John Epps

Infobox Person
name = John Epps

image_size =
caption = Dr John Epps
birth_name =
birth_date = 1805
birth_place = Sevenoaks
death_date = death date|1869|02|10
death_place =
death_cause = 'attack of paralysis, aggravated by acute asthma, from cold'
resting_place = Kensal Green Cemetery
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residence =
nationality = British
ethnicity = English
citizenship = Britain
other_names =
known_for = Homeopathic physician, political activist and religious dissident
education = Protestant Dissenters' Grammar School; medical apprenticeship; degree at Edinburgh
alma_mater =
employer =
occupation = Phrenologic and homeopathic practitioner; lecturer
home_town =
title = Dr
salary =
networth =
height =
weight =
term =
predecessor =
successor =
party =
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religion =
spouse =
partner =
children =
parents = John Epps
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website =
footnotes =

Dr John Epps (1805-1869) was best known as a 'homoeopathic physician', although his influence was wider reaching being involved, as he was, in 'the advancement of commercial, political or religious freedom'.cite book | last = Bradford | first = Thomas Lindsley | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Pioneers of Homeopathy | publisher = Boericke Tafel | date = 1897 | location = Philadelphia | pages = 239-251 | url =]

Early years and education

Epps, the eldest son of John Epps (see Epps family), was born into a Calvinistcite book | last = Eyre | first = Alan | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Protesters | publisher = Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association Ltd | date = 1975 | location = Birmingham | pages = 163-165 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0851890876 ] family in Sevenoaks, Kent in 1805.

He became disillusioned with the religious atmosphere he found himself in and, after being educated at the Protestant Dissenters' Grammar School, Mill Hill (near Hendon), and, at 15, serving an apprenticeship to a apothecary of the name of Dury, he relocating in 1824, at the age of 18, to Edinburgh to study medicine. While in Edinburgh he embraced the views on phrenology of Franz Joseph Gall and Johann Spurzheim and became friends with Scot phrenologists George and Andrew Combe. In 1827 Epps graduated with his degree at the age of 21. He saw medicine as 'a tool of liberation for the poor and lower classes'.cite web | last = Morrell | first = Peter | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = British Homeopathy during two centuries | work = | publisher = | date = 2000 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-07-12]

Epps authored a number of books during his life, starting before he attended university with, among other things, a work titled "A New Way of Teaching English Grammar".

Middle years onwards

Immediately after graduating he moved back to London (eventually settling in Great Russell Street) where he began to practice (it is recorded that he was 'much liked by, and inspired great confidence in his patients') and also to lecture (initially at Aldersgate School of Medicine, and afterward at Westminster) on 'chemistry, botany, and materia medica' at the Hunterian School of Medicine. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Hunterian School of Medicine | work = | publisher = Department of Epidemiology, University of Los Angeles | date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-07-13] Here he published "An Introduction to Botany", which was intended as a textbook for his students, and two books on phrenology called "Evidences of Christianity Deduced from Phrenology" [cite book | last = Epps | first = John | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Evidences of Christianity Deduced from Phrenology | publisher = J. Anderson | date = 1827 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ] and "Horae Phrenologicae". [cite book | last = Epps | first = John | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Horae Phrenologicae | publisher = | date = 1829 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ]

Throughout his adult life he lectured publically and extensively, particularly on phrenology and homoeopathy, both in London and in other large towns; when his health failed he continued to lecture in his own home. Epps was drawn to homoeopathy in about 1837 after reading the works of Dr Paul Francis Curie (his greatest influence in homoeopathy, apart from Curie, was Samuel Hahnemann and his work "The Organon of the Healing Art"), and his first essay on homoeopathy appeared the following year.

In line with his political views (see "Political involvement" below), Dr Epps had a 'very large homoeopathic practice, "especially among the lower middle and lower classes of society" ', although he also had medical involvement with more well known people, such as Charlotte and Emily Brontë. [cite journal | last = Lock | first = Ann | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Frank Williams - Names and Family History | journal = The Australian Brontë Association News Letter | volume = | issue = 18 | pages = 6 | publisher = ABA | location = | date = 2006-12 | url = | doi = | id = | accessdate =2008-07-12 ] [cite book | last = Harrison| first = David W | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Brontes of Haworth: Yorkshire's Literary Giants | publisher = Trafford Publishing | date = 2006 | location = | pages = 269 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 1412249597 ]

In 1831 he married and became Medical Director of the Royal Jennerian and London Vaccine Institution, an institution which up to his death he supported.

Dr Epps was a frequent contributor to "The Lancet" until he adopted homoeopathy. In 1843 "The Lancet" refused to publish reports of homoeopathic treatment; Dr Epps took these rejected articles and published them in a pamphlet entitled "Rejected Cases", which also contained a vigorous letter to the editor of the Lancet (his friend, T. Wakley).

Epps was also involved in a number of other journals: He was for some time co-editor of the "London Medical and Surgical Journal", and for a long period conducted the "Christian Physician and Anthropological Magazine" (1836-9), and "The Journal of Health and Disease". He established a journal, "Notes of a New Truth", for the propagation to nonprofessionals of the "new school" of homoeopathy, to which he contributed up to the time of his decease.

