The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation (1890-)

Ent Record no. 1

Title page of the very first number of the Entomologist’s Record

In 1890, a schoolmaster and lepidopterist named James William Tutt (1858-1911) established a periodical intended to ‘supply a magazine devoted entirely to the wants of British entomologists’. According to Tutt, the two other existing periodicals, the Entomologist and the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, contained far too much on foreign species that had no real use or application for the those whose collecting was limited to Britain. The Record allowed short notices in which entomologists exchanged information regarding their fieldwork, much in the same manner as they would through private correspondence. Tutt made this comparison explicit, claiming that much of the most important things he had learnt from others had been communicated ‘in a casual way’ through letters.

Ent Record v. 4

A coloured plate from volume 4 of the Entomologist’s Record (1893), showing the varieties of some British Lepidoptera

Tutt himself was a bullish character, and his forthright manner did not endear him to some. He was dedicated to a thoroughly scientific and biological approach to entomology, and the Entomologist’s Record reflects this. The very title of the periodical points to major shifts in the life sciences, particularly when compared to an earlier publication such as the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61). While correspondents to the latter periodical had openly mocked Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species when it was published in 1859, the Entomologist’s Record was expressly intended to allow collectors to share information regarding the variations within species that form the basis of evolutionary theory. Much of the work done by entomologists during the nineteenth century was primarily concerned with the classification of species, determining and delineating the differences between insects and sorting them accordingly. This task was not a simple one, as insects exist in a multitude of forms that defy any attempt to arrange them into a satisfactory system. As much of this process was carried out through the study of dead and dried specimens, far less attention was given to the insect as a living organism. Furthermore, the question of how such a profusion of variation had come about was considered by many naturalists to be beyond the bounds of reasonable speculation. However, by the 1890s, a new generation of entomologists were seeking to address this issue, taking up the theories of Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and placing a greater focus on understanding the physiology of insects.

The best illustration of this shift in emphasis is supplied by Tutt himself, who is perhaps best known today as among the first entomologists to observe and speculate as to the cause of industrial melanism that occurred in the peppered moth, which has become one of the most celebrated (and controversial) examples of natural selection. Moths of this species were observed to be of a darker colour in certain localities, and it was in the Entomologist’s Record that the implications of this difference were first seriously considered by Tutt and his peers. Various solutions to the question were suggested, including differences in climate or diet, but it is now considered to be the result of air pollution. The peppered moth had evolved to be light in colour, in order to be camouflaged against the lichens growing on the bark of trees, but the industrialisation of the nineteenth-century led to a decline in air quality, killing off much of the lichen and staining the tree trunks with soot. Within the affected areas, the moths adapted through natural selection to become almost black in colour, thereby ensuring greater protection from predators. The Entomologist’s Record and those who contributed to it were therefore key players in this now-famous discovery.

The distinctive cover image of the Entomologist’s Record was produced by Frederick William Frohawk (1861-1946), who became a distinguished entomologist and zoological artist. The Record continues to be published, and only recently ceased to use this illustration.

peppered moth.jpg

Lighter and darker varieties of the peppered moth, from Richard South’s Moths of the British Isles (1907-09)

 

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Frederick James Gant (1825-1905)

Frederick James Gant first appeared on my research radar when I was examining attitudes towards women in medicine. In 1892, the British Medical Association (BMA) debated whether to admit women as members. Gant spoke passionately in support, noting that – though he had initially been unsympathetic to the cause – he felt medical women had acquitted themselves creditably. He argued that there could be ‘no doubt’ as to their ‘professional, social, and moral character’.[1] The BMA eventually voted in favour and Gant’s intercession may have exerted an important influence. He was a well-respected figure; his 1905 obituary in the Lancet recorded his ‘prominent position among London surgeons’ and that he was ‘well known as an industrious author’ on medical and non-medical matters.[2]

Gant was born in 1825 in Kingsland, London. His father was a military man; Lieutenant Colonel John Castle Gant of the King’s Own 2nd Light Infantry. As he would later record in his autobiography, the young Gant was a premature child ‘of puny body and weakly health’. He was sent to Eastbourne and then Hastings where he ‘acquired an intense love of nature and eventually more than average strength’, as the BMJ related in his obituary.[3]

Returning to London, Gant was educated at King’s College School. After losing his parents, he became assistant to a pharmaceutical chemist in Shoreditch. At the age of 16, he entered University College London as a medical student. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) in 1849 and would later become a Fellow (1861).

