Braithwaite

  • Full Name:
    Dr Edmund Braithwaite
  • Role:
    Homœopathic practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Registered medical practitioner
  • State:
    New South Wales
    Tasmania
    Victoria
    England
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:
    1864

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)

 

[1828 - 1869]

 

Edmund Braithwaite was born on 13 February, 1828 at Chelsea in London, and was baptised on 18 March, 1828. He was the son of George Mott Braithwaite, a mariner, and Louisa Frances Strutt of Manor Street in Chelsea.

 

In 1850 Edmund became a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. In the same year, on 6 November, he married Elizabeth Anne Roberts [c.1825-1916].  They were married at St. Mary Abbotts, Kensington, Middlesex.

 

According to England's 1851 census, at age 24 years Edmund was a surgeon and general practitioner at the West Hertfordshire Infirmary, Marlowes, England. Dr Braithwaite obtained his other qualification of LFPS, Glasgow, in 1853. According to White's Directory for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1859, he was M.D. at Quay Street, Newport. According to the 1861 census he was at 11 Anglesea Road, Hammersmith, Middlesex.

 

Dr Braithwaite travelled as Surgeon Superintendant aboard the Prince Consort, arriving at Hervey Bay, Queensland on 30 March 1864. During that year he became registered as a medical practitioner in New South Wales. In August 1864 the Sydney Morning Herald announced that he had been appointed as Medical Officer for the Sons of Perseverance Friendly Society. According to the advertisement, he was located at 280 Crown Street, South Head. In the same month it was reported that he was a member of the Sydney Philharmonic Society. The post office directories for 1865 and 1866 stated that he was at 380 Crown Street, Sydney.  However, newspaper reports for June 1865 report that he was living at Orange, New South Wales where he provided subscriptions to restore the local  Roman Catholic Church, St Mary's Cathedral.  At one ceremony he played the harmonium, and it was reported that 'this gentleman is most assiduous in his labour to form a choir for the Catholic Church of this town'.

 

Dr Braithwaite married his second wife, Rebecca Kirby, on 13 June 1865 at Bathurst, New South Wales. On the marriage certificate both stated that they were widowed.  (In fact his first wife, Elizabeth, died on 11 November 1916 at the home of her brother, Alfred who was Rector at Mappowder, Dorset.)

 

On 20 July 1866 Dr Braithwaite travelled from Sydney to Melbourne aboard the City of Adelaide. On 7 September 1866 Dr Braithwaite was enrolled on the list of legally qualified medical practitioners in Victoria. His address was 37 Hanover Street, Fitzroy, Victoria.

 

By 1867 he had moved to Castlemaine. In October 1867 the Australian Medical Journal reported that Dr Braithwaite was insolvent due to bad debts.

 

In January 1868 newspapers reported that "Dr Braithwaite, a homœopathic practitioner, has been elected homœopathic physician to the Castlemaine Hospital - said to be a fact unique in the history of medicine in the colonies." He had in fact been appointed to the position of honorary physician at the Hospital.

 

He did not remain in this position for long, however, as the Tasmanian newspapers reported that on 8 November 1868 Mrs Braithwaite and three children had arrived from Melbourne aboard the Tasmania. The January newspapers reported that in January 1869 Dr Braithwaite was enrolled on the list of legally qualified medical practitioners in Tasmania.

 

Dr Braithwaite immediately participated in local events, the Cornwall Chronicle reporting that in January 1869 he participated in a first-class sailing race at the Formby Regatta, Torquay. Also, the Launceston Examiner reported that he was part of an orchestral performance at the Mechanics' Institute of Haydn's Grand Symphonies.

 

The family was living at Torquay in northern Tasmania, now re-named Devonport, in the area of the River Don. His name appeared in the newspapers because a local child came down with an illness which the local practitioner, Dr Wilkinson, stated was smallpox. Initially Dr Braithwaite agreed with Dr Wilkinson, but then changed his opinion to state that the child was suffering from chickenpox. Having reported the condition to the medical authorities, a doctor from Launceston was sent to Torquay in order to diagnose the disease and to determine whether it caused a threat to the rest of the colony. In the event, it was decided that because the child recovered swiftly, the condition was neither smallpox nor chickenpox.

 

Sadly, shortly after this event it was reported that Dr Braithwaite had died at his residence in Torquay on 26 April, 1869. According to the report of his death:

 

He had been ailing for about a fortnight previously, but towards the close was delirious, and it is generally believed that brain fever was the cause of death. Mr Braithwaite was about 40 years of age, and had only commenced practice in this colony during the past few months, having arrived from Victoria. He leaves a widow and three young children.

 

Also:

 

The unfortunate decease of Dr Braithwaite is quite a calamity for this district [that is, those living in the area of Torquay and the River Don]. He was a skilful man, and understood both the allopathic and homœopathic modes of treatment.

 

On 8 June, 1869 Mrs Braithwaite and her 3 children sailed to Melbourne aboard the Derwent.

 

Dr Wilkinson also left the town, leaving this area of Tasmania without any medical practitioner until the arrival of homœopath A.J.B. Jenner.

 

©   Barbara Armstrong

       www.historyofhomeopathy.com.au 

 

  • Created:
    Wednesday, 15 October 2014
  • Last modified:
    Monday, 24 November 2014