Charles Thomas Knox Shaw
Image Source: Sylvain Cazalet

Charles Thomas Knox Shaw M.R.C.S. L.R.C.P. (28 November 1854 – 22 November 1939) was a distinguished British surgeon and homeopath who become Consulting Ophthalmic Surgeon and Senior Surgeon at the London Homeopathic Hospital, Surgeon to The Buchanan Homeopathic Ophthalmic and Cottage Hospital at St. Leonard’s on Sea, Consulting Surgeon to the Phillips Memorial Homeopathic Hospital in Bromley, Kent and to the Bath Homeopathic Hospital, Honorary Consulting Surgeon to the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary and to the Devon and Cornwall Homeopathic Hospital, and Consulting Ophthalmic Surgeon to the Hastings Homeopathic Dispensary.

Among his patients was scholar and educator Julia Arnold Huxley, mother of Aldous Huxley.

Knox Shaw was a Council Member and Honorary Secretary of the British Homeopathic Society. He was elected President in 1891, and he later served as Treasurer. He was also a member of the British Homeopathic Association.

In 1899, Knox Shaw was elected a Corresponding Member, along with Dudley d’Auvergne Wright of London and Daniel Parenteau of Paris, of the American Homoeopathic, Opthalmological, Otological, and Laryngological Society. He was also a member of the Society of Biblical Archaeology and was one of the members that crossed over to join the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland after the two organizations merged in 1918.

In 1905 Knox Shaw was selected as British Secretary of the International Homeopathic Congress, organized by the American Institute of Homeopathy in Atlantic City in 1906. He was subsequently elected Treasurer of the 1911 Congress, held in London.

C. T. Knox Shaw practiced at 53 Pevensey Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, and at a number of London addresses throughout his career, including 6 Manchester Square, 19 Bentinck Street, 19, Upper Wimpole Street, and later at 105 Harley Street, W1.

Charles Thomas Knox Shaw was born in November 1854 to London homeopathic physician Archibald Richard Shaw M.D. (1821 – 1899) and his wife Laura Ellen Sansom Hills (1834 – 1909).

Knox Shaw followed his father and pursued a career in medicine. He trained at Guy’s Hospital and in Vienna.  In 1877 he was admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and entered onto the Medical Register. The following year he received his license from the Royal College of Physicians.

After qualifying, in 1879 Knox Shaw served as house surgeon at Guy’s, supervised by H. G. Howse M.S. He also served as Clinical Assistant at the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children.

In 1881, C.T. Knox Shaw was appointed as the Medical Officer of Health in Hastings, despite opposition from local allopathic physicians. Eventually this subsided and, in November 1888, Knox Shaw was elected a member of the Society of Medical Officers of Health.

In September 1884, Charles Knox Shaw married Ellen Elizabeth Spalding (1858 – 1919). She became a member of the Ladies Guild of the London Homeopathic Hospital. They had four children: the astronomer Harold Knox Shaw (1885 – 1970), Thomas Knox Shaw C.B.E. M.C. (1886 – 1972), Helen Knox Shaw (1888 – 1971) and school principal Patrick Knox Shaw (1893 – 1970)

Among his myriad duties, in 1884 Knox Shaw joined his brother as honorary medical officer and surgeon at the Buchanan Hospital in St. Leonards-on-Sea. There he supervised the expansion of the small cottage hospital into a 17-bed establishment, with two wards dedicated to his specialty, diseases of the eyes.

Knox Shaw maintained his connection to the Buchanan, even after his appointment in 1887 as successor to John Moorhead Byres Moir as ophthalmic surgeon at the London Homeopathic Hospital.

His career in London flourished and Knox Shaw became a highly regarded figure at the London Homeopathic Hospital. In 1904-5 he was Chairman of the hospital Medical Staff and, with his colleagues George Henry Burford and John Moorhead Byres Moir, he edited The London Homeopathic Hospital Reports. He also contributed cases and articles to various homeopathic publications.

