Sir John Weir, GCVO, Royal Victorian Chain MB ChB Glasgow 1907, FFHom (19 October 1879 – 17 April 1971) was Physician Royal to several twentieth century monarchs. The very first homeopath by Royal appointment was Frederick Hervey Foster Quin. John Weir was the first modern homeopath by Royal appointment, from 1922 onwards, with the title becoming official in 1936. There has been a homeopath by Royal appointment to the monarch since that date.

Weir was Assistant Physician at the London Homeopathic Hospital from 1909, and he was appointed the Compton Burnett Professor of Materia Medica in 1911. He was President of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1923.

Weir was homeopath to seven monarchs, serving as Physician Royal to George V, Gustaf V of Sweden, Edward VII, Edward VIII, George VI, Queen Elizabeth II, and Haakon VII of Norway, whose wife Queen Maud of Norway was the youngest daughter of Edward VII.

Weir was also a close friend of British bacteriologist and immunologist Sir Almroth Edward Wright.

Born in Paisley Renfrewshire Scotland, Weir received his medical education at Glasgow University MB ChB 1907.

Weir first learned of homeopathy through his contact with Dr Robert Gibson Miller (1862-1919), head of the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital. Weir’s conversion story was later recounted by one of Kent’s foremost students, Dr. Alonzo Eugene Austin of New York City, in the 1921 Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy:

A man on crutches, who had been suffering a long time with rheumatism, being in a serious condition and unable to remain idle, was advised, after old school men had failed, to go and see Dr. Gibson Miller . His friend told him he would be asked many questions he would think he was being cross-examined by a lawyer. He went and was cured. This man was John Weir, M. D., of London. He asked Dr. Miller, “What can I do to show my gratitude and my appreciation of Homeopathy?” Dr. Miller of Glasgow replied, “Study Homeopathy under James Tyler Kent, M. D.

As a result during 1908-9, Weir became one of the first recipients of the Henry Tyler Scholarship and spent six months in Chicago studying under James Tyler Kent at Hering Medical College, along with Harold Fergie Woods and Douglas Morris Borland.

Weir returned from America convinced that James Tyler Kent was the greatest exponent of Samuel Hahnemann in his day. This, however, was not a view shared by many traditional British homeopaths who adhered to the low potency approach of the “pathological prescribers” Richard Hughes and Robert Ellis Dudgeon.

Weir defended the use of James Tyler Kents’ Repertory, which had been his constant companion ever since he returned from Chicago. Weir emphasized the constant reading that was required to know the materia medica, and recommended reading a drug a day, preferably in different books to get a comprehensive picture.

The editors of the British Homeopathic Journal recommended Hughes’s Manual of Pharmacodynamics for the beginner, but Weir persisted in giving enquirers James Tyler Kent‘s Materia Medica.

In 1911, Weir was appointed Assistant Physician at the London Homeopathic Hospital and made Compton Burnett Professor of Materia Medica. His lectures were to be on the subject of homeopathic prescribing and he continued to give this course of lectures every year until 1960.

Sir John Weir by Sir Herbert James Gunn ca 1945

Sir John Weir by Sir Herbert James Gunn ca 1945 – National Galleries of Scotland

Weir also actively advocated for homeopathy and encouraged outreach to the public and the profession. In an address printed in the British Homeopathic Journal in 1931, Weir stated: “homeopathy…is no religion, no sect, no fad, no humbug…remedies do not act directly on disease; they merely stimulate the vital reactions of the patient, and this causes him to cure himself.”

Appointed K.C.V.O. by George V in 1932, in July that year he spoke before the Royal Society of Medicine, where he delivered a paper “Homoeopathy, An Explanation of its Principles.”

In May 1939 Sir John Weir opened the renovated Manchester Homoeopathic Institute and Dispensary in Oxford Street.

He continued to combine private practice treating other illustrious patients and society notables, such as the musicologist Sir Donald Tovey and his family, with consulting roles at several homeopathic hospitals. Weir advocated relentlessly for homeopathy, being pivotal in the creation of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1950 and occupied a variety of honorary and executive roles, such as treasurer for the London Missionary School of Medicine.

Having advanced through all levels of the Royal Victorian Order, in 1949 Weir was awarded the Royal Victorian Chain, possibly as a mark of the medical care he gave to King George VI.

Weir retired in 1968 and died in April 1971, aged 91. In his obituary for Weir, Dr. Frank Bodman wrote:

“To younger generations, Sir John Weir, a member of the Establishment, must sometimes have appeared an authority figure who got his way all too easily. But what I have tried to show here, is that, for him, it was a long protracted struggle against formidable prejudices.
We owe him an eternal debt of gratitude.”

Select Publications: