A1r 1

To Dr. ------ An Answer to his Queries, concerning
the Colledg of Midwives.

To answer your Query, Doctor, “Whether ever there were
a Colledg of Midwives in any part of the World?”
to my Promise made the 12th Instant, I will now
prove, there was some Hundreds, if not Thousands
of Years before you can prove one of Physicians: As appears
both by Sacred and Prophane Histories. I will begin with the
first; and desire you to read the first Chapter of Exodus.

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Vers. 15. “And the King of Egypt spake to the Hebrew Midwives,
of which the Name of the one was Shiprah, and the other

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Vers. 16. “And he said unto them, When ye do the Office of a
Midwife to the Hebrew Women, and see them upon the Stooles; if
it be a Son, you shalt kill him: but if it be a Daughter, then she
shall live”

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Vers. 17. “But the Midwives feared God, and did not as the
King of Egypt commanded them, but saved the Men Children

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Vers. 20. “Wherefore God dealt well with the Midwives: and
the People multiplied, and waxed very mighty”

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Vers. 21. “And it came to pass, because the Midwives feared
God, that he made them Houses”

I believe no Rational Person will think that these two Women
could in their own Persons act as Midwives to all the Women
of that mighty People, who about 100 Years after went up A out A1v 2
out of Egypt 600000 Fighting Men, besides Women and Children,
and a great mixt Multitude, but rather that they were
the Governesses and Teachers of other Midwives, which could
not be a few; and as I am informed by a Learned Rabbi, now
in Town, their Names signify the same.

And the Apostle saith, “That God built them Houses, and
blessed them”

Now if it were, as some think, that these were not Israelites
but Egyptians, appointed Governesses over such as should assist
the Hebrew Women, who by Conversation among them learned
the knowledg of the only true God, and fearing him, did not
impose those bloody Orders of destroying the Males

Then it was plain that the Government of that Art was regular,
under Superiours, as the Magi and Priesthood of that Nation
was, and must have some certain place for consulting in, from
whence they might issue their Directions. Which, by your
leave, Doctor, without Absurdity in the Language of these
Times, might well be called “a Colledg”.

But for the Piety of the Ruling Midwives God built them Houses:
that is, they were Incorporated into the Body of the Jews, and
reckoned Honourable Families among them: As Rahab and others
for their singular Service to that Nation afterward were.
“Which Families of the Faithful Midwives”, some Hebrews say,
“continue in Honour among them at Thessalonica to this Day”.

And such a favour from God of building Houses for them,
we do not read the Physicians ever received; nor was Physick
then a regular Study, nor brought under Government in that
Learned Nation of Egypt, in Herodotus his time, which put
together, proves the Antiquity of the Midwives Government
so much antienter than that of the Doctors.

For your further Satisfaction be pleased to read Origen his
11th Homily upon Exodus, which will inform you, that
Shiprah and Puah were not only the Governesses of the Midwives,
but also Women of Great Learning, and excellently skill’d A2r 3
skill’d in Physick, which was then practised by Women to

And you cannot deny at our last Conference, but that Hippocrates
swears by Apollo and Escalapius, and by Hygea and Panacea
the Gods and Goddesses of Physick: And pray, Doctor, who were the Gods and Goddesses of Antiquity, but Men and Women,
who first found out and taught Arts and Mysteries so beneficial
to Mankind, as made them think they could not but be
guided by a Divine Spirit to the knowledg of things so useful
and so far above the Vulgar Capacities? This? Hippocrates is so
ingenuous as to confess, and doth not part the Gods and Goddesses,
but had them in equal Veneration, as appears by his
Oath, to which I refer you, because I perceive you have forgot
it; For he swears “he will not cut those that have the Stone, but
will leave it to the skilful in that Practice”
. But you, tho you
understand nothing of it, pretend to teach us an Art much
more difficult (And which ought to be kept a Secret amongst
Women as much as is possible.)

omitted4 linesleft

’Tis true among the subtile Athenians, some Physicians being
gotten into the Government, and Miscarriages happening to
some Noble Women about that time, they obtain’d a Law,
that for the future no Woman should study or practise any part
of Physick on pain of Death. This Law continued some time,
during which many Women perished, both in Child bearing,
and by private Diseases; their Modesty not permitting them
to admit of Men either to Deliver or Cure them.

