Notes on the ophthalmic aspects of John Banister’s Antidotarie of 1589.

By Christopher T. Leffler, MD, MPH. September 1, 2012.


Links: Ophthalmic texts in English from before 1800. Christopher T. Leffler, MD, MPH.

[cited: Leffler CT. Notes on the ophthalmic aspects of John Banister’s Antidotarie of 1589. Sep. 7, 2012.

John Banister was an English anatomist and surgeon. His Antidotarie Chyrurgicall of 1589 might be of some interest to ophthalmic historians chiefly because of the author’s relationships with the authors of important ophthalmic treatises. Banister was the professor of Anthony Hunton, who translated Jacques Guillemeau’s ophthalmic treatise in 1587. Hunton’s epistle dedicatory was to John Banister. John Banister was also the uncle of Richard Banister, the well-known oculist who republished Hunton’s work, along with his own Breviary, in 1622.

John Banister’s 1589 Antidotarie Chyrurgicall seems to have more ophthalmic sections than his previous works. Naturally, one wonders if Banister’s work borrowed heavily from Hunton’s translation, or if it was an important source for his nephew’s work.

In perusing the ophthalmic sections, we see that each is a recipe to prepare a medication for a specific ailment. The authors cited range from Galen to John De Vigo to Lanfranco of Milan. After a brief listing of ingredients in Latin, the method of preparation is given in English. The recipes seem typical of the time.

The most common medication form was a collerie (also spelled collyrium), which is simply a topical eye medication. The most common ingredients are: water, vini (wine), rosarum (roses), aloes (aloe), and foeniculi (fennel).

There are definitely similarities among the recipes offered by various authors of the time, but no “smoking gun” linking this work with Hunton’s or the younger Banister’s is immediately apparent.

Although Banister lists himself as the author of some of the recipes, and was known to be an experienced practicing surgeon, it is clear that he simply copied one of the recipes from another source without using it himself. He indicates that he is unfamiliar with the ingredient hilwort, and suggests that the recipe author might actually mean pilewort. The term hilwort is not in Walter Bailey’s treatise on the preservation of eyesight or in Hunton’s translation of Guillemeau, making Banister’s source unknown.

Appendix. Ophthalmic Sections of Banister’s Antidotarie Chyrurgicall.

[Title Page:]



Chyrurgicall, containing

great varietie and choice of all

sorts of medicines that commonly fal

into the chyrurgions vse: partlie taken

out of Authors, olde and new, prin-

ted or written: partlie obtained

by free gifte of sundrie worthie

men of this Profession

within this


By Iohn Banester [John Banister] Master [1540-1610]

in chirurgerie.

Imprinted at London by Thomas Or-

win for Thomas Man.


[Running title: An antidotarie of chirurgerie.

Bibliographic identifiers:

S.T.C. No. 1358.

Non-latin alphabetic characters are omitted.

This transcription is by Christopher Leffler.]

An Antidotarie of all sorts of Medicines, seruing to the Chirurgions vse, gathered out of the best practises and Authors, whoe names are set to euerie Receipt.

[p. 34].

A Bath for the debilitie of eye-sight.

Rec. potentillae m. iij. Parietariae, eupatorij, verbenae, chamemeli, fabine, ana. M. ij. Boyle them in sufficient quantitie of water. In this the legs must be bathed two hours in the morning, and three hours at night. In the meane while put into the patients eye the water of Fennell, with Pigeons bloud: taking after this powder following. Rec. radicum scabiosae, herbae henrici, ana. J. ss. Sem. Rutae & foenug. Ana. J. rad. Galangae . iij. Make it in fine powder.

[p. 53]

A Cataplasme for the asswaging of paine in inflamation of the eyes.

Rec. Fol. Papaueris albi sub cineribus coctorum, carnis pomorum dulcium similiter coctorum, ana. Ij. Croci . . farina sem. Foenugraeci . ss. Lactis mulieris . j. ss. Olei rosarum q.s. Fiat Cataplasma.

[p. 83.]


A Collerie to comfort and stay the fluxe of humors in the eyes.

REc. Boliarmenij, . j. tutiae, sang. Draconis, [sidenote: Vesalius] dragaganti, gummi arab. Ana. Ss.

