of Sutton’s method which was a reduced amount which in turn was superseded by Jenner.

Jenner himself was inoculated with smallpox in 1757 at the age of 8 and was extremely ill. Inoculation generated strong opposition from physicians and clergy. The later released a pamphlet describing inoculation as “aetheism, quackery and avarice.” The Rev Massey condemned it as a dangerous and sinful practice and contrary to the Bible teachings. “Leviticus ch 19 vs 1,2,and 28…. “ Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

In Wales, “buying the smallpox” was reported by  Dr Perrot Williams, as  the custom carried out for a long time. Take matter from pustules from the infected, rub over skin then prick/scarify. Heard of no report of smallpox a second time. He believed the custom was well established by 1700.

In Scotland when   a mild smallpox appeared in a child, others were brought to be contaminated by making them bedfellows or by tying worsted threads wet with the poxy matter round their wrists.

In England, a Dr Nettleton, Halifax Yorkshire inoculated 40 in 3 months. He introduced a system of preparing his patience by means of purgatives, emetics, occasionally bleeding. He made 2 incisions, one on an arm, the other in the leg of the opposite side and variola matter was dropped into the wounds.

Later he developed a simpler method of cotton wool impregnated in contaminated matter and applied to an incision for 24 hrs by a plaster.

Mary Batt, Quaker, 2 years old, inoculated by Dr. Maitland, Oct. 21 1721. Mary had 20 pustules and recovered but the domestic staff who hugged and caressed her while sick were all contaminated and subsequently demonstrated of “several different types of smallpox.

In Ireland. Inoculation was first performed by Dr Maitland in Dublin 1723. Over the next 3 years, 25 were inoculated with 3 deaths, 2 of the children from the same family, so it not encouraged. Few other surgeons practiced inoculation before Dr Maitland. In 1726 he performed on 10 people with one fatality, so inoculation was not tried again by physicians for another 20 yrs.

1772 – HRH Prince of Wales ordered inoculation to be performed upon some charity children…being successful HRH inoculated his children and this example was followed.  But Hon Will Spencer and the butler of Lord Bathurst died following inoculation.

Dr Wagstaffe, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, expressed the need for further evidence and considers that posterity would marvel that “a practice employed by a few ignorant females amongst an illiterate and unthinking people (Turks) should have so suddenly been adopted by one of the politest nations in the world.”

1777, Dr Haygath devised a system for prevention of smallpox through a plan to improve sanitation and isolation (Dr H’s ‘An inquiry How To Prevent Smallpox’ 1784). He had noted the upsurge of smallpox following inoculation in towns where there had been none before or had been free for a long time.

“Smallpox is infectious and was never known to be passed on accepting by infection. Therefore, isolation and destroying by fire all contaminated matter etc. People were liable to become infected after breathing the air near to the victims and this poison is quickly dispersed by poverty. Sanitation was the key and sanitation officers who when alerted to an out break take the victim to a place of isolation till he recovered.”.

Haygarth still recommended the use of inoculation but at intervals of 2 years and then “others should be notified so they could avoid those inoculated in case of contamination.”   This system was ignored and lost sight of until almost a century later.

Smallpox was common throughout Europe and concentrated in areas of huge populations rather than in the countryside. It was classified as one of the zymotic diseases created by fermentation of animal and human remains.

In the embryonic industrial towns with ever growing populations, poor sanitation, hygiene, diet and a lack of fresh clean air created the breeding grounds for such diseases. Zymotic fevers were smallpox, typhus, typhoid, measles, scarlatina, whooping-cough, diphtheria and erysipelas.

The Official Smallpox figures from the Bill of Mortality for London for 1700, showed that under 2,000 died annually. I do not know the total population of London.

Mortality figures from England and Wales

Year             Deaths all.        Smallpox

1736              27,581                 3014

1796              19, 288                3548

By the 1870s, after 20 years of compulsory vaccination the figures rose to around 20,000 and higher in each of the 3 great epidemics of England and Wales.

