John Rutherford Russell 1816 – 1867

John Rutherford Russell (MD Edin. 1838) (1816 – 1867) was an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become Physician of Edinburgh Homeopathic Dispensary, Physician at the London Homeopathic Hospital, member of the Royal Medical Society, member of the Pennsylvania Homeopathic Medical College, Fellow of the British Homeopathic Association, and editor of the British Journal of Homeopathy with John James Drysdale and Robert Ellis Dudgeon from 1846 onwards.

John Rutherford Russell was also a member of the Association for the Protection of Homeopathic Students and Practitioners. John Rutherford Russell employed Isabella Fyvie Mayo, and he was a friend of Walter Scott, to whom he was distantly related to on his mother’s side, and who was a frequent visitor to his family home.

In February 1864, Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple and John Ruskin attended a séance by Mary Marshall (?-?), who was the favoured medium for the Rossetti circle, alongside John Rutherford Russell (James Gregory, Reformers, Patrons and Philanthropists, (Taurus Academic Studies, 2010). Page 102. See also Matthew Bevis, The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry, (Oxford University Press, 2013). Page 433). John Rutherford Russell was also a a correspondent(**see below Of Interest Section) of Augustus de Morgan, who was a patient of James John Garth Wilkinson.

John Rutherford Russell was the homeopathic practitioner of Eneas Sweetland Dallas, Alexander John Ellis, William Gregory, George MacDonald, Sophia Peabody (in London in 1857 Alfred Habegger, Henry James and the ‘Woman Business’, (Cambridge University Press, 26 Aug 2004). Page 213), and Aurelio Saffi. On 9th December 1864, John Aitken Carlyle (1801-1879), the younger brother of Thomas Carlyle, wrote to John Rutherford Russell regarding his homeopathic treatment of his wife and his brother Thomas Carlyle (see letter transcript below*).

John Rutherford Russell practiced at 17 York Terrace, Leamington and at 3 Harley Street.

John Rutherford Russell wrote a moving Obituary tribute to John Conolly in The British Journal of Homeopathy, Volume 24, in which he praised John Conolly for his ‘unusual liberality’ towards homeopathy.

John Rutherford Russell recounts that he was the homeopath of a mental patient who was placed under John Conolly’s care at Hanwell Lunatic Asylum. The family of the sick woman were keen advocates of homeopathy, and they asked John Conolly if John Rutherford Russell could treat her as she was not improving under orthodox medical care. (note Charles Augustus Tulk 1786 – 1849, a close colleague of  James John Garth Wilkinson, was Chairman of the Hanwell Asylum in the 1840s ref: The Swedenborg Society: a very short history by Richard Lines Company Secretary and past President of the Swedenborg Society.)

John Rutherford Russell asked John Conolly if he had any objection to his intervention, and John Conolly wrote:

Hanwell Lawn House 9.2.1863: ‘My Dear Sir, I never object to anything that can by possibility be useful to any patient under my direction unless I think it sure to be mischievious; and in a case such as this the importance of what is done for the satisfaction of those dear to her cannot be overlooked.

‘Instead, therefore, of troubling the patient with a call tomorrow, I would propose that Dr. Russell should see her quietly, and, if it seems desirable, more than once, and that, aftrewards, I should have the pleasure of conferring with him anywhere and at any time that can be arranged.

‘I am sure that this will be the best plan to pursue.’

John Rutherford Russell explains that this plan was indeed put into effect, and the patient remained under the joint care of John Rutherford Russell and John Conolly until she recovered, much to the satisfaction of her family.

John Rutherford Russell studied under Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Fleischman in Vienna with John James Drysdale. John James Drysdale and John Rutherford Russell were fellow students with Robert Ellis Dudgeon in Vienna. The three also edited the British Journal of Homeopathy from 1846-84 after which it ceased.

James John Garth Wilkinson reports that John Rutherford Russell was the first homeopath to use cobra venom as a homeopathic remedy for diseases of the heart valves.

John Rutherford Russell was present at the Festival in aid of the London Homeopathic Hospital in 1858 with many Aristocratic and minor gentry patrons attending, alongside Dr. Ayerst, William Bayes, Hugh Cameron, Edward Charles Chepmell, William Vallancy Drury, George Napoleon Epps, Arthur Guinness, Edward Hamilton, Frantz Hartmann, Amos Henriques, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, J Bell Metcalfe, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, Henry Reynolds, Charles Caulfield Tuckey, George Wyld, Stephen Yeldham, and many others.

John Rutherford Russell was also a colleague of William Edward Ayerst, Hugh Cameron, John Chapman, Matthew James ChapmanEdward Charles Chepmell, Paul Francois Curie, William Vallancy Drury, George Napoleon Epps, James Epps, John Epps, James Manby Gully, Edward Hamilton, George Calvert Holland, Richard Hughes, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, Victor Massol, J Bell Metcalfe, Samuel Thomas Partridge, Henry Reynolds, David Wilson, Stephen Yeldham and many others.

John Chapman, George Atkin, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin and Robert Ellis Dudgeon, John Rutherford Russell, James W Metcalfe and an anonymous ‘friend’ put together a Directory of British and Foreign Homeopaths and their supporters to counter the suppression of all mention of homeopaths and their supporters by the editors of the London and Provincial Medical Directory in 1853.

In 1853 John Rutherford Russell married Georgina Isabella Maxwell.

John Rutherford Russell was a friend of George MacDonald and a colleague of John Epps and George Napoleon Epps, and he attended a dinner in honour of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin in 1861, alonside William Edward Ayerst, Hugh Cameron, Matthew James Chapman, Edward Charles Chepmell, Edward Hamilton, Amos Henriques, George Calvert Holland, Henry Kelsall, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, J Bell Metcalfe, George Wyld, Stephen Yeldham, William Bayes, and many others.

John Rutherford Russell wrote Defence of Hahnemann and His Doctrines, On the Respiratory System of Nerves, Considered as the Vehicle of General Sympathy, The History and Heroes of the Art of Medicine, Introduction to the Study of Homeopathy edited with John James Drysdale and Fletchers Elements of Pathology with John James Drysdale, editor of Homeopathy in 1851, and various articles to the British Journal of Homeopathy and other publications.


Of interest:,_John_Aitken_%28DNB00%29 See also John Aitken Carlyle (1801-1879) ‘… MD Edinburgh 1825In 1862 Dr. Carlyle married a rich widow with several children, and she died in 1854. After her death he resided for several years in Edinburgh, ultimately settling in Dumfriesshire. He devoted much of his time in later years to the study of the Icelandic language and literature…‘ ‘… Three page letter by John Aitken Carlyle… addressed to Dr John Rutherford Russell… ‘ discussing John Rutherford Russell’s homeopathic treatment of Mrs. J A Carlyle and Thomas Carlyle… from ‘… The Hill, Dumfries, 9th December, 1864. My dear Sir, My brother has forwarded to me your kind note, & I am very sorry indeed that I don’t happen to be in London to accept the offer of admission to those private lectures of Saffi [Aurelio Saffi (1819-1890)] on Italian Literature. I feel sure beforehand that they will be very interesting & instructive, for he is a most genial man & knows the subject very well. Had I seen him I should have asked how he would translate I’accoglieva (Purg I. 13), as I have just been looking through a translation I made of the Purgatorio after publication of the Inferno, I am rather embarrassed by that word. I am going to Edinburgh for some of the winter months, tomorrow & my address there is 62 Hanover Street. I was in London for a few days in October, having gone back with my sister-in-law who had been in Scotland for her health; & I called one afternoon at your old place in Harley Street, I was very sorry to miss you, but had not time to call in Piccadilly that day & left town the day following. I had a most pleasant visit from your nephew last year in Hanover Street, who gave me news of you, & also from your brother at Jedburgh.  Mrs. Carlyle is now as well as usual again, & takes better care of herself than she ever did before. She recovered in Scotland – not by any medicine, but by proper diet & regimen, under the care of Dr. Russell of Thornhill & his wife who are very old friends & have a nice country house below Drumlanrig Castle. My brother seems to be near the end of his task, & is almost worn out with the fatigue it has cost him, but his habits are simple & regular & he keeps up wonderfully. Please excuse this hurried & rather incoherent note- I remain, Yours very sincerely, J. A. Carlyle. A new edition of the Inferno is now wanted, as I hear from the publishers…’

From [This letter datedWednesday 19th July 1840 is from the personal papers of John Rutherford Russell from Francios Pierre Guillaume Guizot to Henry Holland 1st Baronet (1788-1873). In the years just preceding this, Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot had been Ambassador to England and was therefore living in London. Henry Holland 1st Baronet (1788-1873) used homeopathy and he is quoted in John Rutherford Russell‘s Classic 1831 work on homeopathy.Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot introduced works on homeopathy into France and authorised Samuel and Melanie Hahnemann to practice homeopathy in Paris in 1835].  ‘…  My dear Lord Holland, I am enclosing a very warm recommendation for Mr. Turnbull, addressed to Mr. Abraham Dubois, member of our House of Commons, from Granville.  I am asking him to do everything in his power to ensure that Mr. and Mrs. Turnbull receive all the support and welcome they deserve in Granville.  Our session is finished so Mr. Abraham Dubois should now be back in Granville.  If not, Mr. Turnbull could either wait until he returns or send my letter to him in Paris. As I am sure you are aware, my dear Lord, I am always happy to be able to do something to help. Best wishes, Guizot…’

** From Letter dated 18.8.1858 from Augustus de Morgan to John Rutherford Russell ‘… 7 Camden Street NW. August 18, 1858. Dear Sir, I have deferred the pleasure of thanking you for the copy of your ‘Contribution to Medical Literature; till I could say that I had looked into it, which I have done and with great satisfaction. I hope the perusal will satisfy a large number of prejudiced persons that a homoeopathist can observe, reason, and do justice to the observation and reasoning of opponents. And the articles in Homoeopathic Journal will never do for the simple reason that they will not be seen by the parties whom I allude to. There is the phrase to which I call your attention, in care of a second edition. It is on page 9 “M. Comte is one of the first of living mathematicians.” I respect your fellow, Mr. John Mill, who has an idiosyncratic respect for Comte. I never heard Comte’s name mentioned by a mathematician as a mathematician – nor did I ever hear that he wrote an original paper on any mathematical subject. His mathematical elementary work on Algebraic Geometry is of a very ordinary character as to mathematics, and verbose beyond all readability. I believe he once was employed to teach in the polytechnic school, and that he was not educated there: which was a compliment. But if he has any celebrity whatever as a mathematician, it has certainly not reached my ear. I never had any reason to suppose that Comte was mathematician enough to read the work of Laplace at which he sneers in the last paragraph of your quotation. Unquestionably with a sufficient number of well ascertained cases, nerological [?] tables could be made as useful as fables of mortality. The difficulty is, that dead or alive is a fact which can be ascertained, while this or that disorder is very frequently a question which must be settled by something else than mathematics before the tabular entry can be made. I remain Dear Sir, Yours faithfully, A De Morgan…’

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