Gant began his medical career in relatively ‘straitened circumstances’ but conditions soon improved.[4] He took rooms in Old Cavendish Street and in 1852 began practising as a consulting surgeon. He also lectured at the short-lived Hunterian School of Medicine on Bedford Square, first on physiology and then on anatomy too. When the school closed, Gant moved (along with the students) to the Royal Free Hospital. The Royal Free was not recognised as a school by the RCS since its anatomy and pathology museum was deemed ‘insufficiently equipped’.[5] Although the students transferred to Middlesex Hospital in 1854, Gant remained as Surgeon to the Royal Free and worked to improve its museum.[6]

Pathology Museum, Royal Free

Royal Free Hospital, London: the interior of the museum in the pathological block. Process print, 1913. (Wellcome Collection)

In the last year of the Crimean War (1853-6), Gant acted as Civil Surgeon in the military hospitals in the Crimea and at Scutari, and he received a medal with a clasp for Sebastopol. He returned to England in May 1856, after a severe illness.

His first book followed soon after. It was inspired by a casual visit to the Smithfield Club Cattle Show in 1857, where he was struck by the obesity of the animals on display. The Evil Results of Overfeeding Cattle: A New Inquiry (1858) demonstrated that the cattle’s tissue had undergone fatty degeneration, indicating that prizes were being given for bulk and weight of fat over the quality of the meat. Gant’s report attracted letters of thanks from leading exhibitors and breeders, including the Prince Consort and the Duke of Richmond.[7]

Throughout his career, Gant published widely. His work on the Principles of Surgery (1864) spawned two later editions. The 1871 version contained one of the earliest notices of antiseptic treatment found in any work on surgery. The BMJ suggested it was the earliest, though this claim was queried by the Lancet.[8] This material was written from monographs sent by Professor Lister at Gant’s request. Gant also produced Diseases of the Bladder, Prostate Gland, and Urethra (1876); The Student’s Surgery (1890); and a Guide to the Examinations by the Conjoint Board in England and for the Diploma of the FRCSEng (1874), which reached seven editions by 1889. The BMJ’s reviewer was sceptical about whether students should rely on such guides rather than proper tuition, but acknowledged the ‘large demand’ for the book.[9]

Gant was also a frequent contributor and correspondent to the medical press, offering clinical lectures and letters on issues such as affairs of the RCS Council.[10] At one point, he wrote in defence of his own ‘professional honour’ in reference to an intraprofessional dispute.[11] Gant was also active in professional societies. He was President of the Medical Society of London in 1880-1 and was for two years Vice-President of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society.

Gant’s professional life was rich and varied. Around 1877 he became medical attendant to two famous pedestrian-athletes; the Canadian E. Payson Weston and the Welsh William Gale, both of whom won fame for the huge distances they walked. Gant tended to both during their public performances.[12]

Gant also wrote a diverse range of non-medical works, and it was this literary activity (and its reception by the medical press) that piqued my interest. The novel Perfect Womanhood (1895) follows the struggles and romantic adventures of a young medical man, and like its sequel The Latest Fruit is the Ripest (1898) it was semi-autobiographical. The Lancet praised the former for its ‘genteel’ female characters, reassuring readers that they would encounter ‘no woman with “views”’.[13] Perfect Womanhood was reviewed alongside another work of fiction by a medical man – Arthur Conan Doyle’s semi-autobiographical novella, The Stark Munro Letters (1895). Gant’s later work, The Lord of Humanity, Or the Testimony of Human Consciousness (1899), was a ‘statement of personal religious convictions’ which was received positively by the BMJ.[14] Mock Nurses of the Latest Fashion (1900) was a collection of short stories which lampooned nurses. It was written during a period of suffering and Gant’s BMJ obituary opined that this might have ‘coloured the author’s perception’ and ‘led to his sweeping denunciation of the entire profession because of the few examples with which he was brought into contact’.[15]

