Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine (1864-)

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The teenage entomologist Thomas Blackburn (1844-1912) was not easily discouraged. His first effort to replace the discontinued Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61) with his own periodical, the Weekly Entomologist (1862-63), ended in commercial failure. However, in 1864, before he had even turned twenty, he was formulating plans for a second attempt. Blackburn had since moved from his native Cheshire to London, taking up employment as a civil servant. His correspondence from this period is written upon official stationery, stamped with ‘Somerset House’, and it must be assumed that his superiors would not have approved of this entomological use of government property. Relocating to the capital also allowed Blackburn to make acquaintance with the Intelligencer‘s erstwhile editor, Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-92), along with other leading men of the Entomological Society of London. Among these entomologists was Henry Guard Knaggs (1832-1908), who encouraged the young Blackburn in his plans for a new periodical. The result of these discussions was a letter Blackburn wrote to Stainton in which he laid out a proposal for what would become the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine.

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Thomas Blackburn in much later life

Among Blackburn’s suggestions for the periodical, to which Stainton agreed, was a plan to share the considerable labour of producing such a publication. Rather than a single editor, the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine was managed by a committee. This group initially consisted of Blackburn, Stainton, and Knaggs, along with Robert McLachlan (1837-1904) and Edward Caldwell Rye (1832-85). Stainton and McLachlan were men of independent wealth, while Knaggs was a well-to-do general practitioner. Rye, meanwhile, was a relatively humble clerk with a genius for entomological illustration. They divided the work of editing amongst themselves according to their respective specialisms (with the exception of Blackburn): Stainton was responsible for microlepidoptera (small moths), Knaggs for macrolepidoptera (large moths and butterflies), Mclachlan was a world-renowned expert on Neuroptera (net-winged insects), and Rye worked on Coleoptera (beetles).  All these men were good friends, with committee meetings held at each of their homes in turn. Less formal discussions took place during gatherings of the Entomological Society and other scientific coteries, and they were incessant correspondents. 

From the outset, the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine (or the ‘E. M. M.’, as it became fondly known among entomologists) was intended as a very different publication to the Intelligencer. The most obvious dissimilarity is signified by the title, with the periodical being a monthly rather than a weekly. Blackburn argued that this would reduce the workload of the editors, but it necessarily had a significant impact upon the kind of information the magazine contained. Whilst the raison d’être of the Intelligencer had been to rapidly circulate short notices regarding the capture of insects and other time-sensitive news relating to the fieldwork of entomologists, the Monthly Magazine published longer pieces, mostly devoted to works of taxonomic classification. The opening article of the first issue was written by Henry Walter Bates, describing ‘new species of butterflies from Guatemala and Panama’. Although the magazine prided itself on its ‘amateur character’, the shift in content led to a far more selective readership, precluding many of the collectors and beginners who were welcomed by the Intelligencer. Correspondence between the editors reveals that this was a deliberate decision to distance the new magazine from Stainton’s previous publication, as they consciously chose to exclude shorter, gossipy notices of the kind printed in the Intelligencer in favour of more dense, scientific content.  As a result, the number of contributors was considerably more limited, and mostly those who were already members of the Entomological Society.  These were not professionals, but rather represented the metropolitan scientific elite from which Stainton and his co-editors were drawn.

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Title page of the E. M. M.‘s first volume

Despite Blackburn’s instigation of the periodical, the older, more eminent men of the editorial committee came to dominate it. Within a few years of commencing the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, he gave up his position to take holy orders and embarked on an ecclesiastical career that would lead him to emigrate, first to Hawaii and then to Australia. Stainton, on the other hand, would continue to edit the periodical until his death, and was still busy correcting proofs the day before he died in 1892. The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine continues to be published, and although it is only issued three times a year, it retains its title and sense of history. Much of its content is now the work of professional entomologists, but it continues to use the epigraph from the very first volume, a quote from the French entomologist Joseph Alexandre Laboulbène (1825-98): ‘I therefore exhort everybody to avoid anything personal in their writing or any allusions that exceed the boundaries of sincere and courteous debate’. It therefore seems that over 150 years later, entomologists still need occasionally to be reminded that any disagreements should be conducted in an amicable manner.