Alfred Wallace (Evolution fame) was to show that the death rate pre vaccination 1723-79 was at 18.8% as it was 1836-80 where medical and hospital reports give an average mortality rate of 18.5%, and these would have been under the better treatment and hygiene of C19.

1754 – There was a severe epidemic of smallpox in Rome and Florence.  Inoculation was introduced and it was realised that the Italian peasant had long practiced voluntary inoculation just as in Wales and Scotland where it was already being used.

In Spain inoculation made little headway as there was little interest as smallpox which was only found in the cities and ports frequented by the English.

Hahnemann qualified as Dr of medicine. 1779.

1792 Hahnemann opens first Homoeopathic Asylum near Gotha.                  

Jenner and Vaccination.

The case of James Phipps brought Jenner the attention he needed. James was first vaccinated on 14 May, 1796 with the cowpox. 8 weeks later Jenner  repeated the action with “smallpox” pus and James did not succumb to smallpox. Jenner had no way of knowing whether the pus was contaminated and therefore infectious or not.

“Having infected a male human, with the non-infectious complaint taken from a different species, only (female) cows got cowpox, Jenner believed he could prevent (a similar disease, from an allopathic perspective) smallpox.” This paper was rejected by the Royal Society for lack of evidence.

As with other conscientious scientists, the rejection motivated him to investigate other possible avenues leading him to the horse-grease theory which he then claimed to be the “life preserving fluid against cowpox.”

He submitted the paper to the Royal Society without waiting for the test results on James. The Royal Society rejected this amendment to his theory in favour of the original!

1796  – Jenner presented another article where half the patients, just 6, who had had the cowpox when young, then had been vaccinated in adulthood with smallpox without ill effects, despite the fact that adults rarely get smallpox.

1797 – Jenner turned to the Ladies of Society to champion his cause. They became the vaccinators and the practice became fashionable, the rage, almost a religious rite.  No vaccination, no Baptism was proclaimed from the pulpit. So Baptism and vaccination often took place on the same day.

Later in the same year,1797, Jenner resubmitted a paper with his ideas of a  small pox cure and was again rejected and from then he bore a grudge against Banks and Everad Homes, influential members  of the Royal Society, for requesting more evidence.

James Phipps died that year of pulmonary consumption. Jenner was to repeatedly vaccinate his own son who also died at the age of 21 of consumption.

In March ’98, to force the RS to accept his hypothesis, Jenner resolved to publish his paper with additional information linking horse grease to cowpox.  Three men, in the parish, had sores on their hands after dressing infected hooves  prior to milking.   This may have given Jenner the  impetus to resurrect his theory that horse grease was transferred to the udders causing the reaction which was  “cowpox.” It was this, he believed, that lead to the immunisation of the dairymaids.

16th March ‘98 he inoculated a stable boy on the arm with matter from “a horse sore.” On the same day he took “matter” from this boy and inoculated another child, he then took a sample from this second boy and inoculated four other children. A week later, March 24, Jenner left for London with his manuscript, not waiting for any results.  Nor it appears requesting any follow up at a later date.

By June 21st the manuscript was in the hands of the booksellers for sale at 7/6p (€0.40) “A quarto of some 70 pages, in the largest type, with the widest margins and 4 colour plates to illustrate. The title was “Variolae Vaccinae” Before publication of his “Enquiry” the name “Cowpox” had not been widely known, now it was coined and accepted.

“If Jenner had had his theory of vaccination since 1780, but not until 1798 did he “release it “ for the benefit of mankind. “He allowed mankind to perish from smallpox, he having their salvation in his hands.”

Following the publication of his paper on the origins of vaccination the Ladies of Society championed his cause and in 1801 Jenner was presented to King George III. Subsequently, Parliament was instructed by Royal Decree to make an award of £30.000 for his work on vaccination and for his works for humanity.

1802-  Admiral Berkley, prompted by Jenner, petitioned Parliament for more financial reward for the discovery and to cover his costs. The work of the farmer Jesty and others was brought to the attention of the investigating committee but William Pitt credited vaccination to Jenner and awarded him £10.000. Berkley was the lord of Jenner’s home village.