Gant continued working as senior surgeon to the Royal Free Hospital until 1890 and during his final 12 years he was involved in training early cohorts of women doctors. From 1878, students at the London School of Medicine for Women joined clinical training at the Royal Free. By his own admission, Gant was not originally in favour of the movement for women’s medical education but he revised his position through his observations and experiences. When he spoke in support of medical women at the BMA’s meeting, he claimed to know ‘something not only of their intellectual qualifications, but of their social and moral character’. His desire to defend them across all fronts illustrates the obstacles they faced in gaining professional recognition. Gant said that he had initially thought they might ‘seek to enter the profession upon the easiest terms’ but he reflected with admiration that they had ‘taken the hardest road in nearly every instance’. He dismissed the fact they had not yet been admitted by the RCS, describing it as ‘a slow-going machine […] old and rickety’. Moreover, he concluded it was ‘a waste of time’ to discuss women’s admission since the BMA could not ‘exclude any body of legally-qualified practitioners’. He asserted that he spoke not only as the women’s former teacher but because it was ‘a matter of right and justice’.[16] It is interesting that a medical man whose literary treatment of women was rather conservative had acted as a passionate defender of women’s rights within the profession.

Gant’s somewhat saccharine romantic tendencies might be traced to his personal life. In 1859, he married Matilda Crawshaw, who later inspired the character Mabel Carlton in Perfect Womanhood. Mabel is the wife of a young practitioner and the romance plot borrows heavily from Gant and Crawshaw’s own courtship. They were married for 40 years before her death in 1899 and they had a son who died in infancy. Both the Lancet and the BMJ’s obituaries emphasised the couple’s devotion and the former added that Matilda’s death came as a ‘serious shock’ to Gant.[17]

During his final decade, Gant’s health deteriorated. His BMJ obituary was remarkably graphic about his illness, detailing that he underwent lithotrity, a surgical procedure breaking down large calculi, and that he required daily catheterisation for some years. By this point, Gant had retired from active medical work but he maintained his ‘literary pursuits’.[18] Several months before his death he released an Autobiography. The Lancet’s review commended the author on setting forth his private and public life in a ‘modest and graceful way’.[19]

Gant Obituary

Gant’s obituary in the Lancet (1905)

He died at the age of 80, from pneumonia, at his home in Connaught Square in June 1905. The funeral took place in Richmond, Surrey where he was buried with his wife. He had placed the following words on her tomb: ‘To the unspeakable distress of her husband, his age and bodily affliction debar him from ever visiting her grave, at a distance of ten miles from London’.[20] The way in which this was recalled by the medical press shows its interest in humanising an eminent medical man.

[1] ‘British Medical Association: Admission of Women’, BMJ, 27 August 1892, pp. 481-2 (p. 481).

[2] ‘Obituary: Frederick James Gant, FRCS Eng’, Lancet, 24 June 1905, p. 1758.

[3] ‘Obituary: Frederick James Gant, FRCS Eng’, BMJ, 24 June 1905, pp. 1410-11 (p. 1410).

[4] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410.

[5] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410.

[6] ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[7] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410.

[8] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1410. ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[9] ‘Notes on Books’, BMJ, 11 May 1889, pp. 1064-6 (p. 1065).

[10] ‘Correspondence: An Association of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons’, BMJ, 11 April 1868, p. 365. ‘Correspondence: The College Election’, Lancet, 20 June 1885, pp. 1146-7.

[11] ‘Correspondence: Medical Evidence at Coroners’ Inquests’, Lancet, 18 February 1865, pp. 188-9 (p. 188).

[12] ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[13] ‘Library Table’, Lancet, 26 October 1895, pp. 1048-9 (p. 1049).

[14] ‘Reviews and Notices of Books’, BMJ, 26 April 1890, pp. 963-4 (p. 963).

[15] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411.

[16] ‘British Medical Association: Admission of Women’, p. 481.

[17] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411. ‘Obituary’, Lancet, p. 1758.

[18] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411.

[19] ‘Library Table’, Lancet, 25 February 1905, pp. 506-7 (p. 506).

[20] ‘Obituary’, BMJ, p. 1411.

