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The practice of Chirurgery

An illustration from the book The Marrow of Chirurgery, 1700.

I have created this page because my first Ancestor to arrive in America in 1634 was a Chirurgeon (surgeon). This is a collection of what is currently available on-line and should be seen as a brief introduction to the art.

The practice of Chirurgery is an early form of medicine, midwifery, dentistry and surgery, especially battle surgery. It was practiced primarily by men in Europe and the new colonies of America during the middle ages and most likely supplanted midwifery and herbal folklore practiced primarily by women who at the time were being prosecuted as witches. Chirurgery is considered an arcane name although the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) uses the term to describe their members who assist fighters who have suffered an injury. They even have a manual on-line. The SCA also has some guidelines on how to become a Chirurgeon.
Another area where the term Chirurgery is still used is in on-line Role playing Games (this link is just one of many).

A medieval practitioner of Chirurgery was called a Chirurgeon (sometimes spelled Chirurgian or Chirurgien (French)).

A few books on the practice apparently exist although I have not found their texts published freely on line. A description of one book, with some description of the art, follows;

Author: Shirley, John, 1648-1679.

Title: A short compendium of chirurgery containing its grounds & principles : more particularly treating of imposthumes, wounds, ulcers, fractures & dislocations : also a discourse of the generation and birth of man, very necessary to be understood by all midwives and child-bearing women : with the several methods of curing the French pox, the cure of baldness, inflammation of the eyes, and toothach, and an account of blood-letting, cup-setting, and blooding with leeches / by J.S., M.D.

Author: J. S. (John Shirley), M.D.
Place of publication: London :
Publisher: Printed by W.G. and are to be sold by Charles Blount ...,
Date of publication: 1678.

Here is the Link

Here are a couple more book titles, with lengthy sub-titles, I have found on-line in libraries of very rare manuscripts.

The Institutions or Fundamentals Of the whole Art, both of Physick and Chirurgery.
Plainly discovering all that is to be known in both; as the Subject and end of Physick; The Nature of all Diseases, their Causes, Signs, Differences, Events and Cures. Also the Grounds of Chymistry, and the way of making all sorts of Salves, and preparing of Medicines according to Art; nothing of the like nature in English before.
Sennert, Daniel, 1656.

A Rational Account of the Cause and cure of Agues, With their Signes Diagnostick & Prognostick.
Also Some specifick Medicines prescribed for the Cure of all sorts of Agues; With an Account of a successful Method of the Authors for the Cure of the most Tedious and Dangerous Quartans. Likewise some Observations of Cures performed by the aforesaid Method. Whereunto is added A short Account of the Cause and Cure of Feavers, and the Griping in the Guts, agreeable to Nature's Rules and Method Healing.
Talbor, Sir Robert, 1672

Another book which I have found a cover published on line is called An Explanation of the Fashion and use of Three and Fifty Instruments of Chirurgery.

Here is the Link

Here`s another book on the subject by John Vigo, (1460-1520), an Italian Surgeon.

The text reads:

The Most Excellent Worckes of Chirurgery made and set forth by maister John Vigon, head Chirurgien of oure tyme in Italy, translated into Englishe. Wherunto is added an exposition of straunge termes and unknowen symples, belongynge unto the arte.
Imprynted by Edward Whytchurch, 1550.

Here is the link

Here is an Original book on "The Marrow of Chirurgery" by James Cooke.

Author: Cooke, James A. of Warwick.
Title: Mellificium Chirurgiae; or, The marrow of Chirurgery, With the anatomy of human bodies according to the most modern anatomists, illustrated with many anatomical observations, Institutions of physick, with Hippocrates's aphorisms�(and so on)
London: Joshua Phillips, 1700.

It seems early dentists were considered Chirurgiens. Here is a biography of a famous one.

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