Letter from Queen Victoria mentioning chloroform use in childbirth

Made:
1859 in Windsor
maker:
Victoria

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

[Letter] 1859 Dec 21, Windsor Castle/[Queen Victoria. Written in third person, she is "very glad to hear Minnie is going on so well & had the inestimable blessing of chloroform w. no one can ever be sufficiently grateful for". She praises the doctor of whom she has heard many good reports. (Queen Victoria pioneered the use of chloroform in childbirth; it was adminstered to her during her eight confinements and she wrote enthusiastically about it in her journal)]

Dated 21 December 1859, this letter was written by Queen Victoria (1819-1901). Victoria writes in the third-person praising the doctor attending the labour of a woman called Minnie. She states she is ‘very glad to hear Minnie is going on so well & had the inestimable blessing of chloroform which no one can ever be sufficiently grateful for’. It is unclear who Minnie was. We can assume she was a woman of high standing because only the wealthy could afford an obstetrician. She could have been one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting.

Queen Victoria enthused in her journal about the use of chloroform. She persuaded many women that anaesthetic gas was safe for use in childbirth. Chloroform was administered to Victoria by royal physician John Snow (1813-58) at the births of Prince Leopold in 1853 and Princess Beatrice in 1857.

Details

Category:
Archive
Object Number:
1992-295
type:
letter - correspondence
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • correspondence
credit:
Quaritch, B.

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