Nathaniel Hodges M.D. (1629–1688) was an English physician, known for his work during the Great Plague of London and his written account Loimologia of it. The son of Dr. Thomas Hodges, vicar of Kensington, he was born there on 14 September 1629. A king’s scholar of Westminster School, he obtained a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1646. In 1648 he migrated to Oxford, and was appointed by the parliamentary visitors a student of Christ Church where he graduated B.A. 1651, M.A. 1654, and M.D. 1659. While there he took part in the activities of the Oxford Experimental Philosophy Club.
Hodges took a house in Walbrook, London, and began practice there. He was admitted a candidate or member of the College of Physicians 30 September 1659.
Nathaniel was one of the greatest minds medically of his time working with a disease that was feared the world over. It was still in a time that sickness was spread by smell. Many lodgings would have been moved into by new families no sooner than a plague victims body was removed, in combat with the smell left as much as the sickness itself, he discovered and encouraged the use of vineager soaked sheets hung in the house to absorb the odour as well as a bomb of sweet smells, mixing gun powder and explosives with herbs and spices making probably the first ever means of fumigation.
Not only that but he remained in residence, and attended all who sought his advice.When the bubonic plague raged in London in 1665, Hodges remained in residence, and attended all who sought his advice. During the Christmas holidays of 1664–5 he saw a few doubtful cases, and in May and June several certain cases; in August and September as many as he could see by working hard all day. He rose early, and took a dose of anti-pestilential electuary as large as a nutmeg. After transacting his household affairs he entered his consulting room. Crowds of patients were always waiting, and for three hours he examined them and prescribed, finding some who were already ill, and others only affected by fear. When he had seen all he breakfasted, and visited patients at their houses. On entering a house he had a disinfectant burnt on hot coals, and if hot or out of breath rested till at his ease, then put a lozenge in his mouth and proceeded to examine the patient.
After spending some hours in this way he returned home and drank a glass of sack, dining soon after, usually off roast meat with pickles or other relish. He drank more wine at dinner. Afterwards he saw patients at his own house, and paid more visits, returning home between eight and nine o’clock. He spent the evening at home, never smoking, but drinking old sack till he felt thoroughly cheerful. After this he generally slept well.
Twice during the epidemic he felt as if the plague had infected him, but after increased draughts of sack he felt well in a few hours, and he escaped without serious illness. In recognition of his services to the citizens during the plague, the authorities of the city granted him a stipend as their authorised physician.
In 1672 he was made to e a Fellow by The College of Physicians for his outstanding service to the city and it’s citizens.