Was “Cowpox”  “Variolae”?

Heated debate erupted over Europe. Dr George Pearson FRS physician to St Georges Hospital, having  first questioned the evidence linking cowpox to variolae,  was chastised by Jenner,  “ Every school boy knows that the meaning of “Variolae” is “freckles” or “pimples” and its modern and forced application to smallpox by no means destroys its original latitude and significance… “ .  Soon, Pearson became his first supporter. Questions and observations came.

Aug. 1799, Dr Hooper in Medical Review pointed out that Milker’s cowpox sores were larger than the pustules of smallpox and otherwise unlike them.

Dr John Sims, Botanical Magazine, 13 Feb. ’99, gave an account of a Mr. Jacobs, solicitor, who began life as a milker on his father’s farm, had cowpox twice and then smallpox twice afterwards. Jenner called him a “Snarling fellow and accused him of harsh and unjustifiable language.” Later Sims also added his name to the list of surgeons and physicians who recommended “cowpoxing” to the public in July 1800.

A rural vet, John Lawrence, of Bury St. Edmunds, suggested looking at how to remove the source of this infection…filthy animals and parlours etc., but who was interested in hygiene in 1800?  Not till the scarlet fever epidemic of 1886-8 was it officially acknowledged that the unhygienic conditions of the parlours and animals contaminating the milk lead to the outbreaks.

It was little understood that smallpox was only a disease of the crowded and insanitary conditions of the growing industrial towns of Europe. But vaccination was already a financial winner!

The National Vaccine Establishment was established 1807 from public funding.

1810 First Edition of the Organon. (6th. Ed 1842)

Of Small pox , Org p 91, “It is well known that smallpox comes on shortly after cowpox inoculation/(vaccination), it will entirely lift the cowpox homoeopathically, not allowing it to come to completion. This is due to its greater strength and similarity; skin problems cured by inoculation of cowpox. Whichever, smallpox or cowpox is stronger, prevails…confirms Hunters belief no two fevers, similar diseases at same time. The cowpox cure for smallpox was due to similarities but they are not identical.” Widespread inoculation with cowpox so effectively put an end to all epidemics of the deadly, terrible smallpox that the current generation has no vivid conception of that former horrible smallpox plague.”

As Homoeopaths we should note, (p99 ft note 56) goes on to say, “In this way, to be sure, certain other animal diseases will present us with medicinal and curative potencies for very similar diseases, important human diseases, happily supplementing our stock of homoeopathic medications.”

At the time of  6th Ed. Vaccination was not compulsory and inoculation banned.

1811 – “Jenner’s gratitude to the upper classes was evident when he sat with the vaccinated but very ill Lord Grovesnor, aged 10. Jenner was quick to recover the situation on signs of the boy’s recovery, “what a lucky job he was vaccinated. If he had not been, he would surely have died.”


Other published concerns

1804 John Birch a London surgeon.

1804 Mr W Goldson, a Portea surgeon, as early as 1802 had sent failure cases to Jenner.

1804 Dr B Moseley, Chelsea Hospital, published many cases of people vaccinated with smallpox who subsequently had it together with cases of sever illness and death.

1805 1806, Dr W Rowley, of St Marylebone Infirmary, published 504 cases vaccinated with 75 deaths.  He invited his colleagues to “come and see…. some of the worst species of smallpox, all known to have been vaccinated.”

1805 Dr Squirrel, ex. Apothecary to the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital, London.

Dr Maclean, 1810, in Medical Observer, “very few deaths from cowpox appear in the Bills of Mortality, owing to the means which have been used to suppress a knowledge of them. Neither were deaths, diseases and failures transmitted in great abundance from the country, not because they did not happen, but because some practitioners were interested in not seeing them, and others who did see them and were afraid of announcing what they knew. For example, Mr. C Fox, a medical man of Cardiff, published 56 cases of illness from vaccination including 17 deaths. Yet he certified only 2 as caused by vaccination. Of those who survived several were permanently injured and most endured great and prolonged suffering. If one medical man recorded such injury and deaths what was the total of unrecorded vaccine damage for the whole country?”

