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Benjamin Jesty

Benjamin Jesty (1736-1836) was a farmer at Yetminster in Dorset, England. He is notable as the first person recorded to have vaccinated with cowpox in order to artificially induce immunity to smallpox. Unlike Edward Jenner (1749-1823) he did not, and would not have been in a position to, publicise the procedure, which he carried out on his wife (Elizabeth Jesty) and first two children in the face of a smallpox epidemic in 1774, about 20 years before Edward Jenner in 1796.

Later he moved to Downshay near Worth Matravers, a Dorset village near the coast, and he and his wife are buried in a prominent position in the churchyard there with an inscription crediting him for his amazing work in helping Jenner create a vaccine for the smallpox epidemic.

Note: The name of his wife, Elizabeth Jesty, can be seen on the tombstone in the photo. A picture of Benjamin Jesty can be found as Plate 42 between Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 in the book by Bazin (Academic Press 2000).



Herve Bazin, "The eradication of smallpox", Academic Press 2000 (Translated into English by Andrew and Glenise Morgan.) In this book, Jesty was mentioned but Edward Jenner was the more resourceful person to pursue smallpox vaccination with vigorous follow up. Even though the Royal Society rejected his manuscript, Edward Jenner still managed to publish a book on his work using his own money in 1798. A picture of Benjamin Jesty can be found as Plate 42 between Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. A new book by Patrick Pead (Vaccination Rediscovered: New Light in the Dawn of Man's Quest for Immunity (Timefile Books, Chichester, 2006; ISBN 0-9551561-0-6; available through goes into a lot more details.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Benjamin_Jesty". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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