Lives of the fellows

Jonathan Pereira

b.22 May 1804 d.20 January 1853
MD Erlangen MRCS LSA FRCP(1845) FRS

Jonathan Pereira was born in Shoreditch. His father, Daniel Lopes Pereira, a Lloyd’s underwriter of Portuguese-Jewish extraction, sent him to a small "classical academy" in Finsbury and then articled him, at the age of fifteen, to a surgeon practising in the neighbourhood. In 1821 the young Pereira enrolled as a pupil at the Aldersgate Street Dispensary and in 1822 at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. A year later, still before his nineteenth birthday, he qualified and obtained the post of apothecary at the Dispensary. In 1824 he published his Selecta e Prescriptis, which was to reach an eighteenth edition in 1890. In 1826 he was appointed lecturer on chemistry at the Dispensary and, in 1828, lecturer on materia medica.

In 1832, on marrying, Pereira resigned from the Dispensary and settled in practice in Aldersgate Street. Within a few months, however, he accepted the chair of materia medica at the new Medical School which had replaced the Dispensary, and his classes soon reached such proportions that a new lecture theatre was required. In 1833 the London Hospital appointed him lecturer on chemistry. His lectures on materia medica at both institutions were printed in the London Medical Gazette between 1835 and 1837. These, and his prolonged and comprehensive researches on the subject, were embodied in his magnum opus. Elements of Materia Medica, first published in 1839-40, which appeared in four subsequent editions in England — the last was in 1872 — and many editions abroad. In 1841 he was appointed assistant physician to the London Hospital and, in 1843, professor of materia medica to the Pharmaceutical Society, and examiner on this subject to London University. He was Materia Medica Lecturer in 1851 at the Royal College of Physicians. Pereira deserves lasting credit for placing the knowledge and use of drugs, which had been chaotic and empirical, on an organised and scientific basis. He was a good-humoured, portly and dignified figure. A believer in the cause of popular education, he helped to found the City of London Library and Scientific Institution. He married Louisa Ann Lucas in 1832; they had no children.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1853; Medical Times and Gazette, 1853; London Hospital Gazette, 1917-19, xxii, 137; Morris, 258; D.N.B., xlv, 1]

(Volume IV, page 42)

<< Back to List