1807 Vaccination became compulsory in Bavaria, 1810, Denmark.

Figures of mortalities in 1812 and 1818, for London, prior to vaccination, as 2,000 per annum by 1826 they quote 4,000. and 1836, 5,000 per annum. Vaccination was promoted sometimes using the support of the police; later the police supported the Vaccinator carrying arms!

In Scotland and England, 1817-19, there was a severe epidemic after some 20 years of enforced vaccination. The medical opinion was wavering and  the Jennerian cause looked less than hopeful but “the ingenious doctrinal fiction of modified smallpox came to the rescue.”

In Scotland more vaccinated than unvaccinated were attacked. But this was because it “was a mild pearly novel type, due it was claimed, to the  modifying  influence of vaccination.” But this pearly type prevailed in Scotland among the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated. Moreover, it was a type already known as the “pearly” and was as frequent “in the days before cow-poxing was practiced as it has been since.”

The Vaccinators had become a majority in Parliament leading to the 1840 Act.  Inoculation was banned “to prevent the unqualified using dangerous animal products that could harm people.” The penalty, one month imprisonment. Dr George Gregory, St. Pancreas Smallpox Hospital, felt that inoculation was good and had been forced out by Jenners’s vaccination,  “…he had interfered to interrupt its extension and improvement.”

1840 –  Saw the establishment of fees out of purse of the poor rate. It gave 1/- or 1/6 per head to vaccinator and those who promoted it.

1853 – Members of the Epidemiologist Society gained ear of government leading to Compulsory Vaccination  Act of  ’53.

The politicians who voted for it disowned any responsibility of knowledge of vaccination and left that to their medical advisors i.e.  “Acted under Advice”

Vaccination had been officially promoted and now made compulsory by the Vaccination Act. The Experts insisted that the evidence for vaccination had been overwhelming. Vaccination had been established and endorsed by the law, and the nation was committed to it.

The credibility of the Medical Faculty was at stake; it was confirmed by the most recent discoveries of medical science; Jenner had only anticipated Pasteur and had proved inoculation as a sovereign mode of treating the most malignant of diseases.

Vaccination came under the patronage of Monarchs.  Queen Victoria and all the members of the Royal Family, and the Royal Household, were by Her Majesty’s command and example, periodically re-vaccinated. Countless statistics demonstrated its efficacy; thousands of hospital nurses had testified to its protective value, and the most civilized  nations were enforcing its application with renewed vigour and heavier pains and penalties for defaulters.

Mightier than all those presenting concerns, stood the solid encircling walls and stubborn resistance of “vested interests.” To justify the grants and its procedures, the Government then set up an army of officials with appointments, bonuses, fees, until the total annual expenditure connected to vaccination was £150,000 per annum.

1853 – Even the Church came out in support and declared from the pulpit, “No Vaccination, no Baptism! Society women and others became bounty hunters in their zeal for financial benefit and parents who refused to have their children vaccinated would be arrested, fined and jailed. Sometimes these vaccinators needed the support of armed police to carry out their work.

Despite rigorous enforcement there were 14,244 deaths in the epidemic of ’57-‘59 and 20,059 deaths  in the epidemic of ’63-‘65. An increase of 40.8% when the population increase was only 7%.  In the epidemic of ‘70-’72,  44,840 deaths an increase of 123% with a population increase of only 9%.. The London Bills of Mortality show that this epidemic was the worst since 1838. In Muller’s Orphanage, Bristol, of 740 vaccinated, 290 caught smallpox and 17 died~~ 40% contracted smallpox.

The Registrar –Generals Report and Mortality rates,  1832-1882 were regarded as the only reliable statistics.  Examined by Naturalist Alfred R Wallace LL.D, with results “unexpected” as they appear conclusive.” He published his examination to the Members of Parliament, entitled Fifty –five years of Registration Statistics proving Vaccination both Useless and Dangerous” .

Smallpox had not decreased as much as typhus and allied fevers. The reduction of smallpox coincided with the reduction in vaccinations. And one of the most severe epidemics occurred after 33years of official and compulsory vaccination.

