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Boils, Plague Sores and Embossed Carbunkles

Pewter Syringe

Pewter Syringe


About the Item

When taking medicines, most patients would prefer to eat or drink them. However, sometimes medicines were administered in more unpleasant ways.

This pewter syringe with a brass needle was used to inject medicine rectally (this means putting the remedy into the patient’s bottom).

William Shakespeare’s son-in-law, physician John Hall, wrote about a medical procedure where he used a syringe similar to this to inject ‘Chicken-broth’, oil and salt of tartar into the bottom of a patient called Edith Stoughton. According to John Hall, Edith was cured of her ‘distemper’.

Doctors today would definitely not recommend trying this!


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CC-BY-NC-ND Image Courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust