Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (July 10 1739): Published — the cure for gallstones

The Belfast News Letter of June 29 1739 (July 10 in modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of June 29 1739 (July 10 in modern calendar)
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From June 29 1739 News Letter (July 10 modern date):

From the London Gazette.

The following paper is published by order of the trustees named in an act of parliament, intitled, “An act for providing a reward to Joanna Stephens, upon a proper discovery to be made by her, for the use of the publick, of the medicines prepared by her for the cure of the STONE.”

A full discovery of the medicines given by me JOANNA STEPHENS, for the cure of the STONE and GRAVEL; and a particular account of my method of preparing and giving the same.

MY medicines are a powder, decoction, and pills.

The powder consists of egg shells and snails, both calcined.

The decoction is made by boiling some herbs (together with a ball which consists of soap, swine’s cresses burnt to a blackness, and honey) in water.

The pills consist of snails calcined, wild carrot seeds, burdock feeds, ashen keys, hips and hawes, all burnt to a blackness, soap and honey.

The POWDER is thus prepared:

Take hen’s egg shells well drained from the whites, dry and clean, crush them small with the hands, and fill a crucible of the twelfth size (which contains nearly three pints) with them lightly; place it in the fire, and cover it with a tile, then heap coals over it, that it may be in the midst of a very strong clear fire till the egg shells be calcin’d to a greyish white, and acquire an acrid salt taste: this will take up eight hours at least.

After they are thus calcined, put them into a dry clean earthen pan, which must not be above three parts full, that there may be room for swelling of the egg shells in shaking. Let the pan stand uncovered in a dry room for too [sic] months, and no longer.

[The recipe goes on at length and continues:]

During the use of these medicines, the person ought to abstain from salt meats, red wines and milk, drink few liquids, and use little exercise, that so the urine may be the more strongly impregnated with the medicines, and the longer, retained in the bladder.

If the stomach will not bear the decoction, a sixth part of the ball made into pills must be taken after every dose of the powder.

Where the person is aged, of a weak constitution, much reduced by appetite, or pain, the powder must have a greater proportion of the calcined snails than according to the foregoing direction.

June 16, 1739. J. STEPHENS

[Gallstones cause agony even in the 21st century. Back then, in the absence of modern pain relief, there was huge interest in this reported cure by Ms Stephens. Parliament offered a huge reward it if was proven. The reward was paid but the much discussed cure later shown to be worthless]

BELFAST. Yesterday seven convicts were brought here from Downpartick goal, in order to be transported (on board the William and James) to his majesty’s pantations in America, viz. John Kelly, Edward Murry, John Martin, Thomas Carr, William Laverty, Jane Shane, elder, and Jane Shane, younger; who were ship’d on board accordingly.

Wednesday morning morning last five companies of Col. Howard’s regiment came to and still remain in this town, waiting to embark from hence to Scotland. And Yesterday morning five companies and a half of Col. Guise’s came to this town, and early this morning march’d for Donaghadee, to embark from thence to Scotland. The other four companies and a half which are to embark from thence, do march thither by way of Newtownclannaboys.

There was no meeting of the burgesses of this town on the 15th instant, to chuse a sovereign, as usual; so that Robert Brytt, Esq; the present sovereign, is to continue the ensuing year.

The same day Alderman Henry Gill was unanimously chosen mayor of Carrickfergus for the ensuing year.

DUBLIN, June 26. We are assured, that lately a Norway rat for several nights successively, attacked a child of a gentleman’s, and bit and sucked its blood, until they set up and watched it, and saw the rat and killed it; so the child was freed from all it’s former torments.