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Charles Maitland (physician)

Charles Maitland (1668–1748) was a Scottish surgeon who inoculated people against smallpox.

Charles Maitland
Died1748 (aged 79–80)
Aberdeen, Scotland
Years active1718–1723
Medical career


In March 1718, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had Maitland, who was then serving in the British embassy in Constantinople, Turkey, inoculate her five-year-old son Edward. The process was done by an elderly Greek woman from Pera under Maitland's direction. Montague did not tell her husband until a week after when it proved to be successful.[1]

They returned to London in April 1721, when Montagu requested that her daughter Mary, who was four, be inoculated.[2] Maitland reluctantly agreed if there were other witnesses present, so three physicians from the Royal College of Physicians were there for the procedure,[3][4] the first professional inoculation in England.[1] One of the witnesses, James Keith, was so pleased by the success that he had Maitland inoculate his six-year-old son; Keith's other children had all died of smallpox. The Montague family promoted inoculation in England, calling it a "useful invention".[3][5]

On 9 August 1721, Maitland received a Royal Licence that allowed him to test variolation on six prisoners from Newgate Prison.[4][6] The experiment took place in August 1722, under the direction of Sir Hans Sloane.[7] All prisoners survived, and they were pardoned later that year.[8] One prisoner who was exposed to the disease proved to be immune.[6]

In late 1722, Caroline of Ansbach ordered the inoculation of five orphans of St. James's Parish in London. Following their success, Caroline had Maitland inoculate her eldest son, Frederick and one other child.[7][9]

The surgeon died in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1748.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Giblin, James Cross (1995). When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS. New York: HarperCollins. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-06-025854-2.
  2. ^ Marble, Allan Everett (1997). Surgeons, Smallpox, and the Poor: A History of Medicine and Social Conditions in Nova Scotia, 1749–1799. McGill-Queens. p. 7. ISBN 0-7735-1639-5.
  3. ^ a b Jannetta, Ann Bowman (2007). The Vaccinators: Smallpox, Medical Knowledge, and the "Opening" of Japan. Stanford University Press. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0-8047-7949-4. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  4. ^ a b Riedel, Stefan (January 2005). "Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination". Proceedings (Baylor University Medical Center). 18 (1): 21–5. doi:10.1080/08998280.2005.11928028. PMC 1200696. PMID 16200144.
  5. ^ Henderson, D. A. (2009). Smallpox: The Death of a Disease: the Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer. Amherst: Prometheus Books. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-59102-722-5. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Persson, Sheryl (2010). Smallpox, Syphilis and Salvation: Medical Breakthroughs That Changed the World. Exisle Publishing. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-1-921497-57-5.
  7. ^ a b Lecture memoranda (1913). The History of Inoculation and Vaccination for the Prevention and Treatment of Disease. London: Burroughs Wellcome And Company. pp. 43–45. ISBN 978-1-152-54069-9. OCLC 14796103.
  8. ^ Cunningham, Andrew (1990). The Medical Enlightenment of the Eighteenth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-521-03095-3.
  9. ^ Van der Kiste, John (1997). George II and Queen Caroline. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 0-7509-1321-5.
  10. ^ Carrell, Jennifer Lee (2004). The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox. New York City: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-452-28507-1.