The Contagion Cabaret at the Science Museum, London

Last night The Contagion Cabaret brought its infectious entertainment to audiences at the Science Museum’s ‘Superbugs’ Late.


The museum Lates are free, after-hours events, aimed at adult audiences, which take place on the last Wednesday of every month. Each event is themed and last night’s focused on how bacteria develop into superbugs, and the threat of antibiotic resistance.

The museum was filled with hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, and live performances. Visitors joined a barbershop quartet singing about microbial resistance and made their own comic strips about a dystopian, superbug-ridden future. Attendees played the ‘Ultimate Superbugs Race’, emulating bacteria to find out how they evolve to fight antibiotics. Meanwhile, a stall called ‘How Clean is Your Phone?’ offered the daunting prospect of testing the dirtiness of attendees’ personal belongings. Throughout the evening, visitors interacted with scientists, historians, healthcare practitioners, and museum staff, among others.

The Contagion Cabaret was performed three times, in the museum’s intimate Wonderlab Showspace. The Cabaret is the result of a  collaboration between researchers on  the ‘Constructing Scientific Communities’ and ‘Diseases of Modern Life’ projects, together with Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, at the University of Oxford, and the Chipping Norton Theatre, led by Director John Terry. The Cabaret features extracts from plays and music, past and present, which touch on the themes of infection, contamination and contagion.

Last night’s performance included a scene from Eugène Brieux’s play Damaged Goods (1913) which looked at venereal disease and marriage, while readings from twenty-first century newspapers showed how images of contagion have featured in discussions of immigration. The Cabaret combines serious, thought-provoking pieces with plenty of comedic material as well. There were crowd-pleasing performances of ‘The Herpes Tango’ from Fascinating Aida (1999) and ‘Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir’ from Sweeney Todd (1979).


The Cabaret has already had several previous outings, at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford and The Theatre Chipping Norton. Last night’s was a truncated performance, tailored to the informal atmosphere of the Late.

If you missed previous performances of The Contagion Cabaret, you can catch it* at the British Academy on 24th May. (*Pun intended.) This will be the full-length, two-hour version. To book your free ticket visit: https://www.britac.ac.uk/events/contagion-cabaret.

Indian Medical Gazette (1866-1955)

In 1941, the British Medical Journal celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Indian Medical Gazette. Launched in 1866, the Gazette was by this point the longest-running medical journal on the subcontinent. Reflecting on the state of periodical literature in British India, the BMJ remarked that, ‘[d]uring the past century dozens of medical journals have sprung up […] and had their brief day, usually petering out after a few years and now forgotten’.[1] The Gazette was an important exception, a journal which gained a firmer foothold, running until 1955.

Indian Medical Gazette

The first issue of the IMG in January 1866.

The Gazette was a medical monthly produced in Calcutta, the capital of British India until 1911. Its content and format resembled that of its British contemporaries. It included original communications and notes from hospital practice, as well as editorials, news items, and correspondence columns. However, it was also shaped by a specifically imperialist agenda. The Gazette conceived its aim as ‘the ennobling, by every possible means, of the Medical Profession in India’ and announced its commitment to rendering ‘good [to] suffering humanity’. It drew on common tropes, portraying the Indian population as backward and debased, in need of the supposedly civilising influence of Western medicine. At the same time, it was concerned about the lack of status and prestige attached to colonial medical service.[2]  The Gazette also addressed the perceived challenges facing medical journalism in India, questioning whether the stagnation of periodical literature was due to the ‘enervating’ climate.[3]

According to the BMJ, the Gazette’s ultimate success was attributable to its longest-running editor Kenneth McLeod (1871-1892) and one of his successors, Walter Buchanan (1899-1918). Both held senior appointments in the Indian Medical Service (IMS), an institution which had its antecedents in the East India Company and which continued under Crown rule after 1858. The IMS provided both military and some civilian medical services. While the Gazette did not explicitly identify itself as an IMS publication, it was widely regarded as official in character. When the BMJ reviewed the journal in 1874, it noted that the Gazette’s editors were IMS officials and that its contributors ‘belong[ed] chiefly, although far from exclusively, to the Indian service’.[4] In a future blog post, I will examine one of the Gazette’s rivals: the Indian Medical Record. The Record accused the Gazette of receiving state subsidies and presented itself as a staunchly independent alternative.

