Charles William Luther (Carl/Karl/Karrol Wilhelm) (26 September 1810 – 5 October 1876) was a German orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, and he was one of the first people to introduce homeopathy to Ireland in 1838.
Charles William Luther was born in Raguhn in the German Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau in 1810 to Dr. Johann Carl Wilhelm Luther (1779 – 1860), a correspondent – and possible acquaintance – of Samuel Hahnemann.
Charles William Luther obtained his M.D. from Halle in Prussia in 1832, and a second M.D. from St. Andrews in 1846.
Charles William Luther was the house doctor to John Campbell 1st Baron Campbell in Nice in 1833, where he had ‘*so many cures that the Medical College of the University of Nice “prohibited his practice,” so he moved to Paris in 1835. That same year Samuel Hahnemann and his wife Melanie also moved to Paris, and were befriend by Charles William Luther.
While in Paris, in 1836 Charles William Luther published an English language treatise, Allopathy and Homeopathy or the Usual Medicine and the Hahnemannian Doctrine.
In 1838, Charles William Luther arrived in Ireland. It is possible that in 1840 he may have spent some time in England as his pamphlet Homeopathy Explained and Objections Answered was published there.
Charles William Luther set up a thriving homeopathic practice in Ireland 1841 when John Campbell 1st Baron Campbell became Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
Charles William Luther worked at the Dispensary of the Irish Homeopathic Society (Dublin Homeopathic Dispensary) at 31 South Anne Street Dublin with Arthur Guinness, William Barclay Browne Scriven and Arthur de Noe Walker,
In 1845, Charles William Luther was a founder member of the Irish Homeopathic Society and that year he published A Concise View of the System of Homeopathy.
In 1849, Charles William Luther and his brother Gustavus Adolphus Luther inherited an estate in Nudersdorf in Germany.
In August 1850, Charles William Luther married Emily Fletcher in Bath. They had one son, Martin Fletcher Luther (1852 – 1933).
Luther was still listed in the 1853 British and Foreign Homoeopathic Medical Directory as one of the Medical Officers at the Dispensary of the Irish Homoeopathic Society in Dublin in 1852, alongside Doctors William Barclay Browne Scriven and Arthur de Noe Walker.
By 1853, Charles William Luther was practicing in England, where he was a Medical officer at 1 Southwick Crescent, Oxford Square and 18 Orchard Street in London, where he was very active in trying to establish a Metropolitan Homeopathic Hospital for the Diseases of Children and writing for various homeopathic journals.
In 1856, Charles William Luther retired from practice and returned to Germany, though he eventually returned to England and died in Southwick near Brighton. His brief Obituary is in the London Homeopathic World and written by Richard Tuthill Massey.
The first English translation of the Organon was done by Charles H Devrient and edited by Samuel Stratten in Dublin in 1833.
The Irish Homeopathic Society was founded on April 10, 1845. A book published in 1848 lists 40 members of the Committee of the Irish Homeopathic Society and three medical attendants of the Homeopathic Institution: Charles William Luther, Gustav A Luther and William Walter.
In the 1895 Homeopathic Medical Directory we find two homeopaths in Ireland. By 1930 the number rose to four. The Irish Homeopathic Society was (re) formed in 1990 to represent the professional homeopaths in Ireland. In the mid 1990s there were almost 30 physicians using homeopathy in Ireland, 89 professional homeopaths on the Society Register, and an unknown number of lay prescribers.
Luther also writes regarding this bust, as follows: I have just seen last week’s Homeopathic Times, and hasten, both for the sake of the credit of Homeopathy and as a mater of pious duty towards the memory of our great and good master, to correct the erroneous impression which your correspondent in your last number seems to have received with regard to the person of the name of Hahnemann, who was in Dublin in 1823.
This personage was not the ” great Hahnemann ” himself, but his only son, Frederick Hahnemann, a man of a certain amount of talent, but very eccentric in his opinions and conduct. When shortly after the appearance of the Organon, Hecker criticized the new doctrine with great severity in his Annalen, Samuel Hahnemann as usual remained silent; but his son Frederick Hahnemann undertook the defense of Homeopathy (1811).
This task he performed but indifferently. He also occasionally assisted his father in his investigations of the pathogenetic properties of various medicines; however, he does not seem to have risen above mediocrity. His restless disposition and eccentric habits, as well as domestic circumstance, induced him to leave Germany.
He went to Dublin, not to practice Homeopathy, but for the avowed and exclusive purpose of curing epilepsy. In this, if report can be trusted, he frequently succeeded; but his professional conduct exceeded even the ordinary limits of oddity and eccentricity, to make use of the mildest terms.
He soon left Dublin again, and when Samuel Hahnemann, for the last time, heard anything about him he was somewhere in the West Indies. You may rely upon this account, as I have heard, during my long sojourn in Dublin, and from the most authentic sources, a great many particulars which were very far from flattering, and always embarrassing, as people, like your correspondent, were apt to confound the two Hahnemanns.
Besides this I had, in April, 1843, a long conversation with Samuel Hahnemann himself on this very subject. I was on the point of starting on a tour through North America, and intended to return by the West Indies.
Although Samuel Hahnemann had great reason to be dissatisfied with his son, and seldom spoke of him, it would seem that his then weak state of health, from which he told me he would never rally, had softened his paternal heart, and he evinced great anxiety that I should make extensive inquiries in the West Indies about his lost son. Circumstances, however, prevented my returning by that route.
Possibly Frederick Hahnemann is still alive, and may be met with by some of our numerous transatlantic friends. When I asked Samuel Hahnemann how I should know him, he said: He cannot deny his father as to features; he is humpbacked and eccentric in dress, manner and habits. These brief particulars about Frederick Hahnemann will, I trust, be sufficient for all public purposes. I remain your obedient servant, Charles William Luther. Dublin, Aug. 28, 1852.
In 1853, Charles William Luther wrote to Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton about this satirical sketch “My Novel”, Or, Varieties in English Life. Bulwer-Lytton responded to this, chastizing Luther but also acknowledging that he himself had used and recommended homeopathy.
Charles William Luther also applied his homeopathic skills to veterinary practice. In 1856 a book The Lung Disease of Cattle; or pleuro pneumonia cured by homeopathy, by Henry Turner discussed work done by William Haycock, who had first noticed this disease in 1842. Farmers had been losing thousands of cattle to this malady. A review of Turner’s book in the British Homoeopathic Review was appended by testimonies from Charles William Luther, George Edward Allshorn, and Ditton-based physician Peter Stuart who all noted that they had experience treating this disease.
Charles William Luther estimated that 6 out of every 10 cattle so affected could be cured. Peter Stuart in Warrington, also using homeopathy at this time, treated up to 180 cows with this disease, saving about 130 of them. George Edward Allshorn used aconite and bryonia and estimated he had saved 17 out of every 20 cows he treated.
[NOTE: For the early history of Irish homeopathy and the role of Charles William Luther in promoting homeopathy there see Rhoda Ui Chonaire “The Luther Legacy: Homeopathy in Ireland in the 19th Century,“ in The Journal of the Irish Society of Homeopaths (Anniversary Issue, October 2010), pages 17 – 24.]
- Allopathy and Homeopathy or the Usual Medicine and the Hahnemannian Doctrine (1836)
- A Concise View of the System of Homeopathy, & Refutation of the Objections (1848)
Gustavus Adolphus Luther (? – 1856), brother of Charles William Luther, Heinrich Waldemar Luther and John Christian Luther, accompanied Charles William Luther to Dublin and also became a founder member of the Irish Homeopathic Society. Gustavus Adolphus Luther and Charles William Luther were the 3 Medical Attendants of the Dublin Homeopathic Dispensary alongside Arthur Guinness.
John Christian Luther (1816 – 1849) MD St. Andrews 1846 was the 3rd son of J. C. W. Luther, a friend of Samuel Hahnemann, and the brother of Charles William Luther, Gustavus Adolphus Luther and Heinrich Waldemar Luther. John Christian Luther moved to live in Ireland in 1844, and thence to England in 1845 where he settled in Bath as a homeopathic physician in 1846 (at the Bath Homeopathic Dispensary), but unfortunately contracted typhus and died aged 33 in 1849.
Heinrich Waldemar Luther (1820 – 1896), brother of Charles William Luther, Gustavus Adolphus Luther and John Christian Luther. In 1850, he was a Medical Officer at the Bath Homeopathic Dispensary – taking over from his brother after John Christian Luther’s untimely death. Heinrich Waldemar Luther was also a colleague of William Barclay Browne Scriven at the South Anne Street Dispensary alongside Charles William Luther, and he was the proprietor of a Hydropathic establishment at Johnville, near Tallaght, and the Medical Officer at the Cardiff Homeopathic Dispensary in 1861. He was a practicing homeopath in Cork in 1872, where he was associated with a Turkish Bath specifically established for the poor.