The Grave Stone of a Smallpox Vaccine Victim, Reads: In Memory of Peleg, son of Thomas & Mary Conklin, who died of the smallpox by inoculation Jan. 27th, 1788; aged 17 years.

From The Lancet, Volume 348, Issue 9031, Page 902, 28 September 1996

I heard two neighbours talk the other night

About this new distemper-giving plan
Which some so wrong, and others think so right
Short was the dialogue, and thus it ran:

“If I had twenty children of my own,
I would inoculate them every one.”

“Aye, but should any of them die, what moan
Would then be made for venturing thereupon!”

“No, I should think that I had done the best,
And be resigned whatever should befal.”

“But could you really be quite so at rest?”

“I could.” – “Then why inoculate at all?
Since to resign a child to God , who gave,
Is full as easy and as just a part,
When sick, and led by nature to the grave,
As, when in health, to drive it there by art.”

Written by Dr. John Byrom, of Manchester UK, who died in 1763.


Rev. Cotton Mather (1663-1728), who Performed The First Vaccinations in 1721

Many people including the medical establishment incorrectly ascribe the practice of vaccination to Edward Jenner, but in actual fact, it had been in practice years before he carried out his first vaccination on the 14th May, 1796.

As you can see from the above poem, its author died in 1763 and it had obviously been written some time before that. It is thought to have originated in Turkey and was first practiced in the USA and UK in 1721.

Rev. Cotton Mather was not a doctor, but a vicar and an intensely religious and superstitious man who was heavily involved in the Salem witch trials and who murdered traditional medicine women by burning them at the stake because he suspected them of doing black witchcraft. His reasoning, therefore, that people did not die of smallpox if they were exposed to an entirely different disease – cowpox – is in keeping with his superstitious nature.
Mather’s job was to convince the Governor of Massachusetts, Sir William Phips (1651-1695)to believe in evil spirits and invisible beings for the purposes of trying ‘witches’ at his court. Mather wrote about it in his essay ‘Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions’ (1689).

Anyone today would say that was total nonsense and if someone were to do the things he did they would probably be put in a secure hospital for the rest of their lives.

To read more about Cotton Mather, see:

Levin, David. Cotton Mather: The Young Life of the Lord’s Remembrancer, 1663-1703. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.

Lutz, Norma Jean. Cotton Mather. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.

Silverman, Kenneth. The Life and Times of Cotton Mather. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

Wendell, Barrett. Cotton Mather. New York: Chelsea House, 1980.

Mather had heard about vaccination performed on slaves in Africa and so he managed to persuade a local doctor, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, to experiment with it. They did the vaccinations, which then involved cutting the arm and putting infected cow pus into the wound, known as variolation, on Boylston’s 6 year old son, his slave and his slave’s son. All three reacted terribly, got ‘smallpox'(or possibly cowpox since the pus was from cows) and became ‘gravely ill’ and at death’s door for several days. Then they recovered. Despite this, Mather took this as ‘proof’ that vaccination worked, because they didn’t die!

( Allen, Arthur (2007). Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicines Greatest Lifesaver. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.. pp. 25–36).

They then began inoculating lots of people in the town of Boston, USA. They reported a fiercesome epidemic of smallpox where 100 people a week were dying out of a population of 15,000. This figure was contested by the towns people who said it had been made up to justify vaccination. It was written:

‘At a meeting by public authority in the Town House of Boston, before His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace and the Select Men; the practitioners of physic and surgery being called before them, concerning Inoculation, agreed to the following conclusion:—

A Resolve upon a debate held by the physicians of Boston concerning inoculating the Smallpox on the 21st day of July, 1721.

It appears by numerous instances, that it has proved the death of many persons soon after the operation, and brought distempers upon many others which have in the end proved deadly to ’em.

That the natural tendency of infusing such malignant filth in the mass of blood is to corrupt and putrefy it, and if there be not a sufficient discharge of that malignity by the place of incision, or elsewhere, it lays a foundation for many dangerous diseases.

That the operation tends to spread and continue the infection in a place longer than it might otherwise be.

That the continuing the operation among us is likely to prove of most dangerous consequence.

The number of persons, men, women, and children, that have died of smallpox at Boston from the middle of April last (being brought here then by the Saltertuda’s Fleet) to the 23rd of this instant July (being the hottest and worst season of the year to have any distemper in) are, viz.—2 men, strangers, 3 men, 3 young men, 2 women, 4 children, 1 negro man, and 1 Indian woman, 17 in all; and those that have had it, some are well recovered, and others in a hopeful and fair way of recovery.’

