Homeopathy Papers

Three Women and Homeopathy

Homeopath and historian Sue Young shares vignettes of women and men who were pioneering activists for homeopathy and social justice.

Reprinted with permission from Sue Young’s vast collection of Homeopathy biographies sueyounghistories.com


Women’s stories are nearly always obscured in our human history, and women who supported or practiced homeopathy especially so. In this short essay I have chosen three powerful, clever, industrious and innovative women who did emerge from the broad sweep of 19th Century history and managed to make a significant impact upon our modern world. However, they could not have achieved their well-earned place in British history without the support and succour of our early homeopathic ancestors, bless them all!

Whether concealed or explosively appearing like glowing comets from the pages of human history, these three women really did shine like small suns in their time. I would also draw my reader’s attention to the interconnectedness of all of these people in their time, and make the point that a few astonishing people can change the course of history, and light the way for us all to follow in our own troubled times… Networking has always been the key! To illustrate this point more effectively, I have also snuck in mention of a few other amazing women in the footnotes, alongside some pretty amazing men!


Josephine Elizabeth Butler

Josephine Elizabeth Butler

Josephine Elizabeth Butler (1828-1906) was an indomitable English feminist, who fought tirelessly to protect the welfare of prostitutes, and to shame men into facing the unpleasant side of their own sexual behaviour. Josephine also directly confronted the common and casual sexual abuse of underage children. This great labour was fully supported by homeopaths in Britain and in America at a time when most of Victorian Society preferred to look the other way. Josephine was also a staunch abolitionist. Without the inspiration and support of homeopathy, Josephine would have struggled alone, and she may not have even begun her valiant fight. Josephine is regarded today as a ‘…famous social reformer who has received the closest status to Saint as the Church of England can bestow…[1]’

In 1841, the Liverpool Homeopathic Dispensary was founded by homeopaths John James Drysdale[2] and John Chapman[3] with the stated aim of providing health care to the poor and destitute free of charge at the point of access. Richer people had to wait their turn with the poor in new fangled waiting rooms, and pay monthly fees‘up front[4]’ to access treatment. This model[5] for financing a health care system was first instituted by Samuel Hahnemann in his Paris practice, and his students were eager to put his radical ideas into practice in Britain.Thus it would be that homeopathy radically revolutionised health care provision in Britain and outraged the protectionist privileges of the elite as a consequence. The NHS is a direct consequence of this brave new world introduced by our homeopathic ancestors, a fact often missed by absolutely everyone!

The homeopathic custom of taking a case[6] easily and simply revealed how the trauma of sexism, slums and poverty were deeply and explicitly enmeshed in a complex matrix of health and sexual and social politics[7]. After all, improving the living environment and life chances of patients was an obvious way of improving the health of suffering people, and these inspiring ideas slipstreamed nicely into the revolutionary airs floating so dangerously in the ether at this time.

In Britain, the reputation of homeopathy was vividly coloured by the dangerous atmospheres of intense social change and revolution[8] and post revolution fall out in America and Europe at this time. The unequal distribution of largesse between rich and poor and the vexed problem of who exactly was in control of people’s destinies was being fought right across the Northern hemisphere, causing intense political, social and cultural earthquakes, and definitely frightening the horses in Britain! Homeopathy was regarded by the orthodox British establishment as a dangerous ideology, right from the very first moment it arrived from the continent, and it has been severely persecuted throughout its history as a result. Nothing ever changes does it?

However, in the 19th century, homeopathy was an extremely fashionable and powerful force for fundamental change in Britain, challenging the establishment at every step with radical humanistic philosophies. Homeopaths trumpeted a rallying cry for human rights and medical freedom, most especially with their strategy of ‘slumming[9]’, which entailed visiting the hovels of the poor to offer medical and social aid to the previously hidden populations of this ‘undiscovered country’. This shocking and profound challenge to the exclusivity of an old and outdated medical system offered only to the rich and privileged,was a direct result of the forced exclusion of homeopathy from orthodox mainstream hospitals and practice, which obliged our early homeopathic ancestors to innovate and improvise to survive. These history lessons contain profound messages for modern homeopaths in the current climate of today!

The Liverpool Homeopathic Dispensary eventually relocated to Hope Street in 1861. In this same year, based firmly on the homeopathic model[10] of social justice and improvement of the lot of the poor, Josephine opened her famous ‘house’ in Hope Street, just next door. Josephine was ‘radicalised’ by this new fangled homeopathic fundamentalism, which is exactly why she chose premises directly linked to the Liverpool Homeopathic Dispensary, to indicate her intention to emulate their philosophies and to bask in their limelight and benefit from their popularity to advertise her good causes. At this time, supporting homeopathy was extremely dangerous and perilous, but it was a cause celebre and well worth the distress and the risk it carried with it. This was an unstoppable force in its time, and it still is today!

In 1867, Josephine was also instrumental in establishing the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women, another cause for improving the lot of the downtrodden, inspired and promoted by these early ideologies, and especially by homeopaths across the land. Josephine led the long campaign for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases (Women) Act (1864) from 1869 to 1886. This legislation enabled officials to detain and imprison ‘loose’ women[11], who were then forcibly medically ‘inspected’ and compulsorily treated for venereal disease, real or supposed. Josephine’s campaign was enabled and supported by homeopaths and many other like-minded individuals across Britain and America[12]. In particular, James John Garth Wilkinson[13] would be steadfast in support of Josephine’s campaign to repeal the many Contagious Diseases (Women) Acts (1864, 1866, 1869), and he wrote ‘… white with anger and indignation…[14]’ an open letter sixteen pages long addressed to the Home Secretary Henry Austin Bruce 1st Baron Aberdare[15], entitled The Forcible Introspection of Women for the Army and Navy by the Oligarchy: Considered Physically[16], to support Josephine’s campaign. Josephine was duly thankful for his support[17], and in turn, Josephine supported James John Garth Wilkinson’s long campaign against compulsory vaccination, when she joined the Committee[18] of the Mothers’ Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League[19].

In 1870, Josephine became the leader[20] of the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act, and subsequently spent many long years touring between countries (she even carried her campaign to India) to protest against the presumption of guilt of women, astonishing her audiences when she directly addressed the unspoken and deeply difficult subject of prostitution. Her campaign directly targeted the double standards of Victorian ‘gentlemen’ who casually sexually abused under aged children, a problem that unfortunately still plagues our so-called ‘modern age’. Josephine argued with great passion that men should accept their responsibility and account for their atrocious behaviour, and she argued forcibly that the morality of men was deeply questionable. She lectured with great energy and passion, often putting herself in risky and dangerous situations, and her wonderful husband George Butler (1819–1890)[21] disregarded all the warnings that his wife’s activities would damage his academic career, supported and protected her throughout this period. The passage of The Contagious Diseases Act 1886, finally and fully supported Josephine’s long national and international campaign to amend this dreadful legislation.


Annie Wood Besant

Annie Wood Besant

Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933)was a prominent Theosophist[22], women’s rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule. Annie was one of the first women to attend the London University, where she studied mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology under Thomas Henry Huxley[23]. However, she was refused[24] her BSc due to her atheism and her defence of woman’s rights and birth control. Annie Wood Besant was supported and influenced by homeopaths and by homeopathic philosophy for her whole life’s work. Unfortunately, Annie lost custody[25] of her own children due to her pioneering activism.

In 1877, Annie suggested the idea of the Malthusian League[26] to members of the London Dialectical Society[27] and to the defence committee organized to defend her and Charles Bradlaugh[28] in their trial for publishing Charles Knowlton’s[29] The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People[30], which was based upon the work of Harriet Kezia Hunt[31], an American female lay eclectic and homeopathic practitioner. Annie was very close to the Drysdale family, and Charles Robert Drysdale[32] and his wife Alice Vickery spoke as witnesses at her trial[33].

Annie became the secretary of the Malthusian League, a leading member of the National Secular Society[34].She was involved with the International Labour Union[35], a founder member of the Fabian Society[36], and a member of the London School Board[37] when she instituted free school meals, and she was a tireless campaigner against the abuses of child labour. Annie was a founder with Herbert Burrows[38] of the Matchmaker’s Union, leading the famous strike for better conditions duringthe London Match Girls Strike[39] of 1888, alongside Catherine Booth[40]. Annie would continue to campaign for Irish Home Rule and Indian Home Rule, and many other worthy causes, for the rest of her life.


Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff (1826-1914) We have no picture of Eliza, but I am sure you will soon be able to picture her in your mind’s eye as I begin to tell her story. Eliza walks her own path through our tangled history, dipping her head to no one. It would never have occurred to her to worry about ‘acceptability’ or about ‘scientific fundamentalism’, as we will now discover.

Eliza emerged fully formed as a historical character at some point around 1849, when she was practicing as a clairvoyant medium and a lay homeopath, treating the rich and famous alongside many quite ordinary people. At some point between 1849-1851, Eliza married a country doctor, Phillip Wynter Wagstaff[41], who lived in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. In 1845, Phillip witnessed a demonstration of mesmerism alongside[42] Spencer Timothy Hall[43], and the current research assumption is that Eliza was Spencer Timothy Hall’s eldest daughter[44].

