What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Physician, Surgeon, and Man-Midwife.”
When Richard Tidmarsh arrived in town in the spring of 1773, he published “An Address to the Inhabitants of New-Haven, and the Public in general” to offer his services as “Physician, Surgeon, and Man-Midwife.” Like others who provided medical care and placed newspaper notices, he included an overview of his experience and credentials in hopes of convincing prospective patients otherwise unfamiliar with him that he was indeed qualified.
Tidmarsh asserted that he “was regularly bred in London” to all three “Branches” of medicine. In other words, he received formal training in the largest city in the empire. Furthermore, he had the “Advantage of being Pupil and Dresser in one of the most considerable Hospitals” in London. He eventually migrated to Jamaica, where he “practised some Years with good Success,” but ultimately decided to relocate to mainland North America because of what he considered an “unhealthy Climate” in the Caribbean.
The “Physician, Surgeon, and Man-Midwife” did not arrive in New Haven directly from Jamaica. Instead, he “lately practised ay Hartford in this Colony.” Tidmarsh attempted to bolster his reputation by declaring that “his Abilities are well known” in Hartford, especially since “he was particularly successful in several dangerous Cases, where the Patients were gave over and deemed incurable.” Given the relative proximity, he likely believed that prospective patients and “the Public in general” were more likely to hear of those successes in Hartford through other sources than they were to learn about his training in London or his work in Jamacia. Even if they did not, Tidmarsh may have believed that including the local angle made his entire narrative more credible.
Given his background and experience, Tidmarsh hoped that residents of New Haven and nearby towns would consider him a “useful Member of Society” and seek medical care from him. To encourage them to do so, he stated that he “proposes to practice as reasonable as any Gentleman of the Faculty” at the college (now Yale University). His services did not come at higher prices than those of other physicians, surgeons, and man-midwives (though Tidmarsh conveniently overlooked female midwives who cultivated relationships and provided care to patients in the area). As a newcomer in New Haven, he recognized the importance of sharing a short biography and assuring prospective patients about the quality and cost of his services.