Sue Young Histories

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin 1799 - 1879

July 11, 2008

**Frederick Hervey Foster Quin **(MD Edin 1820) 1799 -1879 was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become one of the very first homeopaths in Britain, and in 1844 he established the British Homeopathic Society with ten colleagues, which included Paul Francois Curie (grandfather of the scientist Pierre Curie), William Leaf, a rich London Silk Merchant, and Thomas Roupell Everest, the younger brother of Sir George Everest. These few had all been close confidants of Samuel Hahnemann during the last ten or so years of his life, and Quin practiced homeopathy in Paris between 1831 and 1832. Quin established the London Homeopathic Hospital,


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In this 2nd centenary year of  Charles Dickens, it is shameful that his biographer Claire Tomalin did not have the courage to even mention Frederick Hervey Foster Quin even once (!) in her much lauded biography - can you imagine if she had left out any black characters or the ‘slavey’ he ‘obtained’ from the workhouse to live an awful existence downstairs doing all the dirty kitchen work and what else?? Such is the prejudice against homeopathy today! Shameful!! (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011).

Quin dined with Queen Victoria (unfortunately ebay does not provide a date for this dinner invitation ?possibly 1870s? ): ’_… The father of British homeopathic medicine accepts an invitation to dine with Queen Victoria. Autograph Letter signed: “F. H. F. Quin”, 4 pages (integral leaf), 4x6. Molgsare Mansion, n.d. (“Friday”. To “Dear Miss Taylor”, in full: “I shall be charmed to have the honor of dining at St James Palace tomorrow Saturday and present my dutiful respects to Her Royal Highness, and have the honor of meeting the Duke ‘en partie guarée’. Many many thanks for your kind & thoughtful hints about there being no stairs to mount. This horrid cold weather has crippled me in the ‘bud’, don’t laugh, I allude to the ‘bud’ of my second childhood which is hastening on, only my brain instead hardening with the ice as I fear softening. I am nevertheless yours very faithfully”. Frederick Hervey Foster Quin (1799-1879) was the foremost British advocate of homeopathic medicine. After study and travel on the Continent and service as personal physician to Prince Leopold, future King of Belgium and uncle of Queen Victoria, Quin set up practice in London in 1828. He founded the British Homeopathic Society (1844) and the London Homeopathic Hospital. The well connected Quin was a frequent guest at elite social gatherings like this one, using his charm to raise funds for his hospital and other projects and to popularize his alternative medical system. Then, as now, homeopathic medicine was controversial, and the dinner invitation at the palace must have been quite interesting if Queen Victoria’s personal physician, Sir John Forbes, was also present. Forbes, reflecting the view of the medical establishment, deemed homeopathy “an outrage to human reason.” Lightly toned and creased. Multiple mailing folds. Minor ink smears throughout letter (legible). Otherwise, fine condition…’ _

Actually_ John Forbes (1787-1861) attacked and defended homeopathy, but he did remain unbiased and even handed, and so he remains a shining light in medical journalism and a rare creature indeed. John Forbes said _‘… It is utterly impossible to disregard the claims of homeopathy as an established form of practical medicine, as a great fact in the history of our art; we cannot ignore it…‘ ‘… for not only do we see all our ordinary diseases cured homeopathically, but even all the severer and more dangerous diseases  which demand by the common method prompt and strong measures to prevent a fatal issue…’ (_Homeopathic Record Volume 1. 1855. _London Tweedie 337 Strand, Northampton J Parton Berry Corn Exchange Parade 1856. Page 89 onwards).

William Charles Ellis applied to Frederick Hervey Foster Quin for more information about homeopathy, and as a result, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin sent him his colleagues Guiseppe Belluomini, Harris F Dunsford, and Paul Francois Curie to assist him at Hanwell Lunatic Asylum (at William Charles Ellis’s invitation). (note Charles Augustus Tulk 1786 - 1849, a close colleague of  James John Garth Wilkinson, was Chairman of the Hanwell Asylum in the 1840s ref: The Swedenborg Society: a very short history by Richard Lines Company Secretary and past President of the Swedenborg Society.)

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was a medical student under Andrew Duncan 1744 - 1877, famous for his work with the mentally ill, and for his extraction of cinchona from Peruvian Bark,

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin a student of Samuel Hahnemann and Georg von Necker, and he was the homeopathic physician of Queen Dowager AdelaideKeppel Richard Craven, Charles DickensWilliam Drummond, the Duchess of Devonshire, Alfred Duke of Edinburgh, Arthur Algernon Capell 6th Earl of Essex, Albany William Fonblanque, John Forster, Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland Leveson Gower, Edwin Henry Landseer, Leopold I Belgium, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Count d’Orsay, William Charles MacReady, Gilbert Elliot Murray Kynynmound 2nd Earl of Minto, George Granville William Sutherland Leveson Gower 3rd Duke of Sutherland, William Makepeace Thackeray, Lucia Elizabeth Vestris, Edward Charles Warde,

There were also many Campbells who consulted Frederick Hervey Foster Quin.

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was himself a patient and a personal friend of William Fergusson 1st Baronet.

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was a friend of the Marquis of Anglesea, the Duke of BeaufortGeorge Boole, Francis Burdett, Abbe Campbell, Baroness E C de Calabrella, the Chalons, Charles William Bury 2nd Earl of Charleville, Mary Deerhurst Lady Coventry, Charles Dickens, Archbishop of Dublin, Edward VII, Frederick Faulkner, William Tilbury Fox, Robert William Gardiner, William Gell, Augustus Bozzi Granville, George Gulliver, Mary Augusta Fox Holland, Theodore Edward Hook, Charles Powell Leslie, Robert Liston, Charles Locock 1st Baronet, Charles James Mathews, James More Molyneux, Henry Robinson Montagu, Augustus Henry Moreton, Moritz Wilhelm Mueller, Henry William Paget, John Ponsonby 1st Viscount Ponsonby, Joseph Severn, Thomas Uwins, Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington, David Wilkie, John Yate Lee and many others.

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was a colleague of Victor Arnaud, George Atkin, James Smith Ayerst, William Bayes, Hugh Cameron, Francois Cartier, John Chapman, Edward Charles Chepmell, Paul Francois Curie, A J Davet, Antoine Hippolyte Desterne, William Vallancy Drury, John James Drysdale, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, George Napoleon Epps, Thomas Roupell Everest, James Goodshaw, Arthur Guinness, Edward Hamilton, Frantz Hartmann, Amos Henriques, Richard Walter Heurtley, George James Hilbers, George Calvert Holland, Richard Hughes, F W Irvine, Henry Kelsall, C. B. Kerr, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, William Leaf, James Loftus Marsden, Victor Massol, J Bell Metcalfe, Thomas Morecroft, George Newman, Samuel Thomas Partridge, Antoine Henri Petroz, Alfred Crosby Pope, Joseph Hyppolyte Pulte, John Hodgson Ramsbotham, Henry Reynolds, John Rutherford Russell, Marmaduke Blake Sampson, Leon Francois Adolphe Simon, Jean Paul Tessier Senior, Daniel Spillan, Charles Caulfield Tuckey, Joshua Lambert Vardy, Arthur de Noe Walker, Charles Wenicke, Dionysious and Severin Wielobycki, Phillip Mann Wilmot, David Wilson, George Wyld, Stephen Yeldham and many others.

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin’s parentage is unknown. Quin was a schoolboy in Putney, attending a school kept by the son of Sarah Trimmer. He graduated as a medical doctor in 1820.

Quin was appointed physician to Napoleon I, who died before Quin could take up that position (as Napoleon died in 1821, this request came to Quin before he discovered homeopathy).

In 1823 Quin had an offer from Lord Byron to accompany him to Greece as his physician, but his health was too delicate to accept.

Joseph Severn was a ’mutual friend’ of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin and Thomas Uwins. Joseph Severn painted the famous portrait of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, Richard Westmacott and William Etty playing cards in Naples in 1823.

Quin became the personal physician to the Duchess of Devonshire, attending her in her final illness in 1824.

In 1824, Quin was brutally assaulted by a coachman and nearly lost his life. He travelled to England later in 1824 where he met Robert Grosvenor, Richard Acton and Thomas Uwins.

Back in Naples in 1825, Quin was a close friend of William Hamilton, William Gell, William Drummond, the Countess of Blessington and Thomas Uwins. At this time, he became aware of homeopath Georg von Necker, and he travelled to Leipsig to visit him, where he met Chevalier Lichtenfelz who was also a homeopath. In Berlin, he met several homeopaths, and he resolved to visit Samuel Hahnemann at Coethen.

On the way to Coethen, Quin became very ill and was treated successfully with homeopathy, and he reported to his friend Thomas Uwins that his cure did not involve ‘any blood letting, no purges, no sudorifics and no blisters’, and he recovered after three days having taken ’only five small powders‘. Quinn was a lifelong asthmatic, which was eased by homeopathic treatment.

In 1826, he met with John Ernst Stapf and Samuel Hahnemann, and in 1827 he became physician to Leopold I Belgium and returned to England. Some sources report that Quin was Leopold’s physician as early as 1824, when he came across homeopathy when one of the prince’s household was so ill, he gave up on him, only to see him subsquently cured by homeopathy.

