06/05/2019
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Sir James Young Simpson died - On this day in history

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On 6 May 1870, Sir James Young Simpson, the West Lothian physician who pioneered the use of chloroform in childbirth, died in Edinburgh. Simpson was the youngest of seven children and received a college education thanks to his father and brothers clubbing together to fund his studies.

He pioneered the use of ether and chloroform during childbirth and as personal physician to Queen Victoria, delivered her seventh child using pain relief, a practice which was frowned upon at the time.

Simpson died at the age of 58 and the day of his funeral was declared a day of holiday in Scotland, with more than 100,000 people lining the streets of Edinburgh to see the funeral cortege pass by on its way to the family grave at Warriston Cemetery.

British Medical Journal video about the legacy of James Young Simpson

Read more 'on this day in history'.

Further reading

Sir James Young Simpson and Chloroform by Henry Laing

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