Born On This Day in 1749 was Freemason Edward Jenner: the English physician and scientist who pioneered the world’s first ever vaccine.
Jenner is often called the father of immunology, and his work in preventing smallpox is said to have saved more lives than the work of any other single human.
Napoleon – who at the time was at war with Britain – had all his French troops vaccinated. Then at the request of Jenner, he released English prisoners of war and allowed their safe return home. Napoleon explained that he could not “refuse anything to one of the greatest benefactors of mankind”.
In 2002, Jenner was named in the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest Britons.
Jenner was an active Freemason, serving in 1812 as Master of the Royal Lodge of Faith and Friendship No. 270, based in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. This lodge was regularly visited by the Prince of Wales – the future George IV – and was a lodge that was to become associated with the Jenner family.
Find out more about Jenner’s relationship with the Craft in this 2010 article from Freemasonry Today.