Blood and Bandages: additional information

Barbers were not just hairdressers


Being skilled in using sharp instruments, they were often employed to carry out minor surgery. A common remedy for a wide range of illnesses was to be, ‘bled’. Taking a significant amount of blood by cutting into a vein would have been a risky business (no antibiotics in those days, and cutting deeply is always risky), but at least a barber had experience of working with sharp instruments and was trusted (!) to know where and how deeply to cut. How many people were cured – and how many were further harmed – by bleeding is another matter.

We don’t know if Crediton had any physicians (forerunners of today's GPs) in 1743 – but we do know that one property on the map belonged to, ‘Dr. Hooker’. There is nothing to indicate if he was a medical doctor.

In 1745 – just two years after this map was made – surgery and dentistry were established as separate professions regulated by the London College of Surgeons.


More information about barbers and barber-surgeons can be found at: