Credit due over chloroform find

ONCE again we read about the great work of Sir James Simpson, 1811-1870, in pioneering the use of chloroform.

The good doctor, however, failed to give credit to another West Lothian man, chemist David Waldie (1813-1889), who was acquainted with chloroform, and recommended Simpson to try it, with well-known results.

In a footnote to a published pamphlet, Simpson made meagre admission of the part played by Waldie, but there is no doubt he denied to him the public renown which he ought to have shared , but there is a plaque commemorating the worthy chemist at 67 High Street, Linlithgow.

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Chloroform was first made in 1831, by the French chemist Soubeiran and by the American, Samuel Guthrie. A purer form was made in 1832 by the German chemist, Liebig.

The French chemist, Dumas, was the first to make pure chloroform in 1834, and it was he who gave it that name.

It was first used by the French physiologist, Flourens, who proved its value in animal experiments. His findings were published in 1847 by the French Academy of Sciences.

About October of that same year, the Linlithgow surgeon and chemist, Dr Waldie, was on holiday in Scotland from Liverpool, his place of business, and during that time recommended "chloric ether" to Dr Simpson.

In March 1842 a physician named Crawford Long used ether, but he failed to publish the case until after Simpson’s success.

Credit should always be given where it is merited.

Donald Whyte, Kirkliston, West Lothian