Spencer Timothy Hall was part of the social circle surrounding John Elliotson[45] and James John Garth Wilkinson through their shared interest in mesmerism and spiritualism. Phillip became a practicing mesmerist himself, and published[46] some of his cases in John Elliotson’s Zoist journal. Phillip also joined the influential group who met at Broadlands Country House in Hampshire[47]where many famous people[48] came to consult Eliza. Phillip and Eliza were soon practicing medicine together[49], and Phillip witnessed many of her miraculous homeopathic cures amongst his most difficult cases. Eliza also often travelled to London to see her patients, and to stay with her father.

It is most surprising that Eliza’s popularity occurred exactly at the same time when Thomas Wakley founded The Lancet and spent a vigorous ten years viciously attacking John Elliotson for his advocacy of mesmerism, literally hounding John Elliotson out of his profession. However, it is noticeable that no skeptic ever attacked Phillip or his wife Eliza during their lifetimes. Indeed Philipwas awarded all the accolades of his orthodox profession throughout his working life. This was despite Phillip’s marriage to a female lay homeopath, his advocacy and practice of mesmerism, and his attendance at the British Homeopathic Society Dinner[50] on 1st July 1869!

The fact that Phillip was appointed[51] District Registrar for Toddington (?year), amply illustrated his total acceptance and inclusion within orthodox medical society at a time when fraternising with any homeopath was strictly forbidden and policed assiduously! Phillip’s medical cases were also reported[52] in the orthodox medical press at this time, and Phillip assisted[53] in a surgical operation alongside his orthodox colleagues in 1861- even though it was expressly disallowed for any orthodox physician to have any contact at all with any homeopathic supporter or with any homeopathic practitioner whatsoever at this time.

It is fascinating to note that Phillip’s acceptance by orthodoxy was so complete, that in 1892, he was appointed as a member[54] of the advisory committee for the International Peace Bureau (1892-1951), the forerunner to the United Nations.It is also fascinating to see that Phillip and Eliza’s son were also awarded[55] similar respect and inclusion within the orthodox fold.Obviously, the ‘Rule of Two Rules’ applied to the Wagstaffs. I wonder why this was possible then, and I also wonder if the same thing could happen today? Truth is far stranger than fiction after all! It is obviously most beneficial to have friends in high places!


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Butler_(schoolmaster)

[2]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/07/29/the-drysdale-family-and-homeopathy/ John James Drysdale (1816-1890) was a British Orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become the founder of Liverpool Homeopathic Dispensary, Editor of the British Journal of Homeopathy, and a member of the Management Committee at the North of England Southport Children’s Sanatorium, amongst many other activities in a long and influential homeopathic life.

[3]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/07/29/john-chapman-and-homeopathy/ Trust me! John Chapman is far too complicated to explain in a footnote!

[4] The previous historic model of paying a physician, and one Samuel Hahnemann refused to operate under, was to submit the client with a bill and then await the ‘predisposition’ of the patient to pay this fee, which often left physicians destitute!

[5]Rima Handley, A homeopathic love story: the story of Samuel and Melanie Hahnemann, (North Atlantic Books, 23 Feb 1993).

[6]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagoras This way of looking deeply into the personal history of a patient, which is the very basis of homeopathic case taking and of psychoanalysis, was first instituted by Pythagoras of Samos (c 570 BCE-c495 BCE)who was ‘… an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism’ Samuel Hahnemann introduced these techniques to ‘the many’.

[7]Richard Haehl,Samuel Hahnemann: his life and work in two volumes, (The Homeopathic Publishing Company in 1922 (German edition), and 1926 (London Edition), republished by B Jain and Co in 1971).

[8] Note the French Revolution (1789-1799), the American War of Independence (1775–1783), and the Napoleonic War (1803–1815).

[9]Seth Koven, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London, (Princeton University Press, 16 Aug 2004).

[10] Kathleen Barry, The Prostitution of Sexuality, (NYU Press, 1 Jun 1996). Page 93

[11] Not all of theses women were ‘professional ladies’, as many innocent wives, daughters and girlfriends were caught up in these sweeps!

[12]Anon, The North American Journal of Homeopathy, Volume 63, (American Medical Union, 1915). Page 558.

[13]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/03/20/james-john-garth-wilkinson-and-homeopathy/ James John Garth Wilkinson (1812-1899)was an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become a major Victorian mover and shaker. He was a scholar, publishing the earliest catalogue of the works of William Blake and he was the major early translator of the works of Emanuel Swedenborg. Garth Wilkinson was a tireless social campaigner and writer all his long life.

