Treasure 48: Erasmus Darwin’s prescription notebooks

These notebooks are a series of medical practice records, covering the 1740s to 1780s.  Each entry deals with an individual patient, recording symptoms and treatment. It’s clear that there is more than one style of handwriting in the books, but we believe the later entries to be the work of Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) who moved to Derby in 1783.

They are nominated by our Assistant Conservator, Clare, who repaired them over the course of a year – all 1316 pages!  Clare says: “It was an extremely satisfying project to do even if there were occasions when I was still repairing them in my sleep…”

Here’s what was prescribed for Thomas Bamford of Ticknall, who was suffering from cramps:

d2375-thomas-bamford

Two drachms of Gammoniacum To ss. pint of penny royal water.  Two spoonfulls occasionally repeated.  January the 15th.  When the pains return to loose some blood, and then take at one dose a Quarter of a Pint of common Sallad oil, after an hour or two if the pain continues.  Take one Pill, and repeat it every hour till the pain ceases or till he has taken four.

At the intervals of his pain he should take one of the 2nd Box Pills every nights.

Small beer posset drink made by mixing equal parts of beer and milk warm, then taking off the Curd and 15 Drops of Laudanum in it every night.  Jan[uary] 27th Six powders Rhubarb 15 grs. Ginger.  19. Infusion. z ii Marshmallow root boild to one

Treasure 41: “Several Surgical Treatises” by Richard Wiseman (d.1676)

This treasure dates from 1676, the year of its author’s death. You might imagine that a book on early modern surgery would be a bit gruesome.  You would be right.

It is nominated by Local Studies Librarian, Sue Peach:
“Gaze in fascinated horror at an account of medicine before the era of antibiotics and anaesthetics. No known local connection, but it gives us a glimpse of how Derbyshire folk would have been bled, purged and clystered in the seventeenth century”.

Read more about Richard Wiseman and his work on the History of Surgery website.  His entry on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is also very good. Find out how to access the ODNB with your Derbyshire Library card on our website.

Adverts for medicines

This post is from Abi, who has been here all this week on a work experience placement.  Thanks Abi!

As part of my history GCSE course is studying Medicine Through Time, on my work experience it was interesting to have a look through old newspapers to see the type of treatments that were used in the past couple of hundred years. It was amazing to see how the types of treatments people used varied over this period of time; A supposed cure for blindness was definitely an interesting one to find.

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