By the Select Men of the Town of Boston.

(The Story of a Great Delusion, by William White, LONDON: E. W. ALLEN, 4 AVE MARIA LANE. 1885).

So the towns people say only 17 were affected by smallpox.

Many members of the public and doctors of the time stated that it was actually inoculation that caused much of the ferocious epidemic.

Vaccinators admitted to up to 2% of people inoculated died, but justified that by saying more people died of natural smallpox. If the public meeting of the towns people is an accurate record, then those death rates are inflated, and they didn’t take into account those who had recieved variolation could transmit the infection to others and would have spread the epidemic.

It also spread other blood borne diseases like syphilis and TB and they don’t count that in their estimation of how many people died following variolation because the 2% is the figure for who died of smallpox. When you take into account all the other diseases and permanent disabilities it caused, variolation was not safer at all.

Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, wrote:

‘However, inoculation was not without its attendant risks. There were concerns that recipients might develop disseminated smallpox and spread it to others. Transmission of other diseases, such as syphilis, via the blood borne route was also of concern.’

(Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2005 January; 18(1): 21–25 –

People of the time also argued that those who had been inoculated were specially selected and were in robust health and had been prepared prior to the inoculation, by being fed healthy foods. Most ordinary peasants did not have the luxury of good food and many of them had frail health.

‘Great care ought to be taken to inoculate none but persons of a good habit of body, and free, not only from any apparent, but, as far as can be judged, from any latent disease.

‘The body, especially if plethoric, ought to be prepared by proper evacuations—as bleeding, purging, vomiting, etc.—though in many cases there will be occasion for very little or none of these, it being sufficient to enjoin a temperate diet and proper regimen. But this must be left to the judgment of the physician.’

(An Account of the Success of Inoculating the Smallpox in Great Britain. By James Jurin, M.D).

Victims of variegation were found in all levels of society, including the rich and famous. King George the Third’s son died as a direct result of variolation.

(US National Library of Medicine –

A Dr. Fleuart of Boston wrote to London that of 70 inoculated, 14 or 15 had died; and that at Roxbury, where there was no smallpox, 5 inoculated had died. This showed that variolation was causing smallpox deaths in areas where there was no smallpox.

Mather also did not mention these inoculations or deaths. He mentioned 11 that were inoculated by a Dr. Roby, who all survived, and 25 who were inoculated by a Dr. Thomson, who also all survived. Then he mentioned the variolations he had performed himself, on a total of 244 people. Of those, 6 died.

If he did not mention Dr.Flueart’s inoculations, how many others did he fail to mention?

(Letter to Dr. Jurin by Isaac Massey. London, 1723 and An Historical Account of the Smallpox inoculated in New England upon all sorts of persons, Whites, Blacks, and of all Ages and Constituions. By Zabdiel Boylston. London, 1726).

Due to the fact that people had to get ‘smallpox’ in order to be vaccinated and most became gravely ill, when they had been healthy, there was great public opposition to the procedure, including most doctors. All of the physicians in Boston were opposed to vaccination except for Dr. Boylston. One of the most outspoken anti-vaccination doctors of the time was Dr. William Douglass, who happened to be the only doctor in Boston with a medical degree. He then formed the Society of Physicians Anti-Inoculators and they met regularly in coffee houses to campaign against vaccination.

Despite having far more qualification to know what would make someone healthy, with his degree, variolation was favoured by those who wanted to push forward the inoculation idea even though it was started by a man with no medical qualifications at all and who thought the Salem witch trials were a good idea.

His entire congregation revolted against him and on the night of the 14th November 1721, someone threw a lighted bomb through his front window, with a note attached to it, saying ‘Cotton Mather, you dog, dam you! I’ll inoculate you with this; a pox to you!’

( Qual Saf Health Care 2004;13:82–83. doi: 10.1136/qshc.2003.008797).

Benjamin Jesty

In 1774, an English farmer, Benjamin Jesty, believed in the superstition that if you were exposed to cowpox you would become immune to smallpox (even though they were two different diseases). Two of his dairy maids, Ann Notley and Mary Reade, had a history of cowpox and had successfully nursed relatives affected by smallpox without showing outward signs of the disease. He took this as a sign that cowpox had made them immune to smallpox. In reality, they had probably become immune through exposure to their sick relatives. It is possible to gain immunity without symptoms if you have an efficiently functioning immune system. Symptoms are not signs of a disease, but merely signs of the immune system struggling to see off the invading virus or bacteria.  Without this understanding, he decided to inoculate his pregnant wife, Elizabeth and their two sons, Benjamin, aged 3 and Robert, aged 2. Their baby, also Elizabeth, was mercifully considered too young for the procedure.

