A discourse of the state of health in the Island of Jamaica

TRAPHAM Thomas, M.D. (1679.)

£5500.00  [First Edition]

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with a provision therefore Calculated from the Air the Place and the Watrer: the Customs and Manners of the Living.First edition. Small 8vo. Nineteenth century morocco, rebacked the original spine, gilt, laid-down, eighteenth century ownership signature in pencil on title page of J. Taverner, M.D., with occasional early pen and pencil mark in the margins, a.e.g. [xvi], 149, [3]ads.pp. London, R. Boulter,

Trapham's father was a licensed surgeon in Oxford, who acted during the Civil war as "body-surgeon" to Oliver Cromwell. He is chiefly remembered for sewing back the head to the body of the executed King. Thomas Trapham junior is known to have studied firstly at Magdalene Oxford then at Leyden, finally obtaining his MD at Caen. In 1664 he was practising in London and was accorded an honorary fellowship of the College of surgeons. It seems that he made his way to Jamaica and practised there from 1673 until his death in about 1702.

"Like all doctors of his time, his understanding of aetiology is dismayingly erroneous. Most diseases he believes are caused by factors such as sudden chilling, exposure to night airs, and intemperance, and are influenced by changes in the lunar cycle. His treatment included the use of emetics, cathartics, venesection, mercurials, and various herbal remedies, which when not positively injurious, would have been ineffectual..." (Ashcroft)

It seems probably that the book was written both to ensure Trapham's pre-eminence in his chosen practice and to encourage potential settlers deterred by the prospect of tropical malady. Trapham paints a rosy picture of Jamaica while counselling his readers to adopt the mores of the tropics rather than importing habits of colder climes. In his work the black population hardly figure except where their customs have inadvertently contibuted to their health to good or ill.

The Norman and Macclesfield copies are the only ones at auction in the last 30 years. See British Medical Journal 25th August 1975: "Tercentenary of the first English book on tropical medicine" (M.T. Ashcroft). Wing, T-2030; Sabin, 96473.

Stock Code: 202018

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