Timeline - Homoeopathy in New South Wales

NSW Timeline  QLD Timeline  SA Timeline  TAS Timeline  VIC Timeline   WA Timeline  Australia Timeline



History of homœopathy in New South Wales - A brief summary:



Australia’s first homœopath, Dr Stephen Simpson, arrived in NSW on 26 January 1840. About 6 months later he moved to Queensland.


Around this time, Dr William Sherwin, a native-born Australian, started to seriously consider and experience the use of homœopathy. He may have met, and been inspired by, Dr Simpson, as they were both in Sydney during 1840.


& 1850s

Many immigrants to Australia brought with them their domestic homœopathic medicine chests and used the medicines to treat their family and friends. After the gold rush, the knowledge and use of homœopathy became more wide-spread.


William Larmer had established a chemist and druggist business in 1853; however it was not until 1865 that he advertised the sale of homœopathic medicines. 


Dr Francis Bellamy settled in NSW. Later he became medical officer of the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary.


John Bell’s Homœopathic Pharmacy was established.

By 1857

SL Bensusan & Co, importers and merchants of Bridge Street Sydney, were advertising the sale of homœopathic medicines. These came from the Pharmacy of Mr Leath of London, for whom Bensusan’s declared that they were sole agents for Australasia.


Dr Charles Meymott settled in NSW. He became medical officer of the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary.


Dr Meymott gave a lecture at the School of Arts in Sydney on “New Truths and Their Reception”, in which he discussed the possible reasons why medical practitioners might reject new ideas such as those put forward by the exponents of homœopathy.


13th July 1858 – a meeting was held at John Bell’s Homœopathic Pharmacy to discuss the establishment of a free homœopathic dispensary in Sydney. Dr Bellamy and Dr Meymott were appointed as medical officers of the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary.


About this time, William Moore arrived in Sydney.  He eventually moved to Goulburn, where he set up practice.


Dr John Le Gay Brereton arrived in Melbourne in mid-1859, and then travelled to Sydney. Soon after his arrival in Sydney he set up his practice, and at the first annual meeting of the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary on 4 August 1859 he was appointed to join the medical staff.


By the time of the third Annual General Meeting of the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary in 1861, it was struggling, in part because of financial difficulties. It was felt that some problems could be resolved if a ward could be established within the Sydney Hospital or Infirmary, as the government met half the costs of such charitable institutions. Direct approaches to the hospital failed.


Dr William Sherwin qualified as Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, and on his return to Australia in 1862, announced his intention to establish a practice based on the use of homœopathy. Dr Sherwin was Australia's first 'home-grown' homœopath.


On 8 January 1863 Dr Sherwin delivered a lecture at the School of Arts, Sydney, on ‘Physiology and pharmacodynamics’, in support of homœopathy. He believed in ‘the general correctness of the doctrine’ and forecast resultant criticism.


On 24 January 1863 Dr Sherwin delivered another lecture at the School of Arts, on ‘Evidence of the benefits of homœopathy, and statistics of its success’.


September of 1863, three petitions were submitted to the Legislative Assembly. These requested that patients of institutions which received government funds should be granted the option of homœopathic treatment from the institution if they so desired. On 29th September 1863, this proposal was put to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and debated at length. The proposal was rejected.


Dr Brereton was appointed as Visiting Medical Officer to the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum. This created a furore in the medical establishment, with demands from one person (in an article called “Homœopathy in High Places”) that all the other attending medical officers should stand down in disgust.


Dr KV Rochlitz, who had practised as a ‘homœopathist’ in Victoria, moved from Melbourne to Sydney, where he practised at Wynyard Square until 1868, when he left Australia.


Dr Sherwin, Australia’s first ‘home-grown’ homœopath, died.


By 1875 there were two ‘Homœopathic Druggists’ in Sydney – F.N. Collins and William Larmer. Collins had bought John Bell’s pharmacy.