When a nearby farm was infected with cowpox, he took his family there, scratched their arms with a stocking needle and inserted filthy pus from the diseased animals. While his boys seemed to recover from the procedure, his wife and unborn child became seriously ill and nearly died. The farmer, with absolutely no medical experience who had based his ideas on those coming from the US and the ancient superstitions of Africa. In a panic, fearing he had killed his wife, he called a real doctor to tend to her. While she did recover, word spread around the village of Yetminister where he lived and the locals wanted to lynch him. According to reports of the day, they hooted at him and reviled and pelted things at him whenever he visited markets in the neighbourhood. 

On Jesty’s own gravestone, is inscribed ‘the first person (known) that introduced the Cow Pox by inoculation” – despite this,when Jenner proposed vaccination two decades after Jesty’s experiment, he still clung doggedly to the notion that vaccination had been his invention.

Jesty Grave Stones

Edward Jenner

Some 20 years after Jesty, Edward Jenner, a man with no qualifications, hung an apothecary sign on his door. After two decades practicing as a chemist without training, Jenner decided he should in fact have the appropriate letters after his name and approached a university with the sum of £15 to bribe a degree out of them. His later biographer, Dr Norman Moore, later admitted this was fraud.

He also played the same trick with the University of Oxford and asked them to grant him an honorary degree of M.D. They initially refused as he’d done no study to get it but then eventually relented after his many attempts. He then tried to use this fake M.D to get a diploma from the Royal College of Physicians but they told him unless he actually studied and took examinations like other doctors he would not be granted one. He never obtained a diploma of physician.

Vaccination, conceptualised by vicars, witch-hunters, farmers and unqualified fraudsters, was not a medical procedure, nor based in science. The original smallpox vaccine was not even smallpox. It was made of cow pox pus, horse grease and in some cases, swine pox – all distinctly different pathogens. The journal Vaccine wrote:

‘For almost 150 years after Edward Jenner had published the “Inquiry” in 1798, it was generally assumed that the cowpox virus was the vaccine against smallpox. It was not until 1939 when it was shown that vaccinia, the smallpox vaccine virus, was serologically related but different from the cowpox virus.’

(quination (inoculation of horsepox): An early alternative to vaccination (inoculation of cowpox) and the potential role of horsepox virus in the origin of the smallpox vaccine)-

Jenner Made His Own Son Retarded by Inoculation

In 1789 when Edward Jenner was newly married, he decided to inoculate his 10 month old son, Edward Junior with swine pox matter in an attempt to immunise him against smallpox. Eight days later the baby became ill and developed sores on his body but he eventually recovered. Months later, Jenner attempted to infect him with smallpox pus five times. The baby didn’t get smallpox so he took that as evidence that swine pox was protective against it.

Two years later he attempted for a sixth time to infect his son. That time he had a severe reaction, high fever and swelling all the way to his armpit. Again, he rallied. Instead of heeding his near brush with death, Jenner once more inoculated him for a seventh time. After this his health declined, he was always sick and it was obvious he had become mentally retarded. At the age of only 21, the intellectually disabled and frail young man died of TB.

Variolation inoculation was so dangerous that three or four people in every 100 would die as a direct result of the procedure, often soon afterwards. Going arm to arm with the same lancet, spreading infected pus also spread many other diseases, including TB.

Despite what it had done to his own child, he carried on with variolation inoculation and repeated the experiment on his second son, Robert, when he was 11 months old and two other unrelated babies. One baby of the three died after taking a fever, possibly from streptococcus infection from the contaminated matter that had been inserted, as all samples were highly contaminated with bacteria that Jenner would not have even known was there.

Edward Jenner and the Smallpox Vaccine

Jenner kept no scientific records of his experiments on his and other children.

On 14th May 1796, Jenner took the 8 year old son of a poor labourer, James Phipps, cut his arm and infected him with cowpox pus.  The boy became ill and feverish for around nine days. When he didn’t get smallpox, Jenner said it was because of his cowpox inoculation. It is not known if James’ parents ever consented to this being done. Jenner referred to him as ‘poor James’ and later bought him a cottage and gave him money to pay him off.

