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We are delighted and priviliged to be able - once again - to offer a number of prizes for meritorious work presented at the Symposium. Thanks to the support of the Worshipful Company of Barbers, we now offer the Thomas Vicary Prize for the best research presentation of the meeting, as well as the Josiah Rampley prize for the best case report of the meeting. Full details of these prizes, past recipients and background on the history and role of the Worshipful Company of Barber Surgeons can be found below.


We are pleased to once again offer a further prize for the Best Poster.

The Thomas Vicary Prize

Previous winners

2019 - Miss Eirini Martinou: “Dysregulation of HOX/PBX genes in colorectal liver metastases: A molecular and bioinformatic analysis”

The Thomas Vicary Prize is awarded to the best presentation of the meeting in the Research & Audit category and is generously provided and supported by the Worshipful Company of Barbers. The prize is £500, to be used as payment or part payment for any educational course or conference attendance that the awardee desires necessary for the advancement of their surgical training.

Thomas Vicary was born about 1495. In Manningham's Diary he is described as being first " a meane practiser in Maidstone " until " the King (Henry VIII) advanced him for curing his sore legge." This took place about 1525 when the King was passing through Maidstone, and the successful treatment so pleased the King that Vicary was " advanced " to the position of Junior Warden of the Barber Surgeons' Company, and in 1626 was receiving £20 a year as the King's Surgeon.

At that time, barbers officiated as surgeons, especially for the phlebotomy operations which were then so frequently done. The well-known staff or " barber's pole " which is often seen outside a barber's door commemorates this, as it was customary for the patient about to be bled to hold a staff at arm's length in order to make the blood flow more freely during the operation. The red colour on the pole denoted blood, and the white spiral the bandages. A cup at the top of the pole represented a cupping-glass, and at a later date, when its significance was forgotten, a representation of an acorn was added to give it a more finished appearance, and probably also to act as a charm against damage by lightning.

In the Liber Alhus, p. 236, the following regulation appears : " And that no barbers shall be so bold or so daring, as to put blood in their windows openly or in view of folks, but let them have it carried privily unto the Thames, under pain of paying two shillings unto the use of the Sheriffs."

By a grant dated April, 1530 (21-22 Henry VIII), Vicary was made Sergeant of the King's Surgeons, and chief Surgeon to the King, with allowances when attending the King's household, and of wine, etc., for cures, his salary then being 40 marks, or £26 13s. 4d. a year. He held this position under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth until his death in 1561 or 1562.

The King granted to Vicary the tithes of grain, glebe lands and chief house of the Rectory of Boxley, Kent, also ten pieces of land, Boxley field, Squire's and Carter's Crofts, Great and Little Harpole, Wheat Park, Blackland, the Hale, Rishett and Hoyton meadow (except all big trees and woods, and the advowson of Boxley Parish Church) for 21 years from March 25th, 1539, at the rent of £40, the King covenanting that Vicary should hold the premises free from other charge, Vicary agreeing to keep the buildings in good repair and to thatch them with straw, but not shingle, tiles or slates, etc. The King also granted to Vicary sufficient wood for hedges, firing, and repair of ploughs and carts.

As the head of his profession, Vicary was appointed in 1541 first Master of the newly amalgamated Companies of Barbers and Surgeons, and a picture by Holbein (see below) now in the possession of the Barbers' Company, shows Vicary, in the company of other Surgeons, Barbers, and Physicians, receiving the Charter of the Company from the King.

In the same year Vicary published his book, A profitable Treatise of the Anatomie of Mans Body, which is thought by some to be based on a transcript of a fourteenth century manuscript. which was taken from still earlier medieval authorities. It probably contains some original research, however, as in 1540 Vicary, with other Surgeons, requested the Sheriffs of London to allow all those hanged at Tyburn to be given up for dissection. Some thirty years before the discovery of the circulation of the blood by William Harvey, Vicary writes : " I fynde that Arteirs have two cotes as one cote is not sufficient nor able to withstande the violent moving and steering of the spirite of lyfe that is caryed in them." He does not, however, give away all his knowledge, for his book ends " And this sufficeth for young Practitioners."

