“And grant that these sick persons, on whom the King lays his Hands, may recover, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Scrofula refers to any type of skin disease, in particular, a form of tuberculosis, affecting the lymph nodes of the neck. In adults it is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and in children by nontuberculous mycobacteria. It was believed that the touch of the sovereign of England or France could cure diseases due to the divine right of sovereigns. Scrofula was therefore also known as the King's Evil. From 1633, the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church contained a ceremony for this, and it was traditional for the monarch to present to the touched person a gold coin the value of which varied from about 6 shillings (30 pence) to about 10 shillings (50 pence). In the year of her death, Queen Anne performed the last touching for the "King's evil” on 14 April 1714. Following his accession to the throne on 1 August 1714 King George I put an end to the practice.
Shown here is the 1715 prayer book which will be on display as part of A Georgian Miscellany: Medicine 1713 – 1768 an exhibition of texts from the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine to celebrate the medical world of that period, and to mark the 250th anniversary of the death of the clergyman and author Laurence Sterne.
Thursday 15th February 2018 – Saturday 21st April 2018.
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