The Naturalist (1864-)

Naturalist

Title page of the Naturalist‘s first volume

The year 1864 was a busy one for the business of natural history periodical publishing. Not only did it see the inception of the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine and the revival of the Entomologist, both of which were London-based publications, but in the north of England another periodical was brought into being. The Naturalist, not to be confused with another periodical of the same title (published 1851-58), was a product of the thriving industrial town of Huddersfield. The northern counties, and Yorkshire in particular, were a hotbed of natural history in the nineteenth century, and was home to the first ‘Union’ of natural history societies: the ‘West-Riding Consolidated Naturalists’ Society’, later expanded and renamed simply the Yorkshire Naturalist Union. This organisation, founded in 1861, brought together the various local natural history societies based in towns and cities of the region, aiming to coordinate their efforts in advancing knowledge of the flora and fauna of their native county. Initially, this encompassed six societies over an area of around twenty miles, numbering around 200 members, but this steadily grew to encompass naturalists from across the north of England. The Naturalist, which went through several iterations under different editors and owners during its early years, was closely associated with the Union from the beginning, and continues to serve as their official publication.

Publication1

Coloured plate showing varieties of Magpie and Garden Tiger moths collected in Huddersfield by the Naturalist‘s editor

The opening address of the Naturalist cited the demise of the Weekly Entomologist (1861-63), and before that the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61), as a reason for beginning another periodical that offered a way for naturalists to exchange correspondence and specimens. The focus of the new publication was not limited to entomology, though insect collecting was purportedly among the most common pursuit among the Yorkshire Union’s members. The chief aim of the Naturalist, however, was to bring together the various clubs and societies, providing a forum through which they could communicate with one another and give some sense of cohesion to their individual efforts. The 1850s onwards saw a notable increase in such groups, and it was observed in the Naturalist that ‘there is scarcely a town in the kingdom, and in the North of England scarcely a village, in which some society, either “Botanical”, or “Entomological”, or “Naturalist” does not exist, whilst “Field Clubs” are continually exploring every portion of the country’. It was hoped a periodical would serve a dual purpose in binding these disparate groups together, but also to publicise their work to a wider public beyond the north of England.

Although the vast majority of these men and women were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, pursuing natural history in their spare time, the efforts of the Union became increasingly well-organised. Influential members sought to mobilise this large and diverse network of practitioners into a rigorously scientific ‘army’ of workers. Against the background of growing specialisation and professionalisation in the life sciences during the later nineteenth century, the Union became a key site in which the naturalist tradition continued to be influential, with regular excursions and surveys undertaken by its members. The Union, and the Naturalist, remain highly active today in recording wildlife and thereby providing valuable biodiversity data.

Yorkshire Union

Members of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union on an excursion in 1903

James Robert Wallace (?-1903)

My last blog post looked at the Indian Medical Record, a journal aimed at independent practitioners in British India. It was founded and edited by James Robert Wallace, a Calcutta-based doctor who campaigned vigorously for medical and social reform.

IMR cover

The IMR‘s cover proudly proclaims Wallace’s editorship.

Little is known of Wallace’s early life and training, though his post-nominal letters reveal that he gained an MD from Brussels and that he was a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Society of Apothecaries in London.

It was not until the 1890s – when he launched the Record – that his name began to feature regularly in the medical press. He became known not only for his editorship of the journal but for his involvement in a series of energetic and high-profile campaigns.

Wallace lobbied for a system of medical registration to be introduced in India. In the absence of an official register (as in Britain), he produced The Medical Register and Directory of the Indian Empire from 1892. This ambitious compendium aimed to ‘clear the way for systematic regulation of medical practice in India’. By providing a list of regular or orthodox practitioners, it hoped to afford ‘the scattered members of the profession […] definite knowledge of one another’s existence’.[1] Reviewing the work, the BMJ wrote that it was ‘on the whole very creditable to [the author’s] enterprise and industry’.[2] Wallace brought his proposal for a system of registration to the attention of professional networks in England, including the General Medical Council and the Royal College of Physicians.[3] Though his efforts were usually well-received, medical registration was not introduced into India until 1912, almost a decade after his death.[4]

Wallace also agitated for an Indian Medical Association (IMA), which was established in 1895 along similar lines to the British Medical Association. At its first Annual General Meeting, the IMA stated that it was intended for ‘every section of our profession recognised as “qualified”’,[5] a term designed to compensate for the lack of an official Medical Register. Wallace later became the IMA’s Secretary and the Record became the Association’s mouthpiece.

