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Philip Wynter Wagstaff 1810 - 1894

April 28, 2009

all saints church leighton
buzzardPhilip Wynter Wagstaff (1810-1894)  MRCS 1834MD 1834 was an orthodox physician who practiced mesmerism and was an advocate of homeopathy (Anon, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, (H. Baillière, 1852). Page 19-25)). In 1851, his assistant John Wallis also practiced mesmerism. Philip Wynter Wagstaff’s 2nd wife** *Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff (24.8.1826-10.2.1914)\* ( was a clairvoyant medium, nurse, a phrenologist, and a lay homeopath.

Philip and Eliza married in the Swedenborg Church in London in 1849, and they had 10 children.Their daughter Nellie Wagstaff (1853-1952) married Swedenborgian Ernest Mosley (?-?).

Philip Wynter Wagstaff was the physician, and his wife Eliza was the homeopathic nurse and clairvoyant medium for *David Jones, *William Forbes LawrieEdward Robert Lytton Bulwer Lytton (son of Edward Bulwer Lytton), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin and Rose La Touche, Joan Severn, John Russell 1st Earl Russell and his wife Katharine Louisa Russell Viscountess AmberleyWilliam Francis Cowper Temple 1st Baron Mount Temple and his family, Paulina Jermyn Trevelyan, and Constance Lloyd Wilde.

Philip Wynter Wagstaff and his wife Eliza were friends of John Ashburner, ***George H Barth, John Elliotson, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (possibly), Spencer Timothy Hall, Augustus John Cuthbert HareJames John Garth Wilkinson, and many others. Mesmerist George H Barth was also an acquaintance of Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff in 1851, and he described her: ‘… This lady is by far the best medical clairvoyant whom I have met with, and I have seen as many as most men…’

It is notable that Philip Wynter Wagstaff and his wife Eliza were never attacked by skeptics in their time. Indeed Philip Wynter Wagstaff was awarded all the accolades of his orthodox profession throughout his working life, as was his son! This was despite Philip Wynter Wagstaff being married to a female practicing lay homeopath, an advocate of mesmerism and his attendance at the British Homeopathic Society Dinner on 1st July 1869! (Anon, The Homeopathic Medical Directory of Great Britain and Ireland 1870, (Henry Turner, 1870). Page 295). The fact that Philip Wynter Wagstaff was appointed District Registrar for Toddington (?year) (Anon, Bedfordshire Magazine, Volumes 22-23, (Crescent Press, 1991). Page 123) amply illustrated his acceptance and inclusion within orthodox medical society at a time when fraternising with homeopaths was strictly forbidden and policed assiduously!

Philip Wynter Wagstaff’s cases were also reported in the orthodox medical press at this time (Anon, The Medical Times and Gazette, Volume 1, _Adherent multilocular cyst - two tappings- ovariotomy-recovery by Mr. Wagstaff of Leighton Buzzard_, (J. & A. Churchill, 1868). Page 577). Philip Wynter Wagstaff assisted in a surgical operation alongside his othodox colleagues in 1861- even though it was expressly disallowed for anyone in contact with homeopathy at this time (Thomas Spencer Wells, Diseases of the ovaries, their diagnosis and treatment, (J. Churchill and sons, 1865). Page 92).

Also note that Philip Wynter Wagstaff’s son was also awarded similar respect and inclusion (‘… The loyal toasts having been given from the chair, Mr Pitcaithley gave the ” Imperial Forces,” which was replied to by Colonel Porteous ; ” Our Quests,” proposed by Mr D. P. Laird, was replied to by Dr Wagstaff, of _Leighton Buzzard…’ _Anon,_ Transactions of the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society, Volumes 1-18; Volumes 1903-1905, _(Douglas & Foulis, 1904). Page 310).

