Samuel Tolcher of Totnes
Samuel and his father Henry Tolcher lived in Totnes in the later part of
the 17th and early 18th century. They practiced as Apothecaries in the
Henry was married to a Mary whose maiden name is not recorded. He died
in 1713 and was named in a will of 1673 as an 'apothecary and trustee'. His
wife died in 1736.
Clearly Samuel must have been born before 1713 but it is likely he was
born much earlier. He is not in the Totnes birth records, but might have
been registered in a neighbouring parish. Samuel was twice married and
the bond of his second marriage to Joan Lane (widow) of Stoke Gabriel is
Samuel was previously married to Elizabeth Voss and had nine children by
her. She died in 1741 and is buried in Totnes. Samuel died in 1755. Joan
Lane appears to have been quite a lot younger than Samuel. She was born
Joan Bowman in Little Torrington on 1st November 1709. There is no
record of her marriage to Mr Lane, but there are quite a number of Lane's
in Stoke Gabriel.
Very little is currently known about him except that after his marriage
Samuel's son Henry (b 1726) appears to have taken over the running of the
apothecary business as he is noted as taking an apprentice in 1754.
Further research is being undertaken but the attached information from the
Society of Apothecaries is useful background
The licensing of medical practitioners began with the Act of 1511. This
stated that within London and seven miles around it no one could practise
as a physician or surgeon unless examined and approved by the bishop of
London or the dean of St Paul's, who were to be assisted in the case of
physicians by four doctors of physic, and in the case of surgeons, by
experts in surgery.
Apothecaries, on the other hand, were originally the equivalent of today's
community pharmacists. Because of their specialist skills in compounding
and dispensing drugs, James I granted the London apothecaries their own
charter of incorporation in 1617. This allowed them to separate as a body
from the Worshipful Company of Grocers (in which both they and the
druggists formed distinct groups) and become a City livery company in
their own right. The Society of Apothecaries was empowered by its charter
to search apothecaries' shops to monitor the quality of raw materials and
medications sold, as well as to examine apprentices' competence to
become apothecaries trading and practising in the City of London.
Until the Apothecaries' Act of 1815, apprentices outside London only had
to fulfil the terms of their indentures to their masters' satisfaction; those
within the City, had to answer to the Society's Master and Wardens and
the President and Censors of the College of Physicians. In the case of the
latter, the apprentice would have been subjected to an oral exam requiring
knowledge of Latin, botany and materia medica, and the Pharmacopoeia
Londinensis, as well as dispensing skills.
However, education and training were not uniform throughout the country
and qualifications were not easily identifiable over the centuries. Dr
Juanita Bumby (A study of the English Apothecary from 1660 to 1760,
Medical History, Supp. No.3, 1983) suggests that "as to legalities, it would
seem that, despite bitter complaints by all parties, a medical practitioner,
were he self-styled physician, surgeon or apothecary, could practice
illegally with a fair degree of impunity in small towns, boroughs, cities and
even the metropolis itself."
By the mid-18th century, there were no neat boundaries between the three
professions and the licences granted by the episcopal authorities had little
to do with a man's medical qualifications, indeed, they were usually issued
after he had been in practice for years; as Rowse wrote, they were rather
'certificates of honesty and good conduct'."
As a result of a key lawsuit settled in the House of Lords in 1703/4 (and
known as the Rose Case), apothecaries were entitled to prescribe
(formerly the sole right of physicians) as well as to dispense medicines.
From having been the equivalent of today's community pharmacists, this
ruling enabled apothecaries to become general practitioners of Medicine
(today's GPs). This change in professional development, although far-
reaching, was gradual. Not all apothecaries chose to move away from
pharmacy to practise Medicine, but this was true of the majority. The
emergent chemists and druggists were then able to enter the
pharmaceutical field. From 1775 only apothecaries practising medicine
could become members of the Society of Apothecaries, but it was not until
the late 1830s that they were permitted to levy a fee for their prescriptions
in addition to charging for the medicines they dispensed.
There was no formalised training and no adequate regulatory machinery
until the 1 9th century when the Apothecaries' Act of 1815 came into force.
This Act empowered the Society of Apothecaries to institute a Court of
Examiners. For the first time in the history of medical education a
curriculum of study was established and standards of training set. The
Society's regulations for its Licence (LSA) combined attendance at
lectures with hospital experience, and anyone wishing to practise as an
apothecary in England and Wales on or after 1 August 1815 had to have
qualified as a Licentiate by law. However, the examination was purely oral
until 1860 when written papers were introduced.
Finally, there was no statutory registration of medical practitioners (from
any sector of the profession) until the Medical Act of 1858 brought the
General Medical Register into being.
Crest of the Society of
Stoke Gabriel Devon
Marriage Bond Samuel Tolcher to Joan Lane