TIHE TRINIDAID HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 143.
Despatch from Sir Ralph Woodford to the Secretary of Slate with a
Proclamation constituting the Medical Board.
DECEMBER IST, 1815.
Source :-Trinidad Duplicate Despatches, Vol. II, 1815-16.
In my despatch No. 73, I had the honour to submit
for the approbation of His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent,
a Proclamation issued by me on the 2oth December, 1814,
constituting a Medical Board in this Island where the number
of empyrics and ignorant medical practitioners rendered
such a measure extremely advisable.
Such a Board had been constituted by General Picton
and renewed by General Hislop but had fallen into disrepute
from a want of subsequent support on the part of the Govern-
ment. The Spanish laws which oblige all practitioners of
medicine to obtain a licence from the Protomedicato or
Medical Tribunal of the great Spanish cities will show to
Your Lordship that such a law is fully conformable to the
Spanish Code and it had been formerly usual here for all
medical persons to enregister their patents with the Cabildo.
Your Lordship not having intimated to me any
disapprobation of the measure it has been continued in
force and has been universally obeyed except by a
Mr. Fitzpatrick Geagan who gives himself out to be a Member
of the College of Surgeons in London but who refuses to show
his Diploma to the Medical Board for registry alleging that
he is forbidden so to do by the Act of Parliament incorporating
the College of Surgeons and that it is derogatory to him to
show the patent which the College has conferred upon him.
This gentleman conducted himself with great indecorum
before me some time ago when charged with a libel of which
he procured insertion in the paper here reflecting in highly
improper terms on the Medical Officers of His Majesty's
Army and Navy. He has since proceeded so far as to accuse
the Chief Judge of malice and oppression for supporting my
Proclamation and For declining to order payment of a charge
made by him for medical attendance. It has been necessary
to cause the matter to be investigated by one of the Alcaldes
who will determine thereon in due course of law though
it will not probably have the effect of stopping Mr. Geagan's
declared intention of prosecuting Mr. Bigge in England.
In consequence of this 1 am induced to request Your
Lordship will be pleased to direct communication to be had
with the College of Surgeons that they may perfectly understand
that it is only for the purpose of registering genuine Diplomas
that gentlemen professing to be Members of their College are
obliged to present themselves before the Medical Board
of this Colony.
The necessity for such a competent tribunal is, I presume,
unquestionable where so many impositions by foreigners
are liable to be practised. An American lately produced
the certificate of a provincial society in the United States
licensing him to practise medicine and surgery in the province
and by virtue of whicl hle claimed to be exempt from the
examination of the Medical Board here. The Board would
not admit the certificate and called upon the American
gentleman to submit to examination which lie declined and
it is believe from consciousness of his ox n incapacity to meet
it. He has since retired from all practice in this Colony.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's faithful
and obedient servant,
By His Excellency Sir Ralph James
Woodford, Baronet, Covernor and
Commander-in-Chief in and o\cr the
said Island and its dependencies and
WHEREAS it has become necessary to prevent the
indiscriminate introduction and admission of persons to
practise Medecine and Surgery in the said Island without
due proof of their having acquired or being possessed of a
competent knowledge in such their profession and practice
and to prohibit in like manner the sale of Medecines and Drugs
of bad quality or the sale of any sort of Medecine or Drugs
therein by persons not duly authorised or competent in that
And whereas it is expedient for the purpose aforesaid
that a Medical Board as heretofore existing should be
re-established with such powers and authorities as are
hereinafter more pyticu]j|l.y expressed.
I have thought fit therefore to issue this my Proclamation
and to Order, Proclaim and Declare as it is hereby ordered,
proclaimed and declared.
FIRST.-That the said Medical Board shall consist of four
members who shall be from time to time appointed by the
Governor and Dr.Williams is hereby nominated and appointed
to the President of the said Medical Board and that any
two members with the President shall constitute a Board.
SECOND. -That all and every person or persons who now
practise Medecine or Surgery or who act as Apothecaries
or sell any Medecines or Drugs in the said Island shall, within
two months from and after the date hereof, appear before
the Medical Board at such time and place as the said Board
by notice thereof to be inserted in the Island Gazette and
signed by the President shall appoint and shall register his
and their names, quality and profession respectively in a book
to be kept for that purpose and shall at the same time produce
any permission, licence or authority by virtue of which such
person or persons now practise Physic or Surgery or vend
any Medecines or Drugs in this Island under the penalty
of Five Hundred Dollars and being from thenceforth
prohibited from practising Physic or Surgery or vending
any Medecines or Drugs within the said Island.
THIRD.-That no person who shall not produce and exhibit
to the Medical Board and by them to be afterwards referred
for approval to the Governor or Lieutenant Governor of the
said Island, a Certificate of Medical Degree duly conferred
upon him by some one or other of the Universities of Europe
and America or some other Body Corporate, competent and
entitled to confer the same, shall thenceforth be allowed or
permitted to practise in this Island except as is hereafter
FOURTH.-And in case it shall appear that any such
person or persons has or have practised in the Island in the
said several capacities without having any such Certificate
as is described in the Third Clause of this Proclamation or
any permission, licence or authority of any;former Governor
or Lieutenant-Governor of the said Island and shall be
desirous. of. continuing to practice Medecine or Surgery. or
vend Drugs within the same ; such person or persons shall be
fully examined by the Medical Board touching their fitness
and ability for the said several Professions and Practice and
if after such examinations it shall appear to the Board that
the said person or persons are in all respects qualified for
the same, they shall on the report of the said Medical Board
to the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor for the time being
and an approval by him, obtain and receive his licence
and permission to practise as aforesaid in the said Island
and such person or persons as aforesaid who shall be convicted
of practising in future without such licence in writing as
aforesaid shall be subject to the same fine and penalty as is
provided and ordered in the Second Clause of this my
FIVE.-That no person shall from and after the date of
this Proclamation, vend, issue -Ar otherwise dispose of any
Medecines or Drugs whatsoever or keep a shop for the sale
thereof without a licenefsiwriCing from the Medical Board
and'the report of the fblMMaftuch person or persons in that
respect to be confirmed and approved by the Governor or
Lieutenant-Governor, under a penalty of Four Hundred
Dollars and total prohibition to vend such articles in future.
Six.-And it is hereby further Ordered, Proclaimed and
Declared that the Members of the Medical Board from time
to time as to them shall seem expedient accompanied by the
Chief of Police, shall make an inspection of the shops of
all persons licensed and approved to sell Medecines and
Drugs as aforesaid in the said Island and shall inspect the
quality, state and condition of such Medecines and Drugs
and if the same shall appear to be bad, corrupt and unfit
for sale, they shall forthwith have the same wholly destroyed,
reporting their proceedings and remarks on every such visit
to the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor for the time being
taking care that such visits shall be made four times at least
during each year.
SEVEN.-That no Medecines or Drugs of what quality
or kind so ever shall be sold, delivered or issued by any
Apothecary or Vendor of Drugs or by his or their clerk,
shopman, apprentice or servant to any slave without an
order in writing of his owner or the manager or conductor
of the estate to which such slave belonged or the person
who has hired or employed the said slave or without the
permission in writing of some one or other of the Medical
Practitioners authorised or licensed as aforesaid to practise
in the said Island, under the penalty of Two Hundred Dollars
for the first offence and if convicted of a repetition of the same,
under that of Four Hundred Dollars and loss of his or their
licence to sell any Medecines or Drugs hereafter in the said
SEIGHT.-That in case any doubt or dispute shall arise
at any time hereafter touching the fairness or justice of any
account or demand made for Medical Attendance or for
Drugs and Medecines given and supplied by any person
or persons so licensed as aforesaid either within the Town
of Port-of-Spain or in the said Island, the same shall be
referred for decision to the Medical Board whose determination
respecting the same shall be considered as final.
NINE.-That no shops or laboratory professing to sell
Medecines or Drugs, shall upon any occasion in the absence
of the Master or Licenciate, be left open for the sale of
Medecines or Drugs without some competent and skilful
person being in attendance therein who shall be able and
fit to supply the Medicines required by the Public and for
whom and whose conductor ignorance the said Master or
Licenciate shall always be responsible. t 2
TENir-And it is farther ni l and Declared that in
case of conviction of ny VlMW. persons of any ef the
offences described in the said several clauses of this my
Proclamation and before any of the Tribunals of Ordinary
Jurisdiction of the said Island, the One Half thereof shall
be paid to the person or persons who shall inform and sue
for the same and the other Half shall be paid to the Treasurer
of the said Island for the Public uses thereof and in default
of payment of any penalty or penalties, such person or persons
so convicted shall be imprisoned in the Common Gaol until
the same be paid, at the discretion of the Court or Judge
before when the said conviction or condemnation shall be had.
ELEVEN.-And it is hereby further Ordered, Proclaimed
and Declared that the Medical Board shall be authorised
to demand and receive the Fees that are now established
and approved, the docket of which shall always be produced
at any meeting or meetings when any fee or fees shall be
charged and taken.
TWELVE.-And further I do hereby will and require and
strictly charge and Command the persons composing the
Medical Board, His Majesty's Chief Judge and the Judges
of the Tribunals established in the said Island and all and
every person and persons practising Physic and Surgery
and vending Medecines and Drugs therein, to take notice
of these Presents and govern themselves accordingly.
And lastly I do hereby further Order, Proclaim and
Declare that this my Proclamation shall in virtue of the
Proclamation of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent of
the eighteenth of December, one thousand eight hundred
and thirteen, be registered in the books of record thereby
directed to be kept by His Majesty's Governor and Commander-
in-Chief and the Judges of the Tribunals established in the
Given under my hand and seal of office at Belmont, in
the said Island this twentieth day of December, one thousand
eight hundred and fourteen in the fifty-fifth year of His
By His Excellency's Command,
P. REINAGLE, Secretary.
Laws of the Indies.
LIBRO 5. TITULO 16 LAW 4TH.
De Los Protomedicos.
Nobody is allowed topractise Medicine or Surgery without degree
-w or licence.
We command that no person whatsoever shall be allowed
in the Indies to practise Medecine or Surgery unless they
shall have the degrees and licence of the Protomedico which
are provided by the laws and in consequence of legitimate
certificates. And we order the Fiscals of Our Audiencias
to ask in this respect what they shall think fit and the neglect
of the said Officers in the execution and enforcement of the
several provisions of the law will be a charge in the Residencia
against the same. And this will be executed in Towns of
the Spaniards and not in those wherein the Indians live.
The Protomedicos will not give licences to those who shall not attend
personally to be examined.
We order that the Protomedicos shall not give licences
in the Indies to any Physician, Surgeon, Apothecary, Barber,
Veterinary Practitioner or others who practise the faculty
of Medecine and Surgery unless they shall appear personally
before them to be examined and shall be found able and
competent to use and exercise the same and the Protomedicos
may demand on account oft licence and visit of an Apothecary's
shop a fee not exceeding three times as much as are required
and taken by the Protomedicos of the Kingdoms of Castile.
1ST DECEMBER, 1815.