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Museum Treasures

Frances (Fanny) Elizabeth Potter

The first woman in the UK to qualify as a pharmacist passed her exam in 1869 — a time when there were less than 250 female pharmacists in the country.

Frances (Fanny) Elizabeth Potter, first woman to qualify for registration with the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

Source: Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Frances Elizabeth Potter was the first woman to qualify as a pharmacist through the Pharmaceutical Society’s examination process

Women have always been involved in the production and administration of medicines. Following the Pharmacy Act of 1868, most of the 223 women in the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain’s first compulsory Register of Chemists and Druggists and Pharmaceutical Chemists had qualified for inclusion because they were already in business. It was not particularly unusual for women to take over pharmacies established by their fathers or husbands.

However, in 1869 Frances (Fanny) Elizabeth Potter became the first woman to qualify for registration with the Society through its exams. She appeared on the Society’s register as a chemist and druggist in 1870, having qualified on 5 February 1869 by taking the ‘modified exam’. From 1875 until the early 1900s, she owned a pharmacy in Fleckney, near Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

Today the majority of pharmacists are women.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204555

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