Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 The Apothecary in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg

Craftsmen in 18th Century Williamsburg

The Apothecary in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg by Thomas K. Ford and Harold B. Gill Jr

The good people of Williamsburg, Virginia, have produced a series of booklets on craftsmen operating there during the 18th Century and generously made them publicly available on Project Gutenberg.

While my site is about 18th Century Britain, the technologies in the Old World and the New would have been much the same. I have extracted some of the more relevant material but I urge you to look at the complete publication. Click on the cover illustration to go to the Gutenberg page.

Although many medicines were imported from Britain, by the middle of the eighteenth century considerable quantities of at least eight medicinal plants were being shipped to England from Virginia, among them ipecacuanha, sassafras, balsam of Tolu, ginseng, and snakeroot. The last two formed the bulk of the export.


An advertisement in the Virginia Gazette of September 21, 1769, by John Minson Galt at the outset of his long career.

A FRESH and compleat assortment of DRUGS and MEDICINES, chymical and galenical, which will be SOLD at very low advance for READY CASH, and are as follows:

Crude antimony, æther, verdigrease, Barbados, hepatick, and succotrine aloes, common and rock alum, ambergrise, compound waters of all kinds, quicksilver, balsams of capri, Peru, amber, and Tolu, Canadian balsam, Armenian bole, borax, calomel crude and prepared, comphor, camella alba, cantharides, cloves, Indian pink, greatly celebrated for destroying worms in children, Russian and Hudson’s Bay castors, common and lunar caustick, cinnabar of antimony, native and fictitious cinnabar, potash, cochineal, colcothar, vitriol, colocynth, confectio cardiaca, conserves of hips, sloes, and sorrel roses, wormwood and orange peel, Jesuits bark, cinnamon, cascarilla, cremor tartar, English and Spanish saffron, claterium, plaisters and electuaries of all kinds, essence of lemons, burgamot and ambergrease, single and double camomile flowers, flower of brimstone, balaustines, fenna, galls, grains of paradise, gums of all kinds, pearl barley, isinglass, Irish slate, litharge, common and flakey manna, sweet mercury, calcined mercury, corrosive sublimate, red precipitate, musk, chymical oils, opium, long pepper, ipecacuanha, jalap, gentian, licorice, contrayerva, calamus aromaticus, china and sarsaparilla, best Turkey and India rhubarb, valerian, sago, alkaline, neutral, and volatile salts, saloop, seeds of anise, carraway, coriander, wild carrot, fennel and fennugreek, lesser cardamoms, staves acre, spermaceti, spirits of hartshorn, lavender, sal volatile, and sal ammoniac, nitre, mineral acids, dulcified spirits of salt, vitriol, and sal ammoniac, Spanish licorice, tartar emetic, vermacelli, white, blue, and green vitriols, extract of hemlock, glass of antimony, meadow, saffron, and mezereon roots, common and Nesbitt’s clyster pipes, gold and silver leaf, Dutch metal, gallipots and vials, Anderson’s, Hooper’s, and Lockyer’s pills, Turlington’s balsam, Hill’s pectoral balsam of honey, Bateman’s drops, Squire’s, Daffy’s, and Bostock’s elixirs, Freeman’s and Godfrey’s cordials British oil, eau de luce, Dr. James’s fever powder, court plaister, best lavender and Hungary water, &c. &c.

The subscriber intends opening shop at the BRICK HOUSE, opposite the Coffee-House, when he gets his utensils fixed, which will be in a fortnight at farthest; and as this is his first importation, every thing may be depended upon as entirely fresh, and bought of one of the best hands in London. Those who please to favour him with their orders, may depend on having them immediately dispatched, and every thing put up in the best manner, by

Their most obedient humble servant,