• Full Name:
    Dr Ebenezer Atherton
  • Role:
    Registered Practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Homoeopathic Physician
  • State:
    New South Wales
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


[1841 - 1890]


Ebenezer Atherton was born in 1841, son of William Atherton and Elizabeth Leech. According to his birth record he was born at Keighley, Yorkshire, while later UK census records state that he was born in the nearby village of Bingley. Ebenezer's father died in 1851 and thereafter he and his siblings were raised by his mother.

He gained his qualifications (MRCS, 1863 and LSA, 1863) in England.  As a student at Guy's Hospital, London Atherton held the office of Clinical Clerk to Dr Gull (Sir William Gull, the Queen's Physician), an appointment only given to senior students.


He married Mary Benning Bodley in 1865. Dr Atherton and his wife arrived in Tasmania on 28 January 1866, aboard the City of Hobart.  Their first child was born in Hobart soon afterwards.

It appears that Dr Atherton was the first fully qualified homœopathic physician to practise in Hobart, although there is evidence that he was not the first person in Tasmania to advertise that he practised homœopathy. (The first appears to have been Mr Frederick C. Atkinson.)


Dr Atherton first advertised his location as 'Mrs Wilson's, 115 Macquarie Street, Hobart'.  In March 1866 he moved to 82 Macquarie Street.  It was described as being a 'genteel private residence', part of Victoria Terrace, five doors above Barrack Street.  He continued to practise from that residence until he moved to Davey Street in April 1868.  Originally the street number was 59 Daey Street, which later became 67 Davey Street and is now 97 Davey Street.


According to Edward Ford, Dr Atherton was the editor of Notes on Homœopathy, produced in Hobart in 12 numbers from September 1870 to August 1871. The Notes themselves, however, specifically state that Atherton was not the editor or author, although he contributed a great deal of the content, especially when he was replying to attacks from allopathic doctors. My research has discovered that the editor of the Notes was in fact Edwin Cradock Nowell.

In the Introduction Mr Nowell stated "... we purpose [sic] to publish these 'Notes' as a means of correcting some of the erroneous impressions so generally prevalent on the subject of Homœopathy, and of disseminating information as to its progress".

In 1871 Dr Atherton was reported as being the sole remaining representative of homœopathy in Tasmania. The Homœopathic Directory of Great Britain & Ireland for 1872 and 1873 listed him as a practitioner in Hobart Town.

However, on 20 May,1873, after nearly eight years in Hobart, he and his family moved to Sydney where he formed a partnership with Dr Brereton.  Interestingly, in March 1872 Dr Atherton had already worked for several weeks at Dr Brereton's Sydney practice, while Dr Brereton looked after Dr Atherton's practice in Hobart.  It was in Sydney where Dr Atherton's sixth child was born at the home of Dr Brereton. (Dr Atherton and his wife were to have one more child in Sydney, in 1879.)

Newspapers of the time reported that Dr Atherton had had a large, successful and valuable practice in Hobart 'for which he was indebted to his assiduous attention, and to the successful issue of difficult cases entrusted to him'.

The doctor has had a great deal of difficulty and jealousy to contend with, and has had to fight against the most bitter combined hostility of the orthodox doctors, a hostility not only professional but personal; the medical fraternity being more bitter and bigotted than the theological. But Dr Atherton by his skill, tact, and high character has won his way in spite of all opposition, and gained a large and increasing practice, and the esteem of a large number of friends.

Dr Benjafield took over his Hobart practice.

Dr Atherton was recorded in Sand's Sydney and Suburban Directory of 1875 as practising from 18 O'Connell Street, Sydney. On 18 July, 1876 his partnership with Dr Brereton was dissolved 'by mutual consent'.

In the 1883 and 1886 editions of the Australasian Medical Directory (the official lists of registered medical practitioners), he was recorded as practising from 139 Macquarie Street, Sydney and 16 O'Connell Street. In the 1883 edition his entry stated that he was a 'homœopathist'.


Dr Atherton died at his Macquarie Street residence on 22 September 1890.



©   Barbara Armstrong

  • Created:
    Wednesday, 19 January 2011
  • Last modified:
    Monday, 20 March 2017