In 1831, Quin travelled to Germany to treat a cholera epidemic, and despite catching it himself, he worked through the epidemic until it ceased, to be warmly praised by the local Mayor. Quin successfully cured himself of Cholera on Samuel Hahnemann’s advice…

His reputation greatly enhanced, Quin published a paper on cholera, and his friends pursuade him to return to London, which he does in 1832. settling at 19 King Street St James‘s. His practice flourished, which caused uproar in the Royal College of Surgeons. Quin calmly ignored them and continued his work.

As a young man, Quin was a very popular socialite and wit on the fashionable London circuit, a great friend of Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens referred to him as ’My Dear Homo’), … amongst many others, and no society party, or social gathering, it was said, was complete without him.

By nature of a very pleasing disposition, he was a man of great personal charm. He was also latterly one of the regular dining partners of Edward VII.

The fact that many of the German relatives of the British Royal family were also devoted patrons of homeopathy, including Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV, also assisted its rapid social acceptance in Britain.

Rich patrons of homeopathy, for example the first Marquis of Anglesea, Henry William Paget, companion at Waterloo of Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington, not only formed its client base, but also funded and numerically dominated the committees which ran the many homeopathic hospitals and dispensaries of the last century.

During this time, Quin met the Duke of Beaufort and the Marquis of Anglesea, and in 1833, he moved to 13 Stratford Place, where he worked industriously, writing, consulting and keeping up a constant correspondance with his friends and his homeopathic colleagues abroad, including Moritz Wilhelm Mueller.

Quin’s reputation continued to grow and he met, treated and taught a great many people, often being consulted by other doctors who were eager to learn about the new art of homeopathy, and many other influential people including Charles Mansfield Clarke 1st Baronet, James Clark, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Edwin Henry Landseer, Richard Robert Madden, Thomas Moore, William Charles MacReady, Charles James Mathews, John Forster, William Charles Ellis, Samuel Lover, Albany William Fonblanque and many others.

Quin now also had homeopathic collegues to assist him, including Guiseppe Belluomini, Harris F Dunsford, Paul Francois Curie and Hugh Cameron,

In 1836 Maria Malibran, a  patient of Quin’s friend Guiseppe Belluomini, died causing a storm of criticism against homeopathy. This polarised people nicely and as usual, homeopathy emerged from these attacks all the stronger.

Opposition to homeopathy was marked from the moment of Quin’s arrival. The Royal College of Physicians had the ancient power to control all medical practice within seven miles of the City of London, although it had not exercised this right for a century. It called upon Quin, an Edinburgh graduate, to take the college examination. He ignored the summons and eventually the College lost its nerve and desisted. But he was not forgotten…

In response to urging from his European colleagues and as a result of the vitriolic attacks on homeopath, Quin and his friends and colleagues began to plan The British Homeopathic Society, bringing together Quin, Guiseppe Belluomini, Harris F Dunsford, John Epps, Paul Francois Curie,Thomas Uwins, William Kingdon, Hugh Cameron, William Headland, Dendy and Edward Hamilton.

Quin also set in motion a Homeopathic Dispensary with the aim of relieving the suffering of the poor and offering an opportunity to witness homeopathy in action to ‘interested parties’.

Homeopaths began to offer their time for free in rotation, attending the poor in their homes and forcing a consultation with allopathic physicians

  • all supported by voluntary contributions from friends of homeopathy.

Predictably, people rushed to help. Lord Elgin recommended his friend Dr. Scott from Glasgow, ‘an ardent student of homeopathy’ to see Quin. Amos Gerald Hull wrote from New York, sending George Butler to see Quin with some journals, and with a promise from Constantine Hering to send over all the published documents from America, and sending over articles in defense of homeopathy. Amos Gerald Hull also sent over the preamble to the constitution of the New York Homeopathic Society, pointing out new provings of American plants for Quin’s delectation.

When Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was proposed for membership of the Athenaeum Club, an exclusive gentlemens’ club, the then President of the Royal College of Physicians publicly called him a quack. This slur was only retracted on pain of a duel, but the College still mobilised its supporters to ensure that Quin was blackballed.

Here is a small anecdote, related to Frederick Hervey Foster Quin. When Dr. John Ayrton Paris (1785-1856), then President of the Royal College of Physicians, noted seeing Frederick Hervey Foster Quin’s name in the list of candidates to the Athenaeum Club in London, he remarked that they had come to a sorry state if ‘quacks and adventurers’ were to be proposed as members.

