Hugh Cameron (1810 – 1897). Image credit Peter Morrell

Hugh Cameron M.R.C.S. (28 July 1810 – 20 October 1897) was a British orthodox physician and surgeon who converted to homeopathy to become a student of Samuel Hahnemann in Paris. Hugh Cameron was a medical officer at the St. James Homeopathic Dispensary, opened in 1842 at 8 King Street, London, with Frederick Hervey Foster Quin and Samuel Thomas Partridge. Cameron was House Surgeon at the London Homeopathic Hospital, and was an early supporter of the Homeopathic Convalescent Home in Eastbourne.

Hugh Cameron was the homeopathic practitioner of Henry William Paget, Marquis of Anglesea, and he was also the homeopathic practitioner of the Dante scholar, William Warren Vernon. Cameron was also a professional acquaintance of obstetrician and Physician Accoucher to Queen Victoria, Charles Locock, 1st Baronet.

Hugh Cameron was a colleague of John James Drysdale, Victor Massol, John Chapman, Matthew James Chapman, Edward Charles Chepmell, Paul Francois Curie, Harris F. Dunsford, Edward Hamilton, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, James Bell Metcalfe, Henry Reynolds, John Rutherford Russell, David Wilson, Stephen Yeldham and many others.

Hugh Cameron was the last surviving founder member of the British Homeopathic Society.

Hugh Cameron was born in Perthshire, Scotland, a descendant of a leading member of the 1745 Jacobite rising. Cameron received his education in Perthshire and later the College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, where he received his Licentiate in 1831.

During the cholera epidemic in Edinburgh the following year, 1832, Cameron was put in charge of one of the city’s cholera  hospitals, developing expertise that would be invaluable for the London Homeopathic Hospital during the cholera outbreak of 1854.

Cameron spent the next three years traveling the Continent as physician to an invalid before returning to London. At a dinner party in the capital, Lord Breadalbane introduced Cameron to Frederick Hervey Foster Quin. Although Cameron was already acquainted with homeopathy, it was Quin’s influence that would lead to him embracing Hahnemann’s system of medicine.

Shortly thereafter, Cameron was appointed resident physician to Waterloo veteran Field Marshal Henry William Paget, Marquis of Anglesea. Cameron remained with Anglesea for the next two decades, frequently consulting with Hahnemann in Paris and Quin in London.

Cameron’s close friendship with Quin led to him assisting with the drawing up of the founding constitution of the British Homeopathic Society. Cameron was one of the eight founders of the Society at a meeting held at Quin’s house in 1844. Cameron was an active member of the Society and would later serve as Vice-President in 1865, 1866, and 1871, and as President in the Society‘s jubilee year, 1893-4.

Hugh Cameron was known to tell humorous anecdotes about the Marquis of Anglesea, and the amputated limbs of his family and the games they played on the unwary.

When Henry William Paget, Marquis of Anglesea died in 1854, Hugh Cameron became House Surgeon at the London Homeopathic Hospital, just as the Cholera outbreak began. With Edward Hamilton, Cameron and the hospital staff turned the London Homeopathic Hospital over to the victims of cholera.

The Cholera outbreak of 1854:

Dr Macloughlin, one of the medical inspectors appointed by the General Board of Health, visited the wards, examined the cases under treatment, and watched their progress. His statement, addressed to Mr. Hugh Cameron, a member of the medical staff, was as follows:

“You are aware that I went to your hospital prepossessed against the homeopathic system, that you had in me in your camp an enemy rather than a friend… and I need not tell you that I have taken some pains to make myself acquainted with the rise, progress and medical treatment of cholera, and that I claim for myself some right to be able to recognise the disease, and to know something of what the medical treatment ought to be, and that there may, therefore, be no misapprehension about the cases saw in your hospital, I will add that, all I saw were true cases of cholera, in the various stages of the disease, and that I saw several cases which did well under your treatment which I have no hesitation in saying would have sunk under other.

“In conclusion I must repeat to you what I have already told you, and what I have told everyone whom I have conversed, that although in allopath by principle, education and practice yet were it the will of Providence to afflict me with cholera, and deprive me of the power of prescribing for myself, I would rather he in the hands of a homeopathic than; in allopathic adviser.”

One incident, however, claims attention. In the year 1854 a terrible recrudescence of cholera, due, as was supposed, to the contamination of the water furnished by the notorious Broad Street pump, in the parish of St James’s, Westminster, ravaged the Metropolis and particularly the immediate neighbourhood of the London Homeopathic Hospital (Golden Square).