In both medical and social affairs, Wallace campaigned for the rights of Anglo-Indians. This term typically referred to those of British descent born and raised or long-domiciled in India, and sometimes to those of mixed racial heritage. In 1897, Wallace visited England to agitate for greater rights for this community on behalf of the Anglo-Indian Associations. He spoke to MPs and members of Government at the India Office and War Office. In particular, he highlighted the way in which Anglo-Indians were excluded from imperial appointments and called for them to be treated as British. (Issues that were also covered in the Record.) After a six-month campaigning stint, Wallace’s return was celebrated with a gathering of the local European and Anglo-Indian community at the Bombay Town Hall.[6] The BMJ commended Wallace’s ‘laudable ambition’ and ‘attitude of energy and self-help’.[7] As explored in my previous post, however, while Wallace called for greater recognition for Anglo-Indians and Eurasians, his attitude towards ‘natives’ was vexed and deeply problematic.

Alongside his campaigns, Wallace also pursued his medical practice and recorded his clinical observations. These were often printed in the Record and also circulated via British medical journals.[8]

News of Wallace’s difficult personal life also appeared in the medical press. In 1893, the BMJ reported that his wife had given birth to a son,[9] while in 1896 and 1899, the Lancet noted the births of his daughters.[10] However, less than two months after this second announcement, tragedy had struck. The BMJ reported that Wallace’s ‘much-loved daughters’ – Ruth Elizabeth (aged 9) and Phoebe (aged 3) – had been killed by a landslip during ‘the disastrous cyclone and floods’ in Darjeeling, Bengal.[11] In all these instances, the news was reported in the journals’ ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’ columns, which charged a fee for inserting items. One wonders whether it was Wallace himself who sought to share both his personal joys and sorrows with his professional peers in Britain.

Births, Marriages and Deaths

The Lancet reports the deaths of Wallace’s daughters.

It is possible to reconstruct aspects of Wallace’s professional and personal life through a patchwork of sources across the medical press. He seems to have been a tireless and zealous campaigner, much like Thomas Wakeley, editor of the Lancet. Similarly, Wallace’s passionate and sometimes vituperative tone attracted criticism. In 1891, the Lancet printed a letter from Wallace on debates about how best to monitor a patient’s progress under anaesthesia (Wallace favoured checking respiration over the pulse). An editorial note inserted afterwards suggested that a certain portion of Wallace’s letter had been ‘omitted’ since it was ‘couched in language more vigorous than polite’.[12]

Wallace’s close involvement in medical journalism and professional societies, and his active campaigns for medical and social reform show his interest in building networks and promoting opportunities for his fellow Anglo-Indians. When Wallace died in 1903, a large group gathered under the auspices of the Imperial Anglo-Indian Association to celebrate his humble beginnings, his ‘untiring zeal and energy’, and his ‘constant and abiding interest in the welfare of the domiciled Anglo-Indian community’.[13]

[1] ‘Reviews and Notices of Books: Our Library Table’, Lancet, 19 March 1892, p. 64.

[2] ‘Reviews: The Medical Register and Directory of the Indian Empire’, BMJ, 18 February 1899, p. 415.

[3] ‘Royal College of Physicians of London’, Lancet, 6 November 1897, pp. 1212-13 (p. 1212).

[4] It was instituted first in Bengal before being extended to other Presidencies in 1914.

[5] ‘The First Annual General Meeting of the Indian Medical Association’, IMR, 16 January 1895, pp. 52-4 (p. 52).

[6] ‘Medical News: The Anglo-Indian Associations’, Lancet, 6 November 1897, p. 1226.

[7] ‘The Anglo-Indian’, BMJ, 5 March 1898, p. 645.

[8] See, for example, ‘Retention of an Almost Full-Term Placenta for Two Months’, Lancet, 4 July 1891, p. 30.

[9] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, BMJ, 28 October 1893, p. 978.

[10] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, Lancet, 1 August 1896, p. 357 and 23 September 1899, p. 868.

[11] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, Lancet, 21 October 1899, p. 1140.

[12] James R. Wallace, ‘Correspondence: The Use of Chloroform’, Lancet, 13 June 1891, p. 1139.

[13] ‘The Late Dr. James Robert Wallace, M.D., F.R.C.S.’, IMR, 4 November 1903, pp. 1144-6.

