Lloyd, John Uri

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Lloyd, John Uri

(b. West Bloomfield, New York, 19 April 1849; d. Van Nuys, California, 9 April 1936)

pharmacy, chemistry.

Lloyd was the son of Nelson Lloyd, a civil engineer and schoolteacher, and the former Sophia Webster. When the boy was four, the family moved to Kentucky, where his parents taught school in their home. Most of his early education was obtained at home, and in 1863 he was apprenticed to a pharmacist in Cincinnati. After serving for several years as an apprentice and drug clerk, Lloyd was approached by the eclectic physician John King with an offer to join the pharmaceutical firm of H. M. Merrell of Cincinnati as a chemist. In 1871 he joined this firm, which specialized in eclectic remedies; and eventually he and two brothers gained control of the company, which became known as Lloyd Brothers. Although he did not possess a college education, Lloyd served as a professor of chemistry at the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy from 1883 to 1887 and at the Eclectic Medical Institute from 1878 to 1907.

Lloyd was a man of small physical stature and was possessed of a lively and versatile mind. He was a prolific writer whose publications included scientific articles, historical works, and novels. He and his brothers also created the Lloyd Library in Cincinnati, which contains significant collections in pharmacy, botany, medicine, natural history, and allied fields. Among the honors he received in his lifetime were the Remington Medal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (1920), the Procter International Award of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (1934), and several honorary degrees. He was married twice and had three children by his second wife.

His commitment to eclecticism, which stressed the use of botanical drugs, led Lloyd to concentrate his scientific studies on plants. He investigated the medicinal and chemical properties of numerous indigenous plants and marketed tinctures, fluid extracts, and other products derived from these plants. The so-called “specific medicines” of Lloyd Brothers, although intended for eclectic practitioners, also found favor with many other physicians and pharmacists. In the course of this work Lloyd developed and patented several useful techniques, such as his “cold still,” which extracted the soluble constituents of plants with a minimum of heat, and Lloyd’s reagent, hydrous aluminum silicate, which adsorbed alkaloids from solutions. He also wrote several important pharmaceutical textbooks and reference works, such as Drugs and Medicines of North America.

Lloyd was a pioneer in the application of physical chemistry to pharmaceutical techniques. In a series of papers published in 1879-1885, he discussed such physical phenomena as adsorption and capillarity and their relationship to the preparation of fluid extracts. Wolfgang Ostwald, one of the founders of the field of colloid chemistry, later found that these works contained much of interest to those studying colloidal phenomena. He felt that they were significant and original enough to merit republication in his journal, Kolloidchemische Beihefte, in 1916.


I. Original Works. There does not appear to be a published bibliography of Lloyd’s writings, which number in the thousands. His most important scientific books are The Chemistry of Medicines (Cincinnati, 1881); Elixirs …(Cincinnati, 1883); Drugs and Medicines of North America, 2 vols. (Cincinnati, 1884-1887), written with his brother C. G. Lloyd; and Origin and History of All the Pharmacopeial Vegetable Drugs, Chemicals and Preparations, I. Vegetable Drugs (Cincinnati, 1921). His novels largely concern Kentucky life and folklore, the best-known being Stringtown on the Pike (Cincinnati, 1901). Etidorpha (Cincinnati, 1897), a fantasy involving a trip to the center of the earth, is a curious mixture of scientific and metaphysical speculations.

The six articles selected by Ostwald for republication (see text) were originally published in Proceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association,27-33 (1879-1885), under the general title “Precipitates in Fluid Extracts” (except for the first paper, which was entitled “On the Conditions Necessary to Successfully Conduct Percolation”). Lloyd also published related papers on adsorption, on solvents, and on physics in pharmacy in Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, especially in the period 1916-1936. Several of these papers bear the name of Wolfgang Ostwald, among others, as a coauthor. For Lloyd’s first detailed report of the reagent bearing his name, see “Discovery of the Alkaloidal Affinities of Hydrous Aluminum Silicate,” in Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association,5 (1916), 381-390, 490-495. For his views on colloids in pharmacy and on the methods of extracting active principles of plants, see “Colloids in Pharmacy,” in Jerome Alexander, ed., Colloid Chemistry, II (New York, 1928), 931-934.

Lloyd was a frequent contributor to Eclectic Medical Journal; and numerous essays by him on pharmacy, eclecticism, and other subjects can be found in this publication.

The Lloyd Library in Cincinnati possesses correspondence and other MS materials of Lloyd’s. A significant amount of his correspondence and other documents related to him are in the Kremers Reference Files of the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy in Madison.

II. Secondary Literature. The life and work of John Uri Lloyd have not yet been satisfactorily evaluated in detail. Corinne Miller Simons, John Uri Lloyd, His Life and Works, 1849-1936, With a History of the Lloyd Library (Cincinnati, 1972), provides a significant amount of useful biographical information, but the author herself describes the book in her preface as a “chronicle” intended “merely to preserve and enumerate the authentic facts of his life while they are still fresh in the memories of those who knew him”; she acknowledges that she has left for later generations the task of writing biographies of Lloyd “that may be philosophical, analytical or interpretative of his influence and place in contemporary history.” For biographical sketches, see the article by Corinne Miller Simons in Dictionary of American Biography, XXII, supp. 2 (1958), 389-390; Roy Bird Cook, “John Uri Lloyd: Pharmacist, Philosopher, Author, Man,” in Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, Practical Pharmacy Edition, Edition,10 (1949), 538-544; and George Beal, “Lloyds of Cincinnati,” in American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education,23 (1959), 202-206. Eclectic Medical Journal,96, no. 5 (May 1936), is a memorial issue which reprints several biographical articles on Lloyd. National Eclectic Medical Quarterly,41, no. 2 (Dec. 1949), also contains several short articles about Lloyd.

On the history of the Lloyd Library, as well as for biographical information on its founders, see Caswell Mayo, The Lloyd Library and Its Makers (Cincinnati, 1928); and Corinne Miller Simons, “John Uri Lloyd and the Lloyd Library,” in National Eclectic Medical Quarterly (Mar. 1951), 1-5.

On eclecticism, see Alex Berman, “The Impact of the Nineteenth Century Botanico-Medical Movement on American Pharmacy and Medicine” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1954), pp. 251-316, esp. pp. 307-311. See also Berman’s “Wooster Beach and the Early Eclectics,” in University of Michigan Medical Bulletin,24 (1958), 277-286; and “A Striving for Scientific Respectability: Some American Botanics and the Nineteenth-Century Plant Materia Medica,” in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 30 (1956), 7-31. Also of interest in this connection is Harvey Felter, History of the Eclectic Medical Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1845-1902 (Cincinnati, 1902)— see pp. 130-132 for a biographical sketch of Lloyd.

John Parascandola

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