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
(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
(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.