The work of Wallace was supported by Dr E.M Crookshank MB, Professor of Comparative Pathology at Kings College Cambridge, in his two volumes “The History and Pathology  of Vaccination.”  “ As a result, I feel convinced that the profession has been misled by Jenner, Baron, the Reports of the National Vaccine Establishment, and by want of knowledge concerning the nature of cowpox, horsepox, and other sources of “vaccine lymph.”

In Ireland where 11% of population lives in towns of 100,000, the smallpox death rate in 1871-73 epidemic was 800/mil.  In England and Wales, 54% lived in towns, 95% vaccinated yet the death rate was 2.5 times greater at 2,000/mil.

In the same year, the secretary of the Governing Board, Dublin, Ireland stated, “Smallpox virus taken from the calf would communicate that disease to the human subject, and thereby be a fertile source of propagating the disease, and would, moreover render the operator liable to prosecution under the Act prohibiting inoculation with smallpox.”

The Anti-Vaccination Societies

1871, saw the formation of The London Society for the Abolition of Compulsory Vaccination. There was a demonstration on Feb 12, 1881, people were imprisoned for resisting vaccination.

1876 –  Keighley Guardians were imprisoned in York Castle for refusing to carry out the mandate of the Local Government Board.

Source of the “Lymph.”

Whose was the original source of the lymph? Woodville or Jenner. Woodville inoculated cows with smallpox virus direct from small- pox patients and then used the resulting viral matter.

As early as autumn of 1798 there was considerable secrecy as to the source of true “Jennarian pus.”  There was conflict between Jenner and Woodville  as to who produced the right lymph! Woodville’s was considered to be the better quality and more widely used.

Jenner employed a student, Tanner, who had previously assisted Woodville, to produce the “true Jennarian specific” stock which was then dispatched to the remote country areas where Jenner ” wanted to compare metropolitan stock with rural stock…were they different or similar?” No one knew the results.

When the failure of Jenner’s cowpox to protect became common knowledge he claimed that cases of smallpox after smallpox were not uncommon, vaccination could not be expected to do more than smallpox itself.  Not surprising, Woodville’s stock was seen as more reliable and was preferred.

Even with the 1853 Vaccination Act the vaccinators were breaking the 1840 Act by taking animal products to use on humans. Vaccination in the minds of its critics was transferring blisters from one arm to another or simply taking pus from animals.

The appearance of a link between cow pox and syphilis

After Jenner’s death, 1823, questions arose about the increase in syphilis, leprosy and madness.  Bidart in Vienna Medical Society, 1831, “something like syphilis had been passed on via the vaccine of cowpox. This syphilis was not of venereal origins but as an inherent, though mostly dormant, natural-history character of cowpox itself.”

After 1853. there were court cases where parents with the support of the Anti-Vaccination Leagues were able to show that the syphilis their children contracted was not inherited but came from the vaccine!  “Cowpox’s real affinity is not to smallpox but the Great Pox,” syphilis!

Dr Farr, from Records of deaths in England and Wales, show infantile syphilis increased between 1847 till 1884 with 3 times the number of infants dying in their 1st year than of all other diseases.  The greatest increase came in 1854, the first year of Compulsory Vaccination.

1859 –  Dr James Whitehead, Manchester, stated from the hospital records,” of the 1,717 children brought in with any complaint, 1,435 had been vaccinated and “even the mothers said all had changed after the vaccination.”

In the same study, 63 of cases of confirmed syphilis; 14 of these had no syphilis in the parents. Dr Whitehead recorded   the health of the vaccinator was not examined. Sir James Paget affirmed that lymph from a true vaccine can never be a vehicle of syphilis, scrofular, or other constitutional taints to the vaccinated person.  (Circa 1860)

Subsequent experiments of Ricord, Henry Lee and others would have compelled Paget to admit he was mistaken. Vaccinao-syphilis accounted for hundreds of cases on record. Mr Jonathon Hutchinson, a high medical authority upon the subject at this time (14.3.1891) claimed that during the past 10 years or more “that not one case of vaccino-syphilis had occurred in British practice.”

