S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Liesching, Mr Carl Friedrich (pharmacy)

Born: 1799, Cape Town, South Africa.
Died: 1832, Koblenz, Germany.

Carl Friedrich Liesching, known at the Cape as Charles Liesching was the youngest son of Friedrich Ludwig Liesching* and his wife Luise Seubert, and a younger brother of Dr C.L.W. (Louis) Liesching*. In January 1814, at the age of 15, he began a five year apprenticeship in his father's apothecary shop, "Dr Liesching & Co.", and completed it satisfactorily at the end of December 1818. For the next five years he worked as a partner to his father. During that period he married Miss C.E. Leibrandt, with whom he eventually had two sons.

In 1824, wishing to open his own apothecary shop, Charles applied via the governor (Lord Charles Somerset) to be licensed as an apothecary by the Medical Council. Dr James Barry*, colonial medical inspector at that time, turned the application down on the grounds that Charles had received no professional education and that his certificate of apprenticeship had no legal standing because the elder Liesching who had issued it was not qualified as a chemist and druggist. Barry may also have been influenced by personal differences between himself and Charles, as they had fallen out earlier. Charles appealed to the Governor, who consulted chief justice Sir John Truter. Meanwhile the application was considered by a board consisting of Dr S. Bailey and the apothecaries P.H. Poleman* and J.H. Tredgold*, who reported that they considered him not entitled to be examined or to practice as an apothecary. Following legal advice the Governor decided none the less to appoint a Board of Examiners (Drs Munro and O'Flinn, and Mr Moore) to examine Charles. The board awarded him a certificate of competency in Latin, pharmacy and chemistry and he was duly gazetted as an apothecary. However, no one could practice without the recommendation of the colonial medical inspector (Dr Barry), who again refused to recognise Charles's qualifications. The Governor then appointed another Board of medical officers (Dr Arthur, Staff-Surgeon Murray, and Apothecary Thompson) in January 1825 to consider the application and examine the candidate. They found that he had served a regular apprenticeship, again examined him "strictly and minutely as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the sciences of physics and chemistry" (McMagh, 1992, p. 127) and found him fully competent and qualified to carry on an apothecary business. Thus Charles Liesching became the first licensed apothecary to be fully trained at the Cape. He established a chemist shop at 28 Burg Street, Cape Town.

In February 1829 Charles, then a widower, left for Europe with the intention to train as a medical doctor. He acted as ship's surgeon during the three month voyage to England and took a shipment of Cape wine with him to sell on the continent. He had left his business in the hands of his merchant brother William A. Liesching, whose incompetence led to the apothecary shop being sold in February 1832. Charles died unexpectedly in Germany during that year, aged 33.

List of sources:
Laidler, P.W. & Gelfand, M. South Africa, its medical history 1652-1898. Cape Town: Struik, 1971.

McMagh, P. The three Lieschings: Their times and contribution to Cape medicine, 1800-1843. Cape Town: Society for the History of Pharmacy in South Africa, 1992.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Charles Liesching.

Price, C.H. The Barry-Liesching story. South African Pharmaceutical Journal, 1959, Vol. 25(11), pp. 20-22.

South African Commercial Advertiser, 8 February 1832, p. 4 (advertissement).

Compiled by: C. Plug