Lives of the fellows

Sidney Coupland

b.3 December 1849 d.29 April 1930
MD Lond MRCS FRCP(1880)

Sidney Coupland was the third son of W. N. Coupland, a business man, of Streatham. From Hove House School, Brighton, he entered University College, London, as a medical student. He qualified in 1871 and then held resident posts at University College Hospital. In 1873 he became pathologist to the Middlesex Hospital and in 1875 was elected assistant physician, becoming full physician at the age of thirty. While at the Middlesex, Coupland lectured on medicine, practical medicine and pathological anatomy and in 1891 was made dean of the Medical School. He resigned from the active staff in 1898 to take up the appointment of commissioner in lunacy, and from 1914 until his final retirement in 1921 he was a member of the newly-established Board of Control. Coupland was also physician to the St. George’s and St. James’s Dispensary.

During his career he engaged in much official and semi-official work. He made valuable reports on smallpox outbreaks for the Royal Commission on Vaccination of 1889-1896, undertook secretarial duties for various medical societies, and helped to edit the Lancet during James Wakley’s long illness. He examined for the Royal College of Physicians and gave the Goulstonian Lectures in 1881 and the Harveian Oration in 1915. Although a sound lecturer, especially interested in morbid anatomy and the use of clinical instruments, he was handicapped by an excessive shyness, which manifested itself in nervous titters. Bland-Sutton aptly described him as " conscientious as a teacher . . . highly self-conscious as a physician ". The nickname "Kidney Soupland" clung to him after his brilliant diagnosis, in 1880, of a renal calculus in a young woman had led to the first nephrolithotomy at the Middlesex Hospital. Coupland married in 1880 Bessie, daughter of Thomas Potter of Great Bedwin, Wiltshire. Their only surviving son, Sir Reginald Coupland, became Beit professor of colonial history at Oxford. Coupland died at Boar’s Hill, Oxford.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1930; B.M.J., 1930; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1931, 9]

(Volume IV, page 271)

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