Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Field, Henry (1755-1837)

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FIELD, HENRY (1755–1837), apothecary, descended from a family seated for several generations at Cockenhoe, Hertfordshire, born on 29 Sept. 1755, was the eldest son of John Field, an apothecary in extensive practice in Newgate Street, London, by his wife, Anne, daughter of Thomas Cromwell, grocer, who was a grandson of Henry Cromwell, lord deputy of Ireland, younger son of the Protector. He succeeded his father in his profession, and in 1807 was elected apothecary to Christ's Hospital, a post which he continued to fill until within a short time of his death. As a member of the Society of Apothecaries he promoted its interests by giving, in conjunction with Joseph Hurlock, gratuitous courses of lectures on materia medica at their hall to the apprentices and students, which resulted in the regular establishment of lectures by the society; and in 1815, by his exertions towards obtaining the act of parliament which enforced an efficient examination into the education and professional attainments of every candidate for practising as an apothecary in England and Wales. He also filled for a long period the office of deputy-treasurer, and latterly of treasurer, of that branch of the affairs of the Society of Apothecaries originally instituted for the supply of the members of their own body with genuine drugs and medicines, but which ultimately extended to the service of the navy, the East India Company, and the public generally. In 1831 Field was nominated by Sir Henry Halford, on the part of the general board of health, as one of the medical officers attached to the city of London board of health for the adoption of precautions against the threatened visitation of the cholera to the metropolis. In common with his colleagues Field afterwards received the thanks of the corporation and a piece of plate. He was also for many years the treasurer of the London Annuity Society for the benefit of the widows of apothecaries, in Chatham Place, Blackfriars, of which institution his father was the founder in 1765. Field died at Woodford, Essex, on 19 Dec. 1837. He married, 2 Sept. 1784, Esther, daughter of John Barron of Woolacre House, near Deptford, and by this lady, who died 16 Jan. 1834, he left six sons [see Field, Barron, and Field, Frederick, (1801–1885)] and two daughters. His portrait, by Pickersgill, is at Apothecaries' Hall; another, by Samuel Lane, was painted for the London Annuity Society. Besides contributing professional remarks to medical journals, Field wrote ‘Memoirs, historical and illustrative, of the Botanick Garden at Chelsea, belonging to the Society of Apothecaries of London,’ 8vo, London, 1820, which was printed at the expense of the society, to whom the manuscript had been presented. A new edition of this interesting little work, ‘revised, corrected, and continued to the present time by R. H. Semple,’ was issued in 1878. His introductory address, delivered on 11 Feb. 1835 at the first of the society's evening meetings for scientific purposes, was also printed by his colleagues.

[Gent. Mag. new ser. ix. 212–13.]

G. G.