James Loftus Marsden 1815 – 1891

James Loftus Marsden 1815 – 1891 FRCS Edinburgh 1836, MD Edinburgh 1837 was an orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy and who also had a thriving water cure practice, and lived at Great Malvern.

James Loftus Marsden was living in Exeter when he converted to homeopathy after witnessing his son’s cure from inflammation and water of the brain during typhoid.

James Loftus Marsden subsequently travelled to Europe to study homeopathy, and he went on to treat thousands of patients at Great Malvern, mostly using homeopathy, but also using the water cure after spending the winter of 1845/5 witnessing the water cures of Victor Priesstnitz.

James Loftus Marsden also corresponded with Pehr Henrik Ling, and subsequently employed a Ling therapist, a Mr. Ehrenhoff, at his establishment at Hardwicke House in Abbey Road, which was built in 1851 and equipped with all the modern accoutremonts for the water cure.

James Loftus Marsden on the Medical Council of the London Homeopathic Hospital and also a member of the British Homeopathic Association, and he was a partner of James Manby Gully, alongside Walter R Johnson and G Manly, and he was also was a colleague of Hugh CameronJohn Chapman, Matthew James Chapman, Edward Charles Chepmell, Paul Francois Curie, John James Drysdale, Harris F Dunsford, Edward Hamilton, Joseph Kidd, Thomas Robinson Leadam, J Bell Metcalfe, Victor Massol, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, Henry Reynolds, John Rutherford Russell, David Wilson, Stephen Yeldham and many others.

James Loftus Marsden went on to see military service with the rank of Captain in 1860.

James Loftus Marsden attended the International Congress of Medicine in 1881.

In 1852, recently widowed James Loftus Marsden employed a governess for his five daughters, his only son James went to a boarding school in England.

James Loftus Marsden remarried and visited his girls during his wedding trip with his new wife to Italy. The Governess was Flore Marguerite Celestine Doudet, a former Lady of the Wardrobe to Queen Victoria.

Doudet took the five girls to Paris to pursue their education, but her harsh regime led to the death of two of the girls, Mary Ann and Alice. James Loftus Marsden, alerted by concerned neighbours, rushed to Paris and found Mary Ann had died.

James Loftus Marsden left Alice with his sister in law who lived in Paris and took the remaining girls home with him to Great Malvern. James Loftus Marsden filed a criminal complaint against her and brought his remaining three daughters, Rosa, Emily and Lucy, back to live with him at Great Malvern. Sadly, Lucy subsequently also subsequently died.

Duodet was convicted of manslaughter and imprisoned for four years, later released on the grounds of ill health, when she returned to England, Duodet was offered many new offers of professional employment.

James Loftus Marsden died at Cleve Vale in Hastings, and his Obituary is in the Montly Homeopathic Review and The British Homeopathic Review in 1891. His portrait is in the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine (done in 1849 by Bell Smith).

James Loftus Marsden wrote Notes on Homeopathy in 1849 (which was in Melbourne Public Library, Australia in 1865), and The Action of the Mind on the Body,

Of interest:

Night Noises by Fred Euringer. Night Noises is based on an actual event. In 1852, James Loftus Marsden, a widower and a doctor, left his five daughters in Paris in the care of a woman called Flore Marguerite Celestine Doudet. First one girl dies, then another. An investigation is launched; Celestine is charged with manslaughter. Three years later she is pardoned.

Bertram Marsden was a homeopath in America in 1920.

John Hatton Marsden was a homeopath who practiced in Canada in 1879.

15 thoughts on “James Loftus Marsden 1815 – 1891”

  1. Hi Sue

    Many thanks for your website. I am an Australian writer, researching the life of Dr James Loftus Marsden and his daughters. A small update for you. The Marsden you mention as a Captain in the Royal Navy was actually Dr Marsden’s son James Rashdall Marsden, who became a sub-lieutenant but was dismissed from the service after a court-martial in 1862. According to his uncle, the Rev. John Rashdall, he was able to re-join the Navy but was court-martialled again and dismissed in 1864.

    In the late 1870’s Dr Marsden began a relationship with a servant girl from Great Malvern called Sabina Welch, and he and his wife Mary separated. The Dr. had an illegitimate daughter with Sabina in 1879 and left his estate to her. His surviving legitimate daughters were not mentioned in the will.

    I am wondering whether you have copies of the obituaries for Dr Marsden? It is difficult for me to access them from Australia.

    Kind regards
    Pauline Conolly

  2. Hi Pauline

    Thanks for this! Together we are building up these amazing stories!

    The history of homeopathy in Australia is the specialisation of Barbara Armstrong who is currently the National Administrator of the Australian Homeopathic Association, and you can read her very interesting research at http://www.homeopathyoz.org – just click on the History button!

    Also, see http://www.homeopathyoz.org/downloads/Hist-AusHomIndividuals-A-F.pdf

    I am specialising in British histories, so Barbara Armstrong is the one to ask for any Australian information….


  3. Hello Sue

    It’s British info on James Loftus Marsden that I am interested in as well. Was hoping you may have a transcript of Dr Marden’s 1891 obituary in either of the two periodicals you mention…or (failing this) the bibiographical details, so that I can access them myself when I am in the UK this spring.


  4. Hi Pauline

    All the references I have are hyperlinked in the bio text above….


    PS: Pauline Conolly is working on an extended biography of James Loftus Marsden which I hope to be able to link to in the future…

  5. I found out recently doing some family research that I’m related to Celestine Doudet! I knew I’d find a skeleton somewhere and I have. I googled her name, and came up with this stuff. I hope you appreciate why I haven’t left my name!

  6. T0 ‘A Reader’ – I am so intrigued to come aross a descendant of Celestine Doudet. Your ancestor was not as black as she was painted, and of course this all happened 150 years ago. It would be wonderful to hear more of your connection, which I presume may be through the Baker family?

    Kind regards
    Pauline Conolly

  7. To ‘A Reader’ – Please feel free to contact me via email [email protected] or follow me on [email protected]
    Your ancestor was not as bad as she was painted, and of course this all happened 150 years ago. It would be wonderful to hear more of your connection, which I presume may be through the Baker family?

  8. My biograhy on Dr James Loftys Marsden and his children is now complete and due for release in 2012. Follow the progress of The Water Doctor’s Daughters on Twitter – @paulineconolly

  9. Pauline
    I have no problem you using my images for your book. There will be no fee provided that I get a signed copy for my Malvern book collection. If you confirm which images that you require I’ll email you high resolution copies.
    Brian Iles

  10. Robert Hale will be publishing The Water Doctor’s Daughters in February 2013. The book is heavily illustrated. It tells the full story of Dr Marsden’s children and folllows the three surviving girls into adult life,

  11. UPDATE: The Water Doctor’s Daughters is to be released on February 28 by Robert Hale, with a launch at Malvern’s historic Foley Arms Hotel on Saturday, March 23. The book is already listed (with synopsis) on Amazon.

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