Till God stirred up the Spirit of Agnodicea, a Noble Maid,
to pity the miserable condition of her own Sex, and hazard her
Life to help them, which to enable her self to do, she cut off her
Hair, Apparelled her self like a Man, and became the Scholar
of Hyrophilus the most Famous Physician of that Time,
and having learn’d the Art, she found out a Woman that had
long languish’d under private Diseases, and made proffer of her
Service to cure her, which the sick Person refused, thinking her A2 to A2v 4
to be a Man; but when Agnodicea had discovered that she was
a Maid, the Woman committed her self into her Hands, who
cured her perfectly: And after her many others with the like
Skill and Industry. So that in a short time she became the
Successful and Beloved Physician of the whole Sex, none but
she being called to assist them.

This so incensed the Physicians that they conspired her
Ruin, saying she shaved off her Beard to abuse the Women, who
feigned themselves Sick to enjoy her Company; and there being
Witnesses to be found then
(as of late Years, that would
swear any thing for Money) she was upon their Testimony,
condemned to Death for committing Adultery with Agifilea one
of the Areopagites Wives; it being easy to make Old Men,
who had beautiful Wives, believe any thing of so young
and handsome a Doctor.

This forced Agnodicea to discover her Sex to save her Life;
and then the enraged Physicians accused her of transgressing
the Law, which forbid Women to Study or Practise Physick.
And for this Crime she was like to be condemned to Death;
which coming to the Ears of the Noble Women, they ran before
the Areopagites, which were the Chief Magistrates, and
the House being encompassed by most Women of the City,
the Ladies entred before the Judges, and told them they would
no longer account them for Husbands or Friends, but for cruel
Enemies, that condemned her to Death, who restored them
to their Healths; protesting they would all die with her if she
were put to Death.

This caused the Magistrates to disanul that Law, and make
another, which gave Gentlewomen leave to Study and Practise
all parts of Physick to their own Sex, giving large Stipends to
those that did it well and carefully, and imposing severe Penalties
upon the unskilful and negligent
: And there were many Noble
Women who studied that Practise, and taught it publickly in
their Schools as long as Athens flourished in Learning.

But A3r 5

But Phanarota the Mother of wise Socrates, who was a Woman
of great Learning and Skill, deserves a particular remembrance,
both for her own, and her Son’s sake
; who, as it is believed
by many, was a Martyr, being put to Death for professing
there was but one God, which Wisdom himself saith he
learned of his Mother. Thus, Doctor, it appears, even that
Learned Idolatrous City had in it a Midwife that knew and
feared the true God
: Tho, as the Apostle saith, “there was an Altar
therein dedicated to the unknown God, &c.”

This Ambrose Perre, Counsellour and Chyrurgion to the
King of France, and his Ingenuous Disciple Gulielmus, prove
fully: and that is as far as my small Learning and weak Capacity
goes. But you, Doctor, may prove it more at large when
you please, by the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Arabick Books,
which treat on these Subjects; in which times the three parts
of Physick, Midwifery, Chirurgery, and the making up and administring
of Medicines
, were all one, tho the last, which was then
the servile part, hath now usurp’d upon the other two; but we
pretend only to the First, as being the most Antient, Honourable
and Useful Part
: Wherein we desire you not to concern your
selves, until we desire your Company, which we will certainly
do as often as we have occasion for your Advice in any thing
we do not understand, or which doth not appertain to our

But to come into our own Country, it is not hard to prove
by antient British Books and Writings, that before the Romans
came hither here were Colledges of Women practising Physick,
dedicated to some of the Female Deities; but whether so antient
as the Bards I cannot tell, tho some old British Songs
written in praise of the Goddess Trawth, seem to prove it: but
they were in the time of the Druides, as appears both by Brittish
and French Books, and the Name of “Wise Women”, by
which Midwives are still called in France, and most of the
Western Parts, as they are by that of “Wise Mother” in the Low- A3v 6
Low-Countries, Germany, and most of the Northern Parts of
the World.

