Sue Young Histories

Charles Thomas Pearce 1815 - 1883

April 04, 2009

Charles Thomas Pearce 1815 - 1883 MD UCH, was a British orthodox physician, member of the Royal College of Surgeons, member of the Anthropological Society, who converted to homeopathy, Medical Officer at St. John’s Wood Homeopathic Dispensary in 1849, \Surgeon at the Northamptonshire Homeopathic Dispensary in 1851, *Consulting Physician at the East End Homeopathic DispensaryConsulting Physician and Surgeon at the Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Southborough Public Homeopathic Dispensary,  \Editor of The Homeopathic Record, member of the Northern Homeopathic Medical Association, Honorary Secretary of the English Homeopathic Association,

Charles Thomas Pearce was a friend of Charles Dickens, and an  early opponent of mandatory vaccination and vivisection, with an interest in medical astrology. Pearce was also a \friend of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (*David Charles Manners (his 3rd great grandson), Noodles & Knaves: Dr. Charles Thomas Pearce (1815-1883) ‘Martyr of Homœopathy’,  (unpublished 2012)).

Charles Thomas Pearce was the Honorary Secretary of the English Homeopathic Association, and he was accused of manslaughter by Thomas Wakley, but when the full facts of the case were known, he was acquitted at the Old Bailey without cross examination.

Charles Thomas Pearce was a patient of Alfred Midgley Cash (Anon, Homeopathic World June 1st 1883, Obituary of Charles Thomas Pearce, (1883). Pages 276-277). Henry Thomas worked as assistant to Charles Thomas Pearce for a year at Northampton before establishing his practice at Chester (David Charles Manners (3rd great grandson of Charles Thomas Pearce), Noodles & Knaves: Dr. Charles Thomas Pearce (1815-1883) ‘Martyr of Homeopathy’, (unpublished, 2012)).

From _Noodles & Knaves: Dr. Charles Thomas Pearce (1815-1883) ‘Martyr of Homœopathy’ _by *David Charles Manners (his 3rd great grandson) - Charles Thomas Pearce (CTP) was an ironmonger who became a philosophical instrument maker. In 1841, his 1s born child Charles died, having suffered 16 days of ‘old system medical practice’ and eventually dying a terrible death, probably from meningitis aged 18/12. Shortly afterwards, CTP was struck down by a dreadful sciatica that became chronic and lasted 5 years. In 1843, CTP began work as a Secretary to Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan 1800-1849, and they conducted research on magnetism and CTP became very interested in medicine. Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan published two anonymous works on transcendentalism and mysticism, books that CTP and Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan spent many hours discussing together. Under Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan’s guidance, CTP began an increasingly fruitless search for a cure for his ‘hip joint affection’, and consequent unendurable ‘old system practice’, and then he met John Epps, a homeopath who cured him. Obviously, the next step was to become extremely interested in homeopathy! When CTP’s daughter Lydia aged 2 1/4 years developed meningitis, CTP and  John Epps got her through this frightening illness, and CTP sent a very detailed case history of this cure to the Journal of Homeopathy Volume 1 pages 184-9 on 14th November 1845. Aged 31, CTP enter UCL medical school and qualified as a doctor in 1848, his studies sponsored by Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, and he began to lecture in physical sciences at UCL. In 1849, he issued a patent for an electric carbon light, 32 years before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and he then became a practicing homeopath at the St. John’s Wood Homeopathic Dispensary. In this same year, his brother Richard succumbed to the cholera epidemic, in which 14,000 Londoners died that year…

David Charles Manners suspects that Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan supported Charles Thomas Pearce both financially and in many other ways for the duration of his successful medical career.

Charles Thomas Pearce attended his brother who had contracted cholera, and treated him homeopathically. Charles Thomas Pearce was then himself struck down by cholera and could not attend his brother. He left careful instructions for the care of his brother, but these were not carried out and an allopath was called in, and his brother died.

