On 21 October 1959, the establishment of a Faculty of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy was formally announced by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. Its founding aim was “to foster and extend more general interest in medical history and to attract the co-operation of general historians, so that work in this field may be co-ordinated with wider historical studies.”

The Faculty’s origins can be traced back to a memo “On a Faculty of Historical Medicine”, written by Master Apothecary and rheumatologist W.S.C.Copeman in November 1953. Copeman later became the Faculty’s first President. In his 1953 memo, he reflected that “the status of any profession rests on its active traditions, the appreciation of which, by its members and by the public, alone raises it above a craft.” On 16 November 1955, surgeon Sir Zachary Cope gave the Apothecaries’ first Eponymous Lecture, named after the Society’s founder, Huguenot apothecary Gideon de Laune (1565-1659).  His title was ‘The Influence of the Society of Apothecaries upon Medical Education.’

By the time the Faculty was founded four years later, its aims were set out to run three lectures, including the Gideon de Laune lecture, to support a Research Fellow working on the Society’s Archives, and to attract medical students to encourage their interest in medical history. The inaugural lecture was given on Wednesday 2 December 1959 at 8:30pm by Canon Charles E Raven, previously Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, on “Medicine – Mother of the Sciences.” The first Annual Report in March 1960 records 175 personal members, 42 corporate members and a panel of 22 lecturers offering around 50 lectures to help medical students’ history societies to run their programmes.

As we know, the rest is history... In the last 60 years, the Faculty has grown to support a thriving events programme, renowned courses, Apothecaries’ Lecturers, outreach visits to encourage medical students to engage actively with their professional history, and partnerships with a wide range of related organisations.

The Lancet

2019 marked our Diamond Anniversary year, due to the pandemic we have extended our special fundraising scheme into 2020-21. This is to enable the Faculty to pilot new initiatives, such as events with different formats and involvement in innovative partnerships. We would also like to invite members’ views on how we develop these initiatives, suggestions for possible future partner organisations, and ideas for activities and topics for exploration.

We invited Faculty members, and interested parties, to donate £60 to the Diamond Patrons’ Fund to reflect the Faculty’s 60 years. All donations are very gratefully received and will enable us to develop our activities.

Diamond Patrons received a thank you letter and specially-designed lapel pin to display their support.

Thank you for your support! 


Diamond Patrons of the Faculty

 Thank you for your donations to mark the Faculty’s 60th Anniversary!

Professor Michael Biddiss
Dr John Briscoe
Mr Peter Burke
Dr Nicholas Cambridge
Dr John Timothy Carter
Dr Timothy Chambers
Mr Malcolm Colledge
Ms Carolyn Ann Collins
Mr Dickinson Cowan
Miss Marianne Jennifer Datiles
Dr Josu de la Fuente
Dr John Ford
Dr Christopher George
Professor Raanan Gillon
Ms Anita Hoffmann
Mr Peter Holden
Professor Jonathan Holliday
Mr Tony Hollingworth
Professor Sean Hughes
Mr Raj Kapur
Dr Tina Matthews
Dr Simon Miller
Professor David & Ruth Misselbrook
Dr Caje Moniz
Dr Robert Montgomery
Ms Susan Nial
Dr Kazimierz Nowak
Dr Peadar O’Mordha
Dr Jane Orr
Dr Roy Palmer
Dr Julie Papworth
Mrs Janet Payne
Mr Robin Price
Dr William Reith
Dr Paul Simmons
Mr Ian Simpson
Dr Noel Snell
Mr Peter Taffs
Professor Tilli Tansey
Dr Peter Tooley
Ms Rosalind Topping
Professor John Walker-Smith
Dr Edward Wawrzynczak
Ms Sue Weir
Dr Patrick Wills
Mr Nicholas Wood
Mr James Youngs