23
May

Physician to the Regency   by Angelyn Schmid

In today’s article, Regency author, Angelyn Schmid, provides some details about Sir Henry Halford. A physician to the ton during the Regency, Halford was a real-life historical character who made an appearance in one of Georgette Heyer’s most delightful novels, Cotillion.

As you read Angelyn’s article, consider whether or not you would like to have Sir Henry Halford as your doctor.


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Cover of a paperback edition of Cotillion, with a man and woman in Regency dress. I love these old covers. This one is from the 70s, I think.

"Ermine or chincilla with blue, Meg! Sables never show to advantage!"


By the time this point was fully argued, news was brought to Lady Legerwood that the doctor had arrived, whereupon, after hurriedly commending Kitty to her daughter’s care, she hurried away, bent on convincing the worthy physician that certain unfavorable symptoms, which had manifested themselves during the night, made it advisable for him to call in Sir Henry Halford, to prescribe for Edmund.


As the family doctor, a rising man, was at daggers-drawn with the eel-backed baronet, it did not seem probable that she would be seen again for some appreciable time.

——— Cotillion, by Georgette Heyer


Sir Henry Halford (1766 — 1844), was considered the foremost physician to the ton during the Regency.

He was born Henry Vaughan but changed his name by an Act of Parliament to Halford, anticipating a substantial inheritance from the original Halford family.


Portrait of Sir Henry Halford, seated, looking a book. Sir Henry Halford (looking over the voucher list for Almack’s, I’ll warrant)


It was his connections and smooth manners that recommended him and not his skill as a practitioner. It didn’t hurt that he was also married to Elizabeth, the daughter of John St John, 12th Baron St John of Bletsoe. He managed to snag a position as doctor to the Royal Family and was on hand to take custody of the 4th vertebra of Charles I, which still bore marks of the ax.

Ms. Heyer knew her character well. Contemporaries called the good doctor that "eel-backed baronet in consequence of his deep and oft-repeated bows."


© 2012 – 2014 Angelyn Schmid
Originally posted at Angelyn’s Blog
Posted at The Beau Monde by permission of the author.

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