An examination of John Fewster’s role in the discovery of smallpox vaccination

Edward Jenner is recognised today as the father of vaccination but, as this paper explores, he was not the only Gloucestershire doctor to be linked to this discovery. John Fewster, a local surgeon and apothecary, is also said to have experimented with vaccination, many years before Jenner. This claim is made in a letter addressed to John Coakley Lettsom, written by John Player, a Quaker farmer. Player describes in detail Fewster’s realisation that cowpox could be used to protect against smallpox. This letter is frequently cited but has not previously been subjected to critical analysis.