“PROFOUND PRACTISERS IN THE FACULTY OF PHYSICK”: CONTINUATION OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS, ACTS OF THE SIXTH PARLIAMENT OF GEORGE I, 1722-23
PARLIAMENT. Anno Regni Georgii… Decimo [Second Session of the Sixth Parliament]… Begun the Ninth Day of October, 1722 (And from thence Continued to the Ninth Day of January, 1723. London: John Baskett, 1723-24. Thick folio, full contemporary speckled calf, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, maroon spine label. $950.
First edition, including Acts for enabling the College of Physicians to license practitioners and to control “all Drugs, Medicines, Waters, Oils, Compositions, used for Medicines,” and for monopolizing the whaling industry off the coast of Greenland.
The Second Session of the Sixth Parliament under George I enacted an important statute continuing the Royal College of Physicians (first established by Henry VIII in 1522 and confirmed by Mary in 1553), and charging it with licensing current practitioners in London and examining all substances used as medications (pages 343ff.). For over 450 years, the College of Physicians has played a pivotal role in maintaining standards of medical practice in hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, conducting examinations, training, education and research in medicine, and advising the Government, the public and the profession on health and medical matters. Its Statutes "constitute one of the earliest and most important examples of a local code of ethics" (Garrison, 239n). Another interesting outcome of the Second Session was the "Act for encouraging the Greenland Fishery" (pages 321ff.)—an early attempt to monopolize the whaling industry off the coast of Greenland. This copy is from the Sessional Volumes of Parliament, the earliest official printings available. Acts printed prior to 1796 are extremely scarce, since the maximum number printed "only slightly exceeded 1,100 copies," and those were distributed solely to Members of the Houses of Parliament, the great officers and offices of state, and the judiciary (see Report of the Committee for the Promulgation of the Statutes, 1796). Sweet & Maxwell II, 176. Maxwell & Maxwell, 561.
Small hole through first two leaves (not affecting text). Interior very clean and bright. Light age-wear to contemporary calf, very good.