Gransnet forums

Chat

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

(16 Posts)
GagaJo Sun 28-Mar-21 16:55:43

I learned about Edward Jenner, and how he used cowpox, to develop a vaccine against smallpox. But, typical to the patriarchal view of history, had no idea that Lady Mary Wortley Montague actually preceded Jenner by about 70 years and actually self vaccinated her own children against smallpox.

Fascinating article.

www.theguardian.com/society/2021/mar/28/how-mary-wortley-montagus-bold-experiment-led-to-smallpox-vaccine-75-years-before-jenner

suziewoozie Sun 28-Mar-21 17:07:50

Unlike Jenner who used his gardener’s son as a guinea pig😱

M0nica Sun 28-Mar-21 17:32:40

I learnt about her at school, if not shortly afterwards. her husband was sent to Turkey as a diplomat and she wrote extensively about her travels there. I think she was the first European woman to visit the haram of the sultan there.

I think she did try to spread the practice but without success.

I have just found this link on the subject www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Lady-Mary-Wortley-Montagu-Campaign-Against-Smallpox/

EllanVannin Sun 28-Mar-21 17:49:10

I was vaccinated against smallpox in 1957. Both smallpox and diphtheria were wiped out with vaccinations so let's hope it has the same effect on this virus.

janeainsworth Sun 28-Mar-21 18:17:58

There is a monument to Lady Mary in Lichfield Cathedral.
commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memorial_to_Lady_Mary_Wortley_Montague_in_Lichfield_Cathedral.jpg

MaizieD Sun 28-Mar-21 18:28:30

I've known about Lady Mary for decades. I thought everyone knew. She is quite often mentioned in history books for her introduction of inoculation against smallpox. I was quite surprised by the article in the Observer today.

Did you know that the term 'vaccination' is based on Jenner's breakthrough in inoculating with cowpox? From the latin for cow - 'vacca'

JaneJudge Sun 28-Mar-21 18:34:29

You know we read about these women who had privilege and privilege of education who really made advances within the world. I always am in awe of Marianne North who went off painting and travelling and doing something that is even unimaginable now to most women (or even people) Why have women of privilege not been able to carry on doing this stuff in modern times? (I am sure some have, I use my posts to you all as a learning experience!)

JaneJudge Sun 28-Mar-21 18:36:34

Lichfield Cathedral was the first place I got thrown out of as a toddler for trying to see how my voice echoed. My Gran said they gave me a bible and shoved me out the door grin

EllanVannin Sun 28-Mar-21 18:41:22

MaizieD it was cowpox that led Jenner to find a vaccine for smallpox. Both were illnesses that had blistering and from the fluid taken by needle from a milkmaid who had blisters with being involved in cows he was able to eradicate smallpox.

GagaJo Sun 28-Mar-21 19:02:26

Yes, I did know MaizieD. It was one of the very few things that I remember learning about at school.

SueDonim Sun 28-Mar-21 19:49:52

I knew this. I can’t think where or when I learnt of it but I’ve known for a long while.

The purging & bleeding aspect of the medicalised inoculation I found interesting. I read recently that George the Third’s two youngest sons both died following being given the smallpox inoculation. That was in the 1780’s, so before Jenner’s refinement. I wonder if the two tiny boys had been subjected to the purging and bleeding and that caused their deaths?

janeainsworth Sun 28-Mar-21 19:55:00

Lichfield Cathedral was the first place I got thrown out of as a toddler for trying to see how my voice echoed

Do tell us more JaneJ - did you rampage through the West Midlands when you were little? grin

M0nica Sun 28-Mar-21 19:58:51

Jenner noticed that dairy workers seemed to be immune to smallpox and deduced from that, that matter from cowpox,( a much less serious illness) material could be used to vaccinate against small poxrather than small pox material.

JaneJudge Sun 28-Mar-21 20:00:10

janeainsworth

^Lichfield Cathedral was the first place I got thrown out of as a toddler for trying to see how my voice echoed^

Do tell us more JaneJ - did you rampage through the West Midlands when you were little? grin

Most probably blush but I do still have the bible grin

janeainsworth Sun 28-Mar-21 20:02:08

JaneJ Why have women of privilege not been able to carry on doing this stuff in modern times?

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, the first woman to be awarded the Nobel
Prize for Chemistry in 1964 en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Hodgkin

Rosalind Franklin, whose work was instrumental in uncovering the structure of the DNA molecule en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Franklin

One thing that has struck me about the pandemic is how many eminent women scientists have emerged - Devi Sridhar, Christina Pagel, Sarah Gilbert and others.

M0nica Sun 28-Mar-21 20:17:57

JaneJ Why have women of privilege not been able to carry on doing this stuff in modern times?

It s because there were never more than very few women who managed to get any kind of education, let alone have enough and the opportunity to develop it, as they did. Family would forbid it, or if a woman married, between child bearing and rearing and, often running a large household, they had no time to do it.

Florence Nightingale had to fight to be allowed to develop a life of her own, as did many other women pioneers. Women like Ladsy Mary were exceptionally exceptional that they combined their science wwith marriage and a family.

It continues until today. Many more boys study science subjects and maths than girls.