The Entomologist (1840-42, 1864-1973)

The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine was not the only periodical launched in 1864 that catered exclusively to those who collected and studied insects. Unbeknownst to Henry Tibbats Stainton, Thomas Blackburn, and their fellow editors of the Monthly Magazine, others were plotting to fill the gap in the market left by the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61). In fact, it was someone very well known to them who would beat them to it, when Edward Newman (1801-1876) commenced the Entomologist in May, a whole month before his unwitting rivals. Newman, the head of a printing company that specialised in natural history publications, was proprietor and editor of the Zoologist (1843-1916). As a friend of Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-1893), Newman had also printed the Intelligencer, although their relationship had since become less close. According to Newman, many saw him as the man to remedy the lack of an entomological periodical, as he claimed that ‘between the demise of the Intelligencer and the birth of the short-lived Weekly Entomologist I had no less than ninety-seven pressing solicitations to commence an entomological periodical’.

entomologist 2

Title page of the Entomologist‘s second volume

The Entomologist of 1864 was not a new periodical, but a revival of the same journal Newman had originally published from 1840 to 1842. At the end of this first volume, he decided to merge the Entomologist with the Zoologist, a decision that was likely to have been at least partly informed by financial considerations, as unlike his friend Stainton, Newman had no independent wealth with which to fund his periodicals. A specialised magazine such as the Entomologist was not a commercially viable option in the 1840s, while the Zoologist appealed to a wider readership and thereby turned a profit. However, by the 1860s, and in the wake of the Intelligencer‘s success, it seems there was a much more considerable demand for an exclusively entomological periodical. The second volume of the Entomologist therefore commenced in 1864, over twenty years after the end of the first, with this hiatus possibly being the longest lapse of time between consecutively numbered volumes in periodical history.

In terms of contents, the Entomologist was a mix of the shorter notices and observations common to almost all natural history periodicals of the period. Following in the populist spirit of all Newman’s publications, it admitted a wide variety of contributors and was far less exclusive than the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine. A noteworthy contributor to the magazine during 1877 was Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828-1901), who published a series of articles on the subject of injurious insects including the turnip weevil and the Colorado beetle. That same year, Ormerod issued the first of her Notes for Observations of Injurious Insects, a questionnaire through which she collated information regarding species that posed a threat to crops, and would go on to be appointed as consulting entomologist to the Royal Agricultural Society in 1882. As the name of the Colorado beetle suggests, it originated in the United States, where it had become a major pest to potatoes. In 1877, reports of its arrival in Europe – aided by unwitting human transportation – raised considerable alarm. As Ormerod noted, beetles had been found in Liverpool, presumably brought by the ships coming to dock there. She gave a brief account of their lifecycle and appearance, and warned ‘at present we have only to do with stragglers; it is of the greatest importance to spread knowledge of their appearance over the country as rapidly as possible, that none of these may escape’.

colorado beetle

Eleanor Ormerod’s article on the Colorado Beetle, given prime position at the start of the issue for September 1877

At Edward Newman’s death in 1876, the Entomologist remained under the ownership of his son, Thomas Prichard Newman. The editorship was given over to John Thomas Carrington (1846-1908), a naturalist and journalist who would later purchase the popular natural history periodical Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip. In 1890, the Entomologist was acquired by the wealthy lepidoperist John Henry Leech (1862-1900). Although Leech did not travel himself, he had amassed a vast number of butterflies from China, Japan, and Korea through the efforts of collectors working on his behalf. Leech intended to use the Entomologist as a medium through which to publish the research upon these specimens, and accordingly appointed the curator of his collection, Richard South (1846-1932), as editor of the periodical. Subsequently, under various different editors and owners, the Entomologist would be published continuously until 1973.

Newman grave

A small woodcut memorialising Edward Newman in the Entomologist following his death in 1876

 

 

 

Indian Medical Record (1890-1903; revived thereafter)

My last blog post profiled the Indian Medical Gazette, a long-running journal affiliated with the Indian Medical Service (IMS). This week I’m looking at one of its major rivals, the Indian Medical Record, which proudly proclaimed its independence from the imperial administration.

IMR cover

The cover of the first volume of the Record (1890).

Like the Gazette, the Record was produced in Calcutta and replicated the format of successful journals such as the Lancet and British Medical Journal. It contained a similar mix of editorials, clinical observations, news items, and correspondence. It began as a monthly, later moving to fortnightly and then weekly publication. While the Gazette had a direct succession of editors, the Record was initially the brainchild of its founder and editor, James R. Wallace, a medical practitioner whom I’ll explore in a future blog post.

