James Bell Metcalfe M.D. M.R.C.S. L.S.A. (1815 – February 5, 1890) was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy.

James Bell Metcalfe was a student of Paul Francois Curie at the London Homeopathic Medical Institution, Hanover Square, in 1843. There he studied and worked alongside Frederick Barry, Edward Charles Chepmell, Sydney Hanson, William Leaf, Victor MassolJohn Ozanne, and William Parsons.

He became a member of the British Homeopathic Society in 1847, and was later a fellow and Vice President of the Society. Metcalfe also served on the Medical Council of the London Homoeopathic Hospital.

James Bell Metcalfe practiced at 16 Clapton Square Hackney, 9 Clapton Square, Hackney in 1855, and in 1866 at 1 Portland Place, Clapton. He is listed in the Homeopathic Medical Directory of Great Britain and Ireland in 1871.

James Bell Metcalfe was born in Hull, Yorkshire, in 1815, the son of Michael Metcalfe (1779 – 1837) and Ann Bell (1788 – 1864).

Metcalfe obtained his Licentiate from the Apothecaries Company in 1835 and was admitted to membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (England) in May 1841. He received his M.D. from Kings College, University of Aberdeen, in 1860.

From 1835 to 1837 Metcalfe assisted Francis Charles Pyman (1805 – 1838), formerly apothecary and surgeon at the Suffolk General Hospital, in Bury St. Edmunds, before commencing practice as an orthodox physician in Hackney in 1838.

By 1845 Metcalfe was a general practitioner at Church Street, Hackney, and was also medical officer at the Homerton District of the Hackney Union. About this time he discovered homeopathy, and in 1847 he joined the British Homeopathic Society.

James Bell Metcalfe was active in the foundation of the London Homeopathic Hospital, which was established at 32 Golden Square in 1851. He 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.

Metcalfe 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, George Calvert Holland, Richard Hughes, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, Victor Massol, David Wilson, Samuel Thomas Partridge, Henry Reynolds, John Rutherford Russell, Stephen Yeldham and many others.

In 1871 Metcalfe sold his practice to Dr Henry Wheeler, who had recently returned to the UK from Adelaide. Metcalfe left London for Brighton, where he continued to practice homeopathically and see patients until he retired in 1883. Even then he continued as Consulting Physician to the new Sussex County Homoeopathic Dispensary, established in Brighton in 1884 in honour of the recently deceased Dr George James Hilbers.

Throughout his career James Bell Metcalfe contributed to monthly meetings of the British Homeopathic Society and was Vice President of the Society in 1869.

Metcalfe had suffered from heart disease for several years and in early February, 1890, he died at home from bronchitis and pericarditis. During his final illness he was attended by homeopaths Herman Gerhard Hilbers (1855 – 1915), son of Dr George James Hilbers, and Mr. Ockenden.


Of interest:

Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe (1785 – 1846) [no evident relation], was a Steward, as was James Bell Metcalfe, at the Annual Festival in aid of the funds of the Charity, and in commemoration of the opening of the London Homeopathic Hospital on Thursday, the 10th of April 1851. During his prolonged illness with cancer Lord Metcalfe experimented with a range of medical treatments, including homeopathy.

Hydropath Richard Metcalfe (1831 – 1919) [no evident relation], author of The Turkish Bath in Diseases of the Heart, was mentioned in The Monthly Homeopathic Review in 1886.