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History of Medicine
PMID: 27586218

Early decades of Madras Medical College: Apothecaries

Ramya Raman1 , Anantanarayanan Raman2
1 Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Subiaco, WA 6005, Australia
2 Charles Sturt University, PO Box 883, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia

Corresponding Author:
Anantanarayanan Raman
Charles Sturt University, PO Box 883, Orange, NSW 2800
How to cite this article:
Raman R, Raman A. Early decades of Madras Medical College: Apothecaries. Natl Med J India 2016;29:98-102
Copyright: (C)2016 The National Medical Journal of India


The Government at Fort St George determined that a school for instructing and training candidates towards the titles of 'apothecary' was necessary to improve medical help to people in the 1830s. This led to the establishment of the medical school in Madras (presently Chennai) in 1835. The school got renamed as the Madras Medical College in 1850. From 1835, the Madras Medical School offered formal training to personnel to be called either 'apothecaries' or 'dressers' under the superintendence of William Mortimer, who was assisted by George Harding in teaching at the school. Apothecary D'Beaux and Dresser P. S. Muthuswami Mudaliar were subordinate assistants. These apothecaries were recruited essentially under the Subordinate Medical Service of Madras, which was established in 1812 and included non-commissioned medical servants. The Madras apothecaries launched the Madras Apothecaries Society in 1864, which aimed at promoting and advancing medical science and knowledge. This society existed until 1871. Formal training of apothecaries ceased in Madras by the later decades of the 19th century, although informal training continued, especially for army cadets and women. Establishment of medical schools in Royapuram (which developed as the Stanley Medical College and Hospital), Tanjavur and Madurai, in the early decades of the 20th century and the 'branch' of Madras Medical College in Calicut during the Second World War changed the complexion of training of medical personnel immensely in pre- 1947 Madras Presidency. The Royapuram and other Medical Schools in Madras trained medical practitioners granting the title 'Licensed Medical Practitioner' (LMP). Whether the apothecary-dresser training at the 'old' Madras Medical College had a role to play in these developments remains to be verified.

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