Friday, 5 February 2016

The Impact of Patronage in the First Few Decades of the Creation of the Victorian Hospital

This week's blog comes from Colin Smith, a part-time volunteer at LHSA. He is currently pursuing an MSc in Book History and Material Culture at the University of Edinburgh. Recently, he has been revising the administrative history of the Royal Victoria Dispensary, Hospital, and Tuberculosis Trust (LHB41) and the Royal Victoria and Associated Hospitals Board of Management (LHB10), which will soon be appearing on the LHSA website. This blog on patronage stems from his research he uncovered while volunteering:

History credits Robert William Phillip with founding the Victoria Dispensary for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest in 1887, the first ever clinic dedicated to helping patients fight Tuberculosis. Yet the clinic could not have gotten its first start without the generous backing of financial benefactors. What this blog post seeks to outline is the story of the Royal Victoria Hospital from the end of the 19th into the early 20th-century and how it inextricably was connected to local, noble and royal patronage.

The first patrons of the Tuberculosis Hospital were local and close. They were, in fact, personal acquaintances of Robert William Philip. This local and familiar patronage follows in line with the modest beginnings of the hospital. Both, that is, were small proceedings. The reputation and mission, however, of the clinic began to expand. Seven years later in 1894, the Victoria Hospital for Consumption at Craigleith House was opened with the help of Lord Stormonth Darling, former Member of Parliament of University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Unlike the initial benefactors, this patron was part of Scottish politics and law. During 1894, for example, Stormonth was part of the Senators of the College of Justice. He attained this position after undertaking the role of the Solicitor General of Scotland, deputy to the Lord Advocate. Political backing by a former Parliament Member and Solicitor General suggested that the hospital was beginning to make a name for itself in Edinburgh. In a 1897-8 ‘’Report for Year,’’ there lists six patrons and patronesses connected to the Victoria Hospital For Consumption and Diseases of the Chest including: the Duke of Argyll; the Earl of Aberdeen; Lady Susan Grant Suttie; Hon. Lord Kinnear; Hon. Lord Kyllachy; and, the Lady Mary Hope.   
Front page of the 1897/98 Annual Report, listing the patrons and patronesses of the (then) Victoria Hospital for Consumption (P/PL41/TB/060)

 In 1903, another prominent patron supported the hospital. Archibald Philip Primrose also known as Lord Rosebery supported the expansion of the Victoria Hospital. He was joined by Lord Provost Sir James Steel in the proceedings. Lord Rosebery was 5th Earl of Primrose and by 1903 was formerly a Prime Minister for the Liberal Imperialist sector. Repeated invitations by notable politicians no doubt improved the recognition of the Hospital and reinforced its mission to fight Tuberculosis.

These two respected patrons were matched, however, by a royal patronage given to the hospital one year later (in 1904) by King Edward VII. To pay homage to the royal benefactor, the hospital changed its name and officially adopted the more familiar title that we know today called the Royal Victoria Hospital for Consumption. According to the Fifteenth Annual Report of 1904-5 for the Royal Victoria Hospital for Consumption, included in the patronage list next to the King is (excluding the Duke of Argyll) the five patrons of 1897-8 again.

Front page of the 1904/05 Annual Report, reflecting the royal patronage bestowed on the hospital. (P/PL41/TB/061)
The reappearance of patrons and patronesses show a continued support for the fight against Tuberculosis. Three years after the royal patronage, the Right Honourable Mr. Arthur Balfour helped open new extensions to the hospital on 25th October 1907. Like Lord Rosebery, Balfour too was an Earl and former Prime Minister.

What the patronage of the Hospital signals therefore from the end of the 19th and into the early 20th-century is a willingness of a community and a nation to back a righteous cause to fight Tuberculosis. It points to the effectiveness of how Philip’s small movement to end Tuberculosis gained esteem with the generous help of financial benefactors.  

 Source List:
Sturdy, Steve. “Philip, Sir Robert William (1857–1939).” Steve Sturdy. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Jan. 2011. 2 Nov. 2015 . Web.


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