Pharmaceutical Formulae of St Thomas' and Guy's Hospitals

Scope and Content

Inscriptions on the inside front cover indicate that the manuscript was acquired by the Manchester Medical Society in 1880 and was subsequently allocated the reference D 320 viz. their 1890 library catalogue. An additional note on f.1r tells us that the manuscript's creator William Sparrow attended St Thomas's & Guy's Hospitals in 1768 & 1769, unfortunately little else is known about him. The manuscript contains pharmacopoeia for both hospitals alongside additional extracts recounting specific cases and suggested remedies.

The 'pharmacopoeia nosocomii Thomae Guy Esq', or the pharmacopoeia of the Hospital of Thomas Guy, covers folios 2-22 and lists the recipes for different preparations using Latin abbreviation and the traditional English Apothecaries' system of weights and measures. The list is largely alphabetical and includes aquae, balsams, boli [boluses], cerates, confections, decoctions, draft, electuaries, elixirs, emplastrums [blisters], enemas, fomentations, gargles, infusions, juleps, liniments, mixtures, pills, powders, serums, spirits, syrups, tinctures, and unguents.

Discussion of two specific cases, namely that of a woman with a breast tumour and a man with a dislocated humerus, seen at St Thomas's Hospital feature on folios 24-33 alongside different opinions on certain remedies and treatments of certain physicians and surgeons. In the course of the two case descriptions reference is made to Mr Warner, Mr Smith, Mr Joseph Else, Mr Way, Mr Franks, and Mr Barker, all surgeons at St Thomas's. There is also discussion of the value of cicuta, or water hemlock, in the treatment of scrofulous or scorbutic cases or cancers as recommended by Mr Warner with queries made by Dr Monkley. The writer also outlines the disagreements over the method of treating fractures between Mr Warner and Percivall Pott, Mr Way's observations on the female urethra and Mr Martin's observations on ophthalmia and buboes. Comments are also made on the case of a man with a sinuous abscess who was a patient of Mr John Hunter's at St George's Hospital. Finally the author describes the different methods of treatment for bubonocele [inguinal hernia] offered by Pott, Samuel Sharp (1709-1778), Warner and Henri François Le Dran (1685-1770).

Sparrow clearly spent time at St George's Hospital in addition to St Thomas's and Guy's in order to observe Hunter's work. The many references to Pott, who was a surgeon at St Bartholomew's, may suggest he also spent time studying there. Equally the information may have come from published sources with both eventualities also possible in the case of Le Dran and the Hôpital de la Charité in Paris.

The 'Pharmacopoeia Nosocomii Divi Thomae', or Pharmacopoeia of St Thomas's Hospital, covers folios 38v.-56r. Its structure and content is very similar to the Guy's formulae and it is followed immediately by the 'Pharmacopoeia Chirurgica Divi Thomae', a pharmacopoeia of St Thomas's surgery on folios 56v.-57.

The last few folios contain recipes for injections and remarks upon them, recipes for different varnishes, medicine for scrofulous cases recommended by Mr Baker, treatment for swelled testicle devised by Dr Ward, and a description of a carrot poultice for ulcerous legs recommended by Dr Huck.