Written by Dr. John Snow after administering chloroform to Queen Victoria during the delivery by the attending physician, Dr. Charles Locock (see picture). Two other of Queen Victoria's physicians, Sir James Clark and Sir J. Clark Ferguson, were also involved.

Thursday, April 7, 1853

Administered Chloroform to the Queen in her confinement. Slight pains had experienced since Sunday. Dr. Locock was sent for about nine o'clock this morning, stronger pains having commenced, and he found the os uteri had commenced to dilate very little.  I received a note from Sir James Clark a little after ten asking me to go the Palace.  I remained in an apartment near that of the Queen, along with Sir J. Clark Ferguson and (for the most part of the time) Dr. Locock till a little a twelve.[1]  At  twenty minutes past twelve by a clock in the Queen's apartment I commenced to give a little chloroform with each pain, by pouring about 15 minims by measure on a folded handkerchief. The first stage of labor was nearly over when the chloroform commenced. Her Majesty expressed great relief from the application, the pains being trifling during the uterine contractions, and whilst between the periods of contraction there was complete ease. The effect of the chloroform was not at any time carried to the extent of quite removing consciousness. Dr. Locock thought that the chloroform prolonged intervals between the pains, and retarded the labor somewhat.  The infant was born at 13 minutes past one by the clock in the room (which was 3 minutes before the right time);  consequently the chloroform was inhaled for 53 minutes. The placenta was expelled in a very few minutes, and the Queen appeared very cheerful and well, expressing herself much gratified with the effect of the chloroform.


[1] Snow, it would seem, took especial care when writing here of his part in the Queen's confinement.  His handwriting is better than in the immediate preceding entries, and he probably changed the nib of his simple pen to ensure even more clarity.  However, he made a slip of pen.  Almost certainly he meant to write "till a little after twelve."

Source: Ellis, Richard H. (ed): The Case Books of Dr. John Snow, Medical History, Supplement No. 14, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1994, p. 271.

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