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of the Bay of Quinte
In 1833, Elijah Lennox of Thurlow Tp. petitioned for a licence to become a certified "Root Doctor". He had 48 inhabitants of Thurlow and Sidney Townships sign this petition in support of his request. The term Root Doctor was new to me - I had to know more. Thanks to Guylaine Pétrin for directing me to this unusual petition.
© Randy Saylor, Dec. 2018
|This page is composed of three parts
|1. THE PETITION OF ELIJHA LENOX|
Preamble: First off, Elijha signed his surname as Lenox but the contemporary documents otherwise have Lennox. Elijha was trained in what we might call natural medicine and he petitions for a certificate so he can practice legally. The short note on the fold suggests his request was denied as "the Lt Governor is not authorized to grant any merchant business except under the provisions and conditions presented in the Statutes of the Province."
Source: Governor General's Office, Miscellaneous Records, LAC, RG 7 G14, H-1177, 1751-5, on line HeritageCanadiana.ca, starts at image 1852
[1751 and part of 1752]
To Colonel Rowan
Secretary etc etc
3rd Con[cession] Thurlow near Belleville
I have the honor to enclose you a Petition from myself to his Excellency Sir John Colborne praying for a License or Permission to practice in the neighborhood as a Root Doctor or vender [sic] of Herbs for Medicinal purposes etc and shall feel much obliged by your laying the same before his Excellency and informing me of his determination thereon
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most and Obedt Servt
[signed] Elijah Lenox
[1752 - fold notes]
That the Lt Governor is not authorized to grant any merchant business except under the provisions and conditions presented in the Statutes of the Province
The humble petition of Elijah Lennox [sic] of the township of Thurlow in the county of Hastings in the Midland District and in the province of Upper Canada
That since his return to this country he has been constantly solicited for and has given his assistance in cases of sickness without being able to receive any remuneration for his services though tendered him in consequence of not having hitherto obtained a permission or Licence to practice
That for some months past the scarlet fever attended with very dangerous symptoms has been very prevalent in your Petitioners neighborhood principally attacking children a very great number of whom have died in consequence of medical assistance being difficult to procure
That your petitioner has attended about fifty cases of this disease, all but one of the persons attacked have recovered but as your petitioner is so circumstanced as to be precluded from receiving any remuneration for his  loss of time and exertions he has been compelled in many instances with considerable regret to refuse assistance
That he has been threatened with legal proceedings if he continued to practice and that in consequence of such threats and at the solicitation of the Inhabitants of the neighboring concessions he has been induced to petition your Excellency for a Permission or license similar to the one obtained by your Petitioner in the State of New York.
Your Petitioner therefore prays that your Excellency will be pleased to order such a Certificate or Permission to be granted to your Petitioner that he may be legally entitled to vend and Administer such Roots and Herbs as he may procure in this Country medicinally and receive payment for the same
Your petitioner begs to call attention to the accompanying
recommendation from the Inhabitants of Thurlow, Sidney etc at whose
solicitation this petition is presented
|2. SIGNATURES OF 48 INHABITANTS OF THURLOW and SIDNEY 1833|
These are actual signatures and not easy to decifer. Feedback is most welcome. The signatures are on page 1755.
is very clear from the excerpts below that Elijha Lenox studied with
Samuel Thomson or one of his
associates in the United States around 1830. Elijah was part of a
movement that met resistance but over time found some acceptance. It is
not known at this time if Elijah continued as a practioner as a "Root
Doctor." His name did not come up in a quick search of the Thurlow
records on this site. More information is welcome.
A recent book has been written about Samuel Thomson and his leadership in what was then a new type of medical practice. Thompson was the founder of the Friendly Botanic Society and practitioners became known as "Thomsonians." This excerpt from the bibliography gives a sense of Thomson's ideas.
- Samuel Thomson. An Address to the public on the Causes and
Treatment of Disease; Upon a New System
Originating with the author; Showing the bad Consequences of Administering
poison as Medicine, and the Advantage of Following the Course Pointed out by
Nature; Using Vegetable substances Only. To which is Added Some Account of the
success which has attended the Practice in the State of New York; With the
Proceedings of the Friendly Botanic Society. Boston, 1825.
- A brief sketch of the causes and treatment of disease,
addressed to the people of the United States, pointing out to them the pernicious
consequences of using poisons as medicine, such as mercury, arsenic, nitre,
antimony, and opium; and the advantages using such only as are the products of
our own country. … 1821
Dr. William Canniff is quite well known to Quinte researchers for his book The History of the Settlement of Upper Canada publsihed in 1869. Dr. Canniff later published a book titled, The Medical Profession in Upper Canada 1783-1850
and in it he writes about Samuel Thomson and says this on page
74,"Thompson [sic] was, we believe, a subject of the United States;
but he found in Canada a somewhat fruitful field for the practice of
peculiar views of medical science, and in time, had a considerable
followers. They were known as 'Thompsonians.' Not a few young Canadians, disinclined to do manual
work, as their fathers had done, cast aside their homespun clothes, donned a
broadcloth suit and kid gloves, hung up a shingle and announced themselves to
be “Doctors,” according to the doctrine
by Thompson. Little or no preparation was
required for this change of occupation, and money was generally made by the
change. For many years the Thompsonians
practiced without a license and in defiance of the law. But later on they assumed the name of the “Eclectics,”
and commanded sufficient influence to secure from Parliament the right to grant
licenses to practice medicine. They
ultimately became absorbed in the general profession after the incorporation of
the Ontario Medical Council." [William Canniff, 1894, on
line archive.org, p 71-75.
There is another account about Thomson and his Friendly Botanic Society and how he and his agents spread about the country. They had success in some States in gaining the right to practice. See the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, [later: The New England Journal of Medicine], Vol 130, Jan-Jun 1894, p. 611 Google Books.A more modern account of the "Eclectics" is included on the web site of the The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. "By the 1840s, people had three main types of doctors to choose from: the “regulars” (meaning standard licensed doctors), the eclectics, and the homeopaths. All three had basic medical knowledge, but practised medicine in different ways. The regulars were fond of violent methods of treatment, as they believed one should meet severe symptoms with equally severe treatment. Bleeding and purging sometimes worked, but they also sometimes killed patients. The eclectics rejected these principles and used gentler methods, such as local roots and herbs, for treatment. Many of their practices were learned from the well-developed medical knowledge of Indigenous peoples. Finally, the homeopaths advocated the treatment of individuals with either small doses of desirable drugs, or with drugs that would cause the same symptoms in a healthy person as experienced by the sick person. All three groups initially had their own licensing boards, but in 1869 they were united under the banner of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Source: CPSO, A Look Back, The Practice of Medicine in the early 1800's