John Hodgson Ramsbotham M.D. M.R.C.S. (20 June 1809 – 5 August 1868) was an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy. Ramsbotham was a Surgeon at the Royal Maternity Charity Hospital London, and at the Halifax Homeopathic Dispensary.
He was a member of the Obstetrical Society of London, and was the President of the Northern Homeopathic Association. In September 1902 Ramsbotham was President of the British Homeopathic Congress held at the Queen’s Hotel in Southport.
Ramsbotham was a member of the Hahneman Publishing Society, the British Homeopathic Society, an Honorary member of the British Homeopathic Association and a member of the Hahnemann Medical Society. He was also a member of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.
Ramsbotham was a colleague of Hugh Cameron, John James Drysdale, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, Richard Hughes, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, John Rutherford Russell, Stephen Yeldham and many others.
John Hodgson Ramsbotham was the son of Henry Ramsbotham (1774 – 1810), a Bradford worsted spinner, and his wife Ann Elizabeth Shepley (c.1789 – 1870). At age 16 he was apprenticed to John Ness Blakey (1784 – 1831), a Quaker surgeon at the Bradford Infirmary.
In 1832 he moved to London with his cousin, obstetrician Francis Henry Ramsbotham (1801 – 1868), who took over from his father as Lecturer of Midwifery at the London Hospital. John Hodgson Ramsbotham served as dresser at the school and remained there for two years. In 1832 he received his licence from the Society of Apothecaries and was made a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.
John Hodgson Ramsbotham set up in partnership in New Broad Street with a Mr. Breanand in 1834 but, in 1835, he returned to Bradford. There ill-health forced him to leave the medical profession and he spent much of the following decade working in estate stewardship and dabbling in politics.
In September 1837 Ramsbotham married Mary Redhead (1810 – 1896), daughter of Reverend Samuel Redhead (1778 – 1845), vicar of Calverley, Yorkshire. They had six children: Samuel Henry (1838 – 1909), Mary (1840 – 1841), Robert Redhead (1842 – 1873), Maria Elizabeth (1844 – 1922), John Rand (1847 – 1903), Reverend Francis Shepley (1851 – 1920).
On a business visit to London in 1845, Ramsbotham was invited by an old colleague, Edward Charles Chepmell (1820 – 1885), to investigate homeopathy at his Islington Homoeopathic Dispensary. Ramsbotham was impressed and began studying Samuel Hahnemann‘s system.
By October 1849 Ramsbotham had resumed practicing medicine, now as an homeopath, in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. It was there that he clashed with two orthodox medical men, Inglis and Fawthrop, in the treatment of four men attacked by a rabid dog. Two of the men died of hydrophobia, one of whom had been treated by Inglis and Fawthrop. Ramsbotham publicly intervened and successfully treated a third victim, named Hopkinson, using the homeopathic remedy Lachesis. Inglis went on the counter-offensive and announced that Hopkinson had not been suffering from hydrophobia at all, thus his recovery was entirely coincidental. The Lancet, intrinsically hostile to homeopathy, highlighted the affair as evidence of homeopathic folly, commending Inglis for stoutly defending “legitimate medicine.” The Lancet concluded by asserting that if all orthodox medical men stood up to quackery, as Inglis had, “we should not then have our provincial cities and towns overrun, as they now are, by a vagrant pack of homoeopathists and mesmerists.” This, of course, was diametrically contrary to the perspective of the homeopathic press with the 20th October 1849 edition of Homoeopathic Times devoting extensive space to the furore, printing the letters exchanged between Ramsbotham and his allopathic adversaries.
In 1852 Ramsbotham obtained his M.D. from Hahnemann’s alma mater, the University of Erlangen. It is very possible he studied with renowned Professor Johann Michael Leupoldt, a faculty member at Erlangen and author of an 1834 book on homeopathy.
