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Australia was entirely dependent on the supply of doctors from the British Isles until 1863 when a medical school was established at the University of Melbourne.
Surgeons and Physicians emigrated as officers on convict transports, warships and merchant vessels. Some, including William John Whitla
, Thomas Parmeter
and John Waugh Drysdale
were transported as convicts.
They sometimes came with their wives or family and probably brought their collection of gallipots, lancets and other instruments with them. They sought Government employment or set up their own private practice and also established farms, vineyards and grazing properties. They were perhaps attracted to the colony hoping for economic prosperity, as were other immigrants.
Medical practitioners were often required to deal with the results of violent altercations and horrific accidents. Although advances in medical knowledge regarding disease and anatomy had been made by the 19th Century, effective treatments were not always available and there were no antibiotics. Doctors performed operations and post mortems. They treated the severe burns of children who had ventured too close to the open fires or pulled boiling kettles of water onto themselves. They tended injured bullock drivers who had fallen under drays and they patched up victims of assault. Until the mid 1840s they operated without anaesthetic and surgery was undertaken as a last resort.
A common treatment for many ailments was bleeding. Apothecaries in Maitland occasionally advertised to buy leeches and honey for treatments. Digitalis was given for heart treatment, opiates for pain; calomel as a purgative and aloes to treat chest complaints. They contributed to learning and politics and to the entertainment and cultural life in the colony. John Stewart
and Richard Bowker
gave lectures at the Mechanics Institutes. Others helped organise Race Days or special events. Alfred Edye
joined others in planning for the visit of the Governor in 1847.
They were sometimes restless or adventurous - Adoniah Vallack
travelled to Cape York as surgeon following Edmund Kennedy's surveying expedition. John Gill
accompanied Edward Denny Day
in pursuit of bushrangers the 'Jew Boy Gang
'. Walter Scott
accompanied John Oxley, Allan Cunningham
and others to establish a penal colony at Moreton Bay
in 1824.;Isaac Scott Nind
accompanied the 39th Regiment to establish a settlement at King George's Sound in 1826.
They often gave their services freely - David Stolworthy
and Adoniah Vallack
worked on the committee of the Singleton Benevolent Society as well as offering assistance and advice to the Society's patients. Michael McCartney
stayed constantly at the bedside of patient William Harper
for several days after Harper had been gored by a cow. The above services were given freely, however when the Medical Witness Bill was passed it ensured that adequate remuneration for attendance at inquests and on trials was provided, although heavy penalties were attached to the refusal or neglect to attend when properly summoned.
In 1845 several members of the Medical Profession considered it was desirable to establish a Medical Society in the Hunter Valley and George Brooks
issued a notice to that effect. In September of that year a meeting was held at Mrs. Muir's Hotel at East Maitland
during the Criminal Court Sessions to form an Association for the 'diffusion of knowledge and the regulation of professionals business'
Medical practitioners were as vulnerable as any other settlers of the district - their farms suffered drought and flood, their young children died, their servants absconded and some, becoming insolvent in the depression of the 1840's, lost all but their surgical instruments. Dr. Mallon
was more fortunate than others in 1843 as he was allowed to retain household furniture as well as his surgical instrument. All else was apparently lost to him.
George Frederick Barnes
(Maitland and Morpeth)
George Henry Bendall (Maitland)
John William Penn Blick
Richard Ryther Steer Bowker
James John Cadell
Francis Rawdon Hastings Campbell
William Bell Carlylse
William Peagan Coleman
(Maitland and Paterson)
John Waugh Drysdale
(Maitland and Wollombi)
James Andrew Du Moulin
(Hunter Valley Settler Map 2)
Thomas Hollingworth Fowler
Charles Henry Hallett
Henry Turner Harrington
Richard Lewis Jenkins
George May Lee
Henry George Lewis
Henry John Lindeman
Patrick Walsh Mallon
Ellar McKellar McKinlay
Robert H. Milner
(Sydney and Newcastle)
(Black Creek, Armidale)
Cosby William Morgan
George Bridge Mullins and Daniel Mullins
Appin G. Nichol
Isaac Scott Nind
Henry William Radford
George Shaw Rutherford
John Edward Stacy
(Port Stephens and Newcastle)
(Newcastle and Morpeth)
Charles Drew Street
Francis Gale Snelling Street
(Raymond Terrace and Murrurundi)
Patrick Thomas Tighe
Rowland John Traill
Robert Porter Welch
(Murrurundi and West Maitland)
John Boucher West
(Maitland and Port Stephens)
William John Whitla
(Port Stephens and Morpeth)
(Newcastle and Raymond Terrace and Maitland)