[14]Clement John Wilkinson, James John Garth Wilkinson; A Memoir of His Life, with a Selection of His Letters, (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner& Co, 1911, reprinted by General Books www.general-books.net) page 45.

[15] http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2012/07/15/henry-austin-bruce-1st-baron-aberdare-1815-1895/ See also Austin Bruce 1st Baron Aberdare(1815-1895) was a supportive homeopathic ally due to his staunch defense of John Ozanne in 1849-1862. John Ozanne (1816-1864) was an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, Physician at the Homeopathic Dispensary in Ely Place, founder of the Jersey Homeopathic Institute, and the Guernsey Homeopathic Dispensary, Editor of The Monthly Homeopathic Review and The Medical Observer, member of the British Homeopathic Association, and a member of the Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace. Politically active in Guernsey, his birthplace, no doubt this was why he was targeted for attack by Guernsey allopaths, who lost the court case for libel brought against them by John Ozanne in spectacular fashion in 1849.

[16]James John Garth Wilkinson, The Forcible Introspection of Women for the Army and Navy by the Oligarchy: Considered Physically, (F. Pitman, 1870).

[17]Josephine E Butler, Letter to James John Garth Wilkinson, on the publication of The Forcible introspection of women for the Army and Navy, by the oligarchy, considered physically.

[18]NadjaDurbach, Bodily Matters: The Anti-Vaccination Movement in England, 1853–1907, (Duke University Press, 9 Dec 2004).

[19]William White, The Story of a great delusion in a series of matter-of-fact chapters, (E.W. Allen, 1885).

[20] Josephine Butler Memorial Trust).

[21]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Butler_(schoolmaster) Reverend Canon George Butler (1819–1890) ‘… was an English divine and schoolmaster… Butler was from a family that had great educational influence in the 19th Century… Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford and later housemaster at Cheltenham College and Principal of Liverpool College in 1865…’

[22]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy Theosophy ‘… refers to systems of esoteric philosophy concerning, or investigation seeking direct knowledge of, presumed mysteries of being and nature, particularly concerning the nature of divinity. Theosophy is considered a part of the broader field of esotericism, referring to hidden knowledge or wisdom that offers the individual enlightenment and salvation…’

[23]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/07/22/the-huxley-family-and-homeopathy/ See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Henry_Huxley Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) known as Charles Darwin’s ‘bulldog’, Thomas Henry Huxley was a self taught English biologist, possibly the finest comparative anatomist of his day, he wasalso a friend of John Chapman, and he attended Spiritualist meetings where he possibly met James John Garth Wilkinson.

[24]S. Chandrasekhar, Reproductive Physiology and Birth Control: The Writings of Charles Knowlton and Annie Besant, (Transaction Publishers, 1 Jan 2002). Page 31.

[25]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Besant ‘… For a time, it looked as though they would be sent to prison. The case was thrown out finally only on a technical point, the charges not having been properly drawn up. The scandal cost Besant custody of her children. Her husband was able to persuade the court that she was unfit to look after them, and they were handed over to him permanently…’

[26]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_League Established in 1877, The Malthusian League ‘… was a British organisation which advocated for the abolition of all penalties against public discussion of contraception and the education of the public about the importance of family planning. It was established in 1877 and was dissolved in 1927… ‘

[27]http://www.answers.com/topic/london-dialectical-society Established in 1867, James John Garth Wilkinson was closely associated with its works, and Charles Bradlaugh was a Committee member.The London Dialectical Society was. ‘… A British professional association that in the late 1800s investigated the phenomena of Spiritualism… [it] was a highly regarded association of professional individuals. With the appearance and popularity of Spiritualism in England, the society resolved on January 26, 1869, “to investigate the phenomena alleged to be Spiritual Manifestations, and to report thereon… The report with evidence was presented to the council of the London Dialectical Society on July 20, 1870. It was accepted, but since it appeared to favor Spiritualist phenomena, the society did not publish it. However, the committee felt that it was in the public interest to be published, so it privately printed the report in 1871…’