Charles Thomas Pearce had asked his colleague William MacOubrey (also a homeopath) to care for his brother whilst he was ill, but it was only Charles Thomas Pearce who was subject to persecution and prosecution! William MacOubrey was also a Barrister at Law in the Middle Temple as well as being an MD and a homeopath! Obviously _The Lancet_was too cowardly to risk attacking him!

Thomas Wakley and a biased deputy Coroner H Membury Wakley (the son of Thomas Wakley! shame!) charged Charles Thomas Pearce with manslaughter, and he was arraigned in front of Mr. Justic Maule at the Old Bailey on 29.10.1849, who having heard the evidence threw the case out of court, saying:

This man seems to have been doctored as well as he could, how any man can be found to say that this defendant is guilty of manslaughter, I cannot possibly imagine; it appears he was called in a desperate case and did everything it was possible to do under the circumstances.”

The English Homeopathic Association petitioned Parliament about the outrage of such false accusations, especially as there was no redress in law for the damage done to the defendant. The petition was seconded by John Epps, in the company of William Henry Ashurst, John Burnett, Edward Cronin, Paul Francois Curie, A O Deacon, Robert S Dick, George Napoleon Epps, Robert Frith, Joseph Glover, Robert Grosvenor, George Hayes, Thomas H Johnstone, Henry KelsallJohn Miller, Henry P Osman, William MacOubrey, William Perkins, George K Prince, James Stansfeld, Peter Stuart, Allan Templeton, James Thomson, William Warne, and James Wilson.

The English Homeopathic Association were concerned that the Coroner’s Office had been ‘perverted’, as deputy Coroner H Membury Wakley, as the son of Thomas Wakley had little option but to carry out the prejudices of his father.

A full transcript of the case at the Old Bailey is here and it was fully reported in the British journal of Homeopathy, and it was also widely reported in America.

Edward Miall and Archbishop Richard Whately were amongst the first to come forward to protest this outrage,

Charles Thomas Pearce was subjected to the indignity of being incarcerated in Newgate Prison under the jumped up charges of Thomas Wakley and a biased deputy Coroner H Membury Wakley (the son of Thomas Wakley shame!) Thomas Wakley (a litigenous libel lawyer who sought infamy and publicity for his new journal) was one of the founders of The Lancet, alongside William Cobbett (a racist, ex prisoner and anti Semite), William Lawrence (a controversial materialist and anti vitalist Baronet) and James Wardrop (who wrote scurrilous and ‘faked’ articles for The Lancet under the pseudonym ‘Brutus’).

In 1849, as a medical student, Charles Thomas Pearce was acquitted of a charge of manslaughter brought by the reformer Thomas Wakley, (an appointed coroner (actually his ’sonH Membury Wakley) after his brother David Richard Pearce’s death from cholera.

The prosecution dropped the case during trial after a judge concluded the death was unrelated to Pearce’s attempt, authorised by another physician, to treat it by homeopathy.

The homeopathic community raised two hundred pounds for Pearce’s defense, and Pearce’s barristers argued that the “indictment was merely an attack on the homeopathic system”.

Charles Thomas Pearce published his arguments against smallpox vaccination in several books including Essay on Vaccination (1868). As the editor of a medical journal, he first became interested in a possible vaccine controversy in 1856 when an article was submitted (Charles Thomas Pearce,* Vaccination: *its tested Effects on Health, Mortality, and Population, (H. Bailliere, 1868). See also John RyanWilliam BayesAlfred Crosby PopeHenry R Madden (Eds.), The British Homoeopathic Review, Volume 12,  (Henry Turner and Co, 77 Fleet Street, EC, 74 New Bond Street, W1, and Manchester, 1868). Page 358-368) by John Gibbs [John Gibbs], a hydropath with controversial views on vaccination. Pearce began lecturing on the subject, and in Northampton in 1860 he held his first public debate, making the town a centre of resistance to the compulsory vaccination law.  In 1871, Pearce gave evidence to a Select Committee appointed to inquire into the Vaccination Act of 1867, and also published his beliefs about smallpox vaccination in several books.

