This bill, sent by Dr Thomas Lucas to his client, Robert Craigie, gives details of the treatment of Craigie’s daughter for venereal disease between the 21st November and the 16th December 1795. The treatment is both gruesome and dangerous. It begins with ‘opening a venereal bubo’ in the unfortunate woman’s groin and then continues with the application of ‘mercurial’ ointment and the prescribing of pills containing mercury for the patient to take orally. Lucas then moves on to prescribing ‘cooling powders’ and an ‘opening infusion’ before resorting to the mercury ointment again and then ‘mercurial solution’. Mercury was routinely used in the treatment of syphilis at this time and it is clear from the presence of the ‘venereal bubo’ described in the bill that this is likely to be what ailed Craigie’s daughter. The treatment did not work and, as mercury is very poisonous, often resulted in the death of the patient. Prior to the development of antibiotics in the mid 20th century, there was no other treatment for this disease so Lucas is using the best medicine that he knows of to treat her.
Dr Thomas Lucas (1756 – 1822) was a physician and surgeon who lived at the house ‘Marieville’ that he built for himself on Upper Bridge Street in Stirling. The Archives holds 2 volumes of his diary. The second volume, beginning in 1815 is recorded as ‘Volume 3’ in Lucas’ handwriting on the first page so it would appear that the first volume that might have covered the period in question has been lost.
The diaries give a detailed account of certain aspects of the Doctor’s life in Stirling and provide a rich picture of local life at the beginning of the 19th century. More details about the good doctor and the full text of his diaries between 1808 and 1821 may be found on our previous blog featuring these records at:
This item was found in the papers of local solicitor, Mathie, McLuckie and Lupton by one of our volunteers, Darren Ferrier.