Wednesday 15 March 2023

Any apothecaries in your Irish family history?

If you have apothecaries among your Irish ancestors you should be able to find them in this new collection on Ancestry. It's the Ireland, Apothecary Records, 1736-1920 collection and it's been sourced from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland's Heritage Centre. It's an all-island record-set, with all 32 historical counties covered in its 42,000 record, and it's a beauty!

From the List of Apprentices book, 1812.
Click to view enlarged image.

Apothecaries formulated and dispensed materials to physicians, surgeons and patients (today, the terms pharmacist, druggist or chemist would be used) and they needed to be well-trained and regulated to perform this specialist role.

Their first Guild was set up in 1746, and the Apothecaries Hall Act of 1791 regulated training, introduced apprenticeships of seven years, awarded certificates for journeymen and Master Apothecaries. Only the latter could run a pharmaceutical shop.

Click the image, right, to view the first page, dating from 1812, of the Apprentices Book, full of lads in their mid-teens, and all providing details of their place of residence.

There are several types of registers, books and lists in the collection – Apothecaries Resident in Dublin, Apprentice Certificate Book, Inspection of Apothecary Shops (where you can find details of their workplaces, often their homes, with or without laboratories, and even notes relating to relocations); Rolls of Licentiates, etc – many of them dating back to the mid-18th century. Most are handwritten.

Watch out for some pretty wacky spelling in Ancestry's indexing of placenames!