As with "Notes of a New Truth", the majority of Epps' lectures were directed at nonprofessionals; however, he also lectured to medical professionals and was lecturer on materia medica at the Homoeopathic Hospital, Hanover Square (c. 1861). [cite book | last = Lee | first = Sidney | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Dictionary of national biography: index and epitome | publisher = Smith, Elder | date = 1903 | location = London | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ]

On the 31st of January 1869 Epps was 'attacked with paralysis' and, after a further 'attack of paralysis, aggravated by acute asthma, from cold' he died, at the age of 64, on February 12th. He was interred at Kensal Green Cemetery, February 10th, 1869, in the presence of a large number of political, medical and personal friends. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Notable personalities at Kensal Green Cemetery | work = | publisher = The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery | date = 2006 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-07-13]

Political involvement

John Epps Sr was a involved in radical politics and his son followed in his footsteps. Dr Epps was a Liberal and subjects like slavery were dear to him from an early date. He wrote in his diary ' [I have] come to consider all creatures as being equally important in the scale of creation as myself; to regard the poor Indian slave as my brother'. He was involved in procuring the repeal of the Test Acts (1829) and, along with Francis Place, W. J. Fox, Francis Burdett and others, with the passing the Reform Bill of 1832. His campaigning for social justice also lead him to become a Chartist [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Where are they now? Last resting places of the Chartists | work = | publisher = | date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-07-13] (in 1847 he stood for parliament with Chartist backing),] [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = John Epps (1805 - 1869) | work = | publisher = | date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-07-13] an active member of the Anti-Corn Law League and joined organizations in favor of the Polish, Italian, Hungarian, and American nationalities.

It is evident from his extensive lecturing on phrenology and homoeopathy that Epps enjoyed giving public addresses, and the "British Journal of Homoeopathy" remarks that he was 'as keenly fond of making a speech denouncing tyrants anywhere in the world as of giving a lecture on phrenology or Homoeopathy'.

These frequent public appearances, and the active part Dr. Epps took against 'Church Rates [tax] , war, despots, corn laws, and other old institutions', brought him into contact with many noted individuals, such as Joseph Hume, Lady Byron, George Wilson (president of the Anti-Corn Law League), Giuseppe Mazzini, Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, James Stansfeld, Lajos Kossuth, and Robert Owen.

Religious involvement

Epps was brought up in a Calvinist family.

From an early age he declared himself an enemy to church establishments and a paid ministry, which can be seen in some of the parlimentary reforms he pushed for. Epps strongly opposed church rates. He denounced the larger Protestant churches as being the "harlot daughters of Rome [i.e. the Roman Catholic Church] ".

While in Edinburgh he joined the Nonconformist Scotch Baptists who had no fixed minister, but those who were moved spoke. In this environment, at the age of 19, Epps became a preacher. However, when he returned to London he left the Scotch Baptists because there the sect was run more like the church systems he rejected. After this, regularly and for many years, he began preaching to mechanics at Dock Head Church.

Not only did Epps reject the orthodox church establisments, but he also rejected a number of the mainstream Christian doctrines. He rejected the doctrine of the immortal soul, emphasising instead resurrection as the escape from death. In this vain, the second coming of Christ is also emphasised. Hell is the grave, he taught, not the place of torment of mainstream Christianity. He also rejected the Trinity, stating that Jesus is the Son of God, a human by nature. He also spoke out against the glorification of war-heroes: "the honour of the British flag is a specious phrase which blinds men's eyes to right and wrong", he said.

The most infamous of Epps' unorthodox views regards the devil. According to Epps, references in the Bible to the devil and satan are, in the main, to be understood as personifications of the lustful principle in man. In 1842 he anonymously published a work on this subject entitled "The Devil: a Biblical exposition of the truth concerning that old serpent, the devil and Satan and a refutation of the beliefs obtaining in the world regarding sin and its source". [cite book | last = Epps | first = John | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Devil: a Biblical exposition of the truth concerning that old serpent, the devil and Satan and a refutation of the beliefs obtaining in the world regarding sin and its source | publisher = Sherwood & Co. | date = 1942 | location = London | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ] The publication brought considerable opposition and, according to historian Alan Eyre, 'a lecture given shortly afterward to the Tooting Institution at the Mitre Inn in ... London ... caused serious offence and led to widespread ostracism and hostility'. Similarity, a few years priod to this he delivered a series of lectures at the Dock Head Church to demonstrate that the devil is not a personal being and 'this bold assertion drew upon him a world of abuse, and some patients declined to be treated by one holding such heterodox views'.

John Epps' faith stayed with him throughout his life; it is recorded that 'with his last breath he expressed his humble, yet confident faith in the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Great Father of all spirits'.


* "A New Way of Teaching English Grammar"
* "An Introduction to Botany"
* "Evidences of Christianity Deduced from Phrenology"
* "Horae Phrenologicae"
* "The Life of John Walker, M.D." (1831; available [ online] )
* "What is Homoeopathy?"
* "Homoeopathy and its Principles Explained" (1841; available [,M1 online] )
* "The Devil: a Biblical exposition of the truth concerning that old serpent, the devil and Satan and a refutation of the beliefs obtaining in the world regarding sin and its source" (1842)
* "Notes of a New Truth" (journal; editor)
* "Rejected Cases"
* "Homeopathic Domestic Physician" (1852-5)
* "Constipation its Theory & Cure" (1854)

ee also

* Epps family


External links

John Epps, "The Devil: Exposed" (1842): available to download in [ PDF] or [ ZIP] format.

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