Rev. Dr. John Clinch Monument

about image Check out our THS interview with Adam Walsh on CBC Radio, The Signal. We discuss Rev. Dr. John Clinch who administered the first vaccination (against smallpox) in the New World in Trinity in 1800. Jenner and Clinch changed the world and some of it happened in Trinity.

John Clinch was born in Cirencester, England in 1749 and was a childhood friend of Edward Jenner’s. At the age of thirteen, both boys apprenticed in surgery under Mr. Ludlow in Chipping near Bristol and at the age of twenty they both went on to apprentice under the renowned surgeon, Mr. John Hunter, in London. In 1775 Clinch accepted a position in Newfoundland but he and Jenner remained lifelong friends and corresponded regularly. In fact, Clinch considered Jenner to be his closest friend. Jenner’s discovery of a vaccine for smallpox was not readily accepted by the medical community of his time. He sent a vile containing thread impregnated with pustular matter from cowpox sores to Clinch and instructed him in how to administer the vaccine. Clinch demonstrated the vaccine by administering it to his nephew. He subsequently vaccinated hundreds of people in Newfoundland and reported his experience back to Jenner. Jenner then used Clinch’s report to support the efficacy of his vaccine.

We think a convincing argument can be made that Clinch's achievement has great historic as well as medical significance. The courage and foresight of Jenner and Clinch were truly remarkable, as was their humanity. They had the ability over 200 years ago, to believe that vaccination would save lives, and as clinicians, they actually administered the vaccine and did save lives, at a time when most of the population did not believe in it. It is an achievement that resonates today.

In the latter part of the 19th century Giulio Monteverde created a statue of Jenner vaccinating a child. Several versions of the statue exist, one of which is in the Wellcome Institute in London. The image is riveting, especially in this time of a recent global pandemic. Our concept is to erect a similarly posed statue of Dr. Clinch in Trinity, where he administered Jenner's vaccine. Mr. Morgan MacDonald is a gifted Newfoundland sculptor who has the ability to capture the intensity of emotion in his work and has agreed to create the statue if funding can be secured. A statue of a man in 18th century clothing performing a vaccination on a child sends a powerful message.

We believe that a statue of Clinch erected at this time would reinforce the vital importance of vaccination and would be an enduring symbol of our belief in science, medical care, and humanity

We are fundraising for a monument to honour Clinch and his achievement. We are directing our fundraising efforts primarily to corporate entities but any donation is gratefully accepted and tax receipts will be issued.