Vicary's book was the first to be published in English on Anatomy, and a reprint of this, in black-letter, by the Surgeons of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, is included in The Englishmans Treasure of 1633, a copy of which has been recently acquired by  the Maidstone Museum.

Excerpt from Archaeologica Cantiana, Vol. 62 1949


The Worshipful Company of Barbers


The Worshipful Company of Barbers is one of the 110 livery companies of the City of London. It is also one of the oldest, having celebrated its 700th anniversary in 2008 and is ranked 17th in the order of precedence.

Today, the Barbers’ Company is a fraternal organization, with responsibilities and rights within the City of London, providing support to charities, institutions and individuals associated with the Company’s ancient and long established traditions and origins.

The first mention of the Barbers’ Company occurs in 1308 when Richard le Barbour was elected by the Court of Aldermen to keep order amongst his fellows. He was instructed to ‘make diligent search through the whole of his craft every month, and if he shall find any brothel keeper or other disreputable folk to the scandal of the craft, he shall detain them and cause them to be brought before the chamber.’ This Company also included surgeons amongst its number, the first recorded member appearing in 1312. Barbers and surgeons had overlapped in their duties for many years, largely because in the thirteenth century Pope Honorarius III had prohibited all persons in holy orders from practising medicine in any form. Thus barbers in the monasteries, already used to working with sharp blades, began to add minor surgical skills to their repertoire, which in due course were passed on to barbers elsewhere.

Within London a Guild or Fellowship of Surgeons, whose Ordinances were approved in 1435, developed alongside the Barbers’ Company. The Fellowship claimed the right to practise surgery which inevitably led to power struggles and disputes. This was temporarily resolved in 1462 when the Barbers’ Company was granted its first Royal Charter by Edward IV establishing its power to regulate the practice of surgery in London, to maintain professional standards and to stamp out impostors and charlatans.

The respective roles of barbers and surgeons in London were finally defined by an Act of Parliament in 1540 which created the Company of Barbers and Surgeons of London. The Act decreed that no surgeon was to perform the tasks of a barber, and vice versa, but both could continue to draw teeth. The Act of Parliament was most concerned with the professionalisation of the surgeons, granting the Company four bodies from Tyburn each year for the purpose of dissection for anatomical teaching. A grand painting by Holbein commemorates the union of 1540 and still hangs in Barber-Surgeons’ Hall.

The union of the Barbers and Surgeons was never easy to manage and the relationship continued uneasily for 200 years.  In 1745, at the request of the surgeons, a Bill was finally passed and the Surgeons left the Company forming what eventually became the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Prior to the separation the Company was gradually losing its association with barbery, a trend which accelerated after 1745. Although the membership was made up of many different professions, between 1745 and 1919 few surgeons were admitted to the Company. At the institution of the Thomas Vicary Lecture in 1919 the bonds between the Company and the Royal College of Surgeons were re-established and surgeons, including surgeons to the Royal Family and the Royal Household, have been regularly admitted to the Company ever since in memory of the past union.

For more information on how the Worshipful Company of Barbers continues to support the education of young surgeons, click the button below.

The Josiah Rampley Prize


Previous winners

2019 - Mr Kevin Beatson

The Rampley Prize is awarded to the best presentation of the meeting in the Case Report category and is generously provided and supported by the Academic Fund at Maidstone Hospital. The prize value is £150 and is awarded in memory of Josiah Rampley, Surgical Beadle and probably the most famous hospital beadle of them all. He was often referred to as 'the Grand Old Man of the London Hospital', where he was associated with their theatre from 1871 until at least 1900. Nowadays he is probably most commonly remembered for the eponymous 'Rampley's sponge-holding forceps', along with being the great, great-uncle of the KSS Surgical Symposium Lead!

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