Frances Seymour, Duchess of Somerset (1699–1754)

Frances Seymour, Countess of HertfordFrances ThynneFrances
From 1724 to 1737, Frances was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Caroline, the consort of King George II of Great Britain. In 1725, two short poems by the Countess of Hertford, based on the story of Inkle and Yarico, were published anonymously in A New Miscellany...Written Chiefly by Persons of Quality and Isaac Watts published four short poems by her in 1734, in his Reliquiae juveniles, written under the pen name Eusebia. Her correspondents included Henrietta Knight, Baroness Luxborough, and Henrietta Fermor, Countess of Pomfret. The letters contain such topics as literature, religion, court gossip, family and rural life.

Thomas Dover

In 1721 he was successful in his application to join the Royal College of Physicians. His past experience of contracting smallpox and the care he received from Sydenham suddenly became particularly relevant when there was an outbreak in London, with Dover successfully replicating the "cooling method". In 1729 he returned briefly to Bristol, spending much of his time writing a book that would become both successful and controversial. The Ancient Physician's Legacy to his Country was first published in 1732 after Dover had returned to London. He saw patients at the popular Jerusalem coffee house. Dover's medical book was aimed at the education of physicians and the general public.

Adelhida Talbot, Duchess of Shrewsbury

Adelhida Paleotti
She was an equally big success with King George I, who arranged for her to become a Lady of the Bedchamber to Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales. This situation aroused the jealousy of other court ladies, including Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who satirised the duchess in "Roxana", one of her "Town Eclogues". The Duchess of Marlborough, who belonged to a different political camp from the duchess, commented on her lewd behaviour. It was also suggested that she had an affair with Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, a well-known philanderer. The duchess charmed the French during an official visit to Paris by her husband in 1713.

Dan Beach Bradley

BradleyDr. Dan Beach Bradley
Bradley's greatest medical challenge while in Siam was attempting to produce a vaccination for the smallpox virus, which devastated the country and killed Bradley's eight-month-old daughter, Harriet. Bradley received trial vaccines from Boston, none of which were successful. Bradley solved this problem by using the inoculation technique. (The inoculation technique was documented as having a mortality rate of only one in a thousand. Two years after Dr Peter Kennedy's description appeared, March 1718, Dr. Charles Maitland successfully inoculated the five-year-old son of the British ambassador to the Turkish court under orders from the ambassador's wife Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

William Cheselden

Selected images from Anatomy of the Humane Body From The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library.

Musaeum Clausum

One of the best known early collectors was Hans Sloane. Distinguished in medicine and science, Sloane was President of both the Royal Society and the Royal College of Physicians. The books and objects he collected, including those auctioned from the libraries of Thomas Browne and his son Edward in 1711, became the foundation of the British Museum. The sheer volume of book-titles, pictures and objects listed in Musaeum Clausum is testimony to Browne's fertile imagination. However, his major editors, Simon Wilkins in the nineteenth century (1834) and Sir Geoffrey Keynes in the twentieth (1924) summarily dismissed it. Keynes considered its humour too erudite and "not to everyone's taste."

Rambles in Germany and Italy

The empiricism that was driving the scientific revolution spread to travel literature; for example, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu included information she learned in Turkey regarding smallpox inoculation in her travel letters. By 1742, critic and essayist Samuel Johnson was recommending that travellers engage in "a moral and ethical study of men and manners" in addition to a scientific study of topography and geography. Over the course of the eighteenth century, the Grand Tour became increasingly popular. Travel to the Continent for Britain's elite was not only educational but also nationalistic.

Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury

The Duke of ShrewsburyCharles Talbot, 12th Earl of ShrewsburyDuke of Shrewsbury
After Shrewsbury's return to England the duchess became conspicuous in London society, where the caustic wit of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was exercised at her expense. She won the favour of Queen Anne, after the death of Prince George of Denmark, by her impulsive comment: "Oh my poor Queen I see how much you do miss your dear husband". During the Paris embassy she became extremely popular, due to her hospitality and lively conversation. Saint Simon thought that her eccentricity bordered on madness, but he did praise the simple, practical hairstyle which she made fashionable.

