THE GRANVILLE PENN PRESS
The heritage and history of the British veterinary profession can be traced back to one man – Granville Penn. He was a member of the Odiham Agricultural Society, a local Hampshire group of landowners and men of learning, who in the late 18th century discussed a proposal that young Farriers be given a “scientific education”. This was a response to the perceived quackery and cruelty of many of the practices used in the treatment of sick animals.
It was Granville Penn who took the idea, promulgated by Thomas Burgess in 1785 at Odiham and translated it into the ideal. He drew up a plan for the creation of a veterinary profession. His proposal for a dedicated school was received with enthusiasm by the medical profession, scientists and members of the nobility. As a result the Veterinary College (now the Royal Veterinary College) was established in Camden Town in 1791.
Granville Penn FSA, 1761-1844, the grandson of the Quaker leader William Penn of Pennsylvania, led what could be termed an “interesting” youth, but settled down to become a serious scholar and author. He was a natural reformer and had “a self-confessed commission to campaign for enlightenment causes”. He became associated with the Odiham Society in 1789, the same year in which he happened to meet by chance the French veterinarian Charles Benoit Vial de St. Bel who had a proposal to establish a veterinary school. Penn encouraged St. Bel, he revised the scheme, wrote propaganda letters and acted to convince livestock owners, medical professionals and scientists to give their backing to the idea. He drew up a “Plan” for this new vocation. This document laid out the path that the emerging profession was to follow for many years. Granville Penn justifies being called the Founding Father of the veterinary profession.
The Veterinary History Society is proud to commemorate the name of Granville Penn to acknowledge the debt that the profession owes to his initiative, far-sightedness and determination in establishing veterinary education in Britain and in creating the veterinary profession.