Yet in 1871 he startled the Government Board of Health and the profession with a series of cases of vaccino-syphilis! Two years later he was to state that cases were not extremely rare and that in 1883 he certified that the Official Vaccinator in-Chief, Dr Cory, had syphilised himself by vaccination.

A Coroners’ jury at Leeds, 10 July 1888, confirmed that Emily Maud died from syphilis acquired at or from vaccination.  The Local Board of Health tried to over turn this verdict. A “hole and corner inquiry” was conducted by the official inspector, Dr Ballard, and the blame was transferred back onto the parents.

Then Feb. 29th 1890 Mr Ritchie, President of the Board, was questioned on the case in the House of Parliament. The parents had requested 3 times for a copy of Dr Ballard’s report and were refused as the report was confidential to the Board.

In 1891 a second Royal Commission on Vaccination was set up and the case came up again. Further investigations were made by men appointed by the Commission and this time the parents were exonerated and the Coroners’ jury ‘s verdict was confirmed. Dr Ritchie admitted the facts to Mr. Herbert Gladstone in the House of Commons, “that a foul and abominable imputation has been cast on this family by the Local Government Board officials lest the sacred principle of Vaccination should suffer discredit.”

Sanitation or Vaccination?

Sanitation teachings prompted by the success of the “The Leicester method.” In 1871 Leicester was a well vaccinated city. Only 15 had refused vaccination. In the epidemic of 1872, there were  346 deaths from smallpox. The vaccination act was publicly burned. Vaccination was declared a fraud and delusion! An Anti-Vaccination Board of Guardians was established, a Health Committee was appointed and bylaws were passed rigorously enforcing notification, isolation, cleanliness, disinfection  and  destruction of whatever might convey the contagion, and if needed the dwelling itself.

There were 2 outbreaks following the establishment of the method, some 715 cases, due to officials not identifying 2 incipient cases. However, the “method” was applied with the result of only 25 fatalities. A % of 3.5!

Aug 13, 1889 the first Royal Commission Reported “The Vaccination Commission approve of the system of vaccination, but suggest that it should not be insisted upon in cases where parents object.”

George Bernard Shaw, a member of a London Sanitary Board, in a letter to the Times, “Oct 9th ’01, denounced vaccination as “the most lamentable thing,” and declared that that alone compelled him to oppose vaccination. Other notable opponents at the time of the 1902 Royal Commission, opposing vaccination included Florence Nightingale and Lord Shaftsbury, on the grounds that sanitation and hygiene were more effective.

Warrington. 1892-3 epidemic was the highest mortality rate on record. But no out cry. In Warrington vaccination was universal. Then Gloucester became “a focus of danger and disease” as it was an unvaccinated town.

With this outbreak there were cries of “Vaccinate.” But what was clear was the sanitation situation was incompetent. Zymotic diseases flourish in these conditions.

Dr Bond, Gloucester Smallpox Hospital, blamed the unvaccinated. Dr Davies, medical officer of health for Bristol, castigated Gloucester for not vaccinating as there were 25% more victims in the unvaccinated and 5 times  the fatalities. But Dr Campbell, also  medical officer for health  in  Gloucester, pointed out that this was not true for by February the vaccinated cases were in excess of the unvaccinated.

Dr. Hadwen, Somerset, investigating the epidemic reported “it was not the unvaccinated but the insanitary conditions that preceded the outbreak that led to the gradual growth of the smallpox. Gloucester suffered for years from water shortages. Inhabitants resorted to the water from the canal and Severn into which the sewage was tipped. Hence the large increase in typhoid fever ’93-4.

For years hundreds of homes had drawn water from dangerously shallow wells liable to contamination from the house drains. When in ’94, 7 cases of smallpox appeared there were 141 houses using shallow water, 155 using Lyson’s system, another unsafe water supply, and 190 supplied with flushing boxes, and without copious rain the water supply was insufficient to effectually flush the closets, drains and sewers.