Grinde them with aque rosacee lib. j. which being mixed together, put them into a narrowe mouthed vial of glasse well stopped: and let them boyle in balneo marie the space of an houre: then remoue it from the fire, and put into the same vini granatorum . ij. This done, straine it, and stoppe it into the sore eye warme twice a day.

A Collerie for the matter contained in the eyes betweene Cornea and Vuea.

Rec. Aquae rosarum, aquae mytillorum [sidenote: Vigo.]

vel plantag. ana. j. aquae faeniculi, vini alb. ana. ss. sarcoc. cum lacte mulieris nutritae, tutiae, praeparatae ana. ij. sacchari candi de syrupo rosarum . j. myrob. citrinorum . ss. sief albi sine opio, sief de thure, ana. j. ss. Worke all together finely in a moyter, and use it.

Collerie for the eyes.

Rec. Aquae faeniculi, rosarum, euphragiae, [sidenote: Vesalius]

p. 84.

ana. j. cremoris foenugreci . ij. Wherwith mixe tutiae optimae praepar. ij. Make it, and use it warme.


Rec. Aquae rosarum, plantag. ana. j. tutiae praeparatae aqua florum myrtillorum j. ss. [sidenote: Vigo] fol semperviui . x. album. ouorum aliquantulum sub prunis decoctorum num. iij. fief. alb. fine opio . j. ss. camphorae gran. iij. Let them stand foure houres. Use it warme.

A Collerie for rednesse and running of the eyes.

[side note: Guydo.] Rec. tutiae praeparatae . j. aloes cicotrinae ss. camphorae . j. aquae rosac lib. j. ss. vini granatorum lib. ss. Powder what is to be powdred, mixe them with the rest, and seeth them a little on the coales, and straine it to pour use.

A Collerie for Opthalmia in the state.

[sidenote: Galen.] Rec Cerusae dilutae . viij. amyli . iij. cadmiae vst. lot. ij. gummi arab. olibani, ana. j. opij . ss. gummi arab. olibani, ana. j. opij . ss. Mixe them with raine water sufficient for a Collerie.

Collyrium album Rhasis.

[sidenote: Rhazes.] Rec. Cerusae ablutae . viij. amyli . iij. sarcocollae nutrite cum lacte asinino, gummi arab. dragaganti ana. ij. opij . v. Mixe them with raine water, & make a Collerie.

[p. 85.]

A Collerie for any bloudie suffusion in the eye.

Rec. Haematitis ablute . iij. aeris vsti . ij. [sidenote: Guydo.] corallij, margarit perforatar. ana. ss. gummi arabic. & dragaganti, ana. . ij. ss. piperis, ij. cerusae lotae . j. arsenici rubr. sang. draconis, croci, carabae, ana. ss. Mixe them with the bloud of a henne, and use it with womens milke that suckleth a maid child.

A Collerie in the beginning of Opthalmia, if the matter be cold.

Rec. Sarcocollae, . v. spicae ij. rosarum, [sidenote: Mesuae.] croci, ana. ij. amyli, aloes, gummi arab. dragag. ana. j. opij. . ss. Mixe them with rame water, and applye thereon a plaister of Mallowes and Dill sodden with wine.

A Collerie for Opthalmia in his declination.

Rec. Tutiae praeparatae, . ss. lapid. calaminaris preparate, [sidenote: Montispesul] ij. gariophyllor. num.v mellis . j. vini albi . ij. aquae rosar. quart.j.camphorae . j. Mixe it to Art.

A Collerie for wounds in or about the eyes.

Rec. Aquae rosarum, . ij. ss. lactis mulieris . iiij. vini albi odoriferi . ij. ss. sarcocollae,

[p. 86.]

myrrhae, aloes epaticae, sacchari candi, ana. iiij. ss. tutiae praeparatae . ij. mellis rosaru. ij. sies. albi fine opio . j. Dissolue the sief, Sugar, and Gumme, in womans milke with the rose-water and wine, then put in the sief with tutia finely powdered, but not before all the rest be strained.

A Collerie for a Fistula.

[sidenote: Weckerus] Rec. Aquae vitae . ij. vini maluat j. mellis rosati colat. x. myrrhe, radicum peucedani triti, ana. ij. sarcocol. aloes, ana. j. ss. Mixe them, and let them boyle one walme, use it with a syringe.

A Collerie to cicatrize an vlcer in the yard.