To add credence to his argument that cow pox conferred protection against smallpox, he gathered up some elderly 60 plus poor people with a history of cowpox, inoculated them with smallpox. When the elderly people didn’t get smallpox, he used this as an example that vaccination worked. The majority of people of that age had already had smallpox as children and been exposed to it multiple times throughout life, so it is very likely that they were already immune. This was probably the reason Jenner selected this age range.

Inoculated People Spread Smallpox

The reality was, in addition to the 4% death rate from variolation, it also made the recipients infectious and capable of spreading the disease.  ‘An Introduction to Bioethics’ by Dr Tom Kerns said

‘Variolated persons were still contagious and fully capable of accidentally infecting healthy persons. In fact, when we read that “the rate of smallpox infection in England actually rose during the eighteenth century,” we cannot help but wonder if the practice of variolation may have contributed to that increase by directly increasing the number of infected (and therefore infectious) persons in the population.’

Variolation inoculation was BANNED UNDER THREAT OF IMPRISONMENT in 1840 due to the needless suffering and death it caused. It was recognised by the UK government that the procedure was spreading smallpox, killing people and causing more severe cases of disease. The law stated:

‘Any Person, by Inoculating with Variolous Matter, or by wilful exposure to Variolous Matter, or wilfully by any other Means whatsoever produce the Disease of Smallpox in any person shall be liable to be proceeded against…and shall, upon Conviction, be imprisoned in the Common gaol, or House of Correction for a Time not exceeding one Month.’

(History of Science – and

The medical profession of today sometimes brush this off by saying that inoculation is not vaccination, but it was. It was just early vaccination and the practise of putting bacteria into the body still occurs with today’s vaccination. The only differences are you don’t need to make a wound in the child’s arm and you use sterile needles.

In 1840, after inoculation was banned and efforts were put in to clean up the streets, smallpox death rates began to fall dramatically and was already on a downward trajectory until vaccination was mandated by parliament in the 1853. This caused a huge spike in deaths. From a speech of GP Dr Hadwen, that was held at  Northgate Assembly Rooms, Gloucester, on Saturday evening, January 25th 1896, which was later updated.

After Vaccine Mandates, 7,600 More Infants Died Every Year in the England and Wales

After mandates in 1853, the infant mortality rate rose. The 34th annual report of the registrar general showed that the death rate for male infants was 7.33 and for female infants it was 6.34. The following year, after vaccines had been mandated, the rates increased to 7.77 and 6.78, which means that in 1854 44 more boys died for every 733 and 44 more girls died for every 634 than the previous year. Prior to mandates, only about 10% of the population were voluntarily inoculated. Looking at average yearly death rates for the period of 1854-71, a period of intense vaccination, the death rate for infant boys averaged at 7.31 (up from 6.96 from 1838-53) and an average of 6.34 for infant girls (up from 6.19) – a death rate increase of 2 and a half percent.

In the supplement, deaths in the years 1861-70 after vaccine mandates were found to be 1,057,690 among boys under five and 913,610 among girls under five. If they had died at the same rate as that up to 1853, 52,884 fewer boys and 22,840 fewer girls would have died. This means since smallpox vaccine was mandated, infant deaths increased by a total of 7,600 each year.

According to the 34th report, this appalling increase didn’t escape the notice of the medical profession and a Dr Farr asked the Obstetrical Society to investigate. They suggested that the reason more babies were dying was due to the purposeful neglect of illegitimate children, neglect of legitimate children, infanticide, ignorance of midwives and the use of opiates to calm babies. All of these issues had been at play in the years prior to 1853, however. Neglect was rife, untrained midwives were common and baby medicines laced with opiates had been on sale for years to treat colic and keep babies quiet while the poorest mothers were forced to go out to work to avert starving. Babies DID die from these things, but the rates did not jump up dramatically until enforced inoculations were started in 1853.

(Annual Mortality per cent. of Males and Females in England and Wales, 34th annual report of the registrar general). 

Smallpox Vaccine Spread Smallpox

In addition to skyrocketing infant mortality rates, several large smallpox epidemics occurred. These intensified with increasingly strict vaccination laws that included imprisonment of husbands who objected and their wives and children were shipped off to workhouses – even if a previous child had died through inoculation.

According to vital statistics , No. 1, February 1877, reports of the Registrar General, compiled by C.T Pearce, M.D, numbers affected by smallpox increased year on year.

In the years 1857-59 there were 14,244 deaths from smallpox.

In the years 1863-65 this had risen to 20,059 deaths.

