Tymen Stidham: The First Doctor of New Sweden

Tymen Stidham: The First Doctor of New Sweden

What happens when you boil rosemary with white wine? A simple sprig makes for fantastic flavor in the kitchen, but in the 17th century, boiling those ingredients produced a potion for removing face blemishes. People have been using herbs to cure what ails them for thousands of years. During the 17th century, Dr. Tymen Stidham, Delaware’s first physician, consulted such recipes from a book of herbal medicine remedies and cures for various ailments. Join us on another adventure into our collections to learn about Dr. Stidham and Richard Banckes’s unillustrated Herball (1525).

Stidham traveled across the Atlantic multiple times before settling in Wilmington: first in 1640, aboard the Kalmar Nyckel as one of two barber surgeons on board cutting hair and performing surgery and basic dentistry. On his second trip in 1649, a shipwreck marooned him, his family, and other passengers for eight days on an uninhabited Island without water. Stidham successfully returned in 1654 and settled in Fort Christina, later to become Wilmington, and spent the rest of his life practicing his trade prescribing remedies of horehound and boneset, pennyroyal and sassafras from recipe books of herbal medicines. Delaware Historical Society acquired Stidham’s copy of Banckes’s recipe book, and you can find it in our online catalog and inquire about seeing it through our Research Library. Learn more about Tymen Stidham, this recipe book, and other cool things by exploring our collections!

Tymen Stidham: The First Doctor of New Sweden” is part of Speaking of Delaware…, a series of short videos presented by the Delaware Historical Society and produced by Short Order Production House. Videos premiere the first Thursday of every month on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and our website. This series is funded in part by the Longwood Foundation, Delmarva Power, an Exelon Company, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and by a grant from Delaware Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Tymen Stidham Research

Notes and resources about Tymen Stidham