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:
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