Twenty two years before, cholera had sprung suddenly upon a profession utterly unprepared to deal with it and destitute of a principle to guide them in organising the best defence against the new foe.

In 1849 it was found that their experience had not taught them much. In 1854 they had still to search among their record of cases for any agreement as to the best way out of their perplexities.

Meanwhile the homeopathic section of the profession, relying upon the principle which directs them to seek for medicines capable of producing physiological phenomena similar to those exhibited by the disease, had never been in doubt.

Samuel Hahnemann, on receiving a detailed description of the disease in its various stages from a disciple who sought his guidance, had, without seeing a case, but relying solely on his law of drug selection, prescribed a course of remedies which, alike in 1832, 1849, and 1854, proved pre-eminently successful, and which to the present day constitute the treatment mainly relied upon by homeopathic practitioners.

Thus fortified the homeopaths did not shrink from the issue offered by the cholera outbreak of 1854. The whole of the wards of the London Homeopathic Hospital were devoted to the treatment of the epidemic, and 64 cases of cholera and 331 of choleraic and simple diarrhœa were treated.

Of the 61 cases of cholera treated, 10 died, a percentage of 16.4; of the 331 cases of choleraic and simple diarrhœa trated, 1 died.

The neighbouring Middlesex Hospital received 231 cases of cholera and 47 cases of choleraic diarrhœa. Of the cholera patients treated 123 died, a fatality rate of 53.2 per cent, among the victims being one of the nurses.

Cameron settled in London and, through Quin’s introductions, established a thriving practice among London’s high society. In 1855 Cameron was listed as residing at 4 Bolton Street, London, in The British and Foreign Homeopathic Medical Directory and Record.

Cameron also aided Quin in the founding of the London Homeopathic Hospital at 32 Golden Square, where he served on the medical staff for many years. He was also a colleague of Marmaduke Blake Sampson, the Chairman of the British Homeopathic Association, and many other homeopaths.

In 1858 a Festival in aid of the London Homeopathic Hospital was held with many Aristocratic and minor gentry patrons attending, alongside Dr. Ayerst, William Bayes, Edward Charles Chepmell, William Vallancy Drury, George Napoleon Epps, Arthur Guinness, Edward Hamilton, Frantz Hartmann, Amos Henriques, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, J Bell Metcalfe, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, Henry Reynolds, John Rutherford Russell, Charles Caulfield Tuckey, George Wyld, Stephen Yeldham, and many others.

In May 1861, Cameron was one of the many homeopathic medical men who attended a dinner held at the London Coffee House in honour of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin.

Hugh Cameron was listed in the 1871 Homeopathic Medical Directory of Great Britain and Ireland as residing at 43 Hertford Street, Mayfair.

Cameron retired from private practice in 1881, succeeded by fellow homeopath Dr. James Peddie Harper.

In 1891, Hugh Cameron MRCS of 62 Redcliffe Square is listed in the London Homeopathic Hospital Reports of the London Homeopathic Hospital, and

Cameron contributed to the The Journal of the British Homeopathic Society in 1845 and participated in discussions at Society meetings. He attended the 2nd International Homeopathic Congress, held in London on 11 -18 July 1881, at Aberdeen House, Argyll Street, Regent Street.

Hugh Cameron died after a prolonged illness aged 86, in October 1897, attended by Dr.’s James Peddie Harper and George Mann Carfrae. He was buried at Brompton Cemetery in London, more than fifty wreaths atop his coffin attested to the affection with which he was held by so many. Cameron left behind his wife Euphemia Tully Cameron (1826 – 1922) and four daughters: Phemie Tully (1853 – 1942),  Adelaide Margaret (1858 – 1952 ), Edith Alice (c.1860 – 1925), and Brenda Cecilia (1862 – 1937).

Of interest:

Robert Cameron M.D. [no evident relation] of South Parade, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, was listed in The British and Foreign Homeopathic Medical Directory and Record in 1853, and he was also listed in the Homeopathic Medical Directory in 1872.

William H. Cameron was listed in the The British Journal of Homeopathy as an attendee at the Testimonial given in honour of Dr. Adam Lyschinski at the Veitch Hotel, Edinburgh, in February 1857.

Charles Dickens used the name Hugh Cameron as a fictional character in his Household Words in 1857.

James Peddie Harper was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy. In 1882, James Peddie Harper moved from Windsor to take over the practice of Hugh Cameron in Hertford Street, London.