Lord Clarence Paget, an officer in the Guards, visited some days later Paris. Lord Paget requested him either to provide a written apology for his language concerning Frederick Hervey Foster Quin or else justify it with pistols.

John Ayrton Paris was forced, not willing to try Lord Clarence Paget’s skills in shooting, to sign a retraction of his views, and an apology.

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin is entitled to the last laugh over the Athenaeum Club as James Epps, homeopathic chemist and the founder of the great cocoa business associated with his name , provided foodstuffs for the Athenaeum Club, who did not distinguish themselves when they prevented homeopath Frederick Hervey Foster Quin from becoming a member, but were quite happy to munch on ‘homeopathic confectionaries’!

The Marquis of Anglesea wrote to congratulate Quin on ‘his defeat’.

In 1839, Quin completed a translation of Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura, but a fire at his printers destroyed everything, and Quin’s failing health prevented him repeating this momentous task for a second time.

Nothing daunted, Quin witnessed an influx of recruits to the cause of homeopathy. In 1839, Francis Black, John James Drysdale, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, C B Kerr, John Chapman, Stephen Yeldham, Joshua Lambert Vardy, Edward M Madden, Henry R Madden, Edward Charles Chepmell and many others joined the fight. Charles W Luther was already established in Ireland and remained in constant correspondance with Quin.

In 1840, Quin moved to Arlington Street, and in 1843, he establishes the St. James’s Homeopathic Dispensary and can number amongst his patrons the Queen Dowager Adelaide and the Duke of Beaufort.

In 1843, Quin founded the British Homeopathic Society to replace the Hahnemannian Society which he had tried to bring to life in 1837. Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was the first President of the British Homeopathic Society. Thus followed blast and counterblast between homeopaths and allopaths which ultimately gave birth to homeopathy in Britain. John Franklin Gray wrote from America to offer advice.

From 1845, Quin became the physician of the Duchess of Cambridge.

By 1850, the London Homeopathic Hospital was founded, thanks to the hard work of Quin,

In 1851, Quin was appointed President and Chair of the Homeopathic Congress in Paris,

In 1853, Quin, George Atkin, John Chapman and Robert Ellis Dudgeon, John Rutherford Russell, James W Metcalfe and an anonymous ‘friend’ put together a Directory of British and Foreign Homeopaths and their supporters to counter the suppression of all mention of homeopaths and their supporters by the editors of the London and Provincial Medical Directory,

In 1858, Quin and his homeopathic colleague Thomas Vernon Bell (1824-1905), were joined in consultation by an allopath Dr. Fergusson, to attend Henry Charles FitzRoy Somerset 8th Duke of Beaufort, much to the consternation of The Lancet *(Anon, *The Lancet, (J. Onwhyn, 1858). Page 367. See also Anon, Medical Times and Gazette, Volume 16, (Churchill, London, 1858). Page 435 - and note the omissions made by The Lancet to this letter!_ _It is fascinating to note that The Lancet redacted any mention of Frederick Foster Hervey Quin from their version of this letter, no doubt his name was far too influential for them to mention!)

In 1859, Quin was appointed Chair of Therapeutics and Materia Medica at the London Homeopathic Hospital,

See Gender in Homeopathy by Peter Morrell

Through his many influential contacts in the world of politics, for example Robert Grosvenor, Quin was able to obtain an amendment to the 1858 Medical Act, withholding a recommendation about the type of medicine approved in Britain.

As a result of this skillful manouevre, homeopathy was indirectly tolerated without challenge and thus never censured by Parliament as an unacceptable or deviant mode of medical practice…

‘Quin was able to obtain an amendment to the Medical Registration Bill; a clause was added enabling the Privy Council to withdraw the right to award degrees from any university that tried to impose the type of medicine practised by its graduates.’

The 1858 Medical Act established for the first time the professional status and legal regulation of formally qualified medical practitioners, as distinct from quacks, and still regulates the practice of medicine in the UK today. The law was specifically designed to outlaw quackery, which was rife at that time, by establishing a Register of approved practitioners. Initially these guidelines were interpreted very strictly, confining those on the Register only to holders of UK medical degrees, licenses and diplomas.

Even the holders of Continental medical degrees and diplomas were excluded from the Medical Register, for fear of encouraging deviant forms of medical practice in Britain, ie. quackery. In more recent times these rules were relaxed, even allowing American medical graduates the right to practice, whose degrees had previously been scorned as worthless pieces of paper.

All foreign graduates must still apply directly to the General Medical Council to be granted permission to practise medicine in Britain.

