As you may be aware we have previously written about 18th century dentistry and I was interested when I came across ‘City Women in the 18th Century’ which showed a trade card for a female dentist, Catherine Madden.
Catherine Madden of 53, St John’s Street, West Smithfield was working as a dentist between 1790 and 1799, whose cures were so efficacious that she guaranteed ‘no recurrence of the trouble’.
This started me wondering whether she was unique, as we hadn’t spotted any when writing the previous article. No, it seems, she was not unique. Women were working as some form of dentist dating back for centuries, as can be seen here.
The earliest advert I have come across to date, was from December 1738, for an Ann De La Mare. Ann was the widow of James De La Mare, operator for teeth to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
Ann was giving the public notification that she had gone into partnership with a Mr John Baptist Landies, the son of Mr Landies, operator for teeth, in Paris, who ‘draws, cleans and sets artificial teeth etc in the best manner’.
There was a Mrs Clokowski apparently working in Bristol around 1775, but so far I haven’t managed to find any more details about her, so I’m not sure where she was advertising her services.
1777 saw a Mrs Levis or Lewis and her husband, both ‘surgeon dentists in all its particular branches’, who were running their business from Queen Street, Bath, but who were telling potential clients that for a period of time, they would be working at a Miss Hardwick’s muffin and lace warehouse, Marylebone Street, Golden Square. Mrs Levis would attend the ladies and Mr Levis, the gentlemen. Free advice on procedures would be given for all difficult cases.
The same year we also have a Mrs De St Raymond, dentist, who was working from her home, No. 9, Kings-square Court, Soho. She was recommending her services to the nobility and gentry:
Her well known skill in the performance of chirurgical operations, for the various disorders of the mouth; especially the lightness of her hand, in removing all tartarous concretions, destructive to the teeth, and her dexterity in extracting stumps, splints and fangs of teeth. She also draws, fastens, fills up and preserves teeth, corrects their deformity, transplants the fore-teeth from one mouth to another. Likewise grafts on and sets in human teeth; makes and fixes in artificial teeth, from one to an entire set, and executes her newly invented masks for the teeth, and obturators for the loss of the palate.
In 1792 we have a Mrs Hunter, who worked from her home, No 78 Great Titchfield Street. Not only was she a dentist, but she also treated people’s complexion, so effectively a beautician too. She claimed to be able to relieve tooth ache and prevent it from returning without the need for extractions. She especially commended her services to women, who may prefer to be treated by another woman. She also treated children as she had a gentle touch, which would make the process less apprehensive for children.
She charged one guinea at the start of treatment and then four guineas per annum, which would include tooth powder and tincture; or half a guinea for each consultation after the first, and half price for children.
These are the ones I have found a little information about, so far, but I’m sure there must be more, so if anyone comes across details of any other female dentists do let me know and I’ll update this post. It would be useful to get a reasonably complete record of women working in a profession where I thought there were none.
London Daily Post and General Advertiser, December 18, 1738
Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, Saturday, January 11, 1777
Morning Herald, Saturday, June 16, 1792
Observer, Sunday, December 2, 1798
Published by Bowles and Carver. British Museum