And here in London were Colledges of Women about the Temple
of Diana, who was Goddess of Midwives here, as well as at
. From whence the Grecians say, she was absent at
Q. Olympia’s Labour, who was that Night deliver’d of Alexander the Great; where she was so fully employed, that she could
not defend her Stately Temple, which was burned down by
Herostrateus the Shoemaker, to perpetuate his Name.

Nor did the Bishops pretend to License Midwives till
Bp. Bonner’s time, who drew up the Form of the first License,
which continued in full force till 16421642, and then the
Physicians and Chirurgions contending about it, it was adjudged
a Chyrurgical Operation, and the Midwives were Licensed
at Chirurgions-Hall, but not till they had passed three Examinations,
before six skilful Midwives, and as many Chirurgions expert
in the Art of Midwifery
. Thus it continued until the Act of
Uniformity passed, which sent the Midwives back to Doctors
, where they pay their Money, (take an Oath which is
impossible for them to keep)
and return home as skilful as they
went thither.

I make no Reflections on those learned Gentlemen the Licensers,
but refer the curious for their further satisfaction, to the
Yearly Bills of Mortality, from 164242 to 166262: Collections of which
they may find at Clerk’s-Hall: Which if they please to compare
with these of late Years, they will find there did not then happen
the eight part of the Casualties, either to Women or Children,
as do now.

I hope, Doctor, these Considerations will deter any of you
from pretending to teach us Midwifery, especially such as confess
they never delivered Women in their Lives, and being asked
“What they would do in such a Case?” reply they have not yet studied
, but will when occasion serves; This is something to the purpose
I must confess, Doctor
: but I doubt it will not satisfy the Women A4r 7
Women of this Age, who are so sensible and impatient of their
Pain, that few of them will be prevailed with to bear it, in
Complement to the Doctor, while he fetches his Book, studies the
Case, and teaches the Midwife to perform her work
, which she
hopes may be done before he comes.

I protest, Doctor, I have not Power enough with the Women
to hope to prevail with them to be patient in this case, and
I think if the Learnedst of you all should propose it whilst the
Pains are on
, he would come off with the same Applause which
Phormio had, who having never seen a Battel in his Life, read
a Military Lecture to Hannibal the Great.

But let this pass, Doctor, as I do the Discourses you have
often made to me on this Subject, and I will tell you something
worthy of your most serious Consideration: Which is,

That in September last, our Gracious Soveraign was pleased
to promise to unite the Midwives into a Corporation, by His
Royal Charter, and also to found a Cradle-Hospital, to breed
up exposed Children, to prevent the many Murders, and the
Executions which attend them
; which pious Design will never
want a suitable Return from God, who no doubt will fully
reward his Care for preserving so many Innocents as would
otherwise be lost.

And I doubt not but one way will be by giving him a Prince
by his Royal Consort, who like another Moses may become a
Mighty Captain for the Nation; and lead to Battel the Soldiers
which the Hospital will preserve for him.

And now, Doctor, let me put you in mind, that tho you
have often Laughed at me, and some Doctors have accounted
me a Mad Woman these last four Years, for saying Her Majesty
was full of Children, and that the Bath would assisst her Breeding:
’Tis now proved so true, that I have cause to hope my
self may live to praise God, not only for a Prince of Wales, and
a Duke of York
, but for many other Royal Babes by Her; and if
the over Officious will but be pleased to let them live, I hope in a A4v 8
a few Years to see them Master their little Soldiers
: Which Joyful
sight, I believe, is the hearty Desire of all Loyal Subjects,
of what Persuasion soever, as it is the daily and fervent
Prayer of,

Your Servant


Elizabeth Celleor

“Where the Word of a King is, there is Power: and who shall
say unto him, What doest thou?”
INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Eccles. 8. vers. 4.


Let this be Printed,
Sunderland, P.