[28]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bradlaugh Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891) ‘… a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century. He founded the National Secular Society in 1866… he attained prominence in a number of liberal or radical political groups or societies, including the Reform League, Land Law Reformers, and Secularists. He was President of the London Secular Society from 1858. In 1860 he became editor of the secularist newspaper, the National Reformer, and in 1866 co-founded the National Secular Society, in which Annie Besant became his close associate. In 1868, the Reformer was prosecuted by the British Government for blasphemy and sedition. Bradlaugh was eventually acquitted on all charges, but fierce controversy continued both in the courts and in the press… In 1880 Bradlaugh was elected Member of Parliament for Northampton (but was eventually imprisoned for refusing to take the religious oath of Allegiance to the Crown though he eventually was allowed to affirm his allegiance and he managed to overturn the law in this regard in 1888)…’

[29]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Knowlton See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Dale_Owen See also http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2009/04/13/robert-owen-1771-%E2%80%93-1858/ See also Carl J. GuarneriThe utopian alternative: Fourierism in nineteenth-century America, (Cornell University Press, 1994). Many pages. See also Clement John Wilkinson, James John Garth Wilkinson; A Memoir of His Life, with a Selection of His Letters, (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner& Co 1911, reprinted by General Books www.general-books.net). Page 26. Charles Knowlton (1800-1850) ‘… was an American physician, atheist and writer…’ Charles Knowlton was a friend of Robert Dale Owen, and Knowlton ‘… named his second son Stephen Owen, after his father and his friend…’ Robert Dale Owen (1801 -1877) ‘… was a longtime exponent in his adopted United States of the socialist doctrines of his father, Robert Owen, as well as a politician in the Democratic Party…’ Robert Owen (1771-1858), the father of Robert Dale Owen, was a friend of James John Garth Wilkinson and a central figure for British radicalism, unifying many of the early British homeopaths in the Bloomsbury area especially. James John Garth Wilkinson explained [in 1848]: ‘… Last night we had a curious party; Brisbane, Phillips, Daly, Doherty, Dana, Wallscourt and Robert Owen… Old Owen is lodging in this house; he is a nice quiet old citizen of the World, wedded most amusingly to his circumstances and his parallelograms, and, for the rest, putting his conceit aside, a humble enough specimen of a man…’

[30]Charles Knowlton, The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People, (1832, 1833, and J. Watson, 1843).

[31]Glenda Riley, Inventing the American Woman: To 1877, (Harlan Davidson, 1 Jan 1995). Page 75. See also Sarah Moore Grimké, The Feminist Thought of Sarah Grimké, (Oxford University Press, 1 Jan 1998). Page 93. See also http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/04/01/the-hunt-surname-and-homeopathy/ http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2007/11/18/lucretia-coffin-mott-and-homeopathy/ See also http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2007/11/18/lucretia-coffin-mott-and-homeopathy/ See also http://homeoint.org/cazalet/histo/pennsylvfem.htm Charles Knowlton was influenced by the work of Harriet Kezia Hunt to write his book on easy contraceptive methods. In the 1830s, Harriet Kezia Hunt (1805-1875) was an American eclectic and lay homeopathic practitioner, whobegan to practice in 1835 and remained active for over forty years. As a result, Harriet was ‘… entirely shut out from the [orthodox] medical world…’ but despite such opposition, she continued to practice. In 1843, Harriet formed the Ladies Physiological Society and began to lecture on physiology and hygiene. The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania awarded her an honorary MD in 1852. Harriet and her sister Sarah studied homeopathy with Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880) a British Eclectic lay homeopath who was central to a radical group of American women, many of them were also lay homeopaths, who campaigned throughout their lives for Human rights, female suffrage, and the abolition of slavery. NB: The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania and the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania both operated from 229 Arch Street in Philadelphia in 1850.

[32]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/07/29/the-drysdale-family-and-homeopathy/ See also George Robert Drysdale, The Elements of Social Science; Or, Physical, Sexual, and Natural Religion, (Truelove, 256 Holborn, 1867). See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Vickery Charles Robert Drysdale(1829-1907), younger brother of John James Drysdale,was a physician with homeopathic sympathies, Senior Physician at the Metropolitan Free Hospital, he was the Founder and President of the Malthusian League (alongside his older brother George Robert Drysdale), the first organization in England dedicated to advocating the practice of birth control. Charles Robert Drysdalewas the editor of The Malthusian journal, alongside his famous common law wife Alice Vickary(1849-1929), a physician in her own right, the first British woman to qualify as a chemist and druggist, who was ‘… a member of the Malthusian League and an outspoken supporter of birth control after the trial of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, who were arrested for publishing a book about contraception in 1877. When [Alice] was called to testify at the trial, she spoke about the dangers of too frequent childbirths and of using over-lactation as a contraception method… [Alice] had to temporarily withdraw from the League, however, because the London Medical School for Women did not approve of her activities. She resumed membership in 1880, when she obtained her degree, and spent the following decade lecturing about birth control as a key element to the emancipation of women. At the same time, she actively opposed the Contagious Diseases Acts. Both Vickery and Drysdale joined the Legitimation League, set up in 1893, and campaigned for equal rights for children born out of wedlock… [Alice] was successively a member of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, the Women’s Social and Political Union, and the Women’s Freedom League. After Charles Robert Drysdale’s death in 1907, [Alice] continued practising as a physician and succeeded Charles Robert Drysdale as president of the Malthusian League, while their elder son Charles and daughter-in-law Bessie became the new editors of the Malthusian journal. Soon afterward, [Alice] became one of the first members of the Eugenics Education Society. [Alice]… regularly addressed meetings of the local branch of the Women’s Freedom League…’George Robert Drysdale(1825-1904), also a younger brother of John James Drysdale, was also a physician with homeopathic sympathies. George Robert Drysdale’s own book on birth control, The Elements of Social Science; Or, Physical, Sexual, and Natural Religion, was a publishing sensation in its day (35 editions (1855-1905) = 80,000 copies sold).