Also, Dr W. Moore was listed as being a homœopathic physician at 241 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. Upon retirement he left money to establish the Sydney Homœopathic Hospital


Dr John Feild Deck arrived in Sydney. Dr Deck was instrumental in establishing the Sydney Homœopathic Hospital in 1902.


Rev R.W. Holden was a Church of England clergyman who studied allopathy and homœopathy privately for over seven years in England. He provided medical treatment for the poor when working in parishes in Victoria and South Australia. In 1881 he moved to Lawrence, on the Clarence River in country New South Wales, where he found that there was no doctor in the town. At first he attended only urgent cases. However his practice increased, and eventually he devoted himself solely to the practice of medicine. 


There was another attempt to establish a homœopathic dispensary in 1892, which, from the records, appears to have survived one year only.

The attending practitioners were: Drs H. Payne-Scott, Simmons, Mathias, Kyngdon, Maffey and WG Watson. The Honorary Dispensers were Fisher & Co, and JT Osmond & Co.


Dr Richard Wallace delivered a lecture before “the Assistant Chemists’ Association of New South Wales” at Fisher’s Homœopathic Pharmacy. He recommended the establishment of a homœopathic hospital in Sydney – “the only city with over 300,000 inhabitants which has not one”.


By 1900 there were four ‘Homœopathic Druggists’:


E.C. Elliot at 17 Park Street, Sydney

Fisher & Co at 337 George Street, Sydney.

Thomas S. Loney at 208 William Street, Sydney.

John T. Osmond & Co. at 798 George Street, Sydney


There were also 8 people who were recorded as being ‘Homœopathists’ (not registered medical practitioners).


In 1902 William Moore, a retired homœopath based at Lawson, donated money to establish the Sydney Homœopathic Hospital.


In the same year, Dr JF Deck wrote a Proposal for the establishment of a Homœopathic Hospital in Sydney in theSydney Homœopathic Circular.


The Sydney Homœopathic Hospital was founded. Its first location was at 301 Cleveland Street, Redfern.


In the 1902 edition of the Sands Sydney & Suburban Directory, four ‘Homœopathic Physicians’ (registered medical practitioners) were listed:


Dr GHB Deck & Dr JF Deck in Macquarie Street .

Dr H. Payne Scott at Marrickville Rd, Marrickville.

Dr W.G. Watson at 150 Elizabeth Street.


Wise’s New South Wales Post Office Directory of 1903 listed a number of people who were recorded as being ‘Homœopathists’ (not registered medical practitioners):


7 were specifically listed as homœopaths. The list included a Mrs Jane Cummings, who practised at 18 Regent Street, Sydney.

A further 4 people in the Directory were known to have been listed as homœopaths in 1900, although they did not use that title in the 1903 Directory.


There were 4 homœopathic pharmacies in Sydney, as in 1900:


There were 3 people listed as homœopathic physicians:


George H. Baring Deck

Richard W.B. Hingston

A.H. Nash, JP, 142 Phillip Street


There were 6 people listed as homœopathists:

Two were homœopathic chemists – E.C. Elliott and Fisher & Co.


The others were John Fox; John A. Grigg; A.H. Nash (also listed as a homœopathic physician); Madam S. Schaaf of Hastings Street in Marrackville.


The park on the corner of Wigram Rd and Glebe Point Road was previously the site of the Sydney Hospital for Sick Children, founded in 1880. It was renamed the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1904 and moved to Camperdown in 1907. In 1915 the Sydney Homœopathic Hospital moved to Glebe and took over this building, which was later demolished in 1968.


The last homœopath providing services to the Sydney Homœopathic Hospital, Dr Leigh Feild Deck, retired in 1941.


The Hospital was increasingly used as a general community hospital, and it is believed that the use of homœopathic treatment within the Hospital had effectively ended by 1945. The hospital’s matron continued administering homœopathic treatment but left in 1945.


©   Barbara Armstrong


  • Created:
    Sunday, 27 February 2011
  • Last modified:
    Monday, 24 April 2017