HOSPITAL SERVICES IN ABERYSTWYTH BEFORE 1948 INTRODUCTION IN the early nineteenth century Aberystwyth was still a somewhat primitive community beginning to extend beyond the town walls, with a population of 1,738 but rapidly increasing. Apart from lead mining, which was carried out extensively in the country around, fishing, ship-building, rope-making, and printing flourished. Early in the seventeen-nineties1 it became a fashionable watering-place and this provided a substantial contribution to the growth, development, and prosperity of the town. The early nineteenth century was a time of great depression, and according to David Samuel the streets of Aberystwyth were narrow and winding, flanked by straw-thatched, overhanging houses with outside stone steps, giving access to higher regions. There were no sanitary provisions or schemes for the disposal of refuse, but yawning archways leading to narrow courts, which were a medley of small, badly ventilated cottages inhabited by a motley assemblage of human- ity, and characterised by the leisurely manner in which town improve- ments were carried out.'2 Poverty, poor food, and almost complete lack of amenities were typical of the period, and the factors causing them have been well described by Professor David Williams in his book on the Rebecca Riots and his History of Modern Wales. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the care of the sick, the aged, and the infirm was not good. There was no adequate medical attention, and most medical men acquired what knowledge they had by serving an apprenticeship. It was an age of quacks (mainly women), nostrums, and a dependence on folklore. The statutes of Elizabeth make no mention of medical relief, and subsequent Acts relating to the poor are silent on the subject. How- ever, medical relief had been given to the poor but on a very small scale, the custom being in general to give a small sum of money in the case of sickness and allow the sick pauper to resort to the druggist or any quack of his choice. The Acts passed in the early days of George III were expressly designed to aid and give permanent and increased effect to institutions originating in private benevolence, supported by private charity, and carried into operation by the exertions of private individuals, who thus became the pioneers of legislation enabling it to proceed on assured ground tested by time and proved by experience. Thus encouraged, civic-minded people grappled with the problem of