b.2nd Oct 1766 d.9th Mar 1844
BART MD GCH
Sir Henry Halford, Bart., M.D., G.C.H.—This distinguished member of the medical profession was the second son (the eldest son having died at an early period) of Dr. James Vaughan, an eminent physician at Leicester, and was born in that town on the 2nd October, 1766. He was educated at Rugby, and whilst there evinced that love of classical literature for which he was afterwards so distinguished. He went from Rugby to Christchurch, Oxford, and, as a member of that house, proceeded A.B. 31st January, 1788; A.M. 17th June, 1788 ; M.B. 14th January, 1790; M.D. 27th October, 1791. Previously to taking his degrees in physic, he had spent some months in Edinburgh, and he practised for a short time in conjunction with his father at Leicester. Dr. Vaughan came to London about 1792; and, consulting Sir George Baker on his future prospects, was told that he stood little chance in the metropolis for five years, during which time he must continue to support himself from other sources at the rate of about 300l. A year. Nothing daunted, and doubtless confident in his own powers, he, with this intention (and the alternative, in case of failure, of returning to Leicester, to take his father’s position), borrowed 1,000l., and on that capital commenced his career in London. He was elected physician to the Middlesex hospital on the 20th of February, 1793; was admitted a Candidate of the Royal College of Physicians on the 25th of March, 1793; and a Fellow on the 14th of April, 1794.
His Oxford connexions, elegant attainments, and pleasing manners at once introduced him into good society, and he secured a position among the aristocracy by his marriage, on the 31st of March, 1795, to the Hon. Elizabeth Barbara St. John, the third daughter of John eleventh Lord St. John of Bletsoe. Dr. Vaughan’s success from the very first would seem to have been certain; and Dr. Richard Warren, then one of the leading physicians in London, and a man of shrewd observation and sound judgment, predicted, on his settling in town, that he would rise to the head of his profession. His progress towards that position was rapid. In 1793, within a year of his settlement in London, he was appointed physician extraordinary to the king; and by the year 1800, his private engagements had become so numerous, that he was compelled to relinquish his hospital appointment. Other circumstances conspired to advance his interests. After the death of lady Denbigh, widow of his mother’s cousin, Sir Charles Halford, he became possessed of an ample fortune, and changed his name in 1809, by act of Parliament, from Vaughan to Halford, and, as a mark of royal favour, was created a baronet on the 27th September, 1809.
About this time, when in attendance on the Princess Amelia, George III desired him, in case of his Majesty’s experiencing a relapse of his mental derangement, to take the care of him, adding that Sir Henry must promise not to leave him; and, if he wanted further help, he should call Dr. Heberden; and in case of further need, which would necessarily occur if Parliament took up the matter, Dr. Baillie.
On the illness of the king, which occurred soon afterwards, Sir Henry Halford, though physician extraordinary only, was summoned to attend; and his prompt introduction of Dr. Heberden and Dr. Baillie, at once insured the confidence of the queen and of the prince of Wales, the latter of whom appointed Sir Henry one of his physicians in ordinary, and secured for him in 1812 the appointment of physician in ordinary to the king. The confidence then reposed in Sir Henry by the prince was continued when the latter came to the throne,— he was appointed physician in ordinary to George IV, and he held the same position in the medical establishments of William IV and of her present Majesty Queen Victoria. Sir Henry Halford was thus physician in ordinary to four successive sovereigns. At the deathbed of three of these it was his melancholy privilege to minister. Almost
(Volume II, page 427)
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