It is fascinating to note that Philip Wynter Wagstaff’s acceptance by orthodoxy was so complete, that in 1892, Philip Wynter Wagstaff was a member of the advisory committee for the International Peace Bureau (1892-1951), the forerunner to the United Nations (Anon, Rapport du Comité consultatif: Report of the Advisory committee, International Financial Conference, League of Nations (Imprimé pour la Société des nations, Harrison & sons, 1892). Page 676). See also

’… *[At Broadlands, a veritable coven of female mediums assembled, among them Annie Andrews]( (now Mrs Edward Acworth, after her marriage to a Brighton doctor _[Edward Acworth (?1804-?1874)])…’ _[Annie Elizabeth Shaw Andrews (?1841-1903)]. Amongst this glittering gathering, Phillip Wynter Wagstaff and his young wife Eliza were frequent guests. Eliza was the most favourite friend, confidante and homeopathic practitioner to William Francis Cowper Temple 1st Baron Mount Temple and his wife Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple who lived at this famous country house, Broadlands. James John Garth Wilkinson was a lifelong friend of the Temples and he knew Eliza and Phillip Wagstaff well (Philip Hoare, [England’s lost Eden: adventures in a Victorian utopia*](, (Fourth Estate, 21 Feb 2005). Page 270. See also

From Philip Wynter Wagstaff (son of Thomas Michael Wagstaff and Jane) was born Abt. 1811 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, UK, and died Mar 1894 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, UK.

He married (1) Elizabeth Hetty. He married (2) Sarah Hopkins on 02 Mar 1836 in St Peter, Walworth, Surrey. **[see comment below from Wendy Eldridge July 10, 2012 - this information is incorrect - Sarah died and Eliza was his 2nd wife]

Occupation: Doctor (GP).

Children of Philip Wynter Wagstaff and Sarah Hopkins are: Elizabeth S Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1840,  +Philip Wagstaff, b. Abt. Jan 1841, d. 28 Jan 1922, Fanny Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1843, William Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1846, [the following are the children of Philip and Eliza - married 1849] Ellen E Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1854, Marion E Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1856, Ernest H Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1858, Eliza E Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1860, Emma E. Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1860, Edward W. Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1862, Ada A.H. Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1866, Constance E. Wagstaff, b. Abt. 1871…

In 1843, Philip Wynter Wagstaff witnessed a demonstration of mesmerism alongside Spencer Timothy Hall ’… At Leighton Buzzard, whatever thought was silently entertained by us and by Mr. P Wagstaff, surgeon, the same patient, whilst in the trance gave utterance to: and whatever we silently purported he executed. He also described minutely, (from another part of the town,) the interior of Mr. Wagstaff’s stable, though he had never been in it- saying there was only one horse in it. To the latter, Mr. W demurred, stating that there must be two, as he left two in, and nothing he believed had occurred to call one out. “No,” said the patient, “I’m, sure there is only one, and it is a chestnut.” On going home, Mr. W. found this to be the fact, one having in the course of the evening been removed by his groom, contrary to his supposition - the chestnut one remaining…* ’ (Spencer Timothy Hall,* The Phreno-magnet, and Mirror of Nature: A Record of Facts, Experiments, and Discoveries in Phrenology, Magnetism, &c, Volume 1, *(Simpkin, Marshall, 1843). Page 290))…’ *

In 1845, Philip Wynter Wagstaff witnessed another demonstration of mesmerism alongside Spencer Timothy Hall (Thomas Wakley, *The London Lancet: A Journal of British and Foreign Medicine, Physiology, Surgery, Chemistry, Criticism, Literature and News, Volume 1, (Burgess, Stringer & Co., 1845). Page 504).*

In 1850, Paulina Jermyn Trevelyan was a patient of Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff, and she took homeopathic remedies, further influencing a whole generation of highly influential artists into the new medicine (John Batchelor, *Lady Trevelyan and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, *(Random House, 31 Dec 2011). Page 227).

From Anon, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, (H. Baillière, 1852). Page 19-25. Case: Cure of Epilepsy in an adult 28th February 1851 by Philip Wynter Wagtaff, introduced by John Elliotson, and including A few statements relative to the affliction of Thomas Fossey, of Heath and Reach, drawn up by his friends). [?Did Philip Wynter Wagstaff met Eliza via this case, or - \**?was Eliza a relative of Spencer Timothy Hall and Philip Wynter Wagstaff already knew her?],* and he explained that he was treating a Thomas Fossey for severe seizures via the old fashioned orthodox treatments - to no avail - and that he discovered mesmerism and homeopathy through a Miss Hall who lived in London: ‘… Thomas Fossey, a labourer, of a rather serious turn of mind, and much in the habit of preaching in the different villages round his residence, was called to visit and pray by his sister in law, on 5th May 1848, who was supposed to be dying. Whilst praying he was suddenly seized with a convulsive paroxysm, and began raving and knocking himself about, so that when I arrived at the house (having been sent for to attend him), I found him in such a state that six men had some difficulty in holding him. This state continued for some time. At length it subsided, so that he had intervals of rest and return to reason, alternating with violent paroxysms of screaming and throwing himself about. He was bled, cupped, leeched, blistered, and purged, without benefit, and he then went to consult an old medical man of the name of Parker, who treated him on the same plan with as little success: and he was finally given up by us both as incurable, being quite unable to follow his usual labour or his preaching: in fact it was not safe to leave him by himself. I lost sight of him from this time until I heard he or his friends had written to Miss Hall, who then resided in London, and that he was being mesmerised by her directions, she having described him to be suffering from chronic inflammation and thickening and redness of the membrane of the brain. More especially over the organs of veneration and firmness. In the statement of the case by his friend you will see the dates. His description only comes up to the 7th March 1850. He is now (28th February 1851) quite well and works and preaches as he used to do: and Mrs. Wagstaff, looking at his brain now, says it is almost well, the membranes being only a little thickened. I did not know of his applying to Miss Hall (now Mrs. Wagstaff) at that time, nor indeed until he was nearly well: and Mrs. W never saw him for nearly two years after she prescribed for him, and did not know anything of him previously. Indeed she did not know him when she met him in her natural state, until I pointed him out to her. May you live to see the medical profession become mesmerists. I shall tell them a long tale about it some day. P W Wagstaff… ’

In The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, Thomas Fossey described his treatment by orthodox methods in 1848, and how he was pronounced incurable, until he met Eliza Hall in 1849 [married 1849], who prescribed mesmerism and the homeopathic remedies. Philip Wynter Wagstaff then described (letter in The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9 4.3.1851) ‘… My Dear Mr. Elliotson, - Mrs. Wagstaff says that Fossey only took the medicine one fortnight, and the cure was due to the mesmerism. The medicine was homeopathic I believe, but what I do not know. I believe it was nux vomica and belladonna… Mrs. Wagstaff  does not require any rapport, or any lock of hair, to enable her to see any person, no matter where they may be: she only requires a definite name and address, as she says ‘to identify the individual’. She can with that aid see and describe their appearance, age, and ailment; but as she is now so constantly employed to describe disease, she does not wish to interfere with, or detract from, her powers of seing disease, but concentrating her powers on inanimate substances or external appearances - she has the greatest possible aversion to anything in the shape of testing. If you want proof of her powers, send us some case of illness, well known to yourself, and prominent in its features, and yet unknown to either of us, and we will send you a description of it…’

John Ashburner introduced a case (Anon, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, (H. Baillière, 1852). Pages 243-246)). In a letter in The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, Cure of a case of insanity_ by George H Barth_, dated 2nd September 1851, John Ashburner begins by complaining about the ‘… atrocious calumnies…’ spread about himself and the persecution he has received due to his practice of mesmerism, curing two cases of puerperal mania at Queen Charlotte’s Lying in Hospital, and he then described George H Barth’s patient: *‘… In transmitting to you Mr. Barth’s case of successful treatment of hallucinations, induced by exposure to the hardships of military life in hot climates… by no means a solitary instance of mesmeric cure of insanity…’ *George H Barth explained: ‘… the mesmeric agency is a potent, I might almost say specific, remedy for a large proportion of cases of mental disease… patient AB… had been confined in a highly respectable private asylum in Sussex for nearly three and a half years… he was an army surgeon with our troops in China during the war there an attack of fever which ended in insanity, and manifested itself in constant delusive ideas and impressions… who fancied himself the victim of some potent but unknown mesmerizer who had been employed to influence him and control his actions… he believed himself surrounded by witchcraft and spells_…’ _George H Barth housed patient AB in his house for sixteen months, and AB had been symptom free for five months. __George H Barth was also an acquaintance of Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff at this time, and he says of her: ‘{::}… **I will not close this account without acknowledging the service rendered several times, and on one occasion particularly, by Mrs. P W Wagstaff, the wife of Mr. Wagstaff, surgeon, of Leighton Buzzard. This lady is by far the best medical clairvoyant whom I have met with, and I have seen as many as most men…’**

