Nottingham Hospitals History



(1756 - 1843)

Founder member of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society

Freedom of the Town of Nottingham

                   March 25th, 1799:

"The great mortality that has prevailed amongst the children of the poor from smallpox in the town of Nottingham, this winter, has induced the Medical Gentlemen to give their consent to a plan proposed for the inoculation of the children of the town and the neighbourhood. Notice is therefore given that such poor who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity now offered must apply at the Hospital on Tuesday mornings of April and September of the year."

(Nottingham Date Book)

John Attenburrow, a keen follower of Edward Jenner, was for a total of sixty-one years from 1782 to 1843 senior surgeon to the General Hospital. It was this gentleman who first undertook to vaccinate his fellow-townsmen against smallpox in the year 1800. When Attenburrow began his period of inoculation he first had to overcome the prejudices from women of all ages and particularly the systematic prejudices of women who were wearing men's clothing. To overcome this prejudice he vaccinated his own son twice, and the son of Mr. Charles Baxter, who kept the Cordwainer's Arms public-house, on Tollhouse Hill. In both cases the results were successful. Mothers began to flock to John Attenburrow's Surgery on Beastmarket Hill with their children to be inoculated. Attenborrow, instead of making a charge, thanked them for their attendance.

So the principle and the practice of vaccination was born. If a child became inflicted with smallpox, its mother was "branded an enemy to her own child, under the impression that its affliction was the consequence of her own obstinacy or neglect."

As a result of John Attenburrow's influence, in 1805 a 'Vaccine Institution' was set for the purpose of paying a surgeon for inoculating the children of the poor. In 1813 this institution was brought to a close for want of subscriptions to carry it on; but at the same time a medical establishment was formed at St. Mary's workhouse by the overseers of the parish where the children of the poor were vaccinated.

Smallpox was regularly admitted to the Fever House of the General Hospital from 1828.

 "In 1872, the fever block was filled with smallpox, and there were 500 cases in the town, most of them housed in a temporary hospital which was built over what is now the tunnel on the Great Central Railway. One fact I may record, which I think is of value. All cases coming into the General wards, were vaccinated at once, and every member of the staff was re-vaccinated on joining up. The result was that no single case occurred in the hospital. I had come from Bath, where there was no smallpox, having previously worked in South Wales, where they had some 50 deaths a week.”

(From the Reminiscences by Dr. Lewis Marshall, Resident Surgeon at the General Hospital from 1871 to 1877.)

From A History of the General Hospital near Nottingham