About the Suffolk Medical Biographies

Dr David van Zwanenberg (1922-91) started researching his biographies in the early 1970s, but unfortunately he died before he could finish editing the material. The completed biographies, together with van Zwanenberg's working notes and indices, were kindly donated to Suffolk Record Office's local studies library collection at Ipswich by his widow, Aldyth van Zwanenberg. The reference number of this written material is- Suffolk Record Office (Ipswich): q.s.614. The biographies cover men and women who practised medicine in its various forms in Suffolk from the eleventh century until 1900. To qualify for an entry, the person should have practised (or at least have been apprenticed) in Suffolk during that period.

With the aid of an initial grant from the Friends of the Wellcome Library and subsequent donations from the Suffolk Family History Society, the British Society for the History of Medicine, the Gwen Dyke Memorial Trust Fund (Suffolk Local History Council), the Ipswich Medical Staff Committee and several other individual donors, Dr Edward Cockayne arranged for Bechmann Limited of Woodbridge to design a computer database to accommodate the Suffolk Medical Biographies. He then used some of the money which had been donated to pay others (notably the late Olive Hockett and her husband Phillip) to type the material collected by David van Zwanenberg on to the database, whilst he himself, as honorary editor, and with the valuable help of the late Peter Northeast, checked many of the original references and added a great deal of new information to the work. All this was achieved under the financial umbrella of the Suffolk Records Society, which has kindly acted as banker for the project.

The data may eventually appear on the Suffolk Record Office's website, but in the meantime this site is sponsored by the Suffolk Medical History Society, which in turn is a member of the British Society for the History of Medicine. To find out more about the doings of the Suffolk Medical History Society, you can look at the British Society for the History of Medicine website at www.bshm.org.uk, where an annual report from the Suffolk Medical History Society is published.

In 2012 the work of editing the website continues, and any comments about the medical men and women whose names appear on the Suffolk Medical Biographies website should be made by e mail to the editor: E. E. Cockayne

About References

Most of the references are self-explanatory, but readers might find the word ‘subscriber’ under reference number 238 somewhat puzzling. The word derives from published book lists to which the doctor was a subscriber. For more information consult Eighteenth Century Medics, by Wallis, P J, Wallis, R V, and White. Published by Newcastle University, 1985 and 1988.

If you are interested in books about the history of medicine in Suffolk, please see Stutter's Casebook, A Junior Hospital Doctor, 1839-41, edited by E. E. Cockayne and N.J.Stow, published by Boydell and Brewer, July 2005, ISBN No 1843831139.

For further information go to- www.boydell.co.uk

Stop press — September 2012

The Suffolk Medical History Society announces the publication of An 18th Century Physician’s Handbook Edited by E.E.Cockayne, DHMSA, and N.J.G.Stow, FRPharmS

This book was launched by the Suffolk Medical History Society on 15 August 2012. The original document was written in about 1740 by an anonymous physician who was probably intending to publish a textbook or practical handbook. His scheme of medicine seemed to follow the teaching of Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738) of Leiden in Holland, who was, of course, the most prominent medical teacher in Europe in the early 18th century. The volume was found among the effects of a deceased farmer who had originally come from the Beccles area. It remains in private hands, but the owners kindly gave the two editors full access to the original.

Most of the prescriptions are completely illegible to modern doctors, but when translated their contents are quite surprising, if not revolting. All the inner pages have been scanned and have been published in parallel text, each scanned page being on the left hand side as you open the volume, with the facing page containing a modern translation and extensive notes, illustrations and comments. There are also appendices, indexes and a glossary, the whole being 386 pages in length. There are numerous colour illustrations.

The work has been dedicated to the memory of Jean Guy who was president of the Suffolk Medical History Society from its formation in 2001 until her death in 2012.

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