Notwithstanding the difficulties of this trial, whilst still a student of medicine, Charles Thomas Pearce was awarded a patent for ‘improvements in apparatus for obtaining light by electric agency’ in March 1849.

From Charles Thomas Pearce (1815–1883) was an English physician and early opponent of mandatory vaccination. A member of the Royal College of Surgeons, he was a homeopathwith an interest in medical astrology, and opposed to vivisection.

He was the son of court tailor Richard David Pearce (1780-1820) and Sarah ‘Sally’ Bouchet (1777-1855), his mother being of Huguenot descent. He was a Philosophical Instrument maker in 1840, the year his second son Alfred John Pearce (1840–1923) was born. Alfred would become a celebrated medical astrologer and popular almanacist, who worked in collaboration with his father as his assistant in the early 1870s.

Charles Thomas Pearce lived for some time at St. Dunstan’s Villa, Regents Park, the home of his sponsor was Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan (1800-1879), Tory politician, Fellow of the Royal Society, a geologist and a metaphysician. Charles was “for some years engaged with him in scientific experiments and researches on light, heat, and magnetism.” Notes taken by Charles whilst thus “engaged with Sir R. Vyvyan … in researches on the magnetism of the Moon’s rays,” were later recorded in a volume entitled The Weather Guide Book, published by Charles’s son, Alfred John Pearce, in 1864.

In 1849, as a medical student, he patented an “Apparatus for obtaining light by electric agency,” a system published in the Repository of Arts (vol.14, page 193) and the Mechanics’ Magazine (vo.51, page 189), as well as being registered at the Enrolment Office.

It was also in 1849 that he was acquitted of a charge of manslaughter brought by the reformer Thomas Wakley, (an appointed coroner) after his brother David Richard Pearce’s death from cholera. The prosecution dropped the case during trial after a judge concluded the death was unrelated to Pearce’s attempt, authorised by another physician, to treat it by homeopathy. The homeopathic community raised two hundred pounds for Pearce’s defence, and Pearce’s barristers argued that the “indictment was merely an attack on the homeopathic system”.

He published his arguments against smallpox vaccination in several books including Essay on Vaccination (1868), and campaigned vigorously for the better treatment of the mentally ill. His own wife, Elizabeth Eagles (1805-79), died with “religious mania” in the Peckham House Lunatic Asylum.

In 1867, he became a fellow of The Anthropological Society of London, which had been founded in 1863 by Richard Francis Burton.

The following year, Charles patented “an invention of improvements in the means of disinfecting or deodorizing rooms, buildings, and ships, applicable also in other purposes.”

In 1878, he founded the Hydropathic Establishment & Sanatorium at Durleston Park, on the cliffs above Swanage, Dorset. By 1880, he was bankrupt.

Charles Thomas Pearce died on the 9th of May 1883, at a villa called Lessie, in Avenue Road, Torquay, on the Devonshire coast.

He is the maternal 3-great grandfather of British author and charity-founder David Charles Manners.

Charles Thomas Pearce wrote Vital Statistics, Vaccination, its source, nature and effects, Vaccination: its tested effects on health, mortality, and population, Diarrhoea and Cholera, Homeopathic & allopathic medical institutions: their efficiency, statistics, & cost contrasted, Smallpox & Vaccination in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Continental Countries and Cities,

Charles Thomas Pearce’s obituary is in The Homeopathic World.

Of interest:

Alfred John Pearce 1840 - 1923, was the son of Charles Thomas Pearce, and worked as his father’s assistant in the early 1870s, and practiced as a homeopath himself.

Alfred John Pearce was the Editor of Zadkiel’s Almanac for 48 years (1875 - 1923), succeeding Richard James Morrison 1795 - 1874.

H Pearce was a Homeopathic Chemist and Publisher who practiced in Orford Hill, Norwich in 1851,


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