In 1853, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell undertook some enquiries about Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff, the  clairvoyant medium, nurse, a phrenologist, and a lay homeopathic wife of Philip Wynter Wagstaff. In her letter dated 25th June 1853 to John Malcolm Forbes Ludlow (1821-1911), Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell explains that her cousin is the vicar in Leighton Buzzard where the Wagstaff’s live, and that she will make enquiries about Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff‘s character on behalf of her friend (Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, John Chapple, Alan Shelston (Eds.), Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell, (Manchester University Press, 4 Mar 2004). Page 96).

Augustus John Cuthbert Hare (1834-1903)  discussed Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff in ?1865 ’… Conversation has been made about Mrs. Wagstaff, a homeopathic clairvoyant, wife of an allopathic doctor at Leighton Buzzard. She comes up to London if desired, and works wonderful cures. In her trances her conversation is most remarkable…’ (Augustus John Cuthbert Hare, The Story of My Life, Volume 3, (Dodd, Mead, 1901). Page 325).

In ?1865, \William Forbes Lawrie (?1811-?) and *David Jones (?-?) consulted Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff (David Jones,* The autobiography of David Jones, with an exposition of medical politics and sidelights on the medical profession: Some facts about homœopathy, mesmerism, local treatment, and the author’s notable discovery of the spray remedy, curing bladder and prostate diseases in cases regarded as incurable, (Mitchell, 1907). Page 37).

*Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff gave a claivoyant reading to John Russell 1st Earl Russell (1792-1878) and Katharine Louisa Russell Viscountess Amberley{::}** (1844-1874)**, who were visiting Edward Acworth and Annie Andrews in 1873* (Van Akin Burd, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists: An Episode in Broadlands History, (Brentham Press for Guild of St. George, 1982). Page 23).

*In 1873, Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff and presumably her husband Philip, were house guests at Broadlands of William Francis Cowper Temple 1st Baron Mount Temple and his wife Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple. In 1888, Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff nursed William Francis Cowper Temple 1st Baron Mount Temple throughout his last illness* (Van Akin Burd (ed.), Christmas story: John Ruskin’s Venetian letters of 1876-1877. (University of Delaware Press, 1990). Multiple pages).

*Constance Lloyd Wilde (1859-1898) was recommended to consult Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff by Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple, and in Autumn 1892 Constance Lloyd Wilde went to stay with Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff in Leighton Buzzard. On returning to London Constance Lloyd Wilde wrote to Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple on 9th October 1892:* ‘… Just back from Leighton Buzzard and have been district visiting since and am so tired. Mrs. Wagstaff has been so kind and helpful about the children and other things. When I see you, I will tell you, but it is too ‘in time’ to write…’ On 10th October 1892, Constance Lloyd Wilde wrote again to Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple: ’… What Mrs. Wagstaff told me in trance has not comforted me, but it is best to know the truth and I know that I of my own power can do nothing. I must pray for my boys and when they are older teach them to pray and to struggle… (Franny Moyle, Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, (Hachette UK, 23 Jun 2011))…’

Of interest:

On 11th-18th July 1881, the 2nd Quinquennial International Homeopathic Congress was held in London at the Dilettante Club, Aberdeen House, 7 Argyll Street, Regent Street, and London was full of homeopaths from all over America, Europe, and Britain at this time, including one woman, \*Dr.** **Mary Jane Hall (?-?)** from Boston. Unfortunately, I can discover nothing about **Dr.** **Mary Jane Hall** (?-?)**, though I do wonder if she has any connection to Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff, though their sharing of the rather common surname Hall is a very tenuous connection, it is an interesting coincidence that both woman who stand proud of the homeopathic history, which so often completely obscured women in the 19th century, should share a surname. The fact that one lived in Boston and the other lived in England is less of a problem when you consider how often Britons immigrated to America, and how often Americans travelled to Britain at this time. (Anon, The Medical Counselor, Volume 7, (The Michigan State Homeopathic Society, 1883). Page 347. See also Anon, The Homeopathic World, (August 1,1881). Pages 337-349. See also Anon, St. Louis Clinical Review: A Monthly Journal of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery, Volume 4, (1882). Page 225. See also Lionel Cust, Sidney Colvin, History of the Society of Dilettanti (1898), (Originally published in 1898, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing 2010). See also Thomas Wemyss Reid, The life, letters, and friendships of Richard Monckton Milnes: first Lord Houghton, Volume 1, (Cassell & Company, Limited, 1890). Page 497).

