This section describes an interesting report of 1768 of the use in Hungerford of the application of toads as a treatment for cancer.
Gilbert White (18 July 1720 - 26 June 1793) was a pioneering naturalist and ornithologist. He was born in his grandfather's vicarage at Selborne in Hampshire. He was a prolific letter-writer, and one of his letters makes a curious reference to Hungerford:
To Thomas Pennant, Esquire
Selborne, July 27, 1768.
I received your obliging and communicative letter of June the 28th, while I was on a visit at a gentleman's house, where I had neither books to turn to, nor leisure to sit down, to return you an answer to many queries, which I wanted to resolve in the best manner that I am able.
In my visit I was not very far from Hungerford, and did not forget to make some inquiries concerning the wonderful method of curing cancers by means of toads. Several intelligent persons, both gentry and clergy, do, I find, give a great deal of credit to what was asserted in the papers: and I myself dined with a clergyman who seemed to be persuaded that what is related is matter of fact; but, when I came to attend to his account, I thought I discerned circumstances which did not a little invalidate the woman's story of the manner in which she came by her skill. She says of herself 'that, labouring under a virulent cancer, she went to some church where there was a vast crowd: on going into a pew, she was accosted by a strange clergyman; who, after expressing compassion for her situation, told her chat if she would make such an application of living toads as is mentioned she would be well.' Now is it likely that this unknown gentleman should express so much tenderness for this single sufferer, and not feel any for the many thousands that daily languish under this terrible disorder? Would he not have made use of this invaluable nostrum for his own emolument; or, at least, by some means of publication or other, have found a method of making it public for the good of mankind? In short, this woman (as it appears to me) having set up for a cancer-doctress, finds it expedient to amuse the country with this dark and mysterious relation.