Upon its launch, the Record acknowledged the challenges of the periodical marketplace in British India. Its opening editorial noted that many medical journals ‘have come into existence, have served a useful purpose, and become extinct’. It identified the Gazette as one title which had ‘braved the storm’, before claiming that it intended to fulfil a different role.[1]

Wallace suggested that there was an opening in the market for his new journal since, ‘[w]hether rightly or wrongly, [the Gazette] is viewed by the large and ever-increasing body of independent physicians as an officially subsidised organ, almost exclusively devoted to the sectarian interests of the official classes’. While crediting the Gazette as an ‘able expositor of medical truths’, Wallace argued that the ‘conception of its official character’ had ‘hedg[ed] and handicapp[ed] its popular acceptance and its extended influence for the good of the profession and the public’.[2] The Record suggested that the Gazette’s reputation as the organ of the IMS had curtailed its impact.

First page

The first issue of the Record announces its objectives.

Wallace questioned the Gazette’s ability to represent the whole profession and fashioned the Record as an alternative, one aimed at ‘independent’ or ‘private’ practitioners, ‘the general body of practising physicians’.[3] In British India, terms such as ‘non-official’ or ‘independent’ were used to distinguish those who were not employed by the IMS or Army Medical Corps. The Record called for greater recognition for these private practitioners. Like other commentators, it alleged that the IMS’s monopoly on civil appointments restricted opportunities for independent medical men. Wallace also agitated for the establishment of an Indian Medical Association, and after its inception in 1895, the Record came to be regarded as its official publication.

Over the 1890s, the Record’s attacks on the Gazette became increasingly incendiary and politicised. An article entitled ‘A Bid for Popularity’ (1893) claimed that the rival journal was in receipt of the ‘misapplied support of a subsidising Government’. Wallace called for ‘honest and manly competition’ in the periodical marketplace.[4] He suggested that he had made enquiries to the Government and Provincial Government to determine the level of support the Gazette received, but that he was met with evasions.[5] He presented his attempts to expose the subsidy as a professional and public duty. This hostility towards the Gazette stemmed partly from resentment towards the comparatively high status enjoyed by IMS practitioners and partly from fears about the supposedly stagnant condition of periodical culture in India.

Wallace suggested that the Government’s support for the Gazette resulted in ‘crooked policies’ which helped perpetuate ‘monopolies that crush out every effort at honest, independent enterprise’. He denied that state support was needed to sustain medical journalism in India. He insisted that, through his own ‘private proprietary’, he had ‘placed within the reach of the local profession, a cheap and thoroughly approved fortnightly medical journal, serving all and more than the purposes of [the Gazette]’.[6] Wallace championed a free market, suggesting that the profession should be able to support its own active, independent, and commercially viable medical press.

Despite these attacks on its rival, the Record generally called for greater cooperation between medical practitioners in India. It claimed that its aim was to ‘establish a feeling of brotherhood, such as has been never known to exist in India’.[7] Its cover page shows that the editorial team comprised a range of practitioners, including those with ‘official’ titles. Further, its list of contributors indicates that it attracted a mixed readership. It received contributions not only from independent practitioners, but also those in the IMS, the Civil Medical Service, the Army Medical Corps, and the Subordinate Medical Service (SMS), which was comprised of native medical men. The Record explicitly called for contributions from men and women, and those of Indian descent.[8]

The journal even established different subscription rates to attract a diverse readership. Initially, the annual subscription cost was halved for medical missionaries, assistant surgeons, and army apothecaries. In 1895, the fee for army medical officers, civil and non-official surgeons and physicians was 18 rupees, medical missionaries and assistant surgeons paid half this price, and hospital assistants just six rupees.[9] Nevertheless, the Record apparently struggled to attract subscribers from among the SMS. In 1900, it warned that the current subscription list could not cover the cost of publication. It accused Military Assistant Surgeons of distributing the journal among themselves rather than subscribing individually. The Record suggested that this was neither ‘fair’ nor ‘patriotic’, and it called on readers who had been ‘remiss in their duty’ to turn over ‘a new leaf’.[10] This tactic exploited native readers’ anxieties, suggesting that they had erred in their patriotic duty and neglected professional etiquette.

