The making of domestic medicine: gender, self-help and therapeutic determination in household healthcare in South-West England in the late seventeenth century

Stobart, Anne (2008) The making of domestic medicine: gender, self-help and therapeutic determination in household healthcare in South-West England in the late seventeenth century. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores household healthcare in the later seventeenth century, particularly the extent of household production of medicines based on medicinal receipts. Medicinal receipts were widely collected in the early modem period although the extent to which these recipes were in ongoing use has not been well-established. The aims of this research are to consider the health concerns and activities of lay women and men, to identify resources available for self-help healthcare, and to establish factors affecting selection and use of medicinal receipts. Accounts are analysed alongside family letters and receipt collections, from selected households in South West England, to identify medicinal supplies and medical services provided by apothecaries, physicians, surgeons and other individuals. Households differ in terms of ingredients purchased, preparations preferred, suppliers, therapeutic strategies used, and the extent of use of medical practitioners. Recorded ingredient purchases match few receipts although there is evidence of some favourite preparations being made. Other resources are considered, including gifts of advice and remedies, and plant ingredients from gardens and the wild. I argue that use of these other resources depended on factors such as knowledge, including plant identification skills, and material considerations, including labour availability. Purchased medicines appeared to become increasingly significant in self-help whilst opportunities for gift medicine may have been reduced. I contrast the gentlewoman healer and the patient consumer in their assessment of medicinal receipts, and their use of medicines with children. Both demonstrated strategies for maintaining therapeutic determination and influencing the approach of medical practitioners in relation to their own complaints. This study shows that medicinal receipt collections did not fully reflect the extent of lay healthcare activities and differences between lay household healthcare practitioners. It contributes to our understanding of the gendered shaping of domestic medicine, and the relationship of household healthcare to medical authority and the developing commercial and professional medical market in the eighteenth century.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas:Theses
School of Health and Education > Complementary Health
ID Code:6745
Permissions granted by publisher:Embargoed at author's request.
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Deposited On:30 Nov 2010 12:13
Last Modified:29 Jul 2013 08:09

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