John Spriggs Morss Churchill 1801 – 1875

John Spriggs Morss Churchill 1801 – 1875 publisher of homeopathic and hydropathy books and The Lancet,

John Churchill was a close friend of James Manby Gully,  a correspondent of Charles Darwin, and he published widely on homeopathy, and he also published The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by Robert Chambers,

From the Darwin ProjectBookseller and medical publisher:

Originally a retailer of medical texts; became a publisher in the 1830s. Published The Lancet, 1842–7; the Medical Times from 1850; the Medical Times and Gazette from 1852. Engaged solely in publishing from 1854. Settled in Pembridge Square, Bayswater, London in 1862. Retired, 1870.

From the Dictionary of National Biographies:

John Spriggs Morss Churchill was the 3rd son of Rev. James Churchill, a disenting minister, and his wife who was a daughter of George Morss. He was born in Ongar and educated at Healey Grammar School under Rev. George Scobell.

In 1816, he was bound as an apprencice to Elizabeth Cox and Sons, Medical Booksellers at 39 High Street, Sowthwark, eventually becomeing a Freeman of the Stationer’s Company, he worked at Longman and Co.

In 1832, he married, and using his wife’s money, he founded his own business, purchasing Callow and Wilson at 16 Princes Street, Leicester Square. However, the new practice of ‘underselling’ forced him into medical publishing, starting in 1837 with Liston’s Practical Surgery, Erasmus Wilson’s Anatomist Vade Mecum in 1840, Golding Bird’s Manual of Natural Philosophy and Diagnosis of Urinary Deposits in 1844, and Lawrence’s Huntarian Oration.

See also an Obituary on John Churchill in The Medical Times and Gaxette. A Journal of Medical Science Literature, criticism and news. Volume II 1875 p197-200 (The journal was published by the sons, John and Augustus Churchill).

And – Mary, eldest daughter of John Churchill and Georgiana Toussaint who married Dr. Clapton.

In 1836, he published James Manby Gully‘s 2nd edition (1836) Formulary for the Preparation and Medical Administration of Certain New Remedies…with Annotations and Additional Articles,

In 1837, he published James Manby Gully‘s The simple treatment of disease deduced from the methods of expectancy and revulsion,

In 1838, Churchill published the British and Foreign Medical Review, and many illustrated works, Stephenson’s Medical Botany and his brother John Morss Churchill’s Dalrymple’s Morbid Anatomy of the Eye.

From 1842 – 1847, he published The Lancet, and in 1850, he began The Medical Times (amalgamated with The Medical Gazette in 1852).

In 1842, he publised James Manby Gully‘s The simple treatment of disease deduced from the methods of expectancy and revulsion,

In 1846, he published James Manby Gully‘s The Water-Cure in Chronic Disease; An Exposition of the causes, progress, and termination of various chronic diseases of the digestive organs, lungs, nerves, limbs, and skin; and of their treatment by water, and other hygienic means, which went through many extra editions until 1880,

In 1852, he built a house in Wimbledon.

In 1854, he moved to New Burlington Street, giving up the retail trade to concentrate on publishing.

In 1860, he published widely on homeopathy as John Churchill,

In 1861, he became a County Magistrate, and in 1862, he settled in Pembridge Square, Bayswater.

In 1865, he published widely on homeopathy as John Churchill and Sons, London,

In 1870, he retired and his sons John Churchill and Augustus Churchill took over the business.

An invalid for many years, he moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1875.

John Churchill published The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation:

The book was published by the famed medical publisher John Churchill in London and great pains were undertaken to secure the secret of the authorship.

After Robert Chambers completed the manuscript, his wife would transcribe it. Being already a well known author, this precaution would prevent anyone from recognizing his handwriting. This copy would then be transferred into the hands of Robert Chambers‘s friend Alexander Ireland.

Because Alexander Ireland lived in Manchester, this would hide the fact that the manuscripts originated from Scotland. Alexander Ireland would then deliver the manuscript to the publisher. Proofs were delivered by the printer, a Mr. Savill, back to Alexander Ireland, who would then forward them to Robert Chambers, and the process would repeat itself.

Because of these measures, the publisher and printer remained clueless as to who the true author was. To further prevent the possibility of any unwanted revelations, Robert Chambers only disclosed the secret to four people: his wife, his brother William, Alexander Ireland, and George Combe’s nephew, Mr. Robert Cox.

All correspondence to and from Robert Chambers passed through Alexander Ireland’s hands first, and all letters and manuscripts were dutifully transcribed in Mrs. Chambers’s hand.

John Spriggs Morss Churchill is buried in Brompton Cemetary,
Of interest:

John Churchill and Augustus Churchill took over the business in 1870 as J & A Churchill (who published widely on homeopathy), this firm merged with Livingstone, Edinburgh, to become Churchill Livingstone Publishers (which published widely on homeopathy), taken over by Harcourt and Pearsons. Eventually this company became Elsevier Ltd, now a Worldwide Company publishing medical and scientific literature. It is a part of the Reed Elsevier group. Elsevier still publishes widely on homeopathy, including the journal Homeopathy,

Ada Churchill D’Esterre Keeling (unfortunately died in her late teens) – was the sister of  Elsa D’Esterre Keeling (nee Elizabeth Henrietta Keeling, Nov. 16, 1857-January 11, 1935) who published nine novels and a biography of Sir Joshua Reynolds between 1884 and 1899 – their mother Adelaide D’Esterre Keeling married John Keeling (son of John Keeling) in 1855 while she was still a minor. John was of legal age. He apparently died around 1860 when the children were quite young. John Keeling published the Dublin edition of the Dublin Hospital Gazette from 4 Leinster Street (Merrion Square). The London edition of that journal was published by John Churchill, from whom daughter Ada most likely received her middle name…. Elsa D’Esterre Keeling knew Ivy Compton Burnett (Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett, Elizabeth Sprigge. Gollancz, 1973. Page 48 – footnote regarding Ivy Compton Burnett deciding whether or not to attend one of Elsa’s classes in 1914). Note also: Arthur Grattan Guinness married Amelia Henrietta D’Esterre in 1835 and had 8 children including Elizabeth Smyth Guinness – 1927 (for a further explanation of this complicated family see Rhoda Ui Chonaire’s well researched article The Luther Legacy: homeopathy in Ireland in the 19th Century in the The Journal of the Irish Society of Homeopaths Anniversary Issue October 2010 pages 17 – 24). With special thanks to Marty Burgin and her research into the D’Esterre and Keeling family https://sites.google.com/site/desterrekeeling/

One thought on “John Spriggs Morss Churchill 1801 – 1875”

  1. You mention that JSM Churchill, my great great grandfather, was educated at Healey Grammar School. I believe this to have been Henley Grammar School, as he was raised in that town.

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