City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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Society of Apothecaries
The Society of Apothecaries desire to establish before the Commission on the 2nd proximo—
(1) That, while faithfully adhering to the terms of the Charter granted to them by James I., they have always been a liberal and progressive body, and have acted and been recognised as such.
(2.) That their existence therefore is both an advantage and a necessity.
As to (1). The principal objects of the Charter were (1) to protect the citizens of London, and those residing within a radius of seven miles thereof, from illegal practitioners; and (2) to "prove " the purity of drugs within the same radius.—See Returns F. and H., Apothecaries' Company, Part 1, Foundation and Object.
(a.) From their foundation up to 1815 the Society performed the duties of examining persons as to their skill as Apothecaries within the restricted radius, and the persons whose skill was so ascertained necessarily became members of the Society. While after 1815 and up to the present time (with about two exceptions) no one is a member of the Society who is not an Apothecary, the Society has from that date, under the powers of their first Act of Parliament, become one of the great licensing bodies of this country, examining persons qualified to become Apothecaries throughout England and Wales, and having at the present time a body of licentiates numbering about 9,000 (though of course the condition of membership of the Society is not attached to the license). The public spirit of the Society in obtaining the Act of 1815, and the good thereby conferred on the community, have always been recognised.
(b.) By means of a body created out of themselves, and allowed to use the name but placed under the control of the Society, and recently of themselves, the Society have secured to the public the use of pure and unadulterated drugs; they have (so to speak) fixed the standard of purity in such articles, and "Apothecaries Hall" is always referred to by the medical profession as a place where such standard is strictly maintained.
(c.) When their income was even more limited than it is now, and assisted by the private liberality of their then members, the Society leased and maintained the Botanic Garden at Chelsea, which acquired an European reputation, and, by so doing, so excited the admiration of Sir Hans Sloane, the well-known physician, (who was the reversioner of that property,) that he granted it in perpetuity to the Society on condition of their so maintaining it, as they have done, at great expense to themselves, for the benefit not only of medical men but of the community at large.
(d.) They were the first of the medical bodies to institute an examination in Arts,—that is, a preliminary classical, mathematical, and scientific examination, to test the liberal education of candidates seeking to become medical men.
(e.) In 1874 they obtained an amendment of their Act of 1815, and acquired powers to bring their medical examination up to the highest standard.
During the present year they have, immediately on their income admitting it, founded two scholarships in medicine and surgery of the value of 100l. each, and also appointed a demonstrator and lecturer in botany.
(2.) Even if proposed amendments of the Medical Law should take effect, the Society of Apothecaries is and must form part of the medical boards to be established thereunder, as one of the three great licensing bodies of England and Wales, and will have to play their part in reference to the medical education of this country; and of course, if it does not come into operation, the existence of the Society is as essential as ever.
Whether, therefore, as an examining or licensing body, or as a body associated with and accepting practically a responsibility in reference to a standard of purity in the matter of drugs, the existence of the Society is both a necessity and an advantage.