Clover demonstrating chloroform administration with his apparatus, 1862.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Joseph Thomas Clover demonstrating how chloroform was administered with his apparatus. In 1847 by James Young Simpson (1811-1870) of Edinburgh used chloroform gas to ease childbirth pain, and later tried it for general surgery. New inhalers and masks were designed to give controlled amounts. Queen Victoria popularised its use during childbirth which contributed to the decline in maternal deaths in the latter part of the 19th century. In Europe it replaced ether as ether was unpredictable and gave unpleasant side effects. However, although quicker acting than ether, chloroform's poisonous nature meant it was a more dangerous substance to use. Today both have been superseded by safer, more effective anaesthetics.