Homeopathy became increasingly popular among the upper classes and pressure grew for a suitable doctor to be available in London. Frederic Hervey Foster Quin was practicing in Naples when Georg von Necker in Rome first introduced him to the method…

Quin, William Leaf, Paul Francois Curie and Thomas Roupell Everest were part of the inner sanctum of Samuel Hahnemann’s proteges. They established practices in the UK and later free dispensaries for the poor and also several hospitals

Quin had the money, the qualifications and the numerous contacts within the aristocracy to establish homeopathy in Britain with relative ease… The benefit of Quin being aristocratic very quickly became apparent. Quin was allegedly the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Christiana Hervey Duchess of Devonshire:

“He is a mystery man. His names Hervey and Foster suggest a relationship to the Duchess of Devonshire. Indeed, he is often depicted as her illegitimate son. Elizabeth Christiana Hervey Duchess of Devonshire was born Lady Elizabeth Hervey and her first marriage was to John Foster. However, there is absolutely no evidence that Elizabeth Christiana Hervey Duchess of Devonshire was Quin’s mother although obviously with those names there must have been some sort of relationship, possibly that of godson”.

Homeopathy soon attracted many followers amongst the upper classes including Royalty, and many of these turned into stoutly loyal rich patrons of the emerging homeopathic hospitals and dispensaries

This loyal devotion to homeopathy has been passed down through all these titled families and continues to this day.

In 1867, Francis William Brady (?-?) and Thomas Emerson Headlam (1813-1875) managed to influence the Medical Registration Bill, and in that same year, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was able to obtain an amendment to the Medical Registration Bill; a clause was added enabling the Privy Council to withdraw the right to award degrees from any university that tried to impose the type of medicine practised by its graduates (Brian Inglis, Fringe Medicine (Faber and Faber, 1964)).

When Quin became ill at the end of his life Edward VII was at his bedside when he died. As a measure of the respect and affection with which he regarded Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, Edward VII sent four empty horse drawn royal carriages to join the cortege at his funeral: probably the highest honour ever paid by a Royal to a commoner.

Quin’s personal papers are in the National Register of Archives.

Quin is buried at Kensal Green Cemetary.

Quin wrote Pharmacopoeia homoeopathica, Du traitement homoeopathique du choléra, avec notes et appendice, Die Cholera mit dem besten Erfolg bekämpft durch die homöopathische Curart … , and Edward Hamilton wrote A memoir of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin in 1879.

Of interest:

James M Quin translated Leon Francois Adolphe Simon’s lectures into English in 1846.

For a detailed introduction to the historical background of Quin’s London, and a comprehensive explanation of the benefits of a hospital appointment, and of a full medical qualification and the crucial structure of graduate and postgraduate supervision leading to success, Felix von Reiswitz’s paper The ‘Globulisation’ of the Hospital Ward is most instructive.

Felix von Reiswitz outlines the groundbreaking work of Quin in enabling professional homeopaths through the British Homeopathic Society, and how Quin was actually not opposed to lay homeopaths, establishing the British Homeopathic Association which clearly sanctioned a lay branch of homeopathy alongside its principal function of collecting funds for the establishment of a hospital.

Felix von Reiswitz explains that Quin laid down Law 47, which Quin called the ‘fundamental law’, which stipulated that only members of the British Homeopathic Society (ie: fully qualified medical physicians) could become eligible for positions in the new homeopathic hospital. This is the flashpoint that may have separated Quin from his Vice President John Chapman, and ?led to his taking a different route into the publishing trade.

We have as yet said nothing of Dr. Quin’s  private practice. From the first it was most extensive, while his patients went almost exclusively drawn from the very highest class of society.

From Arlington Street he moved to Mount Street, where his health began to fail, and compelled him to retire to a considerable extent; so that from the time he left Mount Street he never laid himself out for practice, albeit he continued to see those patients who would consult no one but himself, seeing such an one but a few days before his last illness.

On leaving Mount Street, Granville Leveson Gower 1st Earl Granville, who entertained the warmest friendship and admiration for Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, invited him to live at his lordship’s house in Brunton Street; after residing there a short time, and during a very severe illness, he removed to Belgrave Mansions; here he remained till his lease expired. While looking for other quarters, Alfred Duke of Edinburgh, then abroad, wrote to him, begging him to occupy apartments at Clarence House.

The Duke of Sutherland made a similar offer of Stafford House for his use; he accepted the gracious offer of Alfred Duke of Edinburgh, and resided at Clarence House till the Duke and Duchess returned to town, when, although pressed to remain, he took a suit of rooms in Queen Anne’s Mansions, where he died at the advanced age of seventy nine.


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