Sue Young Histories

George Henry Burford 1856 - 1937

November 08, 2008

George Henry Burford 1856-1937 MB, CM 1880 Aberdeen, London, Vienna, Berlin Senior Surgeon and Physician for the Diseases of Women at the London Homeopathic Hospital, Physician at the Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall Homeopathic Dispensary and Cottage Hospital, President of the British Homeopathic Society, President and Vice President of The International Homeopathic Congress, Secretary of the British Homeopathic Association, and Member of The World League of Opponents of Vivisection.

George Henry Burford was a colleague of William Bayes, Charles Harrison Blackley, John Galley Blackley, David Dyce Brown, James Compton Burnett, John Moorhead Byres Moir, John Henry Clarke, H A Clifton Harris, Paul Francois Curie, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, John Epps, Washington Epps, Giles Forward Goldsborough, Clarence Granville Hey, James Johnstone, Richard Hughes, Thomas Robinson Leadam, Octavia Margaret Sophia LewinEdwin Awdas Neatby, Alfred Crosby Pope, Mathias Roth, C T Knox Shaw, Harold Wynne Thomas, Charles Edwin Wheeler, David Wilson, James Craven Wood Stephen Yeldham and many others.

George Henry Burford practiced at 35 Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square

The British Homeopathic Association (BHA) had just been formed and their Education Committee undertook to organise lectures in basic medicine and surgery. A missionary sub committee was formed under the Chairmanship of George Henry Burford, Physician for the Diseases of Women at the London Homeopathic Hospital.

In 1903 the Educational Committee of the British Homeopathic Association in conjunction with the London Homeopathic Hospital formed a Missionary Sub-committee to promote a course of instruction for non-medical missionaries.

This committee included both George Henry Burford and Edwin Awdas Neatby, who was to become the first Honorary Secretary and later Dean of the Missionary School of Medicine.

The idea from the outset was that the School’s courses would be flexible, in order to cater for the varying needs and experience of the students, some of whom were on home leave from the field, and others who had yet to receive a posting overseas.

It was emphatically not designed to train doctors and nurses, but to provide a background of medical knowledge to missionaries who might be working considerable distances from professional medical care.

Although students came from a wide variety of missionary societies, there was some opposition at first from religious organisations who felt that homeopathy was not compatible with Christian beliefs.

The first course began on 11 January 1904, with 24 students taking part in the first session. A format soon evolved whereby the course covered three terms and featured lectures and instruction on practical medicine; surgery; diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat; children’s diseases; diseases of the skin; tropical diseases; dentistry; first aid; anatomy and physiology; practical anaesthetics; women’s diseases; nursing and midwifery (the latter three courses were provided for women only). Students received additional lectures from doctors at other institutions such as the London School of Tropical Medicine.

This course structure proved popular enough to remain unchanged for 75 years. In 1977 a three month course was introduced but demand for the courses continued to fall during the 1980s, when a large percentage of the students who did attend were from other European countries.

In 1992 the organisation changed its name to Medical Services Ministries. There were further experiments with 4 week courses for qualified nurses but in 1996 the MSM decided to leave its premises at 2 Powis Place, its home since the 1920s, and provide a more ad hoc service by tailor-made courses to individual demand.

George Burford was involved in the setting up of The Homeopathic Hospital at Neuilly in France in 1914-1916:

From At a meeting of the Acting Committee of the International Homeopathic Council held in London late in 1914, its deliberations included a proposition for the establishment of a Homeopathic Hospital, under military control, for medical cases, on the Western front of the Allies.

The President of the British Homeopathic Society (Harold Wynne Thomas), the President of the previous British Homeopathic Congress James Johnstone, together with the Vice President of the International Homoeopathic Council George Henry Burford, met by arrangement the Chairman of the London Homeopathic Hospital, Robert Henryson Caird to consider the necessary preliminaries.

Their consultation issued in the nomination of a Provisional Committee constituted by representatives of the principal homeopathic activities in Great Britain, and the publication of a statement of the case, with an appeal for funds to those favourably inclined to the work.

Thus did the leaders of British Homeopathy lead, and the response of the English speaking homeopaths the world over was immediate and maintained. Fortified by this support, the Provisional Committee nominated two Commissioners,  Dr. Hoyle and David MacNish, to proceed to France to confer with the military authorities there, as well as with the principal homeopathic physicians in Paris.

As the issue of this investigation, the Committee decided to work under the auspices of the French Red Cross Society, and to internationalism as far as possible, the interest it was desirable to arouse of homeopathic supporters in this special procedure.

George Henry Burford was born in Desborough and he died in London.

George Henry Burford wrote The Medicine Of The Future, Malignancy: The Increasing Plague Of The Century, The Problem Of Cancer, Homeopathy In Malignant Disease, On Saline Infusion in Gynaecological and Obstetric Practice, The Study of Gynaecological Work in Berlin, On the Menopause with James Johnstone, A Second Period of Five Years’ Abdominal Work in the Gynaecological Ward (Ebury Ward) of the London Homeopathic Hospital, and many other journal articles and papers.