C. T. Knox Shaw was also an important figure in the broader homeopathic medical profession. From 1895, he was Honorary Secretary of the British Homeopathic Society, and in 1908 he served as Honorary Local Secretary for the British Homeopathic Congress held in London.

Knox Shaw has been considered to have been one of the low potency British homeopaths associated with Richard Hughes and John James Drysdale and who made the 3x potency the standard among nineteenth century British homeopaths. According to South African homeopath Archibald Taylor Smith, writing in 1961, the early UK homeopaths comprised:

“… a remarkably able cohort of 3x men –  Stephen YeldhamJohn Galley BlackleyJohn Moorhead Byres MoirWashington Epps, C. T. Knox Shaw…. John EppsPaul Francois CurieDavid Wilson as well as Alfred Crosby PopeRichard HughesDavid Dyce Brown,… William BayesThomas Robinson Leadam and Robert Ellis Dudgeon…’’

However, Knox Shaw did not restrict himself to low-dose homeopathic therapeutics. In a 1905 paper, “Onosmodium in Muscular Astehnopia,” he explained that he used Natrum Muriacum in 6x doses, and occasionally even at the 30th dilution.

In addition to his many Consulting roles, Knox Shaw was a resolute advocate for homeopathy. On 5 February, 1914, Knox Shaw and his colleague Charles Wheeler were invited to give an address on Homeopathy by the officers of the Guy’s Hospital Physical Society, the hospital’s student society and one of the oldest scientific bodies in London.

During the First World War he was involved in the organization of the Homeopathic Military Hospital at Neuilly sur Seine in 1916.

After the war Knox Shaw began to reduce some of his non-surgical commitments. He resigned as Treasurer of the British Homeopathic Society in 1918, and had removed to Waverley, Oxted, Surrey, where his wife Ellen died in June, 1919.

In April 1922 Knox Shaw remarried, Winifred Marion Close (1876 – 1973). They retained property in London, and in 1923 Knox Shaw was listed as residing at East Hill Lodge, Oxted in Surrey, but by 1926 he and Winifred were residing at Observatory House, Woodstook Road, Oxford.

Charles Thomas Knox Shaw died at his Oxford home, 5 Frenchay Road, Residence Place, on 22 November 1939, aged 84.

Of interest:

Archibald Richard Shaw M.D. (15 December 1821 – 30 April 1899), father of C. T. Knox Shaw, was a St. Leonard’s based homeopathic physician, and a committee member for the Hastings Homeopathic Dispensary.

Frank Herbert Shaw M.D. (1858 – 1929), also an homeopath, was the brother of C. T. Knox Shaw.

Lauriston Elgie Shaw F.R.C.P. (31 March 1859 – 25 December 1923), an orthodox physician and Dean of Guy’s Hospital, was another brother of C. T. Knox Shaw.

Harold Knox Shaw (12 October 1885 – 11 April 1970), son of C. T. Knox Shaw, was an English astronomer.

Lt. Colonel Thomas Knox-Shaw C.B.E. M.C. (1886 – July 1972), son of C. T. Knox Shaw, was an English educator and, during the First World War, an infantry officer and recipient of the Military Cross. He was Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and master of the college from 1945 to 1957.

Helen Knox Shaw (1888 – 1971), daughter of C. T. Knox Shaw, married Scottish painter Keith Henderson O.B.E. (1883 – 1982). His 1917 book, Letters to Helen: Impressions of an Artist on the Western Front, was a series of letters he composed to Helen, accompanied by war paintings he produced while serving as a British army officer during the First World War.

Alexander Renfrew Shaw M.D. (12 December 1834 – 11 June 1906) [no evident relation] was an American homeopath who received his M.D. from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1857. He practiced in Newark, DE, and from 1860-1864 in Chambersburg, Franklin County, PA, where he succeeded Dr Ehrmann and, from 1849 -1851, German homeopath Proctor Louis Schucking.