English apothecary's notebook, 18th century

  • Milward, Elizabeth (fl. 1780)
18th century
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


English medical practitioner's notebook containing pharmaceutical recipes, with some case histories, and a few medical charms. The main component of the text (ff. 1-54) is a suite of recipes in an early 18th century hand, organised for the most part alphabetically by disease or symptom. A later hand or hands have added additional recipes and other matter, including prices against some of the cures. The medical charms (ff. 33v-35) are in the same early 18th century hand. The remainder of the text (f. 56 onwards) comprises later recipes and case histories in the same later hand or hands noted above, with the addition of a Latin charm on the final leaf.


18th century

Physical description

1 volume 1 volume: approx. 160 x 90 mm. 1 + 64 numbered ff. (number 55 omitted) + 49 unnumbered leaves (mostly blank). Vellum-covered boards with reinforcing leather edge-pieces and buckle-strap.

Acquisition note

Purchased from Byass Rare Books, Bristol, July 2013.

Biographical note

This notebook seems have been compiled by or for an unidentified apothecary, as a formal record of his recipes for a wide range of cures. It was later inherited or acquired by a certain Elizabeth Milward, who evidently also practised medicine and may have been the daughter of the original owner of the compilation: on f. 32 she entered a recipe for 'diseases in the head and wind in the stomack' that had been 'ordered by [her] father for a woman in Horton ...'. Elsewhere she signs a recipe for King's Evil with her initials 'E.M. or to go back to my first name, E.S.' In other words Milward was her married name.

Elizabeth seems to have run an apothecary business, perhaps inherited from her father, as she added against one of his recipes 'this quantity I order to be made into 16 pill [sic] and to take 2 at night' (f. 32); elsewhere she glossed her recipe 'for the rumatisem' with the following note: 'with this I have cured several as have walk'd on crutches and as [sic] not been able to walk at all ...' (f. 59). The placenames against some of the case histories, especially Ilmington (ff. 25, 48v and 57v) suggest that this business was based somewhere in south Warwickshire.

Terms of use

This item needs to be accessed in our conservation studio. Email library@wellcomecollection.org to request an appointment.

Ownership note

Inscriptions by later owners: first leaf 'Johannes Morris ejus liber Anno Domini MDCCCLXXXVII' [1887]; last leaf 'Rob. Careless Broadway' [19th/20th cent]

Where to find it

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Accession number

  • 2002