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Picture of Benjamin Jesty, the Grandfather of Vaccination

Benjamin Jesty, the Grandfather of Vaccination

Author(s): Patrick John Pead

Book Description

Benjamin Jesty has been described as ‘the man history forgot’. Spanning the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this book tells the story of the ingenious Dorset farmer who used cowpox as a vaccine to protect his family against the dreaded disease of smallpox in 1774. This happened 22 years before Dr Edward Jenner used a similar process.

The origins of vaccination have always been clouded in controversy. Probing previous accounts flawed by myth or subjectivity, this text sets the record straight. Man’s early attempts at stimulating immunity are rooted in folk wisdom of the distant past. Vaccination was not a ‘discovery’ or a ‘medical breakthrough’, but a development from variolation, substituting cowpox as an inoculum instead of smallpox.

Analysing relevant primary sources with an innovative approach, this book reveals the geographical extent of awareness of Jesty’s endeavour in Georgian England, confirms his priority, and seeks to establish his Intellectual Property for the first use of an empirical vaccine.

Jenner brought vaccination to the world. His achievement will always take precedence, but the findings of this new research suggest it is now time to honour Benjamin Jesty with the credit he deserves.


ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-4382-9
ISBN-10: 1-5275-4382-X
Date of Publication: 01/02/2020
Pages / Size: 304 / A5
Price: £72.99


Patrick John Pead is a microbiologist who worked for the Public Health Laboratory Service, specialising in the scientific diagnosis of human virus diseases. Shortly after taking early retirement, he was invited to assist with academic research in the Departments of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Medicine within the University of Southampton, UK. In 2011, he was awarded Fellowship of The Historical Association for his work on Benjamin Jesty.