John Anthony (physician)

Munk (Mercurius Rusticus, ed. 1685, p. 125) by John Anthony, Dr. of Physick, London, 1654, 4to (Sloane MS. 489)

Isaac Swainson

In addition to curing various venereal diseases, including “the pox” and the “French disease”, it was claimed to cure leprosy, gout, scrophula, dropsy, small pox, consumption, tape worms, cancer, scurvy, and diaorrhea Whether he believed in the efficacy of his remedy or not, he did study the conventional medicine of the era and gained an MD in 1785, although there is no record of his subsequent election to the Royal College of Physicians.

Chiswick House

A gateway designed by Inigo Jones in 1621 at Beaufort House in Chelsea (home of Sir Hans Sloane) was bought and removed by Lord Burlington and rebuilt in the gardens at Chiswick in 1738. Lord Burlington is sometimes said to have been influenced by largely informal Chinese gardens, but the flavour of the Orient was not evoked in Burlington's classically inspired gardens, which were universally Roman in outlook. Unlike Stowe, with its Temple of Worthies and busts such as the Black Prince, Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare, Burlington's gardens at Chiswick did not romance or mythologise England's illustrious past.


Variola minor
Like smallpox, alastrim has now been totally eradicated from the globe thanks to the 1960s Global Smallpox Eradication campaign. The last case of indigenous variola minor was reported in a Somali cook, Ali Maow Maalin, in October 1977, and smallpox was officially declared eradicated worldwide in May 1980.

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History MuseumBritish Museum (Natural History)British Museum
The foundation of the collection was that of the Ulster doctor Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), who allowed his significant collections to be purchased by the British Government at a price well below their market value at the time. This purchase was funded by a lottery. Sloane's collection, which included dried plants, and animal and human skeletons, was initially housed in Montagu House, Bloomsbury, in 1756, which was the home of the British Museum. Most of the Sloane collection had disappeared by the early decades of the nineteenth century.

John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach

John FrederickJohn Frederick of Brandenburg-AnsbachJohann Friedrich
Their daughter Wilhelmine Charlotte Caroline, Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach (Caroline of Ansbach) married George II of Great Britain before he became king.


chicken poxvaricellaAntiviral therapy
Chickenpox was not separated from smallpox until the late 19th century. In 1888 its connection to shingles was determined. The first documented use of the term chicken pox was in 1658. Various explanations have been suggested for the use of "chicken" in the name, one being the relative mildness of the disease. The early (prodromal) symptoms in adolescents and adults are nausea, loss of appetite, aching muscles, and headache. This is followed by the characteristic rash or oral sores, malaise, and a low-grade fever that signal the presence of the disease. Oral manifestations of the disease (enanthem) not uncommonly may precede the external rash (exanthem).

DNA virus

dsDNA virusII in the Baltimore classificationDNA
Notable diseases like smallpox, herpes, and the chickenpox are caused by such DNA viruses. Genome organization within this group varies considerably. Some have circular genomes (Baculoviridae, Papovaviridae and Polydnaviridae) while others have linear genomes (Adenoviridae, Herpesviridae and some phages). Some families have circularly permuted linear genomes (phage T4 and some Iridoviridae). Others have linear genomes with covalently closed ends (Poxviridae and Phycodnaviridae). A virus infecting archaea was first described in 1974. Several others have been described since: most have head-tail morphologies and linear double-stranded DNA genomes.


vaccinia virus Vaccinia virusvaccinia (VACV)
Smallpox was the first disease to be widely prevented by vaccination due to pioneering work by the English physician and scientist Edward Jenner, in the eighteenth century, using cowpox virus. Vaccinia virus is the active constituent of the vaccine that eradicated smallpox, making it the first human disease to be eradicated. This endeavour was carried out by the World Health Organization under the Smallpox Eradication Program. Post eradication of smallpox, scientists study vaccinia virus to use as a tool for delivering genes into biological tissues (gene therapy and genetic engineering) and because of concerns about smallpox being used as an agent for bioterrorism.