There is also another Mary J Hall (?-?)Spencer Timothy Hall’s first wife Sarah died nine months after their marriage - was this in childbirth? - and was this family related to Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff? Spencer Timothy Hall then married again, in 1861, to Mary Julia Grimley (1836-?) ( - was she the Mary J Hall who homeopathically treated Elizabeth Cady Stanton when she visited London in 1883 (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ann Dexter Gordon (Ed.), Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: When Clowns Make Laws for Queens, 1880 to 1887, (Rutgers University Press, 25 Sep 2006). Page 297)? Was Mary Julia Grimley Hall also related to Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff?

I also wonder if Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff was related to** Leonard Hall{::} (?-?){::} who was a radical speaker alongside the Pankhurst family, and who together with his wife **Patti Hall **{::}(?-?)**, was imprisoned after his arrest at Boggart Hole Clough. Leonard Hall and his father, a homeopathic doctor [was this Spencer Timothy Hall?], were old friends of the Pankhurst family, who formed the Women’s Franchise League in

  1. Early members of the Women’s Franchise League included Josephine Elizabeth Butler, and Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady StantonWilliam Lloyd Garrison spoke at the inaugural meeting. Octavia Margaret Sophia Lewin was also a close colleague, activist and confident of the Pankhurst family (George J. Barnsby, Birmingham Working People: History of the Labour Movement in Birmingham, 1650-1914, (Integrated Pub. Services, 1989). Page 416. See also June Purvis, Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography, (Routledge, 1 Sep 2003). Page 261. See also Boggart Hole Clough & the 1896 Campaign for Free Speech by Rod Peters. See also Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928, (Routledge, 2001). Page 423).

In 1885, Philip Wynter Wagstaff and Son, Surgeons, were in business at 26 Church Square, Leighton Buzzard.

Alfred Henry Wagstaff (?-?1863) MRCS (England), LRS 1835 was also a surgeon in Leighton Buzzard in 1860 (Anon, The London and provincial medical directory and general medical register, (John Churchill, 1860). Page 817).

Alfred Henry Wagstaff (?-?) Apothecary in Leighton Buzzard went bankrupt on 7.11.1848 (Anon, The Jurist, Volume 6, (S. Sweet, 1843). Page 394).

? year uncertain, Ernest H Wagstaff (?-?) was an MRCS and anti slavery campaigner in Leighton Buzzard (Anon, Anti-slavery reporter and aborigines’ friend, (Anti-Slavery Society for the Protection of Human Rights, 1969). Page 36). Was this Philip Wynter Wagstaff’s son or grandson?

Frank Alex Wagstaff (?-1894) LRCP, the Square, Leighton Buzzard (Anon, Transactions of the Obstetrical Society of London, Volume 37, (Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1896). Page Ivi).

On 21st June 1853, Thomas Wagstaff (?-?) of Leighton Buzzard, veterinary surgeon was pronounced insolvent (Anon, The Jurist …, (S. Sweet, 1853). Page 192).

** Philip Wynter Wagstaff’s first wife Sarah Hopkins Wagstaff died in 1848 (see comment below from Wendy Eldridge July 10, 2012), so it would have been his second wife Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff (?1826-10.2.1914) who was a clairvoyant medium, nurse, and a lay homeopath.

***George H Barth (?-?) was  mesmerist and a homeopath. George Barth, The Mesmerist’s Manual of Phenomena and Practice, (?1851, reprinted by Health Research Books, 1 Jan 1998). See also Anon, The Zoist: a journal of cerebral physiology and mesmerism, Volume 9, Cure of a case of insanity by George H Barth, (H. Baillière, 1852). Pages 243-246).


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