Lives of the fellows

Isaac Henry Gosset

b.18 February 1907 d.4 March 1965
BA Oxon(1929) MA Oxon(1933) BM BCh Oxon(1933) MRCP(1936) FRCP(1961)

Isaac Gosset was born in Wimbledon to William Sealy Gosset, a brewer and statistician who wrote under the pseudonym of‘Student’, and Margaret, daughter of James Surtees Phillpotts, headmaster of Bedford School. He came of a line of distinguished men; one was the Rev. Isaac Gosset, chaplain to four sovereigns, who married Dorothea Sophia, the daughter of James Lind who sailed with Captain Cook and wrote the Treatise on the scurvy (1753). He was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, at Rugby, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, which he entered as a demy in natural science in 1926. At St. Thomas’s Hospital he was Hector MacKenzie exhibitioner in 1930.

After a tour of the Antipodes and junior posts at St. Thomas’s, the British Post-Graduate Medical School and the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, he entered general practice in Liphook, Hampshire, and then spent a year as medical officer in charge of the children’s wards of the West Middlesex Hospital before joining the R.A.F. V.R. Medical Service in 1940. A further year as a post-graduate registrar at Great Ormond Street Hospital preceded his appointment in 1947 as consulting paediatrician to the General Hospital, Northampton.

On the introduction of the National Health Act he held a similar post at the General Hospital, Kettering. All his hard-working life Gosset was a devoted research worker. He proved the fallacy of the concept of cross laterality and invented the perspex icterometer, which, by monitoring the progress of jaundice in the new-born infant, reduced the number of bilirubin tests. He also helped in the planning of the premature and special-care baby unit in the Northampton General Hospital, later known as the Gosset Ward.

For the last fourteen years of his life he bore increasing ill health with great courage, never allowing it to affect his friendly relations with his colleagues and his gentle approach to his patients and their parents. He had many hobbies: trout fishing, sailing, chess, photography, and especially music. In 1942 he married Eve, daughter of Henry Herbert Clarke, a general practitioner in Salisbury. They had two sons and two daughters.

Richard R Trail

[, 1965, 1, 867-8; Lancet, 1965, 1, 661 (p).]

(Volume V, page 159)

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