[33]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bradlaugh See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Knowlton The Bradlaugh and Besant Trial 1877 ‘… Bradlaugh and Besant decided to republish the American Charles Knowlton’s pamphlet advocating birth control, The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People, whose previous British publisher had already been successfully prosecuted for obscenity. The two activists were both tried in 1877, and Charles Darwin refused to give evidence in their defence. They were sentenced to heavy fines and six months’ imprisonment, but their conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal on a legal technicality…’ ‘…Twenty-seven years later [after Charles Knowlton’s death], Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were tried in London for publishing Knowlton’s Fruits of Philosophy there. The book had been selling in moderate numbers in the interim; the publicity of the Bradlaugh-Besant trial made it an overnight bestseller. Its circulation increased from an average of 700 per year to 125,000 in just one year; Besant subsequently published her own birth control manual. The trial, and Knowlton’s Fruits of Philosophy are credited with reversing British population growth and popularizing contraception in Great Britain and America…’

[34]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Secular_Society The National Secular Society ‘… is a British campaigning organisation that promotes secularism and the separation of church and state. It holds that no one should gain advantage or disadvantage because of their religion or lack of religion. It was founded by Charles Bradlaugh in 1866…’

[35]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Labor_Union The International Labor Union ‘… was a trade union in the north eastern United States from 1878-1887…’

[36]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabian_Society The Fabian Society ‘… is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial groundbreaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, especially India. Today, the society functions primarily as a think tank and is one of 15 socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party…’

[37]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_School_Board The London School Board ‘… was an institution of local government and the first directly elected body covering the whole of London. The Elementary Education Act 1870 was the first to provide for education for the whole population of England and Wales. It created elected school boards, which had power to build and run schools where there were insufficient voluntary school places; they could also compel attendance. In most places, the school boards were based on borough districts or civil parishes, but in London the board covered the whole area of the Metropolitan Board of Works – the area today known as Inner London. Between 1870 and 1904, the LSB was the single largest educational provider in London and the infrastructure and policies it developed were an important influence on London schooling long after the body was abolished…’

[38]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Burrows Herbert Burrows (1845-1922) ‘… was a British socialist activist...’

[39]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_matchgirls_strike_of_1888 The London Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888 ‘… was a strike of the women and teenage girls working at the Bryant and May Factory in Bow, London..The strike was caused by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus, such as phossy jaw, but was sparked by the dismissal of one of the workers on or about 2 July 1888….’

[40]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2007/12/07/catherine-booth-and-homeopathy/ See also Harold Begbie, William Booth: Founder of the Salvation Army. Vol 1, Volume 1, Chapter 17, The happiness of a young married couple 1855-1857, (1920). See also David Malcolm Bennett, The General: William Booth, Volume 1, (Xulon Press, 1 Jul 2003). Page 376. Catherine Booth (1829-1890) and her husband William Booth (1829-1912), the founders of Salvation Army, were firm advocates of homeopathy. Catherine was greatly influenced by American preacher Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874), who was married to homeopath Walter Clarke Palmer (1804-1883). Catherine explained: ’… I have been reading a very good work on Homeopathy which has removed my last difficulty on the subject, and if I should be ill I should like a homeopathic doctor…. William pulls her through with a book on homeopathy and a medicine chest…’  ’… Hurrah for homeopathy… ’ Catherine began to use homeopathy to heal her son Willie and she encouraged her husband to take the remedies as well.

