George Calvert Holland M.D. (28 February 1801 – 7 March 1865) was a poet, public speaker, author, politician, and physician. He was Lecturer on Physiology at Sheffield Medical Institution in 1831, Physician Extraordinary to The Sheffield General Infirmary, formerly President of the Huntarian and Royal Physical Societies Edinburgh, and Bachelor of Letters of the University of Paris. George Calvert Holland became a convert to homeopathy in 1847.

Holland was an influential and prolific author and his publications are mentioned frequently in other journals and publications, and he was a very successful orthodox physician, a friend of John James Audubon and Richard Furness, and physician to Joanna Baillie in 1834.

George Calvert Holland resigned his orthodox posts in 1843 and he was declared bankrupt in 1847 when his bank directorships crashed. Holland was a member of the Yorkshire Geological Society in 1849.

In 1847 George Calvert Holland was contributing to homeopathic journals, and he was a colleague and friend of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin and in 1849 his name is listed in The British and Foreign Homeopathic Medical Directory and Record, the British Homeopathic Journal in 1851, and in The British Homeopathic Review in 1859. In 1853, Holland was a member of the Hahnemann Publishing Society.

George Calvert Holland was active in the foundation of the London Homeopathic Hospital, which was established at 32 Golden Square in 1851. He was a was a colleague of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, the first President of the British Homeopathic Society, and Marmaduke Blake Sampson, the Chairman of the British Homeopathic Association, and many other homeopaths.

George Calvert Holland was also a colleague of William Edward Ayerst, Hugh Cameron, John Chapman, Matthew James Chapman, Edward Charles Chepmell, Paul Francois Curie, William Vallancy Drury, George Napoleon Epps, James Epps, John Epps, James Manby Gully, Edward Hamilton, Richard Hughes, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, Victor Massol, J Bell Metcalfe, Samuel Thomas Partridge, Henry Reynolds, John Rutherford Russell, David Wilson, Stephen Yeldham and many others.

George Calvert Holland was born from working people and apprenticed to a hairdresser, but he did not stay there long. His early love of poetry led to his ‘avid’ self education in languages and a role in the local debating society.

His elder brother placed him under tuition for a Unitarian Ministry, but Holland turned instead to medicine. He went to the University of Edinburgh and then to Paris. As an MD, he practiced in Manchester and began to lecture.

Moving to Sheffield, he began to write and he became a prominent member of Society. Holland became interested in Mesmerism, Phrenology and politics, speaking and writing extensively about the Corn Laws.

By this time, Holland was a wealthy man and a director of the Leeds and West Riding bank and the Sheffield and Retford bank, which unfortunately crashed disastrously, wiping out Holland’s entire fortune. Holland was declared bankrupt in 1847.

He retired to a humble cottage and returned to his writing.

A year later, he was in London and working as a homeopath, and on his return to Sheffield, he became a town councillor, and in 1862, he became an Alderman, but his health was already failing and he died in 1865.

George Calvert Holland was a ‘Major Citizen of Sheffield’:

Holland was born in Pitsmoor in 1801. There are conflicting reports as to his father’s occupation, Odom says he was a barber whilst Leader claims he was a saw maker. In any event, George Holland like many of his contemporaries had little formal education. He began to study at the age of sixteen and absorbed himself in Latin, French and Italian.

After being impressed by the ability of one of his friends to write verses he started to write himself and rapidly became competent enough to be a regular contributor to the Poets’ Corner of a local journal.

Nonetheless, it was to the medical profession that Holland was to set his sights. He gained a place at Edinburgh to study medicine and in 1827 graduated to M.D. with Honours. He began practice in Manchester and then took up another practice in Sheffield where he was reputed to have earned £1400 per annum. For twelve years, Holland was physician to the Royal Infirmary. He resigned that post in 1843.

