Ventnor John Anderson M.D. MRCS, LSA (12 September 1812 – November 1909) was a British orthodox physician and surgeon who converted to homeopathy after 20 years of allopathic practice to become Physician to the Clapham and Newington Homeopathic Dispensaries, and a member of the Hahnemann Medical Society.

In 1855, John Anderson wrote to The Medical Times and Gazette in defense of homeopathy, who refused to publish his letter on the grounds that “homeopathy was just a system of quackery,” and so his letter was published in full in The British Homeopathic Journal.

John Anderson was a fellow of Guy’s Hospital Physical Society and former member of the Botanical and Entemological Societies. He practiced in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, and at 4 Bedford Terrce, Clapham Rise.

John Anderson was born in Surrey on 12 September 1812 to Dr. Thomas Blair Anderson (1783 – 1870) and his wife Elizabeth (1787 – 1872).

John Anderson obtained his Licentiate from the Society of Apothecaries in 1834 and, five years later, in 1839 became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

In 1840 Anderson was in Islington, London where he married ironmonger’s daughter and nonconformist Martha Pike (1817 – 1874). They had eight children: John T. (1839 – 1895), Thomas Blair (1841 – c.1908), William George (1843 – 1890), Samuel Romney (1844 – 1914), Josiah Richmond (1846 – 1920), Henry Wollaston (1847 – 1847),  Charles (1848 – ?), Jessey (c.1850 – 1919).

Anderson’s first position was as surgeon for the Richmond Poor Law Union.

In 1851 Anderson was practicing in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

By 1853 Anderson was listed in the London Homoeopathic Medical Directory as surgeon to the Hahnemann Hospital and to the Hahnemannian Institute at Welbeck Street, Manchester Square, London.

In 1854 Anderson became a member of the British Homoeopathic Society.

John Anderson obtained his M.D. in 1858 from Aberdeen University Kings College.

Anderson was a founder member of the Hahnemann Medical Society, instituted 10th April 1850 at 16 Bulstrode Street, Manchester Square, along with Francis Black, John Henry Clarke, Edward Cronin, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, John Epps, James Epps, Amos Henriques, Constantine Hering, Edward M Madden, Henry R Madden, Mathias Roth, James John Garth Wilkinson, treasurer Thomas Engall, and secretary George Wyld.

John Anderson was a medical officer at the Hahnemann Hospital at 39 Bloomsbury Square in 1850, and knew other staff members who included Christian Karl Josias Bunsen, James Chapman, Edward Charles Chepmell, Paul Francois Curie, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, Thomas Engall, Joseph Hands, Sydney Hanson, Robert Hamilton, Amos Henriques, Charles Hunt, Henry Kelsall, Joseph Laurie, Henry Victor Malan, James John Garth Wilkinson, David Wilson, William Leaf, George Wyld, Thomas Egerton 2nd Earl of Wilton, Robert Grosvenor, Thomas Roupell Everest, Charles Powell Leslie, James More Molyneux, David Wilson, William Henry Ashurst, William Thomas Berger, W A Case, J M Douglas, G H Flatcher, John Fowler, Joseph Glover, Thomas Higgs, T H Johnstone, John Miller, Chas Pasley, Mathias Roth, Frederick Sandoz, W Stephenson, Samuel Sugden, Allan Templeton, Major Tyndale, William Warne, A Wilkinson, S Wilson and many others.

John Anderson became embroiled in the schism that undermined the Bloomsbury Square Hospital in 1852. He was one of the six signatories to a letter written by Leopold Süss Hahnemann in January 1852, alongside George Rogers, Anthony Ebeneezer Blest, Severin Wielobycki, David McConnell Reed, and Süss Hahnemann.

In 1855, John Anderson wrote to The Medical Times and Gazette in defense of homeopathy, who refused to publish his letter on the grounds that ‘homeopathy was just a system of quackery’, and so his letter was published in full in The British Homeopathic Journal.

In his letter, Anderson explains at great length that The Medical Times and Gazette had published an article attacking homeopathy, in which The Medical Times and Gazette referred to 3 out of 26 cases of cholera returned by Anderson to the General Board of Health.

According to Anderson, The Medical Times and Gazette disputed that his cases were cholera, instead diagnosing them (patient unseen) as ‘choleraic diarrhoea’, calling into question the diagnostic capacity of Anderson who had practiced as an allopath for over 20 years before his conversion to homeopathy! Of course, it was perfectly possible to verify the diagnosis, as the returns form gave details of the patient’s address and the patient’s name, so any ‘medical journalist’ worth his salt could have checked these details before the publication of such innacuracy.

The Medical Times and Gazette then attempted to claim that camphor was not a homeopathic similimum to cholera, and that the use of chlorophorm and hot bottles to warm the patient were not homeopathic. The Medical Times and Gazette argued that only arsenicum, veratrum, mercurius and cuprum are homeopathic remedies. Anderson replied that he used all these remedies, resorting to potentised camphorated chloroform to cure the case.

The Medical Times and Gazette then accused Anderson of using different remedies in succession, as one remedy would counteract the others. Anderson replied with an explaination of homeopathic practice as recommended by Samuel Hahnemann.

Anderson submitted cases and articles to various homeopathic publications, including British Journal of Homeopathy.

After his first wife died in 1874, Anderson remarried the nonconformist Margaret Hudson (1828 – ) and by the 1890s they had moved back to the Isle of Wight.

Select Publications:

Clinical Reports of Cases illustrative of Homoeopathic Treatment. no. 1. Cholera (1855)

Searching the Scriptures in order to abiding communion with God. (1878)

Of Interest:

Thomas Blair Anderson M.D., father of Anderson, was listed as an homoeopathist on the medical register.

Charles Anderson L.D.S. was honorary dental surgeon at the Wirral Homoeopathic Dispensary in Birkenhead in the late 1890s and early 1900s.