On February 24, 1853, Ramsbotham was back in Yorkshire, where he was called to attend to Margaret Elizabeth, the wife of radical politician and homeopathic advocate John Bright, at her family home in Heath, Wakefield. An orthodox physician from the area, Dr. Bennett, was also in attendance, as Bright recounted with some amusement in his diary: “Bennett rather awkward at seeming to act with an ‘irregular’ medical man!”
In 1855 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred the degree of M.D. on John Hodgson Ramsbotham. This made Ramsbotham one of just fifteen people granted a “Lambeth” medical degree in the period 1840 – 1862.
From 1857 Ramsbotham practiced in Leeds, taking over from Dr. Francis Irvine (1821 – 1883), who had emigrated to New Zealand. In Leeds, Ramsbotham was known by orthodox practitioners as “the man that had done all the mischief.”
Ramsbotham’s health remained delicate. Joined by his son, Samuel Henry Ramsbotham, who began to take over many of the duties of the Leeds practice, in 1867 John Hodgson Ramsbotham moved to Harrogate and set up in practice there. He continued his work in Leeds, however, and the daily commuting added a further burden to his diminishing constitution. Ramsbotham died at home on the 5th of August, 1868.
John Hodgson Ramsbotham submitted a case on Hydrophobia to the Quarterly Homeopathic Journal in 1850, and comments on Gastrotomy in the Journal of the British Homeopathic Society in 1864, Induced Labour in the deformed pelvis, comments on Puerperal Fever in The Application of the Principles and Practice of Homoeopathy to Obstetrics by Henry Newell Guernsey in 1867, the non union of fractures in Practical Notes on the New American and Other Remedies by Richard Tuthill Massy in 1876.
Henry Ramsbotham had two sons, Henry Robert and John Hodgson. Robert, after being in partnership with the Rands for many years, founded the firm of Messrs. H. R. Ramsbotham & Co., and lived at Allerton Hall, afterwards removing to Finchley, where he died, unmarried, in 1880.
John, the second son, was apprenticed with Mr. Blakey, surgeon, of Bradford, and practiced as a medical man for a time in London and afterwards in his native town. Being compelled by ill health to retire from the active pursuit of his profession, he accepted in 1838 the stewardship of the Thornhill estates at Fixby and Calverley.
In 1845, having had his attention drawn to the method of treatment put forth by Hahnemann, then a novelty in this country, he gradually resumed practice, and by his enthusiasm as one of the pioneers of homeopathy in the north of England, made many converts to the new doctrine among his professional friends. He was well known as a successful practitioner, first in Huddersfield and then in Leeds, where he died in 1868.
He married Mary, eldest daughter of the Rev. Samuel Redhead. Of his sons, two have become connected with the Bradford trade, viz., Robert Redhead, who was in partnership with Mr. Wm. Firth as a worsted spinner, and died in ?, and John Rand, who is associated with his cousin Frederick Mossman in carrying on the business of H. R. Ramsbotham & Co..
His eldest son, Samuel Henry Ramsbotham, succeeded him in practice at Leeds, and his youngest son, Francis Shepley, is an assistant master at Charterhouse School, Godalming. His daughter, Mary Lilizabeth, married the Rev. Edward Kemble, formerly vicar of Yeadon, now vicar of Coniston Cold, in Craven.
Francis Henry Ramsbotham (1801 – 1868) cousin of John Hodgson Ramsbotham, was an allopath, who was a Consultant Obstetrician who argued forcibly with James Young Simpson on the use of chloroform in obstetrics. Francis Henry Ramsbotham lectured at the London Hospital Medical College on Pathology and Forensics, having taken over the practice of his father, John Ramsbotham.
Francis Henry Ramsbotham wrote The Principles and Practice of Obstetric Medicine and Surgery, Suggestions in Reference to the Means of Advancing Medical Science, Introductory Address Delivered at the London Hospital Medical College in 1861, Lectures, Notes, Case Reports, and Correspondence, 1827 – 60.