PenzanceJohn Hicks Nankivell M.R.C.S. L.S.A. (1809 – 12 December 1888) was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become Surgeon at the York Homeopathic Dispensary. He was General Secretary to the 1872 British Homeopathic Congress in York.

In the early 1860s John H. Nankivell practiced at 9 Bootham Street, York, and by 1864 was practicing in Penzance, Cornwall.

John Hicks Nankivell was born in St. Columb Major, Cornwall in 1809, to mercer Samuel Nicholls Nankivell (1782 – 1816) and his wife Catherine Hicks (1781 – 1853).

John H. Nankivell began his medical career apprenticed to a surgeon in Cornwall, before pursuing medical studies at Guys’ and St Thomas’ hospitals. In 1838 he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and the same year a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries.

After qualifying, Nankivell returned to Cornwall and set up in practice in the small town of St. Columb-Major.

In 1842 he married Elizabeth Amy Best (1816 – 1878). They had five children: Herbert Wright Nankivell, (c.1843 – 1912), Commander Edmund Nankivell, RN (1844 – 1895), Helen Clift (1846 – 1860), John Howard Nankivell (c. 1849 – c.1904), Frank Nankivell M.D. (c. 1852 – 1926). Three of their sons, Herbert, John and Frank, followed their father to become physicians.

By his own account in March, 1859, Nankivell was introduced to homeopathy by one of his patients. He conducted clinical tests, the results of which were published that November in the British Homoeopathic Review. Nankivell, convinced of the merits of homeopathy, became a devoted convert.

In early 1861 Nankivell took over the homeopathic dispensary in Penzance, established in 1856 by homeopathic supporter Frederick James Smith. Following a series of short-lived medical appointments at the Dispensary, Nankivell arrived and, with Frederick Smith as Honorary Secretary, proceeded to expand the work of the Penzance Dispensary, whilst also building a large and thriving homeopathic private practice in the town.

Nankivell moved to York in 1867 where he practiced privately and as medical officer to the York Homeopathic Dispensary in Coney street, until ill health forced his retirement. Elizabeth died in York in 1878 and Nankivell returned to the south west, dividing his time between Penzance, Exeter, and Bournemouth where he was medical officer to the Homeopathic Dispensary.

John Hicks Nankivell was an active researcher and prolific writer. He submitted cases and articles to various homeopathic publications, including Varicose ulcers, Apis Melifica in Scarlatine Maligna, On the Pathogenecy of Aconite, On the Tubercular Lung Disease of Cornish Miners, Cases of Contusions, A few Observations on the Pathogenic and Therapeutic Properties of Calcarea Carbonica and Causticum.

John Hicks Nankivell died of heart failure while visiting a friend near Portsmouth in December 1888, aged 79.

Of interest:

Herbert Wright Nankivell (c.1843 – 1912), son of John Hicks Nankivell, brother of Frank Nankivell, uncle of Bertram Wright Nankivell, was Surgeon to St. James Homeopathic Hospital, Doncaster, the Liverpool Homeopathic Dispensary, and the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital. He was also physician to the Bournemouth Hahnemann Convalescent Home and Homoeopathic Dispensary, and Consulting Physician to the Southampton Homoeopathic Dispensary. Herbert Nankivell served as President of the British Homeopathic Society in 1903-4, and Vice-President in 1901 and 1902.

John Howard Nankivell M.R.C.S. (c.1849 – c.1904), son of John Hicks Nankivell and brother of Herbert Wright Nankivell, was a physician who practiced in South Africa.

Frank Nankivell M.D. C.M. M.R.C.S. (1852 – 1926), son of John Hicks Nankivell and brother of Herbert Wright Nankivell, was a British homeopath in Sydenham, London in 1900, and in Exeter, and at 134 Aukland Road, Upper Norwood.

Bertram Wright Nankivell M.R.C.S. L.R.C.P. (12 August 1870 – 29 July 1931), son of Commander Edmund Nankivell RN (1844 – 1895), grandson of John Hicks Nankivell and nephew of Herbert Wright Nankivell, was Registrar and Pathologist at the Bournemouth Hahnemann Convalescent Home, Physician to the Bournemouth Homeopathic Dispensary, and Surgeon at the Victoria Home for Crippled Children, Westbourne, Bournemouth. Bertram Wright Nankivell also practiced at Woodstock, 2 West Cliff Road, Bournemouth.