King Edgar the Peacemaker passed a law in the 10th century that allowed women to practice medicine. When medicine eventually emerged as a high status profession with guilds in the enlightenment, it became a male preserve once again. The Guild of Surgeons got the Law of Edgar revoked in the fifteenth century.

Women still carried on providing medical care in the unofficial roles of wives and mothers, but any woman practising medicine to members of the public could be imprisoned.

Women were allowed to attend Universities, and therefore become doctors, in the early 19th century.