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Company of Apothecaries

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APOTHECARIES, COMPANY OF, one of the incorporated Companies of the city of London.

The word Apothecary is from the French apoticaire, which is defined by Richelet to be "one who prepares medi cines according to a pre scription." The word is from the low Latin Apothecarius, and that is from the genuine Latin apotheca, which means a storehouse or store-room generally, and, more particularly, a place for storing wine in: the Latin word is, however, from the Greek (diroehtco).

In England, in former times, an apo thecary appears to have been the com mon name for a general practitioner of medicine, a part of whose business it was, probably in all cases, to keep a shop for the sale of medicines. In 1345 a per son of the name of Coursus de Gange land, on whom Edward III. then settled a pension of sixpence a day for life, for his attendance on his Majesty some time before while he lay sites in Scotland, is called in the grant, printed in Rymer's Fcedera,' an apothecary of London. But at this date, and for a long time after, the profession of physic was entirely unre gulated.

It was not till after the accession of Henry VIII. that the different branches of the profession came to be distinguished, and that each had its province and par ticular privileges assigned to it by law.

In 1511 an act of parliament (3 Hen. VIII. c. 11) was passed, by which, in consideration, as it is stated, of " the great inconvenience which did ensue by igno rant persons practising physic or surgery, to the grievous hurt, damage, and de struction of many of the king's liege people," it was ordered that no one should practise as surgeon or physician in the city of London, or within seven miles of it, until he had been first examined, ap proved, and admitted by the Bishop of London or the Dean of St. Paul's, who were to call in to assist them in the ex amination "four doctors of physic, and of surgery other expert persons in that faculty." In 1518 the physicians were for the first time incorporated, and their college founded, evidently with the view that it should exercise a general super intendence over all the branches of the profession. In 1540 the surgeons were

also incorporated and united, as they con tinued to be till the beginning of the pre sent century, with the barbers.

The two associations thus established appear, however, to have very soon begun to overstep their authority. It was found necessary, in 1543, to pass an act for the toleration and protection of the numerous irregular practitioners, who did not be long to either body, but who probably formed the of healing throughout the kin om. In this curious statute (34 & 35 en. VIII. c. 8) the former act of 1511 is declared to have been passed, " amongst other thinp, for the avoiding of sorceries, witchcra.t and other inconveniencies ;" and not a little censure is directed against the licensed and associated surgeons for the mercenary spirit in which they are alleged to have acted ; while much praise is bestowed apon the unincorporated practitioners for their charity in giving the poor the benefit of their skill and care, and for the great public usefulness of their labours gene rally. The import of the enactment is expressed in its title, which is, "An Act that persons being no common surgeons may minister outward medicines." The persons thus tolerated in the administra tion of outward medicines, of course com prehended those who kept shops for the sale of drugs, to whom the name of apo thecaries was now exclusively applied. The acceptation of the name, as thus confined, may be gathered from Shake pere's delineation of the apothecary in ' Romeo and Juliet' (published in 1597), as one whose business was " culling of simples." who kept a "shop," the "shelves" of which were filled with "green earthen pots," &c., and who was resorted to as a dealer in all sorts of chemical prepara tions. Nothing is said of his practising medicine ; and it certainly was not till nearly a century later that apothecaries in England, as distinguished from physi cians and surgeons, began regularly to act as general practitioners.

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