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  Benjamin Jesty:  Grandfather of Vaccination



              by     Patrick J Pead   MSc  FHA


               Fellow of The Historical Association


               The definitive biography of the world’s first vaccinator

               The origins of vaccination subjected to fresh analysis

               New historical findings leading to a radical perspective




            PLEASE SEE BIBLIOGRAPHY             






                                 280 pages,  15 chapters,  650 references,  7 appendices.


                            Illustrations: 108 ---  81 in colour ---  27 in black and white

                “ a significant contribution to history”

                     Prof. Jeffery Baker    Duke University   N Carolina  

               “meticulously researched text, against which any future biography will require to be compared”

                     Journal of Medical Biography 

               "an extremely thorough account of Jesty’s role in the discovery of vaccination.

                Being easy to read as well as informative, the book is suitable for both the amateur and professional historian of m

                      British Society for the History of Medicine

               “it is a wonderful work, summarizing the history with great balance

                      Prof. Barry Coller     Rockefeller University       New York

               “I will recommend it to both medical and history students as a useful resource”

                     Prof. Sally Sheard        Professor of the History of Medicine    University of Liverpool  UK


Benjamin Jesty has been described as ‘the man history forgot’. No longer. Now in one volume spanning the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this Bicentenary Edition offers a comprehensive biography of the ingenious Dorset farmer who used cowpox to protect his family against the dreaded disease of smallpox in 1774. His endeavour predated Dr Edward Jenner's use of a similar process by 22 years. Aspects of Jesty’s life and times are covered in detail as never before. The text contains much new historical information and is accompanied by 138 illustrations, 650 references and 7 appendices.


The origins of vaccination have always been clouded in controversy. Probing previous accounts flawed by myth or subjectivity, the author discusses these anomalies. Man’s early attempts at stimulating immunity are rooted in folk wisdom of the distant past. Vaccination was not a ‘discovery’ or a ‘medical breakthrough’ but a development from variolation - substituting cowpox as an inoculum instead of smallpox. Analysing relevant primary sources with an innovative approach, the author reveals the geographic extent of awareness of Jesty in Georgian England, explores links with Edward Jenner, confirms Jesty's priority, and seeks to establish his Intellectual Property for the first use of a prototype vaccine.


Intended as a source of reference for historians, this publication reveals a fascinating story which can also be accessed by a general readership. Jenner brought vaccination to the world. That achievement will always take precedence, but the findings of this new research suggest that Jesty's endeavours may have had more influence than is commonly supposed. It is now time to honour Benjamin Jesty with the recognition he deserves.


Much more than a biography, this book embraces an historical topic which has provoked differences of opinion for many years.  The Appendices contain Revision Notes. The final chapters could provide a forum for discussion among students attending courses in the History of Medicine, the Humanities or in Eighteenth Century History.





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