Timeline - Homoeopathy in Victoria

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History of homœopathy in Victoria - A brief summary:



The Anglican Bishop Perry and his wife came to Australia. In England in 1837, Bishop Perry had been treated by Dr Simpson, Australia’s first homœopath. Perry and his wife became keen supporters of homœopathy in Melbourne – Bishop Perry as Patron of the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary, and Mrs Perry as Patron of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital.

The Dean of Melbourne, Rev Hussey Burgh Macartney arrived on the same ship as Bishop Perry. He attended the inaugural meetings of the Dispensary, and was appointed to the Committee.


Many immigrants to Australia brought with them their domestic homœopathic medicine chests and used the medicines to treat their family and friends.


Medical practitioners, whether qualified or unqualified, were not required to be registered.


After the beginning of the gold rush, the knowledge and use of homœopathy became more wide-spread.


Thomas Hill Goodwin arrived in Melbourne and became the first person to advertise his homœopathic services, selling homœopathic medicines and providing advice.  He also established Melbourne's first homœopathic dispensary.


William Ruse came to Melbourne in 1852 and eventually settled in Cheltenham (then Beaumaris). He acted as a lay practitioner in homœopathic medicine in the district.


Dr Henry Backhaus, (doctor of divinity, not medicine), German Roman Catholic priest, arrived in Melbourne and then moved on to Bendigo, in the gold fields. He became well-known for using homœopathy.


Richard Thomas Wallis, a veterinary surgeon, commenced advertising his homœopathic services in Geelong.


Stephen Henty, one of Victoria’s pioneers, was cured of a life-threatening illness with the aid of homœopathy. His practitioner is unknown. He and his brother became supporters of homœopathy. At a second meeting of the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary in 1869, both were appointed to the Committee.


Although John Bell Hickson had arrived in Victoria in 1850, it was not until 1854 that he advertised his services as a homœopathic practitioner. He has been credited with being Victoria’s first homœopathic practitioner, although recent research has shown this not to be the case.


The very first edition of The Age, printed on Tuesday October 17, 1854 contained the following advertisement (including the incorrect spelling of ‘Homœopathic’):


HOMEOEPATHIC MEDICINES – Wanted to purchase every description of Homeoepathic Medicines.

Address M. D., Post Office, Geelong


Following extensive research, I now believe that “M.D.” was in fact John Bell Hickson.


Although Robert Palk and his family had arrived in Melbourne in 1852, it was not until 1854 that he commenced business as a homœopathic practitioner.  


In the 1854 Melbourne Commercial & Squatters’ Directory, TH Goodwin was recorded as running a “homœopathic dispensary” at 17 Stephen Street (now renamed Exhibition Street). This possibly meant that it was already in operation in 1853.


In December 1854, a Bill to provide for the Registration of duly qualified medical practitioners and to prevent unauthorised persons from practising, was sent to the Legislative Council for their consideration. However, 8 years elapsed before the Act became Law in Victoria.


Thiennette de Bérigny arrived from France via the Americas and practised homoœopathy. In 1855 he gave a lecture in the Protestant Hall in Melbourne, rebuking organised medicine for its profiteering and iatrogenesis. He advertised his practice in Collins Street in The Age.

NOTE: Those websites which give credit for the introduction of homœopathy to Australia to Dr Thiennette de Bérigny or Dr Hickson are incorrect and out-of-date.


JB Hickson advertised his Melbourne practice in The Age.


During 1855, Joshua Cowell, bootmaker, placed several advertisements in The Age stating that he sold “Homœopathy, Medicines, and Works upon the science at J. Cowell’s 123 Elizabeth Street.”


Mr Samuel Kidner arrived in St Kilda, near Melbourne, and commenced a practice as a ‘homœopathist’ at 123 High Street, St Kilda. He had originally arrived in Sydney in 1857.

During 1858, James J. Blundell, bookseller & stationer, placed an advertisement in The Argus stating that he sold “Homoeopathic books and medicines for homœopaths on sale. James J. Blundell & Co. 44 Collins Street West.”


14 April, the first meeting of a group which proposed the establishment of the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary. Attendees included Bérigny, J.B. Hickson, Dr Palk, Samuel Kidner.


Dr KV Rochlitz came to Australia in 1860. He worked as a ‘homœopathist’ at 44 Russell Street (recorded in the 1861 Sands and Kenny Directory for Melbourne).  

The origin of Martin and Pleasance – Mr Kidner & Edward G. Gould opened a homoeopathic pharmacy in Melbourne, named “Kidner and Gould”. (Note: this was in 1860, and NOT 1855.)  Towards the end of 1860, when Mr Kidner moved to Adelaide, Mr Gould became the sole owner of the pharmacy, and as a result renamed it “Gould and Son”.


A colony census showed that there were 592 medical practitioners, 61 of these were medical doctors; the remainder included midwives and homœopaths.


An Act was passed to make compulsory the registration of ‘properly qualified medical practitioners’, and to make it illegal for non-registered practitioners to use the title ‘doctor’.


James Pascoe Teague arrived in Australia in 1862 at the age of 25. He had studied medicine in America, graduating from the College of Homoeopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania. In 1862 his address was recorded as being in Geelong, where he had a practice in Ryrie St. He opened his consulting rooms in Melbourne in 1866. He was one of the founders and honorary medical officers of the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary.


Dr Sidney Rudge Robinson (1816 – 1898) – who received his medical qualifications in England, was recorded as being in Melbourne in 1862. However from 1865 he lived in Geelong, where he took over Dr Teague’s Ryrie Street practice. He provided honorary services twice a week to the Geelong Homœopathic Dispensary.


Dr Robert Ray was recorded as being in Melbourne. Dr Ray studied medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in London and was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.


Edward G. Gould opened a homœopathic pharmacy at Ryrie Street, Geelong, opposite the post office.


The Geelong Homœopathic Dispensary was established.


Dr H.R. Madden, an English homœopath, arrived in Melbourne. The Argus newspaper of 8 August 1863 reported that he was on a recruiting tour in Victoria. He was recorded as having addresses in St Kilda and Collins Street.


The Geelong Homœopathic Dispensary provided services free of charge. Dr Teague was its first medical officer, with EG Gould as its first dispenser.


Mr RJH Martin joined Gould and Son; the business was renamed “Gould and Martin”. Not long after Edward Gould returned to England leaving Mr Martin as the sole proprietor. For a while he retained the name of Gould and Martin.

During July 1864 there were several articles in The Argus which reported Dr Madden defending homœopathy.


Dr Edward Spech arrived at Port Phillip. He practised as a homœopath in Sturt Street, Ballarat.

Dr Johannes Werner Günst appeared on Victoria’s medical register in 1865. He became a strong advocate of homœopathy.


The 1861 edition of the Sands & Kenny’s Melbourne Directory listed James Jackson as herbalist at 229 Bourke Street East.* The 1865 edition of Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory listed him as being a Chemist & Druggist, operating a ‘botanic and homœopathic depot”.


By this time a second homœopathic pharmacy had been established in Collins Street, operated by Benjamin Poulton. At first Mr Poulton operated from 10 Collins Street West. He also ran a homœopathic pharmacy at 66 Cardigan Street, Carlton, along with Thomas Poulton and Benjamin Button.


Homœopathy was thriving in Geelong. In addition to the Geelong Homœopathic Dispensary, the Geelong directory listed Dr Wallis as a homoeopathist in Myers Street West, John Owen as a homœopathic chemist at Ryrie Street West, and Dr S.R. Robinson as a homœopathic surgeon at Ryrie Street.


In 1866 Dr Günst established the “Melbourne Hydropathic Institution” at 153 Collins Street East*, near the Melbourne Club.


“Benjamin Poulton & Son” moved to 84 Collins Street East.* 


The opening of the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary to provide free service to the people of Melbourne. A house was leased at 153 Collins Street East* and on 22nd November the dispensary doors opened to the public. [Note that at this time there was only one other homœopathic dispensary in Victoria – the Geelong Homœopathic Dispensary. The two other free dispensaries in Melbourne – the Richmond dispensary, and Dr Singleton’s Collingwood dispensary, both of which also opened in 1869, were not homœopathic dispensaries.]


Dr JW Günst published journal “The Homoeopathic Progress in Australia – A Monthly Journal of Record and Domestic Practice”. It ran for one year.


The Ballarat Homœopathic Pharmacy, managed by Charles Pleasance, was established.

Dr William Joseph Richard Ray commenced practice in Ballarat.


The Ballarat Free Homœopathic Dispensary opened. It appears to have closed in 1876 or earlier.

Dr William Ray commenced practice in Ballarat - father of Dr William Joseph Richard Ray (above)

Dr Jeremy Gould from Edinburgh University was appointed honorary physician to the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary.


The Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital committee consisted of 15 influential Melbourne women who raised money and awareness for the hospital. They persuaded the Melbourne Homœopathic Dispensary to join them in their efforts to build the hospital.  In January 1875 the new institution named the 'Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital and Dispensary' was established.  


While the new hospital was being built, the Homœopathic Hospital operated from a 3 storey terrace house at 17 Spring Street. It had an outpatient department and 14 beds. This was Australia’s first homœopathic hospital.


Charles Pleasance became partners with R. Martin. The pharmacy retained the name “Martin & Co” until 1884, when it was renamed “Martin and Pleasance”.


The government granted the request for a piece of land on St Kilda Road, for the building of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital.


Alexander Murray was appointed honorary surgeon of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital. In his private practice in Prahran he described himself as “Surgeon and Homœopathic Practitioner”.


The Victorian Governor, the Marquis of Normandy, laid the foundation stone for the new Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital on St Kilda Road.


In the 1884 edition of the Sands & McDougall Melbourne & Suburban Directory, there were 8 homœopathic chemists listed:


H. Seelenmeyer & Forbes in Swanston Street,

Poulton’s in 84 Collins Street East,

Martin & Pleasance in 85 Collins Street East,

Robert Joseph Poulton in Bourke Street East,

Thomas Osmond in St Kilda,

George Pleasance in Prahran and also in St Kilda, and

Edward Doney in Carlton.


At a monthly meeting of the Medical Society of Victoria it was decided that any member who consulted with a homœopath would be deemed to be guilty of unprofessional conduct. This was passed in preparation for the opening of the Homœopathic Hospital, to prevent them from obtaining staff.


The Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital was opened at the St Kilda Road location, with a central three storey administration block and a northern wing of two storeys.


Dr WK Bouton arrived in Melbourne and became the resident medical officer at the Melbourne  Homœopathic Hospital, a position which he held from 1885 to 1891. He also had a practice in Collins Street.


Charles Pleasance became the sole owner of Martin and Pleasance.

The Annual Report of the Homœopathic Hospital noted that whilst the mortality rate for that year at the Melbourne Hospital had been 13%, at the Homœopathic Hospital it was just under 9%.


The Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital treated 408 cases of typhoid fever with a mortality of 10.29%, whilst the Melbourne Hospital treated 351 cases with a 22.22% mortality.


Dr WK Bouton became surgeon in charge at the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital, a position which he held until his death in 1936.


The 1892 Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory listed William Rogers as running a homœopathic chemist shop at 29 Best Street, North Fitzroy.

By 1892 it appears that Benjamin Poulton had retired, and the pharmacy was renamed Poulton and Owen (for George J. Poulton and Edward George Owen).


The last mention of the Geelong Homœopathic Dispensary.


Tuberculosis was made a notifiable disease.


By 1903 George Poulton had left the business and the pharmacy was renamed, signifying that it was owned by Edward Owen.


The Board of Health requested the Homœopathic Hospital to set aside 8 beds for the reception of consumptive patients in addition to the average number already occupied by such cases.


The Inspector of Charities reported that for the Homœopathic Hospital “the average stay of patients during the year was 19 days. This average stay is much below that of other metropolitan hospitals”.


The Victorian Medical Act was amended to regulate the admission of medical practitioners who had qualified in other countries, and in particular those that had not complete a course of training equivalent to that of the Melbourne University where five years of study was required.


As the majority of medical appointments for the Homœopathic Hospital, at this stage, came from America where the courses did not meet this criterion, it would have cut off their supply of doctors.


As a result of pressure, a special exemption was obtained for the Hospital, permitting the importation of one doctor a year from either the Boston Homœopathic University and Medical College, or the New York Homœopathic Medical College and Hospital. However, often the practitioners would be disgusted with their treatment by other medical practitioners in Australia, and would return to America when their contract with the Hospital expired.


The Victorian branch of the British Medical Association drew up a code of ethics which excluded from membership those who “based their practice on an exclusive dogma, such as homœopathy”, and forbade its members to consult with those who did so.


The “Ethics of Medical Practice” published in the 1911 edition of the Australasian Medical Directory stated:


“The common practice of abstaining from professional relations with homœopaths has not been universally adopted. At least one English and one Irish college have actually ruled to restrain or forbid their diplomates from countenancing them; and in New South Wales there is a resolution of the British Medical Association to the effect that it is inconsistent with honourable practice for its members to meet homœopaths in Consultation.” But also: “… yet there are individual members of high standing in many parts of the world who make exceptions in the case of particular homœopaths, and in particular forms of illness.”

1911 The Homœopathic Hospital had 80 beds. Staff included 2 physicians, 2 surgeons, 4 outdoor physicians, 2 resident physicians.

The Homœopathic Hospital had 98 beds. In the previous year it treated 1,341 inpatients, 11,039 outpatients, 3,295 casualties.


Dr Janet Cooper, from Nova Scotia, was appointed as the first female doctor at the Homœopathic Hospital. Between 1921 and 1948 she was a member of the honorary medical staff.


By this time the Charities Inspectors had become extremely critical of the Homœopathic Hospital and its lack of essential services and equipment. Its doctors were demanding expenditure on items appropriate to the practice of orthodox medicine.


The treasurer of the Homœopathic Hospital suggested that “in view of the increasing difficulty in obtaining duly qualified Homœopathic practitioners” the constitution of the Hospital should be altered and broadened “in order to enable the Board to invite the co-operation and assistance from the Medical Profession and the public generally”.


That year two graduates from Sydney University were accepted by the Hospital as Residents.


The Council of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association (B.M.A.) voted “that the ‘Principles of Medical Ethics’ concerning homœopathic practitioners shall not apply to Resident Medical Officers of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital who are members of the B.M.A”.


The B.M.A. decided to allow its members to accept honorary posts in special departments at the Homœopathic Hospital. Many changes were made after this time, as the hospital was no longer exclusively homœopathic.


At a special meeting in April, the contributors of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital gave their consent to a change of name. Since a visit from Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was imminent, the Hospital was renamed as “Prince Henry’s Hospital” on the 18 September 1934, by decree from His Majesty, King George V.


Six months before it ceased to be, the Homœopathic Hospital had treated its millionth patient.


Dr WK Bouton, the surgeon in charge at the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital, died. He was probably the last “pure straight homœopath” to work at the Hospital.


AfterWorld War 2, there were very few remaining lay homœopathic practitioners who were still in practice at that time. The most prominent of these were Fritz Koch, Cyril Flower and R. Porter, Joseph Moger arrived from Germany and worked with others to revive homœopathy in Melbourne.


The Australian Federation of Homœopaths was formed as a national organisation of affiliated State branches.


The Australian Federation of Homœopaths changed its name to become the Australian Homœopathic Association Inc. (AHA).


The various homœopathic associations in Australia relinquished their role as registering bodies and formed the independent, national, registering body for Australian homœopaths – the Australian Register of Homœopaths (AROH).


The Federal Government endorsed the National Competency Standards in Homœopathy, in conjunction with the Australian National Training Authority.


By this stage there were approximately 150 professional homœopaths in Victoria alone, all registered with the Australian Register of Homœopaths (AROH).


©   Barbara Armstrong


  • Created:
    Wednesday, 12 January 2011
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 21 June 2020