The Vaccination Controversy: The Rise, Reign, and Fall of Compulsory Vaccination for Smallpox

By Stanley Williamson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
TEN SHILLINGS OR SEVEN DAYS

By 1906, when Shaw published his heterodox version of events, much of the steam had gone out of the vaccination controversy, as will be described in the proper place. In the heyday of White, Garth Wilkinson and others, who were caught up in it emotionally and in the law courts, it was still a burning issue. A hitherto slowly gathering movement of resentment erupted finally into open conflict with, at its heart, the 'cat-and-mouse' persecution of anti-vaccinationists that even Simon's biographer found difficult to excuse.

The effective starting point was the little-noticed Act of 1861, which empowered but did not specifically require boards of guardians to prosecute parents who neglected or refused to have a child vaccinated. In 1863 a Member of Parliament asked for a return of the number of unions and single parishes in England and Wales 'of which the guardians and overseers have taken measures to enforce obedience to the Vaccination Acts'. Figures produced by the Poor Law Board, in response to the question 'Whether measures have been taken', revealed the almost total failure of the Acts to achieve their professed aim:

Some boards had done 'nothing, beyond publishing notices, handbills, etc.' to remind parents of their duty. A small number had appointed someone – the clerk of the board or the local registrar – to enforce the law, but there was no evidence that a start had been made. Others were anxious to point to good intentions, but with no tangible progress to report: 'No, but subject to consideration'; 'No [but] have threatened proceedings'; 'No actual prosecutions taken'; 'No, but

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The Vaccination Controversy: The Rise, Reign, and Fall of Compulsory Vaccination for Smallpox
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Part I - The Road to Compulsion 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Byzantine Operation 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Small Pockes 8
  • Chapter 3 - The Engrafted Distemper 29
  • Chapter 4 - The Language of Figures 40
  • Chapter 5 - The Suttonian System 48
  • Chapter 6 - The Great Benefactor 74
  • Chapter 7 - The Speckled Monster 98
  • Chapter 8 - The Three Bashaws 107
  • Chapter 9 - A Competent and Energetic Officer 120
  • Chapter 10 - Formidable Men 135
  • Chapter 11 - The Present Non-System 142
  • Chapter 12 - Toties Quoties 155
  • Chapter 13 - Crotchety People 163
  • Part II - The Reign of Compulsion 177
  • Chapter 14 - A Loathsome Virus 179
  • Chapter 15 - A Cruel and Degrading Imposture 188
  • Chapter 16 - Ten Shillings or Seven Days 202
  • Chapter 17 - Death by Non-Vaccination 214
  • Chapter 18 - The Great Pox 223
  • Part III - The Retreat from Compulsion 231
  • Chapter 19 - A Genuine Conscientious Objection 233
  • Notes 239
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 256
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