Like the Gazette, the Record demonstrated conflicting attitudes towards race and its native readership. It often deployed crude and unashamed imperialist rhetoric and stereotypes. In 1890, it remarked that ‘[t]he turbulent, suspicious, caste-ridden Hindu or Mahommedan is now the able and willing colleague […] of the western surgeon whose predecessors taught him the science and art of western medicine’.[11] The Record celebrated the contributions of native medical men while querying how far they should participate in colonial practice. An 1896 article argued that European patients should have access to European medical attendance. It described how British troops had long been ‘doctored entirely by men of their own race’ for ‘socio-political reasons’ and claimed that non-military personnel should be entitled to similar treatment: ‘European officials naturally expect medical attendance from members of their own race’.[12]

At the same time, the Record accused the imperial administration of racism. In an article on ‘The Anglo-Indian Problem’, Wallace indicted the inaccessibility of the upper echelons of colonial medicine as ‘the progeny of official prejudice’.[13] He suggested that Anglo-Indian and Eurasian men (i.e. those born to British parents who were domiciled in India or those who were mixed-race) were disadvantaged since many were unable to travel to London for the qualifying exams. A 1901 editorial claimed that ‘in no branch of the public service in India’ – for which ‘long and laborious study and practical training’ were required – were ‘the children of the soil […] worse treated than in the medical’. It alleged that the IMS contained ‘a good proportion of men who are distinctly below the average’.[14] Wallace implied that many medical men who practised independently did so because they did not have the means to join the IMS.

The Record provides a fascinating insight into colonial medical rivalries and the interaction between professional and ethnic identities in late nineteenth-century India. Yet it has received little attention from scholars, who typically concentrate on the Gazette. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Record is less widely available (with incomplete runs in the British Library, Wellcome Library and the Royal College of Surgeons). It was also comparatively short-lived, initially folding with the death of Wallace in 1903. The Wellcome’s bound volume for that year contains a note which announces that Wallace’s executors had found it ‘necessary’ to cease publication of the Record. Yet the journal was periodically revived thereafter. Indeed, editions appeared later that year – while earlier issues bore Wallace’s name, these later versions referred only to an anonymous ‘Editor’.

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A note in the Wellcome Library’s bound volume for 1903 announces the cessation of the Record.

In 1930 the BMJ celebrated the Record reaching its ‘Jubilee’ issue, which was published under the auspices of the then-editor, S.K. Mukherji. The BMJ acknowledged the journal’s ‘chequered history’ over the previous 50 years, while commending its past campaigns against epidemic disease.[15] Significantly, a journal which began primarily as a one-man project had been resurrected, thus giving a new generation of medical writers and readers a voice. This versatility was arguably key to its survival in a struggling periodical marketplace.

[1] ‘Ourselves’, IMR, 1 January 1890, pp. 1-2 (p.1).

[2] ‘Ourselves’, p. 1.

[3] ‘Ourselves’, p. 1.

[4] ‘A Bid for Popularity’, IMR, 16 October 1893, p. 261.

[5] ‘Government Support to Indian Medical Journals’, IMR, 1 November 1893, pp. 284-7 (p. 287).

[6] ‘Government Support to Indian Medical Journals’, p. 284.

[7] ‘Ourselves’, pp. 1-2.

[8] ‘Clinical Reports in India’, IMR, 16 October 1897, p. 292.

[9] ‘Business Notices’, IMR, 1 January 1895, p. li.

[10]  ‘Comments and News: The “Indian Medical Record” is Ten Years Old’, IMR, 3 January 1900, p. 18.

[11] ‘The Indian Medical Service’, IMR, 1 February 1890, pp. 11-12.

[12] ‘European Interests in the Medical Reform Question in India’, IMR, 16 January 1896, pp. 44-5.

[13] James R. Wallace, ‘Correspondence: The Anglo-Indian Problem’, IMR, 13 June 1900, pp. 585-6 (p. 585).

[14] ‘Comments and News: Indians and the IMS’, IMR, 12 June 1901, pp. 638-9.

[15] ‘India: Jubilee of the “Indian Medical Record”’, BMJ, 26 July 1930, pp. 158-9.

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.

 

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.

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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.

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’.

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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]

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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.