Duke Of York apothecary box in solid mahogany with bone escutcheon and brass handles and door latches. The doors to the front and rear are secured by brass latches to the sides, but also by locking mechanisms which engage when the lid is closed. Lifting the lid reveals several compartments with various bottles and tools and a label on the underside of the lid which reads: Ireland & Hollier, Apothecaries & Chemists, No. 22, Pall Mall. Family Medicine Chests compleat and Genuine patent Medicines & With the lid lifted the front door can be opened to gain access to four drawers, one of which contains two lidded pill compartments, and the three large glass bottles above. Belonged to Sir William Forbes, 6th Bt. (1739-1806). Sir William was a prominent Scottish banker. One of the founders of the bank James Hunter & Company, his banking career began with an apprenticeship for Coutts Brothers & Co. A well-known figure in Edinburgh’s high society, he travelled extensively with his wife, Lady Elizabeth Forbes.
They made numerous visits to, and tours of, England, with regular visits to London. Visits to Leamington Spa and Tunbridge Wells in 1792 were said to be for the benefit of Lady Forbes who often suffered ill health, having given birth to eight children in quick succession. A fully stocked medicine chest would have been a necessity on their travels, especially so during their Grand Tour, leaving Tunbridge Wells in June, 1792 and returning to Edinburgh in June 1793. Sir William records in Volume III of his Grand Tour Diaries, NLS (MS1541) on the 20 December in 1792 that in Naples he has difficulties in acquiring a ‘Bark’ remedy, which he had omitted from his travelling chest. Perhaps it is this chest he mentions...? The so-called ‘Duke of York’ medicine chest became popular in the early 19th century, with many variations. Not only used for travel, these could be found in the homes of the wealthy who would have the chest constructed and fitted to their own specifications. English, circa 1800.