Annis Tricesimo Quarto and Tricesimo Quinto.
Henry VIII Regis. Cap VOL
An Act that persons, being no commom Surgeons, may administer outward medicines.
Where to the Parliament holden at Westminster in the third year of the King’s most gracious Reign, amongst other things. For the avoiding of Sorceries, Witchcrafts, and other Inconveniences, it was enacted, that no person within the City of London, nor within seven miles of the same, should take upon him to exercise and occupy as Physician or Surgeon, except he be first examined, approved and admitted by the Bishop of London, and other, under and upon certain Pains and Penalties in the same Act mentioned: Sithence the making of which said Act the Company and Fellowship of Surgeons of London, minding only their own Lucres, and nothing the Profit or ease of the Diseased or Patient, have sued, troubled and vexed divers Honest Persons, as well as Men as Women whom God hath endued with the Knowledge of the Nature, Kind, and Operation of certain Herbs, Roots, and Waters, and the using and ministering of them to such as been pained with customable diseases, as Women’s breasts being sore, a Pin and a Web in the eye Uncomes of Hands, Burnings, Scaldings, Sore Mouths, the Stone, Strangury, Saucelim and Morphew, and such other like diseases: and yet the said Persons have not taken anything For their Pains or Cunning, But have ministered the same to poor People only for Neighbourhood and God’s sake, and of Pity and Charity: and it is now well known that the Surgeons admitted will do no cure to any Person but where they shall be rewarded with a greater Sum or Reward than the Cure extendeth unto; For in any case they would minister their Cunning unto sore people unrewareded, there should not so many rot and perish to death For Lack of Help of Surgery as daily do; but the greatest part of Surgeons admitted being much more to be blamed than those persons of the said Craft of Surgeons have small Cunning yet they will take great Sums of Money, and do little therefore, and by reason thereof they do oftentimes impair and hurt their Patients, rather than do them good.
In consideration whereof, and For the Ease, Comfort, Succour, Help, Relief, and Health of the King’s poor Subjects. Inhabitants of this Realm, now pained or diseased:
Be It Ordained, Established and Enacted by Authority of the present Parliament,
That at all Time From henceforth, it shall be lawful to every Person being the King’s subject having knowledge and Experience of the Nature of Herbs, Roots, and Waters, or of the Operation of the same, by Speculation or Practice, within any part of the Realm of England, or within any other of the King’s dominions, to practise, use, and minister in and to any outward Sore, Uncome Wound, Apostemations, outward Swellings or Disease, any Herb or Herbs, Ointments, Baths, Pultess, and Emplaisters, according to their Cunning, Experience, and Knowledge in any of the diseases, Sores, and Maladies beforesaid, and all others like to the same, or drinks For the Stone, Strangury or Agues, without suit, vexation, trouble, penalty, or loss of their goods; the Forsaid Statute in the Forsaid Third Year of the King’s most gracious Reign, or any other Act, Ordinance or Statutes to the contrary heretofore made in anywise, notwithstanding.
Henry the VIII
Apart from granting legal protection to the practice of Herbal Medicine, this legal document also formally established the practice as an inherent part of our National heritage and culture. As such, provision was made for its protection in the ‘Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament,’ dated 14 May 2007. Traditional practice was protected under Section 12.1 of the 1968 Medicines Act and the same provisions remain extant under the current Humans Medicines Act 2012.