Dionysius Wielobycki

Dionysius Wielobycki (1813–1882) was a 19th century Polish doctor living in Scotland. A controversial homeopath during a period of scientific focus, his adventurous life ranged from being a soldier in the Krakow Uprising and being a noted astronomer to being found guilty of fraud in the British courts. He was fluent in Polish, Geerman, French and English.


59 Queen Street, Edinburgh
55, 56, 57 Queen Street, Edinburgh
The grave of Dionysius Wielobycki, Grange Cemetery

He was born the second son of Stanislaw Wielobycki[1] a judge and is wife Sophie Soboloska in 1813. The family had lived initially in Byten in the Wolyn region in what is now Ukraine then moved west to what is now Poland (but was then German territory) in or near Krakow in Silesia. This lies in the much disputed Danzig corridor where ownership has frequently passed between Germany and Poland. He would have spoken both German and Polish. He was a member of the Krakow Astronomical Society.[2]

In 1830/31 he and his whole family took arms in a local fight for independence from Germany and recognition of their Polish identity. His father was a Captain in this resistance movement.[3]

Initially studying Science at Krakow University and Bonn University under a false (German) name, he obtained a PhD at the University of Berlin in 1837. Originally intending to stay in Krakow his role in the 1830 rebellion was exposed and he was imprisoned in Krakow. He escaped and managed to evade capture in a 900km cross country trip to Hamburg.

In 1839 he left Germany with his older brother Severin Wielobycki, sailing from Hamburg to Leith. He initially made a living teaching French (which was more in demand than Polish or German.

In 1841 he enrolled at Edinburgh University with his brother, both studying Medicine. They received their doctorate (MD) in 1843 and his brother left to Canada soon thereafter (but returned to Britain and worked in London). His dissertation was on "plica polonica". From 1843 to 1845 he was assistant surgeon at the Royal Maternity Hospital. He was created a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (LRCPE). He was then living at 35 York Place, Edinburgh.[4]

He decided to focus in the field of homeopathy and joined Drs Francis Black and John Rutherford Russell in the Stockbridge Homeopathic Dispensary. Up to this time he was living at a flat at 25 Montagu Street in the south of the city.

Immediately successful as a homeopath, in 1850 he took premises at 59 Queen Street, Edinburgh, one of the best addresses in the city, standing on a prominent corner.[5] Sadly in 1852 Edinburgh medical society rallied against him and he and his brother Severin were stripped of their Licentiate.[6]

He moved to a slightly smaller ground floor and basement house at 55 Queen Street in 1855. He appears to have had many affluent clients in Edinburgh's New Town and his stealing of wealthy clients from the Edinburgh medical establishment continued as a friction.

In 1856 he was charged with forging the will of a patient and making himself the beneficiary. This concerned the Darling family of Portobello. Thomas Darling had left his estate to his sisters: Margaret and Isabella. Wiebolycki in conspiracy with Isabella forged a will of Margaret (who died a few months after Thomas). He had already got Isabella to leave her estate to him. The crime, whilst proven, was somewhat futile as Isabella would have inherited from Margaret with or without a will. The sum concerned was £1200. He was found guilty and sentenced to be transported to Australia for 14 years. Going into hiding in England he was apprehended on 28 November 1856. He spent time in various prisons: Wakefield Prison, Lewes Prison and the infamous Dartmoor Prison where he spent from July 1859 until February 1862.[7] He was then released after appeal to the Old Bailey, his defence being led by the Dean of Faculty of Scotland himself.[8]

In 1862 he was living in Leicester and running a homeopathic clinic there on Granby Street.[9]

From 1871 until death he was living at 3 George Square, Edinburgh.[10]

In 1881 he got back in the news: suing Isaac Atkinson,[11] an affluent tailor living at 12 St Andrew Square in the city centre.[12] Atkinson was obliged to return £107 to the doctor.[2]

He died in Edinburgh on 16 November 1882 and is buried in Grange Cemetery in the south of the city.[13] The grave lies in an obscured location backing onto the south side of the central vaults on their east side.


In 1871, shortly before return to Edinburgh, he married Henrietta Felicia Kierblewska Kennedy ("Lady Felice") of 5 Eldon Place in Bradford. She was the daughter of Stephen Kennedy Esq.[1]

After his death his wife styled herself "Baroness Wielobycka" and married a Dr Robert MacHardy LLD, the organist at Edinburgh Cathedral. They travelled around Europe. However their lavish lifestyle exhausted their funds. She was forced to sell 3 George Square to pay debts and they lived then in humble house at Lesmahagow before final years in a cottage ("hut") on Whitehill Close near Chapel farm in the parish of Strathaven.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Strathaven". rpc12437.tripod.com.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b "The Wielobycki Brothers and Homeopathy". www.sueyounghistories.com.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^ Homeopathy in 1851: J R Russell
  4. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1845
  5. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1850
  6. ^ Medical Times vol 25 (1852)
  7. ^ Annual Register of the Scottish High Court Jan 1857
  8. ^ Dramatic Days at the Old Bailey S Paul 1929
  9. ^ "Homeopathic Dispensaries and Hospitals". www.sueyounghistories.com.
  10. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1880
  11. ^ BMY vol 2, 1882
  12. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1881
  13. ^ "Dionysius Wielobycki (1813-1882) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com.