The Gazette often imagined its readers as British-born men employed in colonial medical service. Its first issue featured an article on ‘Professional Co-operation’ which looked at the challenges facing the young medical officer upon his arrival in India. It described how he ‘may be sent at once to do battle with disease as it occurs among men whose constitutions, customs, diet, and prejudices are new and foreign to him’.[5] Like British journals, the Gazette portrayed India as a strange, unfamiliar and alien space. Many practitioners employed in the IMS and Army Medical Corps were British men who arrived in India after being trained and examined on their home soil.

This article emphasised the Gazette’s commitment to promoting sympathy between medical men and encouraging the exchange of clinical and sanitary information so that ‘[t]he service we owe to Government and India may thereby also be amplified and rendered more useful while, as a consequence, our influence in the country will be more readily acknowledged and respected’. The article noted the ‘difficulties and discouragements to professional zeal and advancement’ that were thought to characterise colonial medicine.[6] Practitioners in India were often accused of apathy and as being less industrious than their British counterparts.

The production of high-quality clinical research was seen as one way of overcoming this prejudice towards colonial medicine. Anne M. Crowther and Marguerite Dupree suggest that, from the outset, the Gazette sought to ‘prove that the IMS could contribute significantly to medical knowledge’.[7] When the BMJ reviewed the Gazette, it judged the journal chiefly in terms of its clinical content. It reassured its readers that the periodical would ‘bear a favourable comparison with contemporary journals, not only in England, but in Europe’.[8] There is a sense that Indian periodicals had to prove their worth by asserting their equality with their European counterparts.

As indicated, the Gazette was shaped by the colonial context, which included an ethnically diverse readership. The IMS had long employed indigenous peoples, chiefly (though not exclusively) in low-status positions. In 1876, the journal published a leading article reflecting on its first decade of existence. It claimed that one of its original intentions was to cement ‘a bond of union by means of which medical men working in India of whatever service or creed or race [….] should be brought together for mutual edification and improvement’.[9] This implied that both British and ‘native’ readers would be enriched in tandem and united through their shared readership of the journal.

The Gazette remarked that it received contributions from native practitioners – working in the IMS as Assistant Surgeons, Apothecaries, and Hospitals Assistants, and as private doctors – with ‘pleasure’. Bound volumes of the Gazette typically open with a list of contributors for the year, and from this it is possible to conclude that native practitioners actively supplied clinical material. The Gazette designated their communications evidence of ‘laudable ambition’ and expressed its hope that publishing such material would dispel prejudices that these men were ‘incapable of original research’ or that they were content with a ‘life of stagnation and inertness’.[10] Even more so than British men in IMS employment, practitioners of Indian, Eurasian and Anglo-Indian descent were charged with apathy.

The Gazette framed itself as the champion and supporter of men from different ethnic backgrounds but it also adopted a paternalistic approach and was often deeply patronising. The journal commended itself on ‘develop[ing] the literary industry’ of native practitioners and suggested that their contributions showed ‘the soundness of the education which they receive’. This reduced the men to passive recipients of Western medicine’s supposedly enlightening influence. Although the Gazette welcomed the way in which it could help challenge negative stereotypes, it also urged its ‘native brethren’ to ‘quicken their will and effort’ so that they could ‘entirely obliterate the stain’ against their name.[11] This loaded language hints at the prejudice faced by these readers.

The journal’s diverse readership also encompassed female practitioners. In 1882, the Gazette published an article on ‘Women Doctors for India’, which criticised the movement for medical women. The writer denied that there was any appetite for them among female patients who observed veiling or segregation. It claimed that ‘the picture of excessive obstetric and uterine suffering [in the zenanas] has been overdrawn’.[12] However, the journal’s stance softened in following years, particularly after the establishment of the National Association for Supplying Female Medical Aid to the Women of India (commonly known as the Dufferin Fund) in 1885. This formalised women’s involvement in the provision of colonial medicine. The Gazette soon overturned its objections and enthusiastically reported the achievements of medical women, as well as printing their clinical contributions.[13]

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A clinical report from Florence Dissent (December 1891).

Ultimately, the Gazette suggested that medical men and women, of both British and Indian descent, had complementary roles to play in imperial medicine’s mission. As indicated, it believed that greater professional co-operation would help to elevate the status of colonial practice. Nevertheless, the journal’s dominant editorial voice reinforced hierarchies, largely foregrounding the experiences of white men while representing non-white and female practitioners as occupying subordinate or separate roles. Thus the journal reveals both the ambitions and tensions of the colonial medical profession.

[1] ‘Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Indian Medical Gazette’, BMJ, 3 May 1941, p. 679.

[2] Mark Harrison, Public Health in British India: Anglo-Indian Preventive Medicine, 1859-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

[3] [Editorial], IMG, 1 January 1866, p. 1.

[4] ‘Review: The Indian Medical Gazette’, BMJ, 20 June 1874, pp. 808-9 (p. 808).

[5] ‘Professional Co-operation’, IMG, 1 January 1866, pp. 6-7 (p. 6).

[6] ‘Professional Co-operation’, p. 6.

[7] M. Anne Crowther and Marguerite W. Dupree, Medical Lives in the Age of Surgical Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 304.

[8] ‘Review: The Indian Medical Gazette’, BMJ, 20 June 1874, pp. 808-9 (p. 808).

[9] ‘1875’, IMG, 1 January 1876, pp. 12-23 (p. 19).

[10] ‘1875’, p. 20.

[11] ‘1875’, p. 20.

[12] ‘Women Doctors for India’, IMG, 1 July 1882, pp. 184-5 (p. 184).

[13] See, for example, Florence Dissent, ‘Mirror of Medicine: Two Cases of Large Uterine Polypus’, IMG, December 1891, p. 334.

Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century Seminars in Trinity Term 2018

tringquaggaMonday 7 May 2018 (Week 3)

Professor Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gone but not Forgotten:  Coming to Grips with Extinction

5.30—7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Extinction is a timely and controversial topic now, as it has been for centuries.  That is not, of course, to say that the focus of contention has remained constant.  At first the main question, couched at least as much in theological as in scientific terms (that is, in terms resonant with later debates about evolution), was whether it could happen.   Localized anthropogenic extinctions, most famously that of the dodo, were noticed by European travelers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (the intentional extermination of undesirable animals like wolves at home did not figure in such debates).  The dwindling and disappearance of more populous and widespread species, including the passenger pigeon, the quagga, and (nearly) the American bison, in the nineteenth century sparked a different kind of concern among the overlapping communities of hunters, naturalists, and conservationists, which helped to inspire the earliest national parks and wildlife reserves.

Tuesday 22 May 2018 (Week 5)

Dr Carolyn Burdett, Birkbeck, University of London

Sympathy limits in Daniel Deronda

5.30—7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

From the 1860s sympathy emerged as a key term in naturalistic dispute about mechanisms of evolution and the relation of human to animal life. This paper argues that we need to look closely at these debates in order to have a fuller account of the role sympathy played in the ethical and artistic changes of the ‘end’ of Victorianism. Sympathy’s part in its own vanishing conditions during the final three decades of the nineteenth century has not yet been fully explained. As literary historians invariably turn to George Eliot to help grasp the scope and power of secular modern sympathy, I go to her final novel, Daniel Deronda, to find insight about its waning. While sympathy is explicitly referenced on more occasions in Daniel Deronda than in any other of Eliot’s fictions, many readers have noted profound changes that propel the narrative simultaneously beyond both sympathy and realism. Might sympathy, paradoxically, be a key to grasping why Eliot’s last novel is full of terror and dread, magic and divination, Gothicism and melodrama? I conclude by briefly suggesting that sympathy in the final decades of the nineteenth century is part of the same nexus of concepts that produce a new term, empathy, seen by some in the twenty-first century to have largely replaced sympathy in referencing affective and ethical capacity.

Tuesday 5 June 2018 (Week 7)

Dr Manon Mathias, University of Glasgow

 ‘What is health? It is chocolate!’: Chocolate, medicine, and writing

in nineteenth-century France

5.30—7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Although France’s role in the development of chocolate from an Early Modern luxury to a popular product has been noted, nowhere has the French engagement with chocolate as medicine been examined in any depth. Moreover, the numerous literary engagements with this product in nineteenth-century novels remain unexplored. Taking up the call issued by the Chocolate History Project (UC Davis) for more research on chocolate in literature and in cookbooks, this paper will examine references to chocolate in scientific and medical texts from the period but also in gastronomic texts and novels to see to what extent principles regarding chocolate reached beyond the medical field, and also to reveal the rich and complex relations between chocolate and language.