The long winter of 1894-‘5 and the drought of ‘5, with a phenomenal absence of rain, intensified the conditions in the city.  South Gloucester and frozen pipes clogged the system. The gases generated found exits into the homes via sink traps or closets. With insufficient ventilation as of the occupants would avoid opening doors or windows as they could not afford fuel for fires.

This “great evil,” the unsanitary conditions had been reported as long ago as 1881 at the time of a scarlet fever epidemic but it was a working-class area and who cared? In 1882 a cholera scare in Gloucester lead to a reports from the sanitary inspectors stating that conditions were terrible. At the outbreak of the ’83 smallpox epidemic, the inspectors reported on 3648 sanitary defects. Not until Jan, ’96 the medical officer of health admitted that ’94-95 they had repaired some 3541 defects over the past 2 years.

Dr Hadwen reported how the Education Department over the previous 6 years had complained of over-crowding of public schools and in ’94, withheld grants from schools and threatened heavy fines unless extra accommodation was found. He pointed out how this “over crowding predisposes to disease by lowering vitality and lessening nervous energy, besides rapidly spreading disease when once introduced.”

Anti-vaccinators were able to demonstrate that it was not even the problem with the vaccine or vaccination process to prevent the epidemic but that the state of sanitation and the use of isolation was the only effective response whether vaccinated or not.

“ The case against compulsory vaccination has never been so strongly put to us as by you, (Pickering) and unless answered by facts, and not by opinions, the question may be considered as decided. Everyone who knows anything of public health questions will agree in your views as to the practical unity of epidemics, and their determining causes, and that exception from all alike must be sought not by any one thing, such as vaccination, but by enquiring into and removing the causes of epidemic susceptibility generally. The pamphlet (his book!) is a very able one and is in want of a complete answer. Who will do it?-”  – Florence Nightingale , in a letter to the author, March 31st. 1871.

Another quote from Florence Nightingale, May 1876. “That epidemic disease is prevented  by agents and conditions which produce health; not in any one epidemic disease case, by an agent or condition which produces not health, but a disease or a diseased action

The reappearance of leprosy

Diarrhoea, bronchitis, leprosy, syphilis and convulsions. Cancer records began in 1847 with 4,000 per annum but escalated to 17,000 by 1888.  The Lancet June 22 1889, “Every Hospital (in UK) sees leprosy over the past decade. …not so far as we know has there ever been known an instance of the communication of the disease from one of those subjects to another in this country..”

Sir Morel McKenzie, Dec ’89, “The dreadful Revival of Leprosy”.  Leprosy has become rife having been unheard of for a long time, in Europe, USA,  and “in almost every quarter of the globe” ..It is impossible to estimate the total numbers now dying by inches throughout the world, it is by millions.”

“It cannot be comforting to the pride of England, the august Mother of Nature, to reflect that a very large portion of these wretched sufferers are to be found amongst her subjects.”

Where were these leper colonies? The victims were hidden from public view and no physician confessed to knowledge of the disease for “fear of bringing more distress to the individual and their families.”  Were these the deformed and insane locked away in the growing number of sanatoriums and prisons such as “Bedlam” in London and in the social commentaries of the European literature of the time?

Dr A.M Brown… saw a rapid increase following vaccination of leprosy in its contagio-syphilitic and vaccinal aspects. Dr Charles W Allen, medical officer recorded epidemics of leprosy  to be found in Americas, Ceylon,  South Africa, British Guiana, Venezula, West India, Russia, Livonia, Esthonia, Norway and islands such as St. Kits and St. Kilda. Greece, Turkey, Syria and Egypt, all following the vaccination.

The St Francisco smallpox outbreak in ’68 lead to vaccination. Leprosy followed! The Molokai became the island of quarantine and all from Hawaii and the Surrounding islands who succumbed to leprosy were left there to live out their lives. (See the DVD “Molokai” about Father Damien! The colony first discovered  R.L Stephenson, if I remember right,  then his story  rediscovered by Mia Farrow’s father.)

A Mr Meyer, in March ’88, “The spread of this scourge is fearful. The evidence points to vaccination as one prominent cause. There was no evidence of leprosy in Hawaii before the enforcement of vaccination.”

