S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Raymond, Mr A (dentistry, anaesthesiology)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Alfred Raymond advertised as a surgeon-dentist in the South African Commercial Advertiser in July 1837. Mentioning that he is "now in health" suggests that his practice had been suspended owing to ill health. He announced that "during his last month in this colony" he would be practising "at Mr Werdmuller's, No. 41, Short-market Street", Cape Town. No qualifications are mentioned. Five years later he returned to the Cape Colony, informing the public by means of an advertissement in February 1842 that he intended to practice in Dorp Street, Cape Town. He claims to have had ten years experience on the island of Mauritius and in Paris, having spent six months at one of the best hospitals in that city. In May 1846 he "renews the offer of his services" (having presumably suspended his practice again for some time) at 27 Burg Street. At this time his advertissement mentions that he qualified as a surgeon-dentist by obtaining a diploma at the University of Paris - presumably at some time between 1842 and 1846. He was still practising at the same address in November 1848.

As far as is known Raymond was the first person in South Africa to apply ether as an anaesthetic during surgery. The procedure had been introduced in the United States only the previous year and was being experimented with all over the world. The account of Raymond's first experiment appeared in the form of a very brief announceent in a local paper, De Verzamelaar, on 20 April 1847. It mentions that on 17 April he had drawn two teeth from one of his patients, and one tooth from another, after having them inhale ether vapour, and that the extractions were painless. During the next few weeks he administered ether from an inhaler with great success during tooth extractions, and on one occasion to cut a large wart from the finger of one of his patients. The (unidentified) patient from whom two teeth had first been extracted described his experience of the effects of the ether vapour in a newspaper article a few weeks later. He may have been a medical practitioner, mentioning that he and others had also been experimenting with ether. Dr H.A. Ebden* is known to have been exerimenting with ether as an anaesthetic in Cape Town during April 1847.

Raymond was the author of a popular booklet, Practical observations, or, a guide to mothers, on the management of the teething of children, with general rules to keep the mouth healthy at every period of life, which was published in Cape Town in 1842. A later edition was published under a slightly different title in 1848. He also contributed a paper, "On precocious dentition" to the first issue of the Cape Town Medical Gazette (1847, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 19-). He was still a dentist in 1863, then in Port Elizabeth, and not always with success: A newspaper reported in September that year how, while attempting to extract a single tooth, he had inadvertently extraced two teeth, a portion of the gum, and a piece of the jaw (quoted in Grobler, 1995).

While living in Cape Town Raymond supported the establishment of a botanic garden by subscribing 10 shillings to the cause in May 1848, and then becoming an annual subscriber.

List of sources:
Cape Town Medical Gazette, 1847, Vol. 1(1).

De Verzamelaar, 20 April 1847, p. 3, untitled announcement.

Grobler, V. From a craft to a profession. Adler Museum Bulletin, 1995, Vol. 21(2), pp. 3-8.

Parbhoo, N. [Letter on the history of anaesthesia]. Adler Museum Bulletin, 1993, Vol. 19(2), p. 28.

Schmidt, H.J. A history of anaesthesia in South Africa. South African Medical Journal, 1958, Vol. 32(9), pp. 244-251.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

South African Commercial Advertiser, 5 July 1837, p. 1; 23 February 1842, p. 1; 6 May 1846, p. 1; 18 November 1848, p. 4: advertissements; 10 May 1848, p. 4: "Botanic Garden, Cape Town"; 12 December 1849, p. 1: "Botanic gardens".

Compiled by: C. Plug