[41]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2009/04/28/philip-wynter-wagstaff-1811-1894/ See also Anon, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, (H. Baillière, 1852). Page 19-25. Philip WynterWagstaff(1811-1894) was a British orthodox physician who practiced mesmerism and was an advocate and supporter of homeopathy.

[42]Spencer Timothy Hall, The Phreno-magnet, and Mirror of Nature: A Record of Facts, Experiments, and Discoveries in Phrenology, Magnetism, &c, Volume 1, (Simpkin, Marshall, 1843). Page 290). See also Thomas Wakley, The London Lancet: A Journal of British and Foreign Medicine, Physiology, Surgery, Chemistry, Criticism, Literature and News, Volume 1, (Burgess, Stringer & Co., 1845). Page 504.

[43]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2009/05/21/spencer-timothy-hall-1812-1885/ See also http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Hall,_Spencer_Timothy_(DNB00) Spencer Timothy Hall (1812-1885) was a British lay homeopath who achieved National fame lecturing on Mesmerism. Spencer Timothy Hall was also a phrenologist, spiritualist and hydrotherapist, and the Editor of the Phreno Magnet from 1843, Editor of the Iris Newspaper from the early 1840s, and Secretary to the Society for the Abolition of Corporal Punishment.

[44]Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ann Dexter Gordon (Ed.), Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: When Clowns Make Laws for Queens, 1880 to 1887, (Rutgers University Press, 25 Sep 2006). Page 297. See also Ancestry.co.uk See also Ann Dexter Gordon, Tamara Gaskell Miller, (Eds.), The selected papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Volume 4, (Rutgers University Press, 2001. Page 25. Spencer Timothy Hall’s first wife Sarah died nine months after their marriage – in childbirth? – was this child Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff? Spencer Timothy Hall then married again, in 1861, to Mary Julia Grimley(1836-?) – was she the Mary J Hall who homeopathically treated Elizabeth Cady Stanton when she visited London in 1883? Was Mary Julia Grimley Hall also the step-mother of Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff? Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) is an American National Heroine, a lay homeopath and political campaigner.

[45]http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2009/03/14/john-elliotson-1791-1868/ See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Elliotson John Elliotson(1791-1868)’… was an English physician… In 1831 he was elected Professor of the Principles and Practice of Physic in London University (now University College London), and in 1834 he became physician to University College Hospital...’ John Elliotson was also an acupuncturist, a phrenologist and a mesmerist. John Elliotson published an article on acupuncture in the first edition of The Lancet in 1823 and subsequently ‘… The Lancet ran a series of trials of Elliotson’s mesmeric experiments at Wakley’s home in Bedford Square during the summer of 1838, with a jury of witnesses drawn from the medical establishment. The results of these trials not only discredited Elliotsonbut helped to clarify the authority and status of both Wakley and The Lancet. Elliotson continued the practice of mesmerism, holding mesmeric séances in his home and editing a magazine, The Zoist, devoted to the subject. In 1849 he founded a mesmeric hospital…’ Elliotson went on to found the London Mesmeric Infirmary, on Weymouth Street.

[46]Anon, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, (H. Baillière, 1852). Page 19-25. Case: Cure of Epilepsy in an adult 28th February 1851 by Philip WynterWagtaff, introduced by John Elliotson, and including A few statements relative to the affliction of Thomas Fossey, of Heath and Reach, drawn up by his friends). Though thanks to these amazing people, we can read many interesting cases of quite ordinary people! ‘… Thomas Fossey, a labourer, of a rather serious turn of mind, and much in the habit of preaching in the different villages round his residence, was called to visit and pray by his sister in law, on 5th May 1848, who was supposed to be dying. Whilst praying he was suddenly seized with a convulsive paroxysm, and began raving and knocking himself about, so that when I arrived at the house (having been sent for to attend him), I found him in such a state that six men had some difficulty in holding him. This state continued for some time…’

[47]Philip Hoare, England’s lost Eden: adventures in a Victorian utopia, (Fourth Estate, 21 Feb 2005). Page 270. See also Van Akin Burd (ed.), Christmas story: John Ruskin’s Venetian letters of 1876-1877. (University of Delaware Press, 1990). Page. 99.See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Mount_Temple‘… At Broadlands, a veritable coven of female mediums assembled…’Amongst this glittering gathering, Phillip WynterWagstaff and his young wife Eliza were frequent guests. Eliza was the most favourite friend, confidante and homeopathic practitioner to William Francis Cowper Temple 1st Baron Mount Temple (1811-1888) who‘… was a British Liberal Party politician and statesman…’ and his wife Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple (?-?)who lived at this famous country house. James John Garth Wilkinson was a lifelong friend of the Temples and he knew Eliza and Phillip Wagstaff well.

