• Full Name:
    Dr John Maffey
  • Role:
    Registered medical practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Physician, Surgeon, Acchoucheur
  • State:
    New South Wales
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:

Dr John Maffey

Photograph courtesy of great grandson John Maffey.


John Maffey was born in 1845 at Clun, Shropshire, England.  He was the son of Stephen Maffey, an Inland Revenue Officer, and his wife Sarah Shepherd Clements.
According to England's 1861 Census, at age 15 John was already working as a surgeon's apprentice at Louth, Lincolnshire.  His father died the same year.
Dr Maffey studied medicine at Edinburgh and graduated (LRCP and RCS) in 1869. He became a registered practitioner on 29 April, 1870.
In July 1871 John married Anne (Annie) Harrison at Ripon, Yorkshire.  They had three children - two daughters and a son.  The son eventually followed in his father's footsteps and also became a doctor.
According to the UK Medical Directory for 1871 he was located at Southgate, Wakefield.  In 1879 he was at 95 North Parade, Bradford, Yorkshire. 
He was appointed House Surgeon at the Manchester Homœopathic Hospital and Physician at the Bradford (Yorkshire) Homœopathic Institute.
Doctor Maffey, his wife and three children travelled to Sydney aboard the Parramatta, arriving on 2 January, 1883.  They continued their journey to Melbourne where he was appointed Honorary Surgeon at the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital.  Doctor Maffey was already known in Australia, however, as he had published a tract on scarlet fever which was one in the series of Homœopathic Missionary Tractates published by the Homœopathic Publishing Company, London.  In July 1876 this pamphlet was re-published by one of Melbourne's homœopathic chemists in Collins Street, Poulton & Co.


Soon after his arrival in Melbourne he offered to deliver a course of lectures to the nurses of the Homœopathic Hospital, on the principles of the St John’s Ambulance Association. The lectures were open to the lady subscribers of the hospital, as well as the nurses. Templeton reports that the lectures were “so popular that the Board Room was packed out on lecture days and the nurses had to sit outside because all the seats were taken by the public”.


In the Australasian Medical Directory of 1883 he was listed as being at 172 Collins Street East and also at “Belmont”, Barkley Street, St Kilda. In the 1884 edition of Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory he is listed as John Maffey, MD, surgeon, physician and accoucheur at 128 Collins Street East and at Barkly Street St Kilda (on the east side, between Alma Street and Waterloo Street, on the corner of Alma Street).


By 1892 he had moved to NSW. In the Australasian Medical Directory of 1892 he was listed as being at 152 Macquarie Street, Sydney, with his private residence being 66 Alberto Terrace, Darlinghurst, where he temporarily resided at the premises of Dr Simmons.


During the same year he provided services, once a week, to the newly-formed Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary, for which he was also the Honorary Secretary. He was listed as being a homœopath. In the Australasian Medical Directory of 1896 he was listed as being at 151 Elizabeth Street, Hyde Park, Sydney.


Commencing early 1897, however, he started visiting Brisbane, probably invited by Mr John Fenwick, who ran the stock and station agency of Fenwick & Co of Edward Street, and was a major figure in Brisbane society. Dr Maffey advertised that during his short visit to Brisbane (approximately 2 weeks) he could be consulted at the Hotel Cecil in George Street. He returned for a week’s visit in June, and advertised that he could be consulted at Mr Fenwick’s house at St Aidan, Merivale Street, South Brisbane.


Maffey must have liked Brisbane, as by December 1897 he was advertising that he had commenced practice as a homœopathic physician at Fenwick’s house, but that he wanted to move to a “good residence, centrally situated”. It should also be “substantial” and “good-class”. In January 1898 he moved to temporary consulting rooms on the ground floor of the AMP Buildings, and then to number 2 North Quay, the second house from Queen Street. He advertised himself as a homœopathic physician, surgeon, and accoucheur.


By May 1899 Maffey’s consulting rooms were at 65 Queen Street and his residence was at Chesney, New Farm (in Moray Street). By December 1899 his practice had returned to North Quay, building number 1.


Maffey does not appear in the 1903 listing of medical practitioners in Queensland.


On 6 April, 1905 Dr Maffey arrived in Launceston, Tasmania aboard the Loongana.  Shortly after this he  joined the Launceston Homœopathic Hospital as a second Honorary Medical Officer.


Dr Maffey also visited Devonport, Ulverstone, Penguin and Burnie.  The supporters of homœopathy in those areas hoped that he would continue to make regular visits, and thus encourage the formation of committees in all the leading coastal towns to meet and discuss matters of homœopathy, and collect funds for the hospital.  However, he resigned early in the following year and on 24 January, 1906 he left Tasmania and returned to Sydney.


Dr Maffey died on 22 August, 1909 and was buried at Gore Hill Cemetery.  His wife, Annie, died on 22 April, 1926.


©   Barbara Armstrong


  • Created:
    Tuesday, 22 March 2011
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 17 July 2016