Benjafield

  • Full Name:
    Dr Harry Benjafield
  • Role:
    Registered Practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Homœopathic physician
    Owner homœopathic pharmacies
  • State:
    Tasmania
    Scotland
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:
    1873

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)

 

[1845 - 1917]

 

DrHarryBenjafield2-s

                              Dr Harry Benjafield

                Showing pears grown in his orchard.

Harry Benjafield was born in 1845, son of Charles Benjafield. While Dr Benjafield's obituary states that he was "a native of Wiltshire", the census records state that he was born in Silton, Dorset, near the Wiltshire/Dorset border. According to the 1851 English census records, father Charles had considerable land holdings in Dorset (over 400 acres) and employed 27 labourers to maintain his Thorngrove Farm. At that time Harry was a "scholar at home" and the family employed a private governess. According to the 1861 census father Charles had a 450 acre farm in Wiltshire.


By 1871 the family was living at Navestock, Essex. Harry was listed as being a student of medicine, age 26. Dr Benjafield gained his qualifications (MB, ChM & LM) in Edinburgh during the same year, in 1871.


On 8 February 1873 Dr Benjafield married Amelia Pywell at Stockport, Cheshire. Later the same year he and his wife boarded the ship "Somerset" and emigrated to Australia. He was registered as a medical practitioner in Tasmania on May 31, 1873.


Soon after his arrival in Hobart, he purchased the practice of Dr Atherton, following that person's departure to NSW. Dr Benjafield's practice was originally conducted from his premises in Davey Street.


The origins of the famous homœopathic pharmacy in Hobart known as 'Gould's Homœopathic Pharmacy' in fact date back to an initiative of Dr Benjafield. It was Dr Benjafield who, in January 1878, announced the opening of 'A Homœopathic Pharmacy' at 58 Elizabeth Street (corner of Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets). At the same time, Dr Benjafield moved his consulting rooms to that location. Dr Benjafield hired a manager to run the pharmacy side of the business, and orders for medicines were to be addressed to the Manager of the Homœopathic Pharmacy.

 

Dr Benjafield was also responsible for establishing the Homœopathic Pharmacy, Launceston in October 1883.  Mr F Styant Browne managed the pharmacy until he purchased it from Dr Benjafield in September 1885.


Having failed in an attempt to gain approval for a homœopathic ward at the General Hospital, Dr Benjafield, along with Dr Gibson, was instrumental in the founding of the Hobart Homœopathic Hospital in 1899.


At the first annual general meeting of The Homœopathic Association of Tasmania on October 27 1899, Dr Benjafield presented a paper entitled "Thirty years a Homœopath". In his paper Dr Benjafield referred to the fact that he had studied under Lister, who developed the microbe theory. He stated: "After watching these two systems at work for thirty years, I declare to you that I have no wish to go back to allopathy. I have never seen homœopathy fail and allopathy cure the case. Moreover, I have never seen a curable case and homœopathy fail to cure it when fair chance was given". He ran a vaccination clinic and fought for the recognition of homœopathy.

DrHarryBenjafield1-s

 

In the Australasian Medical Directories Dr Benjafield was recorded as being at Newtown, Hobart, from 1883 to

1886, in Mount Stuart in 1896, in Hobart in 1900 and 1911, and in Moonah in 1915. On the Albert Park estate at Moonah he started a dairy. According to his obituary, he introduced vaccinations using calf lymph, treating the calves at Moonah, and bringing them into the city in his trap so that he could vaccinate his patients direct from the calf. He supplied the health authorities of Queensland, New South Wales and parts of Victoria.

 

In 1911 he was a member of the Medical Council of Tasmania, and in 1915 he was also Medical Officer Health for Glenorchy and Member and Examiner in the Medical Council.


Dr Benjafield was a Baptist leader and had a passion for making healthcare affordable for all. In the depression of the 1890s he announced to the public that he would see anyone, whether they could afford to pay a fee or not. He was described as being large-hearted and hard-working.


He died suddenly on 13 June, 1917, leaving a widow, four sons and five daughters. A park and a street in Hobart bear his name.

 

[For more information, see:

Dr Benjafield’s obituary

-  Entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography]

 

 

©   Barbara Armstrong

       www.historyofhomeopathy.com.au

 

  • Created:
    Monday, 25 May 2009
  • Last modified:
    Saturday, 22 April 2017