[48]John Batchelor, Lady Trevelyan and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, (Random House, 31 Dec 2011). Page 227. See also Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, John Chapple, Alan Shelston (Eds.), Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell, (Manchester University Press, 4 Mar 2004). Page 96. See also Augustus John Cuthbert Hare, The Story of My Life, Volume 3, (Dodd, Mead, 1901). Page 325. See also Van Akin Burd, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists: An Episode in Broadlands History, (Brentham Press for Guild of St. George, 1982). Page 23. See also Van Akin Burd (ed.), Christmas story: John Ruskin’s Venetian letters of 1876-1877. (University of Delaware Press, 1990). Multiple pages. See also Franny Moyle, Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, (Hachette UK, 23 Jun 2011).

[49]Phillip WynterWagstaff, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9 4.3.1851 ‘… My Dear Mr. Elliotson, – Mrs. Wagstaff says that Fossey only took the medicine one fortnight, and the cure was due to the mesmerism. The medicine was homeopathic I believe, but what I do not know. I believe it was nux vomica and belladonna… Mrs. Wagstaff does not require any rapport, or any lock of hair, to enable her to see any person, no matter where they may be: she only requires a definite name and address, as she says ‘to identify the individual’. She can with that aid see and describe their appearance, age, and ailment; but as she is now so constantly employed to describe disease, she does not wish to interfere with, or detract from, her powers of seeing disease, but concentrating her powers on inanimate substances or external appearances – she has the greatest possible aversion to anything in the shape of testing. If you want proof of her powers, send us some case of illness, well known to yourself, and prominent in its features, and yet unknown to either of us, and we will send you a description of it…’

[50]Anon, The Homeopathic Medical Directory of Great Britain and Ireland 1870, (Henry Turner, 1870). Page 295.

[51]Anon, Bedfordshire Magazine, Volumes 22-23, (Crescent Press, 1991). Page 123.

[52]Anon, The Medical Times and Gazette, Volume 1, Adherent multilocular cyst – two tappings- ovariotomy-recovery by Mr. Wagstaff of Leighton Buzzard, (J. & A. Churchill, 1868). Page 577.

[53]Thomas Spencer Wells, Diseases of the ovaries, their diagnosis and treatment, (J. Churchill and sons, 1865). Page 92.

[54]Anon, Rapport du Comitéconsultatif: Report of the Advisory committee, International Financial Conference, League of Nations (Imprimé pour la Société des nations, Harrison & sons, 1892). Page 676) See also http://www.unog.ch/80256EE60057D930/(httpPages)/837B64FF94C3F3B6C1256F33002EE4D5?OpenDocument).

[55] Anon, Transactions of the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society, Volumes 1-18; Volumes 1903-1905, (Douglas &Foulis, 1904). Page 310. ‘… The loyal toasts having been given from the chair, MrPitcaithley gave the ” Imperial Forces,” which was replied to by Colonel Porteous; ”Our Quests,” proposed by Mr D. P. Laird, was replied to by Dr Wagstaff, of Leighton Buzzard…’ 

About the author

Sue Young

Sue Young B.Sc., FSHoM - My name is Sue Young and my passion is homeopathic history and the history of Humanity. My sueyounghistories.com studies were inspired by the sterling work begun by Dana Ullman in his very influential book The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy.
Before I began my sueyounghistories.com website, I wrote The Lost Book of History, the first attempt by a homeopath to study the whole history of humanity as a whole from our very origins. This was followed by Three Lost Books of Healing.
I hold a BSc in Psychology and an FSHOM in Homeopathy, having been in homeopathic private practice for over 30 years, I have been writing homeopathic history constantly for nearly 50 years. In 2022, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Dr Manish Bhatia’s Hpathy.com, I was honoured to be among those recognized with an Award for Excellence in Homeopathy for my contributions to Hpathy.com.
I’m intensely pleased and proud to surrender my body of work to the Hahnemann House Trust and the very capable and precious hands of my esteemed colleague and friend Mel Draper, who will confidently carry this wonderful work into our homeopathic future.


  • Sue,
    Thanks for this. Yes, what’s interesting for me is that the radical, political side of our homeopathic history from Hahnemann onwards has largely been lost in/on the current homeopathic movement. In many ways they eschew the fact that working in homeopathy is in itself a political act – challenging the status quo in medicine at such a fundamental level – as well as in many other areas of the human condition. I know some 30+ years ago when I came across homeopathy, I also found the perfect resting place for all my radical politics!

  • DEAR DR,

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