Advertisement for Curling’s Sanadentium (Source: Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder)[1]

In 1874, Ellen Curling arrived in Parramatta, NSW. By October 1878, she began her ladies’ medical practice in the heart of the Parramatta district to provide much needed health services to the local women and children in the community.[2]

Ellen Curling was the daughter of Dr. Thomas Blizard Curling, M.D. of Sussex, England and his wife Mary. Thomas Blizzard Curling (1811 – 4 March 1888) was a English physician and surgeon known for his work on tetanus, his renowned skills in treating diseases of the testes and rectum, and the ‘Curling’s ulcer’, a stress ulcer resulting from burns is named after him.[3]

According to the 1886 The Australasian Medical Directory and Handbook, page 263, Ellen was listed as an unregistered medical practitioner as her qualifications were not recognised by the Medical Board of New South Wales. She claimed she studied under her father and held a certificate of competency from Ladies’ Medical College in Fitzroy Square, England where she graduated with honours after two years of studying in the area of Midwifery, Diseases of Women, and Outlines of Medical Science.[4]

Upon arriving in Australia in 1870, Ellen practiced for two years at St. Kilda and then another two years at Taradale, Victoria, before moving interstate to Parramatta, N.S.W. Based on local newspapers as well as trademarking documentation[6], Ellen owned the rights to Sanadentium, which she advertised as her instant pain relief people suffering from “nervous and acute affections (more especially to ladies)”; a “cure for neuralgia (severe pain due to damaged nerves)[7], headaches, tic doloureux (or trigeminal neuralgia, severe, stabbing pain to one side of the face)[7] and toothaches” as shown below.

Advertisements for Curling’s Sanadentium (Source: The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate)[5]

In 1886, Ellen started offering medical baths for ladies and children at her ladies medical practice at 3 Ashton Terrace, Argyle Street, Parramatta near the railway station. These baths were intended as a tonic and alternative solution for debility, rheumatism and skin diseases.[8]

On 10 April 1889, at the monthly meeting of the Parramatta District Hospital committee, Ellen’s application to be taken on the staff as a probationary nurse without salary was accepted by Mr. Sparks, Mr. Murray and the Visiting Committee. Dr. Bowman was to draw up an agreement with Ellen in terms of her services and training.[9]

Based on the Sands Directories and local newspapers, Ellen’s services as a ladies doctor led her to frequently moving to various locations across the city ad using the local newspaper to promote her availability and venues she would be available for consultations on the matter of “Diseases of Women and Children”[10]:

  • in 1878-1883: at her residence at Newlands, Parramatta
  • In 1884-1885: George Street near railway and tram
  • In 1886-1887: at 3 Ashton Terrace, Argyle Street, Parramatta
  • In 1888: Ladies’ Medical Hall at Macquarie Street, Parramatta
  • In 1889: “George Street, Parramatta
  • In 1889: “Myall Cottage” Macquarie Street, Parramatta
  • In July 1899-1890: Taylor Street, between D’Arcy to Macquarie Street, Parramatta
  • In 1891: George Street, Parramatta
  • In 1892: “St. Ronan’s”, George Street, Parramatta
  • In 1902-1907, Miss Curling had a medical school at George Street, Parramatta
  • In 1909, Miss Curling at George Street, Parramatta

On Saturday, 9 December 1911, Miss Ellen Curling, by then a very old resident of Parramatta passed away at Parramatta Hospital.[11]

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Anne Tsang, Research Assistant, Parramatta Heritage Centre, City of Parramatta 2020

References

  1. Curling’s Sanadentium! [Advertisement with testimonies] (1875, April 10). Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder, p. 6 (Morning edition). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142011640
  2. Society and personal. (1878, October 5). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, p. 530. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162698957
  3. Wikipedia contributors. (2020, February 14). Thomas Blizard Curling. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Blizard_Curling
  4. Bruck, Ludwig, ed. (1886). List of unregistered practitioners: Curling, Miss Ellen, The Australasian medical directory and handbook, iss. 2. Sydney, NSW: Australasian Medical Gazette Office, p. 263. In Ancestry.com. (2015). Australasia, Medical Directories, 1883-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., AU0121-1886 ; The Australian Medical Journal (1878, November). Local topics, p. 339. https://digitised-collections.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/23142/267642_UDS2010779-275.pdf?sequence=11
  5. Curling’s Sanadentium [Advertisement] (1874, October 3). Australian Town and Country Journal, p. 36. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70485351 ; Sanadentium [Advertisement] (1874, October 2). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article30942281
  6. Trade-mark. (1874, August 18). New South Wales Government Gazette, p. 2510. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224727901
  7. WebMD (2020). All health topics. Available online at https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/health-topics?pg=n 
  8. Miss Curling. [Advertisement]. (1886, August 7). The Cumberland Mercury, p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article248796059 ; Medicated baths] [Advertisement]. (1886, October 16). The Cumberland Mercury, p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article248797212
  9. Current news. [The usual monthly meeting of the committee of the Parramatta District Hospital]. (1889, April 13). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86270584 ; Parramatta: [District hospital] (1889, April 20). Australian Town and Country Journal, p. 16. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71117786 
  10. City of Sydney (2015) Sands Directory. Available online at https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/learn/archives-history/search-our-collections/sands-directory ; National Library of Australia () Trove: Digitised newspapers and more. Available online at https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
  11. Chips. [A very old resident of Parramatta, Miss Ellen Curling, died in the Parramatta Hospital] (1911, December 13). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), p. 3. Retrieved March 21, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85994843 ; NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (2020). Death: Curling, Ellen, registration no. 15997/1911