Margaret Brazier
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‘Unruly brethren’
Regulation and reputation
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Chapter 3 addresses the tripartite division of labour and the regulation of physicians, surgeons and apothecaries, from c. 1511–1858. It focuses on the battles between the three groups of orthodox practitioners, battles often fought out in the law courts. The Crown, Parliament and the courts were all involved in addressing the claims of the medical corporations to regulate their own members, and in the case of the College of Physicians to regulate the whole domain of medicine. The extensive powers of self-regulation granted to the College are considered, as is the anomaly that the College’s writ ran only in London and its environs. It highlights the role of the criminal process regulating healers and examines the series of challenges to the ‘mighty’ College. The chapter addresses the physicians’ unsuccessful efforts to enhance their social status, to be regarded as gentlemen, the equal of lawyers and the clergymen. Nor for the most part did the judges accord deference to the medical men. Sir Edward Coke declared that any university-educated judge could determine if a medical case had been handled correctly. The chapter charts the skirmishes between physicians, surgeons and apothecaries evaluating the impact of dramatic conflict between physicians and apothecaries in Rose v College of Physicians heard in 1703. Finally, Chapter 3 outlines how in the light of developments in surgery the tripartite division made no sense, regulation in the provinces had more or less broken down entirely and pressure for reform grew.

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Law and healing

A history of a stormy marriage

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