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John Hall, A Stratford Physician: His Practice and Patients

Treating Patients Across Religious Boundaries

John Hall was a deeply religious man, he drew on religious texts and medical ones in his casebook, and noted thanks for God’s mercy at a successful outcome. Despite, or perhaps because of these strong convictions, John Hall’s medical practice crossed the religious boundaries of seventeenth-century England.

Hall treated people who he noted were ‘Catholic’ and in one case treats a ‘Romish Priest’ (Case 33). This suggests that for a devoutly protestant professional such as Hall, the religion of his patients was less important than professional duty. 

Despite some unrest, Catholics were regularly allowed some latitude to practise their religion under James I if an aura of conformity was maintained. Recusant fines were collected more to raise crown funds than explicitly to punish the catholic gentry . So, it is possible that John Hall’s treatment of Catholics was also influenced by this new level of developing tolerance.


Detail from Churchwardens' presentments: Stratford-upon-Avon, 1618. Reproduced by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (ER1/115/4, f. 7). Despite some level of toleration for Catholics and their worship in England in the mid-seventeenth century if they did not keep up an aura of conformity, by attending Anglican services on Sundays, then fines would be levied. These records name three members of the Stratford-upon-Avon community whose Catholicism drew notice; George Bagger and his wife, as well as Anne, wife to Richard Burman.