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John Darwall MD: Birmingham’s forgotten children’s physician
  1. A N Williams1,
  2. J Reinarz2
  1. 1Northampton General Hospital, UK
  2. 2Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A N Williams
    Child Development Centre, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton NN1 5BD, UK;


John Darwall’s (1796–1833) contribution to medicine has not attracted the attention it merits from medical historians. Although the Birmingham physician died at a relatively young age, his work in several fields of early nineteenth century medicine, including paediatrics, deserves to be both recovered and addressed, if only due to the light it sheds on medical practice in England during the first decades of the nineteenth century. Given its pioneering nature, his work on occupational health has attracted some attention, albeit minor.1 However his contribution to the development of paediatrics, as represented by his most substantial publication, Plain Instructions for the Management of Infants (1830), has been completely ignored by historians of child health. This paper seeks to redress this particular oversight.

  • John Darwall
  • breast feeding
  • care of infants
  • childhood poverty
  • nineteenth century

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