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The Great InoculatorThe Untold Story of Daniel Sutton and his Medical Revolution$
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Gavin Weightman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300241440

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300241440.001.0001

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A Most Surprising Fellow

A Most Surprising Fellow

(p.39) 5 A Most Surprising Fellow
The Great Inoculator

Gavin Weightman

Yale University Press

This chapter looks at how, in just four years, from late in 1763 until 1767, Daniel Sutton made a fortune working single-handedly as an inoculator. He did not, as might have been expected, head to London to prosper among the well-to-do. His experience working with his father had taught him that in country towns and villages there was a demand for inoculation and not many country surgeons at that time were willing to offer it. Sutton was sometimes described as a quack because he had no medical qualifications. He was, in the terms of the day, a 'mere empiric'. But what he achieved with his regime was real, effective as a preventive against smallpox, the most devastating disease of the age. He was more successful than his father and brothers because he made inoculation more accessible and less daunting with his relatively easy-going regime. As inoculation had become more acceptable in the 1750s, there were occasional attempts to inoculate whole populations simultaneously to overcome the danger of the infection spreading to those who had not been treated. This provided a new line of business for Sutton.

Keywords:   Daniel Sutton, inoculator, inoculation, country surgeons, smallpox, infection

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