By the 3rd epidemic of 1870-72 44,840 smallpox deaths occurred – after 19 years of compulsory vaccination.

Doctors and Religious Leaders Tried to Present Evidence to the House of Commons to Overturn Mandates

In the 1870’s at the height of the vaccine mandates, imprisonments and smallpox epidemics, many doctors and church leaders attempted to gather evidence against vaccination to submit to the House of Commons, but the cases were refused to be considered. An extract of cases collected by the Rev. W Hume-Rothery of Middleton, Manchester, gives voice to parents who are long dead but whose stories should not be forgotten.

Children of Mr Taylor and Mr Matthew

Joseph Taylor: ‘My child was vaccinated when 13 weeks old. In two weeks it was dead. After vaccination it was seized with convulsions, which continued until death.’

Richard Matthew: ‘My child was vaccinated at the same time as the above, and with the same kind of matter. It was also seized with convulsions which continued until death. After death it went as black as a coal; it was such a mass of corruption that the burial suit had to be thrown over it instead of being put on. We believe vaccination killed them both.

Smallridge, March 12th, 1871.

Betty Whipp

‘I, Sarah Whipp, do hereby testify that my child, Betty Whipp, was vaccinated when about three years old. Before vaccination it was a fine, healthy child but immediately after vaccination it broke out of erysipelas all over its body; afterwards it also suffered from sore eyes; in short, after vaccination it was always sick and at the age of 12 years it died of smallpox.’

Sarah Whipp, Brickfield Road, Rochdale, March 11th 1871.

John Riley

‘John Riley, son of Hugh Riley, was vaccinated when 15 weeks old; immediately it was covered all over with a rash; it began to swell and inflame, first in the arm, then in the chest; it’s whole body seemed to be filled with corruption; just before it died both its thumbs and one finger burst open; it died 15 days after the operation. We, the parents, believe, nay, are sure, that vaccination killed our child.’

Hugh Riley, Sarah Ann Riley, Hamery Bottoms, March 11th, 1871.

Sarah Ellen Witham

‘This is to certify that I, John Robert Witham, had a child called Sarah Ellen Witham, who was vaccinated in December 1869, at the age of 14 weeks, by the public vaccinator for the borough of Rochdale. Immediately after vaccination, erysipelas inflammation set in, which terminated in death on the 8th day of vaccination. This case was certified by Dr Wood – erysipelas from vaccination.’

Hannah Crabtree

Soloman Crabtree of Sun Place, Albert Street, had a child named Hannah Crabtree, vaccinated by the public vaccinator for the borough of Rochdale, at 11 weeks old. The day after the operation, convulsions seized the child. It broke out in sores on the arms and other parts of the body and died in 19 days after the operation. The child was vaccinated in January 1870.

Both Sarah and Hannah’s case were attested to before G.L Ashworth Esq, Mayor of Rochdale, March 13th, 1871.

One Mother’s Particularly Harrowing Story in the Newspaper

“I had a sweet boy, sir: He was only 4 months old when he had to be vaccinated. I took him to the station to be done. I told the doctor I could not bide to see him cut, so he savagely took him from my arms and gave him to another woman to hold while he did it. The poor thing cried, frightened like.

“When the doctor gave him back to me, I shall never forget his look. He seemed to say to me ‘Mother, what did you let him do that for?’ I took him home; he seemed smitten from that very hour; he never looked up again and he died in dreadful agony in less than six weeks. I see that look now and I shall see it as long as I live.”

A Leeds Newspaper, August 1872.

Doctor Kills Twins with Vaccination and Then Falsifies Death Certificates

The wife of James Marsden of Newbridge Lane, had twins in 1869. They were vaccinated when 13 weeks old. They were vaccinated on Tuesday. On Friday night one of them began to cry most pitifully. This continued during the night and at about 9 o Clock next morning the child had died. In the meantime, the medical man who had vaccinated it was sent for. When he arrived, the child was dead. Seeing that the arm on which it had been vaccinated was black from the shoulder to finger ends, he inquired if the other child was vaccinated at the same time. Being informed that it was, he said he was very sorry, for he never saw finer children, but the other would go in the same way. Surely enough, the second child commenced to cry on Saturday night and on Monday morning it died. The arm of this child was discoloured like the first. Both were buried in one coffin and the medical man gave a certificate stating that the cause of death was diarrhoea!

Speech of Mr Riley, reported in a Stockport newspaper, October 17th, 1873.



Cartoon by James Gillray (1802), Depicting People Turning into Cows After Being Vaccinated With Cowpox


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