Like many of his middle class contemporaries, Holland was involved in many different facets of the town’s life. He was active in the Mechanics’ Library and the Mechanics’ Institute. In 1835 he became President of the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society, a position which seemed to have been passed around a select and predictable few who were central to the town’s social circle.

At the S.L.P.S. Holland lectured on a variety of medical subjects and amongst his own personal special studies were consumption, the digestion and Grinders’ diseases.

Poetry was not his only literary pursuit.

Of great importance to the study of Sheffield’s history is Holland’s book The Vital Statistics of Sheffield a major study, giving vital information regarding a whole array of different aspects of the town and its people.

He also published the Poetical Works of Richard Furness in 1858 with the fullest biography of the poet available.

However, Holland’s quest to satisfy his intellect was finally his undoing. For during the railway mania of the 1830’s and 1840’s he became so absorbed in the local projects that he almost gave up his medical practices and brought about virtual financial ruin. He took up residence at Wadsley Hall and lived as a gentleman until he was forced out through bankruptcy….

George Calvert Holland did NOT impress Thomas Carlyle:

“As for Holland, no more perfect ass has come across me for a long while: loud, unmelodious, stupid; altogether of a supreme stupidity. Yet he too means at bottom something; and even, in his darkness and insolent platitude, is groping towards a great thing.

“I told you once, we must have industrial barons, of a quite new suitable sort; workers loyally related to their taskmasters,—related in God (as we may well say); not related in Mammon alone! This will be the real aristocracy, in place of the sham one; a thing far from us, alas; but infallibly arriving for us;—infallibly, as I think, unless we are to go to wreck altogether.

“This the poor ass Holland has some feeling of, in a most dim manner; and he brays accordingly: “The Corn Law and the Suffrage are by no means the solution of the matter.”

“It seems also your long eared noisy Dr Holland is still going on with his Millocrat; his brayings too, with your original Letter to Fitzwilliam, which provoked the same, I could like to have in full: but this, as far too post heavy in proportion to my impatience, may wait for an opportunity”.

George Calvert’s Obituary is in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1865.

Select Publications:

Of interest:

Henry Kelsall (1793 – 1869) Rochdale’s first non conformist Justice of the Peace, proposed an infirmary in Rochdale, with an amendment from Alderman Robinson for a homeopathic ward to be added to the new institution “… in recognition of the strong tradition of this medical practice in the town, because of the increased subscriptions that would accrue as a result, and with people obviously more likely to subscribe to an institution that encompassed their specific medical beliefs…” The proposal was seconded by Counsellor Hoyle and a stormy debate ensued in which is became obvious that the orthodox medical profession in the town, as represented by Doctors Elliott, March, and Wood, objected, quite vitriolically. “No connection with quacks,” was one of the phrases used by Dr. Wood, a Medical Officer in the Dispensary, at the prospect of homeopaths practicing in the proposed Infirmary. Nevertheless despite these objections the proposal was carried and a pledge of £3650 [£166,805.00 in today’s money] taken from the various people present…’ However, the course of the proposed homeopathic Rochdale Infirmary became mired in the perennial argument between old and new medicine. In Rochdale, the supporters of homeopathy were primarily non conformists, dissenters and Liberalists, and included John Bright, Benjamin Butterworth, Dr. William Harris Cox, Dr. Thomas Hayle,  Dr. George Calvert Holland,Edward Miall,  George Morris, J. K. Cheetham, and Joseph Seed amongst many others. The Homeopathic Infirmary in Rochdale was never  built as a result of all this upset. (From Helen Kelsall, “The Development of Voluntary Medical Institutions in Rochdale 1832-1872),” Transactions New Series Number 4, (1994, Rochdale Literary and Scientific Society).

Dr. Edward Christopher Holland (1811 – 1886) (no relation) was one of the earliest British homeopathic physicians. He was born and practiced in Honiton, Devon, from 1835, then in Rochdale from 1852, Norwich from 1856, and thereafter in Bath.