1891 Japan had leprosy already but reported it to be on the increase since their compulsory vaccination of 1874.  In the same year, the British Medical Journal, July 18th., reported upon the increase in leprosy.

The Report of the Royal Commission

First question – Does the Report (or Reports, for there is a Minority Report) confirm the disputed claim that vaccination is a beneficial operation, worthy of, and still ought to command, public confidence? Which we think NOT

Should it be compulsory?..NO

For the following reasons.

  1. that vaccination is no protection whatsoever against smallpox,
  2. that it does not mitigate smallpox,
  3. that it is the prolific cause or vehicle of other disease.
  4. the enormous increase of leprosy during the last fifty years synchronises with the enforcement of vaccination.

“I am convinced that Vaccination is the greatest mistake and delusion in the science of medicine; a fanciful illusion in the mind of the discoverer; a phenomenal apparition devoid of scientific foundation, and wanting in all the conditions of scientific possibility” Dr Joseph Hermann, Head Physician to the Imperial Hospital, Vienna 1858- 64.

Cox in his book, “Why I became an Anti-Vaccinationist,” concludes with a quote from Dr Alfred Russell Wallace..” It can not be proved that it ever saved a single life, but it is probably the cause of the greater mortality that smallpox itself.”

Apologies if this is long and some parts repeated. Coovid-19 will be as controversial as Smallpox vaccination. Perhaps a lesson will be learned 120 years late!

Protest of an Anti-Vaccinist.  Cox, Pub Cambridge England.. George Will Venables. 1905

Jenner and Vaccination. Creighton MD 1889 Swan Sonnenschein + Co

History and Pathology of Vaccination.  Vol 1 and 11, Crookshank pub H.K. Lewis 136 Gower St 1898

Which? Sanitation or Vaccination. Jno Pickering FRGS. FSS &c  Pub KW Allen 4 Ave Maria Lane London EC 1892

Compulsory Vaccination. Peebles MD PhD. Vaccination A Curse and a Menace to Personal Liberty. 1899.

The story of a great delusion. W.White, 1885 EW Allen.

Hahnemann  Organon 6th Ed.

Leprosy and Vaccination. Dr W. Tebb 1893

”A Century of Vaccination.” Dr William Tebb

Thorsen’s Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Homoeopathy. Herald Gaier 1991

About the author

Alastair Yarrow

Alastair Yarrow has been in Homoeopathic practice since 1998. This came about after 20 years working with the refuseniks, children and young people who did not fit in with home, school and society. Alastair redeveloped an educational assessment programme that was not dependent upon academic intelligence and could be used to promote a productive educational programme incorporating essential academic skills that could make learning fun and empowering. He continues this line of work to support those who were condemned because they had apparently failed in early life. His hobbies include mountains, climbing and skiing and photography. Currently he’s also involved in promoting men’s health using Homoeopathy.


  • By far the best unfurling of the history of vaccination and homeopathic parallels I have ever read – and in over 30 years of research and teaching, this is no mean feat. Thankyou sir. I will be copying and pasting to a safe place as I do not want it to go the way that much of our work has gone.

  • Thanks for the compliment Lulu. I wonder what a ‘Royal commission’ would say today? Little difference i suspect, Alastair

  • Started turmeric plantations in the second week of June 2021 in India, on the western coast of Maharashtra.

    Will grow with homeopathy medicines only along with compost and 5% goat droppings.

    Require guidance so to concentrate on homeopathy sprays during climate change or nutrition or plant growth.

  • thankyou for this most interesting history of the origins of vaccinations. I have been reading ‘Best of Burnett’ and have been interested in the variety and number of chronic conditions caused by this foul practice. Would you give me permission to use the content of this paper as part of my studies of the causes of vaccinosis?
    I very nearly became a SID statistic in 1965 – i needed heart massage – after whooping cough inoculation. i think a concerted effort needs to be made to study the true impacts of all of these ‘cures’ as history has a habit of repeating itself as we are seeing with the current epidemic.

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