Sue Young Histories

John Gideon Millingen 1782 - 1862

December 09, 2009

waterlooJohn Gideon Millingen 1782 - 1862 MD, was a British orthodox physician, Surgeon to the Forces and Physician at Hanwell Lunatic Asylum, was a determined opponent of homeopathy who was open minded enough to study and experiment with homeopathy, (George James HilbersThe Medical Times, Volume 13, (J. Angerstein Carfrae, 1846). Page 374) and discovering its efficacy, he wrote favourably about homeopathy, and at the end of his life, he converted to homeopathy. (John Gideon Millingen, Curiosities of Medical Experience, 2nd Edition, (Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1839). Multiple pages. Preface to the 2nd edition written from Hanwell Lunatic Asylum December 1838, original introduction written from 48 Eaton Square in January 1837. Millingen pointed out that it was only in Britain that homeopathy received ‘oppropbrious invectives’ (page 337).

Millingen served under Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, and he was the second Superintendent of the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum after William Charles Ellis, his successor was John Conolly (all of these first three Superintendents were advocates of homeopathy or held liberal views towards it). (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.)

Millingen wrote in Curiosities of Medical Experience (after administering homeopathic aconite to a patient):

The effects were evident in the course of four hours, when the deafness and the other symptoms of local congestion had entirely dissapeared… I could record numerous instances of similar results… but homeopathy is a science on which numerous voluminous works have been written by enlightened practitioners, whose situation in life has placed them far avove the necessities of speculation.

‘Their publications are not sealed volumes and any medical man can obtain the preparations they recommend. It is possible, nay more than probable, that physicians cannot find the time to commence a new course of studies, for such this investigation must prove.

‘If this is the case, then let them frankly avow their utter ignorance of the doctrine, and not denounce a practice of which they do not possess the slightest knowledge.

‘Despite the persecution that Hahnemannism… is at present enduring, every reflecting and unprejudiced person must feel convinced that, although its wild and untenable theories may not overthrow the established systems (if any one system can be called established), yet its study and application bid fair to operate an important revolution in medicine.

‘The introduction of infinite small doses, when compared, at least, with the quanitities formerly prescribed, is gradually creeping in.

‘The history of medicine affords abundant proofs of the acrimony, nay, the fury, with which every new doctine has been impugned and insulted…

‘From the proceeding observations, no one can accuse me of becoming a blind bigot of homeopathy; but I can only hope that its present vituperators will follow my example, and examine the matter calmly and dispassionately before the proceed to pass a judgment that their vanity may lead them to consider a final sentence.’

Served in Penisular War and won medal at Waterloo; also at the surrender of Paris; retired, 1823; appt. physician to military asylum at Chatham and Hanwell, 1837

John Gideon Millingen, physician and writer, born at 9 Queen’s Square, Westminster, on 8 Sept. 1782, was younger brother of James Millingen.

At the age of eight he was taken by his father to Paris, and lived through the horrors of the revolution. During the imprisonment of his brother, whose liberation he claims to have tried to effect, he, according to his own story, repeatedly met Robespierre, Danton, Barere, and other Jacobin leaders, although he was only ten or eleven years old at the time (cf. his Recollections of Republican France}.

He matriculated at the Ecole de Medecine, and after studying under Sue and Boyer obtained a medical degree. On 26 Jan. 1802 he joined the British army as assistant surgeon in the 97th foot (Queen’s Own), and was ordered to Egypt. On 16 Nov. 1809 he was appointed surgeon in the 31st (Huntingdonshire) foot, and full surgeon to the forces on 26 May 1814.

He served in all the Peninsular campaigns under Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington and Lord Hill, and he was present at Waterloo as principal surgeon of cavalry and at the surrender of Paris.

He was afterwards sent to the West Indies, but loss of health compelled him to retire on half pay in 1823, with the Waterloo and other medals.

After leaving the army he lived for some time in Boulogne, where he brought out in 1826 his Sketches of Ancient and Modern Boulogne. He was connected in a medical capacity with the Military Lunatic Asylum at Chatham, and in 1837 was appointed, on the resignation of William Charles Ellis, resident physician to the Middlesex Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Hanwell.

On resigning this post early in 1839, he is said to have opened a private lunatic asylum in Kensington.

He died in London in 1862.

John Gideon Millingen was a prolific author, writing plays, medical books and travelogues, histories and miscelleny.


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