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The Obstetric Society of 1825.

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Political Science


Medical History, 1998, 42: 235-245 The Obstetric Society of 1825 DAVID INNES WILLIAMS* In November 1825, the exact date is not recorded, a group of gentlemen met in the Savile Row house of an ambitious young man of Anglo-Italian extraction, Augustus Bozzi Granville, and resolved to form an Obstetric Society to procure, by legislation, the regulation of the obstetric profession, both male and female.1 Man-midwifery was by then an important element of the stock-in-trade of the surgeon-apothecaries as they became the general practitioners of modem times, but the gentlemen of the Society were those who devoted the greater part of their practice to obstetrics. They delivered the wealthy, staffed the lying-in hospitals and taught the medical students. They were manifestly a specialist group although, as will appear, they were reluctant to assume that distinction. Since man- midwife was hardly a prestigious title, and obstetrician a term not yet devised, they styled themselves physicians accoucheur or surgeons accoucheur to emphasize their continued participation in the two main streams of the medical profession. Invitations were sent out to those who might be interested. A President of the Society, Dr Charles Mansfield Clarke, a Vice-President, Dr Samuel Merriman, and a Secretary, Mr John Ramsbotham, were appointed. Rules were laid down for three classes of membership. There were to be resident members, physicians and surgeons practising midwifery in London; non-residents, those from the provinces with similar interests; and honorary members who, although expected to be "effective and contributory", were not, and perhaps never had been, in obstetric practice. Initial proposals were ambitious. There were to be a house, a library, a museum, monthly meetings for discussion, and a gazette. The President described these ideas as too vast, and the majority decided to confine the objectives to "the political or state part of the question."2 Between 1826 and 1830 the Society created some stir by its appeals

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