Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton


17 June 1721   A representation having been made to his Majesty, by four physicians, that the small-pox may be communicated by insition or inoculating, as some express it, and that it has been practic'd safely and with success, as might be experienc'd if some proper objects to practice on, were found out: 'Tis assur'd that two of the condemn'd prisoners now in Newgate, have, upon this occasion, offer'd themselves to undergo the experiment, upon receiving his Majesty's most gracious Pardon; and his Majesty being inclin'd to comply therein, has refer'd it to the Attorney and Sollicitor-General, to determine whether he can do it by law. The advantage propos'd by this, seems to be, that the best kind of these pox, which are comparatively innocent, may be convey'd, and thereby prevent the patients ever having the worst kind, which are call'd the confluent pox. There's another advantage that the patients body may be well prepar'd before hand, which will make the distemper still less dangerous.
          N. B. This communicating the small-pox by insition or coition, is practic'd with great dexterity in Turkey, and is done in this manner; a person who has the small pox come out full upon them, has one of the bulbs or blisters, or scabs, call them what you please, taken off whole with the blood fresh in it, and the well person has a vein open'd in the same manner as in letting blood, and the pork or scab as above is put into the orofice [sic] of the vein of the bleeding person, by which the distemper is immediately convey'd into the blood of that person, and mixes in consequence of the circulation with the whole mass of blood. In two days time after this, the person shall have the small-pox appear upon him, and then they proceed to the proper means of cure, they who think fit to try the experiment, may enquire farther into the particulars. This being a matter of some curiosity, we have inserted it, believing it would be acceptable to our readers. (Applebee’s Original Weekly Journal)

24 June 1721   The story of a proposal for curing the small-pox by incision, and by inoculating, &c. which we inserted by way of amusement from another paper, is entirely groundless; for we are well assur'd that no such representation hath been made to his Majesty, as was there mention'd; no such reference to the Attorney-General, and no offer made by two condemn'd malevactors to undergo such visionary experiment upon condition of pardon. (Applebee’s Original Weekly Journal)

8 January 1726   We are assured from Sevenoak in Kent, that Sir Henry Fermor, Bart. a Gentleman of extraordinary beneficence, has lately, at his own charge, caused five persons of that County to be inoculated for the small pox; and that Mr. Lake, apothecary, was the operator; by whose care they all perfectly recover’d. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

12 February 1730   The town of Huntingdon being afflicted with the small-pox, Sir John Bernard, and Robert Pigot, Esq; the two candidates for Knight of the Shire, in the room of the Marquis of Hartington, now Duke of Devonshire, are obliged to erect booths without the town, for taking the poll of such freeholders as have not had that distemper, or else must lose their votes. Whether the small-pox be more fatal than formerly, or the people more careful of their health and safety, I shall not pretend to determine. Certain it is, that the plague it self could not spread a greater terror, or cause a greater interruption of trade and business than this does in all the towns where it prevails. [Grub-street Journal]

13 April 1732   Monday, April 10. Two nephews of the Hon. Sir Tho. Lyttleton, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, were lately inoculated for the small-pox; and on friday last the eldest of them, aged about 30, died; the other is in a fair way of recovery, the pox having broke out in a kindly way. P. (Grub-street Journal)

20 April 1732   Thursday, April 13. On friday last dy’d at King’s college in Cambridge, of the small-pox, which he contracted by inoculation, Mr. West, a young gentleman of about 20 years old, a near relation to the Lord Delawar. LE. (Grub-street Journal)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Smallpox", 3 January 2006, enlarged 30 January 2006 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/smallpox.htm>

Return to list of Newspaper Reports