caplin-lady-1864I like this one because there’s a real sense of feminine solidarity. Mrs Smithers, possessor of knowledge passed down through the generations, sounds like a better bet than the mortifying prospect of consulting a male doctor.



WIDOW WELCH’S PILLS are those prepared by

MRS SMITHERS (Granddaughter to the WIDOW WELCH), from

the real Family Recipe, without the least variation what-


The Medicine is justly celebrated for all Female Com-

plaints, Nervous Disorders, Weakness of the Solids, Loss of

Appetite, Sick Headache, Lowness of Spirits, and particu-

larly for irregularities in the Female System. MRS SMITHERS

recommends Mothers, Guardians, Managers of Schools, and

all those who have the care of Females at an early age,

never to be without this useful Medicine.


TOR and Possessor of the Recipe, Granddaughter of the

late Widow Welch, feels it her duty, not only in defence of

her own and SOLE RIGHT, but as a protection to the public,

to declare HERSELF the ONLY PERSON entitled to the

Original Recipe, or at all authorised to make or prepare the

said medicine.

Observe that the genuine are wrapped in blue paper and

signed on the label by Mrs Smithers.

Sold in boxes at 2s 9d each, by Duncan, Flockhart, and

Co.; Robertson; Baildon; Lindsay & Shaw; Gardner and

Ainslie—Edinburgh. Dandie & Newby—Perth. And by

most respectable Chemists throughout the United Kingdom.


Source:  The Caledonian Mercury and Daily Express, (Edinburgh) Monday 2nd January 1860.


  1. The ‘Widow’ Welch was my five times great grandmother and I would dearly like to find more information about her—I am descended from her daughter, Mary Welch, who married Ferdinando Smithers in 1760. Any information on the ‘Widow’ would be greatly appreciated. Beryl

  2. Berly,
    Not sure if you will get this, but there is archival material available at the Wellcome Library on the family management of these pills. A lot of their stuff is digitised, so it may be available online.

    These were commonly believed to be part of a wide range of abortificient pills, many of which didn’t work. This explains the obsession with the recipe.

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