ST5910 : Benjamin Jesty blue plaque, Yetminster

taken 3 years ago, near to Yetminster, Dorset, Great Britain

Benjamin Jesty blue plaque, Yetminster
Benjamin Jesty blue plaque, Yetminster
The Hundred of Yetminster Local History Society blue plaque on a Church Street wall records that a pioneer vaccinator against smallpox lived at Upbury Farm LinkExternal link on the opposite side of the road.

In the 18th century, it was generally known in the dairy-farming areas of SW England that milkmaids, and other workers who contracted cowpox from handling cows' udders, were thereafter immune to smallpox. Such people could nurse smallpox victims without fear of contracting the disease themselves.

When a smallpox epidemic came to Yetminster in 1774, Benjamin Jesty decided to try to give his wife Elizabeth and two eldest sons immunity by infecting them with cowpox. He took his family to a cow with cowpox at a farm in nearby Chetnole, and using a darning needle, transferred pustular material from the cow by scratching their arms. The boys had mild local reactions and quickly recovered but his wife's arm became very inflamed and for a time her condition gave cause for concern, although she too recovered fully in time.

Jesty's experiment was met with hostility by his neighbours. He was labelled inhuman, and generally reviled because the introduction of an animal disease into a human body was thought disgusting.

But the treatment's efficacy was proved several times in the years which followed, when Jesty's two elder sons failed to catch the disease. Unlike Edward Jenner, a medical doctor who is given credit for developing the smallpox vaccine in 1796, Yetminster native Jesty did not publicise his findings made more than twenty years earlier.
Blue Plaques
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker.

The world's first blue plaques were erected in London, England in the nineteenth century to mark the homes and workplaces of famous people.
The original blue plaque scheme started in the 1860s, is now run by English Heritage in London. It is believed to be the oldest such scheme in the world.
There are currently about 850 plaques in London.
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ST5910, 207 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Saturday, 6 June, 2015   (more nearby)
Submitted
Monday, 8 June, 2015
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Village, Rural settlement  People, Events 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! ST 5944 1060 [10m precision]
WGS84: 50:53.6069N 2:34.6838W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! ST 5944 1060
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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