Series: Pioneers of Homeopathy in Britain 1:

First up is the man who brought homeopathy to this country, Frederick Foster Hervey Quin. Doctor, maverick, gentleman, raconteur, homeopath and great wit, Quin is one of Britain’s forgotten heroes.

vanity_fairBritain’s first homeopathic doctor

  • Frederick Foster Hervey Quin is born in 1799. He is thought at one time to be the illegitimate son of the Duchess of Devonshire but this rumour is never substantiated.
  • Quin studies medicine in Edinburgh, graduates in 1820 and is appointed as Napoleon’s doctor in St Helena. The once emperor of France dies before meeting Quin.
  • In 1810 Samuel Hahnemann publishes the first edition of The Organon the central text of homeopathic medicine. Homeopathy is born and spreads quickly over Europe and across the Atlantic.
  • Quin learns of homeopathy while in Belgium and is practising as an homeopath in 1827 making him Britain’s first homeopathic doctor. He subsequently meets Hahnemann in Germany and studies with him.
  • In London, Quin becomes both famous and notorious as a great raconteur, socialite and homeopathic doctor. He establishes a foothold for homeopathy in England that has remained to the present day.
  • When Quin is proposed as a member of the prestigious Athenaeum Club in London, a member of the club, a certain Dr. Paris, who is also president of the Royal College of Surgeons refers to Quin as ‘a quack and an adventurer.’ Quin famously challenges him either to send a written apology or to a duel with pistols at 50 paces. Dr. Paris apologises.
  • Dr. Quin goes on to found both the British Homeopathic Society (1844) and the London Homeopathic Hospital (1850) which later becomes the present Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.
  • In 1854 a cholera outbreak in Soho leads to many deaths but the mortality rate at the London Homeopathic Hospital (established by Quin) is only 16% whereas the nearby Middlesex Hospital has a death rate of 53%.
  • Dr Quin, a friend of the Prince of Wales, goes on to establishes a link with the Royal Family and the appointment of Royal Homeopathic Physician which has been maintained ever since and has helped maintain a continuity of credibility for homeopathic medicine in Britain.
  • Although Quin does not write any books he remains the most important friend homeopathy has ever had in the United Kingdom.
  • Quin continues to win both friends and enemies. In 1872 Vanity Fair, one of the most popular magazines of the day, publishes a cover with a gross caricature of Dr Quin. The picture is sarcastically titled “Homeopathic Society”.
  • Quin dies in 1878 and England loses a great physician and gentleman.

“In all his sallies of wit he was never known to say anything of, or to any one, which bore a sting, neither did his intimacy with the highest personages in the country, as is the case of men of smaller minds, ever lead him to give up his professional and other friends. He was always ready to dine with an old friend as with royalty, and his ear was ever open to any request for advice or help in difficulty, from whatever quarter it came”

(from Bradfords Pioneers of Homeopathy as quoted by Julian Winston in The Faces of Homeopathy, Great Auk Publ. 1999)