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ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
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The King of Quacks
One of the Victorian age's most notorious quack doctors.
Location: 84 Harley Street
Description: John St John Long was the so-called King of the Quacks, who ran a medical practice here for wealthy female clients earning a reputed income of 13,000 a year.
Before becoming a doctor however John St John Long was one of the only two known pupils of artist John Martin. Long's brief artistic career seems only to have spanned the 1820s. The majority of his pictures were biblical subjects - one being in the Tate Collection currently.
By 1827, Long had set himself up as a doctor specialising in the cure of consumption by using liniment and medicated vapours.
In 1828 he was exposed as a quack, and following the death of two patients between 1830 and 1831, was found guilty of manslaughter. He managed to escape with a 250 fine, and continued to practice as a doctor.
He would ask his clients to inhale from a long pink tube filled with a potent gas, noting how their resistance to his massage sessions lessened the more gas he used. He was also noted for being a purveyor of snake oil.
Ironically he died aged 36 of consumption. His grand tomb in Highgate Cemetary was paid for by grateful patients of his.