[sidenote: Andreas Lacuna.] Rec. Aquae plantag. & rosac. ana. iiij. sacchari lapidiscentis, . j. cerusae, argenti spumae, aluminis rochae, ana. j. ss. camphorae . ss. Make a Collerie.

A Collerie for an vlcer in the yard.

[sidenote: Idem] Rec Rad. althaeae, sem. lini, foenugraeci, ana. ij. Boyle them in three quarters of a pint of water, till the third part be wasted, then straine the muscilage through a cloathe, and put thereto olei amygdal. dulc. iij. and so make it.

A Collerie to be vsed in an vlcer in the yard.

[sidenote: Idem] Rec. Centauriae minoris, apij, caudae aequinaea, quinae, ana. m. ss. hordei contus. j. Boyle them in two pound of pure water till the halfe bee wasted, then straine it, and adde thereto rhodoelitis, velmellis centauriae . ij. Fiatque.

[p. 87.]

A Collerie for vlcers in the eyes.

[sidenote: Vigo.] Rec. Aquae rosar. ij. aqu. caudae equinae . j. ss. sief dethure . ss. Then straine it, and with the sief make a Collerie, adding thereto vini odoriferi . ss.

A Collerie for vlcers about the huckle bone.

Rec. Vini albi lib. j. aq. plantag. aq. rosar. [sidenote: Lanfrancus] ana. quart. j. auripigmenti . ij. floris aeris . j

Grind them finely, and mixe them with the rest, and make a Collerie to be administred by a syringe.

A Collerie which doth mundifie and incarnate a rotten and filthie vlcer.

[sidenote: Vigo] Rec. Aquae vitae . ij. myrrhae, aloes, ana. ij. thuris . j. ss. croci . j. peucedani, sarcocollae, ana. j. ss. Mixe them and use it.

To clarifie the eye-sight.

[sidenote: Ex manuscripto.] Rec. Fellis porci, fellis anguillae, fellis galli gallinacei, ana euen portions: temper the cum melle & aqua fontanea limpidisima: so keepe it in a brasen vessell, and put thereof into the eyes

[p. 112].

A defensatiue for waring eyes.

[sidenote: Ex manuscripto.] Rec. Cineris lanae non lotae & cum albumineoui, applye it as a plaister upon the forhead and temples. It taketh away the fluxe and paine of the eyes.

[p. 123.]

A Fomentation for suffusion of the eyes.

Rec. Foenugraeci loti . ij. florum chamaemeli p. ss. sem. rutae . iij. [sidenote: Andernacus] Boyle them in sufficient water and vse it.

A Fomentation against the enlarging of the apple of the eye.

Rec. Rosarum, myrtillorum, ana. m. j. [sidenote: Vigo] meliloti, anthos, ana. m ss. nucum cupressi, nu. ij. vini nigrispissi lib. j. ss. aquae ros. aque myrtillorum, ana. iij. Bruse what is to be brused, and boyle them to the halfe of the wine and waters. Use it with a spunge.

[p. 162.]

A Liniment for wounds in the eyes.

[sidenote: Rondeletius.] Rec. Myrrhae, sarcocollae nutritae in lacte mulieris, ana. ss. tutiae praeparatae j. mellis parum: Mixe them and make a Liniment on good forme. But if the patient so complaine somewhat of the paine thereof, mixe therewith a little of the white of an Egge and Rose-water.

[p. 221.]

A powder for preseruing and quickning of the eye-sight, to be vsed ordinarilie in the meates.

[sidenote: Ex manuscripto.] Rec. Leuistici, ameos, apij, sileris montani, cymini, saluiae, calamenti, anisi, cardamomi, origani, aneti, carui, foeniculi, thymi, piperis, hyssopi, petroselini, ana . j. cinamomi, gariophyllorum, galangae, croci, pulegei, ana. j. Make all to most fine powder.

[p. 280.]

A plaister to stop humors flowing to the eyes.

Rec. Zinzibris albi pulueriz ati . iiij. vini cretici, aceti rosacei, aquae rosarum, albuminu ouorum, ana . ss. Mixe them together and make a plaister, which must bee applied to the temples and forhead when you goe to bedde.

A plaister for running of eies.

Rec. Thuris . ss. sanguinis draconis . ij. sarcocollae . j. Make them in fine powder & incorporate them with the white of an egge and a little vinegar and rosewater to make a plaister.

[p. 345.]

A water that cicatrizeth notablie, and of excellent vse for wounds of the eyes.

Rec. Albumini ouorum iiij. crush them through a cleane sponge, vntill they become as a cleere flowing water, vini albi, lactis recentis, ana lib. ss. lapidis calaminaris in vino albo extincti . iij. masticis, myrrhae, olibani, sarcocollae, ana . j. vitrioli albi crudi . ij. Powder these most finely, and mixe them with the liquors, & let them to sunne, or in horse dung for foure daies. After distill the liquor by a filtre and keepe it.

With . iij. of this water, and sublimati . iiij. is made an excellent water for rednes of the face. Also with foure ounces of this water & sacchari candi albiss. . ij. cu aloes praeparatae . ss. is made a notable collirie for affects of the eyes.

[p. 346.]

A water for the eyes that weareth away both webbe and spots, and sharpneth the sight.

[sidenote: Ex manuscripto.] Rec. Rutae, sclaree, plantaginis, foeniculi, rosarum, papaueris rub. verbenae, fol. celidoniae, ana j. aquae ros. lib. j. vini albi lib. j. tutiae praeparatae . j. aloes epat. . j. ss. gariophyllorum . j. Powder, mixe & distill them according to Art, droppe it into the eye morning and night.

A water for watring eyes.

Rec. Aquae rosac. & foeniculi, ana . vj. vitrioli albi . ij. Mixe them, and put a droppe in the eye euerie night when the partie goeth to bed, and in seauen or eight daies it shall take away the teares.

[p. 349.]

A water for straitnesse of the apple of the eye.

[sidenote: Vigo] Rec. Foeniculi dulc. j. sang. columbini, . j. tutiae, antimonij, ana. ij. aque rosarum, aquae myrtillorum, ana j. ss. myrabol. citrin.

ss. Misce & cum vase vitreo ad artem alembicetur.

[p. 351.]

A water for the rednesse and watrishnesse of the eyes.

[sidenote: Vesalius] Rec. zacchari albi, aloes epat. ana v. tutiae praeparat. ss. camphorae gra. ij. vini albi clari, aquae rosarum & foeniculi, ana . ss. Mixe them in a glasse viall, wherin let them infuse sixe houres at the least, and then vse it according to Art.

A water for Gutta Rosacea.

Rec. Aquae pluuialis lib. j. aquae ros. lib. j. ss. succi limonum, vj. ss. succi semperviui . viij. vini albi lib. j. boracis . ij. sublimati .iij. salis gemmae . j sacchari candi . ij. litharg. auri iij. salis armeni iij. sulphuris viui ij. rad. lapathi acuti . iij. rad. brioniae.v.camphorae . ss. Powder all that are to bee powdred very fine, and set all in baleno mariae, in a vessell close stopped, and so distill it a at a gentle fire.

A water for the affects of the eyes.

[sidenote: Banester] Rec. Vini albi lib. iij. foeniculi frondentis m. ij. aluminis . iiij. guaiaci lib. ss. sacchari albi candidi ij. ss. vitrioli albi ij. chelidonij, m. iij. rutem. ss. saluiae, verbene, ana j.j. ss. hederae terrest.m.ij.lap.calaminaris . ij. lapid. tutiae . j. camphorae . iij. mellis. iij. Powder what is to be powdred, and distill it in a glasse Limbecke.

[p. 354.]

A water for the eyes.

Rec. Fol euphras. pimpinellae, vilag. cichorij, oculi christi, foeniculi fragariae, draconc. consolid. mino. caprifolij, ana partes aequales. Distill them together, and adde so much camfer as is sufficient.

A speciall good water for the preseruing and restoring of the eye-sight: tenne yeeres decay will be recouered in fourtie daies, if it be possible.

Rec. Rosarum. rub. apij, rutae, verbenae, capillorum veneris, euphrasiae, endiuiae, semperviui, foeniculi, hilwort (saith my copie, which name I haue not heard of, and perhappes it should be pilewort) chelidonij maioris, ana m. j. Steepe these in a pottle of white wine a whole day, then distil them. The first water will be like gold, the second like siluer, and the third like Balme.

[This passage suggests Banister had not actually used all of the preparations he describes.]

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