Drinks will be served after each seminar. All welcome, no booking required.

The Weekly Entomologist (1862-63)

After five years of publication, the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer was discontinued in 1861. The editor, Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-92), seems to have lost patience with the considerable workload of producing a new issue each week, and took this unpopular decision at the conclusion of the tenth volume. Insect collectors who had grown accustomed to their ‘newspaper’ were understandably bereft, and there was much discussion as to whom could step in to fill the void. In 1862, a new periodical was announced, entitled the Weekly Entomologist. This journal was printed on behalf of the Altrincham and Bowden Entomological Society, in Cheshire. The title of this group suggests a large gathering of men, but in fact, the Society consisted of three schoolboys: the brothers Thomas and John Blackburn (1844-1912 and 1845-81), and their friend Edmund Geldart (1844-85). All had been avid readers of the Intelligencer, and had sent several letters regarding their insect-hunting to Stainton in the hope of publication. When Stainton discontinued the Intelligencer, his three youthful correspondents took it upon themselves to supply a replacement.

The Weekly Entomologist was almost identical to the Intelligencer in appearance and content. The first editorial was entitled ‘Union is Strength’, and implored its readers to participate ‘in a friendly spirit’, without descending to the acrimony and in-fighting that  had plagued the Intelligencer. Many of the same correspondents who had featured in Stainton’s periodical now published in the new weekly, giving details of the insects they had captured and lists of those they wished to exchange. The focus remained predominantly on the practical aspects of collecting, rather than lengthy scientific papers of taxonomic classification. Another leading article angrily criticised the recently passed Poaching Prevention Act, as this permitted the arrest of anyone found loitering suspiciously upon land set aside for the hunting of game. Entomologists would often fall foul of gamekeepers, as the pursuit of moths in particular necessitated nocturnal visits to woods and fields, armed with nets and other equipment,  which understandably aroused suspicion among those charged with the protection of such land. The editor urged entomologists to join ‘hand in hand against our common foes’, lest they be prevented from collecting insects entirely by the action of ‘aristocrats’. He also attacked ‘the railway capitalists, the farmer, the builder, the agriculturalist’ – all those who wished to ‘do away with the existence of insects’.


Title page for the second number of the Weekly Entomologist

Lacking the independent wealth with which Stainton funded the Intelligencer, the three schoolboys applied to the erstwhile editor for financial aid, and at first he was happy to oblige. However, the Weekly Entomologist struggled from the outset, failing to attract sufficient support from those who had previously read the Intelligencer. Furthermore, the production values of the periodical were much lower, with frequent errors in printing. Edmund Geldart, who would later recall his time editing the Weekly Entomologist alongside the Blackburn brothers in his memoir, A Son of Belial (1882), asserted that the local printer deliberately inserted these ‘mistakes’ in protest against insufficient payment. In one instance, a sentence on the subject of perseverance which should have read ‘the goal is always before you’, was instead printed as ‘the gaol [jail] is always before you’, significantly altering the meaning of the sentence. Ultimately, Stainton withdrew his support for the Weekly Entomologist, and it folded. Thomas Blackburn continued to correspond with Stainton, and upon moving to London, he collaborated with a number of other leading entomologist’s in establishing and editing the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine in 1864. After a brief stint in the civil service, he took holy orders and was ordained as a priest, and ended his career as a canon in Australia. He maintained his interest in entomology, amassing a large collection of beetles that are now held by the Natural History Museum, London. John Blackburn also worked in the civil service, and continued to collect insects during the long holidays this afforded him. Geldart seems to have lost his interest in entomology, and had a varied career as a teacher, an Anglican priest, and (after undergoing a conversion) a Unitarian minister.


Jukes de Styrap (1815-99): medical practitioner and ethicist

I first encountered Jukes de Styrap as the author of The Young Practitioner (1890) – an advice guide for aspiring medical men – when I was researching the early struggles in practice. De Styrap has primarily gained recognition among historians of medicine as one of the major commentators on medical ethics in the nineteenth century. In this blog post, I reveal how he established himself as a spokesperson on a constellation of issues surrounding the pecuniary, social and professional aspects of medical life.

Born in 1815, de Styrap was educated at Shrewsbury School in Shropshire and later at Stourport in Worcestershire. He studied medicine at King’s College London. Like many general practitioners at the time, he was jointly licensed by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Society of Apothecaries. He practised in Ireland during the 1830s and 40s, later becoming a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland as well. He then returned to his roots, setting up practice in Shrewsbury. Here he held appointments at the Salop Infirmary and South Salop and Montgomeryshire Infirmary. He founded the Salopian Medico-Ethical Society and acted as its secretary. The Society was subsumed into the Shropshire Branch of the British Medical Association (BMA), on which de Styrap also sat, becoming its President. In 1864, he suffered a severe illness and retired from clinical practice shortly after, standing down as Consulting Physician at the Salop Infirmary.

During his retirement, de Styrap remained actively involved in professional affairs. Firstly, he published The Medico-Chirurgical Tariffs (1874), which supplied practitioners with a recommended fee scale for a range of cases, including those involving advice, medicines, and surgical procedures (from reducing fractures to excising tumours). The guide divided patients into three classes, suggesting that their fee should depend on the cost of their house rental. Thus the recommended price of an ‘ordinary visit’ might range from two shillings sixpence (for the poorest class) to ten shillings sixpence (for the richest). De Styrap advised that night visits (defined as those between 10pm and 7am) be charged at double the ordinary rate (at least).[1] Immediately popular, the Tariffs was translated into French and went into four editions by 1888. The BMJ branded it ‘absolutely reliable’ and suggested it was a valuable reference guide for both younger and more experienced practitioners.[2]


A table of medical fees from de Styrap’s Tariffs (1874).

Four years later, de Styrap published A Code of Medical Ethics (1878), which he originally prepared for the Shropshire Ethical Branch of the BMA. The book has since been identified as ‘the only important code of medical ethics to be published in Victorian England’.[3] It drew largely on the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics (1847), which had already circulated in Britain.[4] However, de Styrap’s reworking also included original introductory material, in which he represented medicine as a ‘sacred’ calling.[5] The AMA’s code was itself based on Thomas Percival’s landmark Medical Ethics (1803), which combined precepts about good conduct with advice on medical jurisprudence.[6]

De Styrap’s hope that the Code would be officially adopted by the BMA was never realised, but – like the Tariffs – it was well-received by the medical community. The BMJ suggested the Code would be valuable for all medical men to ‘habitually refer’ to and praised its ‘stately and old-fashioned […] diction’ which it felt bolstered its authority.[7] The Code was reproduced and enlarged in 1886, 1890 and 1895.

At the age of 75 and with his reputation already well-established, de Styrap published The Young Practitioner (1890). Once again, he drew extensively on existing sources. The book is almost a direct reproduction of Daniel Webster Cathell’s popular American manual Book on the Physician Himself (1881). De Styrap conceded that his book was largely derivative, and framed it as offering ‘modified selections from’ and ‘additions to’ Cathell’s guide.[8]  De Styrap’s major innovations were to adjust the tenets to reflect the context of British general practice and to reframe the advice into a direct address to young practitioners.

Like its ur-text, The Young Practitioner offered advice to medical men seeking to establish themselves in practice. It counselled readers on everything from their dress sense to the arrangement of their consulting-room, their bedside manner to methods for securing payment from reluctant patients. For de Styrap, medical ethics encompassed not simply moral or legal imperatives but one’s manners and behaviour in both social and professional life. Like Cathell, he approached the business side of medical with candour. De Styrap had long been interested in both pecuniary matters and medical ethics, as his earlier works testify. He saw no tension between these different facets of practice; like Cathell, he contended that the business side of medicine, if conducted fairly, was compatible with a respectable and gentlemanly profession.

