Richard Walter(s) Heurtley M.D. (7 April 1816 – 30 March 1891) was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy and was a patron of the British Homeopathic Society alongside John Epps, Marmaduke Blake Sampson and Thomas Uwins. Richard Walter Heurtley was also the Honorary Secretary of the English Homeopathic Association, and he was instrumental in the founding of the British Homeopathic Association.

Richard Walter Heurtley was a colleague of the Marquis of Anglesea, Francis Black, Edward Charles Chepmell, the Duke of Beaufort, Robert Grosvenor, Edward Hamilton, John Ozanne, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, John Rutherford Russell and many others

Richard Walters Heurtley was born in Nottinghamshire, England in 1816, although another account lists his birthplace and date as Portsmouth, Hants, 1811.

By 1841 Heurtley was working at the Bank of England in London. That year he was recorded as being a member of the Phrenological Association, founded in 1838. In 1842 Heurtley was involved in a series of exchanges with an opponent of Phrenology, Dr. Robert Dick, in the pages of the Lancet.

In September, 1841, Heurtley married Anne Laker (1815 – 1876), a Baptist from Maidstone, Kent. They had two children, Juliet Anne Theodora (1841 – 1912) and Percy Heurtley (1843 – 1936).

It is unclear how Heurtley became involved in homeopathy, although a comment from his friend Marmaduke Blake Sampson suggests that it was the result of a visit by one or both of them to the United States around 1837. Nevertheless, Heurtley was an instrumental figure in the early days of British homeopathy. In 1845, the English Homeopathic Association was formed by Sampson, Heurtley and John Epps. Heurtley was appointed as the Honorary Secretary of this society.

In his capacity as honorary secretary of the E.H.A., in the October 1846 edition of the London Medical Gazette, Heurtley advertised for a resident medical officer for the homeopathic hospital at 17 Hanover Square. This effort at institutionalizing and professionalizing homeopathy in the capital aroused the indignation and ire of a number of orthodox medical men.

A year later, in 1847, Heurtley and Sampson found themselves at the centre of a power struggle with fellow E.H.A. committee members. Heurtley and Sampson duly reformed and renamed the society as the British Homoeopathic Association, a lay organization that they intended to work in conjunction with the professional British Homeopathic Society to advance the interests of homeopathy.

Heurtley remained actively involved in the B.H.A. and in August 1849 delivered a report to the annual meeting highlighting the growth of the society. At a second meeting on 10th October 1849, Heurtley was present when it was resolved to dissolve the B.H.A. and direct its resources and members towards the construction of a new, purpose built London Homeopathic Hospital.

After the cessation of the B.H.A., Heurtley played no further significant role in the London homeopathic community. It appears that he and his family emigrated to Boston, USA, around 1850. It seems this was not a successful move and shortly after Heurtley and his wife separated; she and their children returned to England.

By 1853, Richard Walter Heurtley was residing at 109 Water Street in New York City, where he was was listed on the board of trustees for the New York Homoeopathic Dispensary.

In the annual catalogues of officers and students at Columbia College from 1857 to 1861, R. Walter Heurtley was recorded as an enrolled student in the medical school. His name no longer appears as of the 1861 – 1862 class, and it is unclear whether or not he received a medical diploma from the College.

In January, 1858, Heurtley is recorded in a New York Times advertisement with an address at number 2 Bowling-Green, where he was a “receiver” of donations to Eliza Farnham’s Women’s Protective Emigration Society. This organization, founded in 1857, found new jobs in Illinois and Indiana for hundreds of unemployed New York women.

Heurtley met Dr. Cornelia “Cora” Brown Sill (1829 – 1866) while both were students at Dr. Russell Trall’s New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College, an accredited medical school run on hydropathic principles that had opened in 1857. They married in February 1860 at St Paul’s Methodist Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, and had one son, Arthur (1860 – 1934).

Following graduation from Trall’s College, around 1861 Heurtley became involved in a Turkish Bath facility at 353 Shawmut Avenue in Boston, run by classmate Dr. Charles H. Eastabrook (1891 – 1901).

By 1864 Heurtley and Cora had moved to Newburgh, New York City, where he set up in practice until 1870.

Cora died of consumption in December 1866 and was buried in Newburgh town cemetery. There is no indication whether she ever practiced medicine after her marriage.

In 1867 Heurtley became a member of the American Institute of Homeopathy and that summer attended the annual meeting at the Gallery of Fine Arts in New York City.

Around 1869 Heurtley left New York for Chicago, Illinois, where he was initially listed as practicing at 122 South Morgan Street, and by 1872 he was at 81 South Robey St. in the city.

Richard Walter Heurtley was listed as a passenger on the steam ship Algeria, bound for Liverpool from America on 12th May, 1881.

He married for a third time, Elizabeth, and settled in River Forest, a suburb of Chicago. In April 1885 he penned a short article on “inward sight” that was printed in volume I of Mind in Nature: A Popular Journal of Psychical, Medical and Scientific Information.

Heurtley died in River Forest, Illinois, on 30 March 1891.

His son Arthur was the executor of his estate and there was no mention of his third wife, Elizabeth, in the probate. After Heurtley’s death she did not reside with Arthur and his family, and is listed in the 1900 federal census as rooming, aged 82, in a lodging house in Hyde Park, Chicago.

Of Interest:

Arthur B. Heurtley was born on December 26, 1860, the only son of Dr. Richard Walter Heurtley and Dr. Cornelia Brown Sill.

He became a successful banker with the Northern Trust Company in Chicago, which he joined upon its organization in 1889. He remained with the bank until his retirement in 1920, ultimately reaching the position of Secretary.

Heurtley lived with his widowed father and stepmother in River Forest, Illinois until his marriage to Grace Crampton of Iowa in 1890. The newlyweds lived in River Forest until 1894, when they moved to Oak Park. They lived in three different residences with their two children Richard and Katherine before moving into their new house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1902.

Arthur Heurtley House in Illinois is now a protected historical building.

In March, 1881, Richard Walter Heurtley’s daughter, Juliette Annie Theodora Heurtley Hart-Davies, was the plaintiff at the centre of a trial at the Old Bailey in London of a Boston spiritualist Susan Willis Fletcher who had fraudulently stolen jewellery given to Julliette by her deceased mother and Heurtley’s first wife, Anne. The trial was a sensation and widely reported on both sides of the Atlantic. Heurtley himself penned a brief letter on the matter that was printed in the August, 1881 edition of The Spiritualist magazine.

Charles Abel Heurtley (1806 – 1895), no evident relation, was a Professor of Divinity at Oxford University.

Walter Abel Heurtley (1882 – 1955), no evident relation, was a British archaeologist.