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1704 Rose v. College of Physicians (In Error)

Before pharmacies were a feature on most high streets, people who needed to buy medicine would visit an apothecary. The apothecaries were able to prepare various medicines as well as sell them. However, they were not supposed to give advice to patients, this was the role of the physicians who acted as qualified general practitioners. Both professions had their own societies: the Worshipful Company of the Apothecaries and the Royal College of Physicians. By the 17th century, more people were turning to apothecaries as their main source of medical advice. This was particularly true for the poorer classes who could not afford the high fees charged by the physicians. In 1704, the College of Physicians brought a case to be the House of Lords against London based apothecary, William Rose. He was being sued for treating a butcher called Seale without a qualified intermediary. Previously the Queens Bench Division had decided against him, but the Lords revered this decision. This landmark case broke the Royal Colleges monopoly on practicing medicine. Though the apothecaries were free of persecution it wasn't until 1815 that an Act of Parliament was passed that professionalized the industry.


Rose v. College of Physicians (In Error)


18 Feb 1704

Catalogue number

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/JO/10/6/63/1993