Once again, de Styrap’s work was praised by contemporary medical journals. It was regarded as an important contribution to medical ethics rather than a product of plagiarism. The Edinburgh Medical Journal fleetingly mentioned de Styrap’s debt to Cathell but enthusiastically praised his emphasis on gentlemanly conduct.[9] The BMJ remarked that,

[t]he standards which [de Styrap] sets up for our conduct towards the public and towards each other is perhaps almost too high; but though it may be beyond the attainment of all men at all times, yet it is well that the standard would be put high.[10]

Following the publication of The Young Practitioner, de Styrap was increasingly confined to his home in Shrewsbury due to ill-health. He died there at the age of 84 in 1899. Announcing his death, the Lancet credited him as the ‘well-known author of “A Code of Medical Ethics”’.[11] A longer obituary in the BMJ described how this guide had ‘been of great assistance to the profession’.[12] Over the years both journals had recommended the book to correspondents who asked for a reference guide on medical ethics.[13] Meanwhile, the BMA adopted a resolution expressing ‘great regret’ at de Styrap’s death and acknowledging his ‘long connection with the Association and the interest he took in raising a high standard of professional duty’.[14] De Styrap’s career demonstrates how a medical man could develop his professional identity through his writing even after stepping back from active practice.

Questions of originality and authorship perhaps trouble us more than de Styrap’s contemporary readers, who recognised him as making an important contribution to the profession. His high-minded tone and attention to detail were well-respected and his commitment to setting and elevating standards was seen as crucial to regulating professional life. As historians have identified, de Styrap borrowed the language and recycled the tenets of earlier medical ethicists. This approach, and the enthusiastic reception of his work, reveal how ideas about good medical conduct remained remarkably stable for much of the nineteenth century.

[1] Jukes de Styrap, The Medico-Chirurgical Tariffs Issued by the Shropshire Ethical Branch of the British Medical Association (Shrewsbury: William Wardle, 1874), p. 7.

[2] ‘Reviews and Notices: The Medico-Chirurgical Tariffs’, BMJ, 14 April 1888, p. 804.

[3] Peter Bartrip, ‘An Introduction to Jukes Styrap’s A Code of Medical Ethics (1878)’, in The Codification of Medical Morality: Vol. 2, ed. by Robert Baker (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1995), pp. 145-8 (p. 145).

[4] Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1849).

[5] De Styrap, A Code of Medical Ethics (London: Churchill, 1878), p. 6.

[6] Thomas Percival, Medical Ethics (Manchester: Bickerstaff, 1803).

[7] ‘Notes on Books: A Code of Medical Ethics’, BMJ, 30 January 1886, p. 213.

[8] De Styrap, The Young Practitioner (London: H.K. Lewis, 1890), p. i.

[9] ‘Reviews: The Young Practitioner’, Edinburgh Medical Journal, March 1890, p. 854.

[10] ‘Review: The Young Practitioner’, BMJ, 13 September 1890, pp. 632-3 (p. 633).

[11] [Untitled], Lancet, 15 April 1899, p. 1047.

[12] ‘Obituary: Jukes de Styrap’, BMJ, 6 May 1899, pp. 1130-1 (p. 1131).

[13] See, for example, ‘Medico-Legal and Medico-Ethical: Work on Medical Ethics’, BMJ, 26 February 1887, p. 486.

[14] [Untitled], BMJ, 15 April 1899, p. 928.

New Podcast Episode: The Anti-Vaccination Movement in the 19th Century

A new episode of The Conversationalist podcast is available today! In this episode, Dr Sally Frampton (ConSciCom, University of Oxford) and Dr Oskar Cox Jenson (Queen Mary University of London) discuss vaccination and the anti-vax movement in the 19th century. Warning: this episode features some catchy anti-vax songs you’ll have trouble getting out of your head.


For more, scroll down to hear longer versions of the anti-vax songs in the episode, view 19th century satirical cartoons related to the anti-vax movement, and read about our exhibition Vaccination: Medicine and the Masses in this blog post.

Longer versions of the anti-vaccination songs featured in this episode:


Anti-vaccination illustrations and cartoons:


The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Lantern slide, early 1900s. https://www.flickr.com/photos/collegeofphysicians/4167524518



A monster being fed baskets of infants and excreting them with horns; symbolising vaccination and its effects. Etching by C. Williams, 1802?. Wellcome Images. https://wellcomecollection.org/works/aehkf98b



Jenner and his two colleagues seeing off three anti-vaccination opponents, the dead are littered at their feet. Coloured etching by I. Cruikshank, 1808. Wellcome Images. https://wellcomecollection.org/works/j59k7jnk