Lives of the fellows

John Haviland

b.2 February 1785 d.8 January 1851
AB Cantab(1807) AM(1810) MD(1817) FRCP(1818)

John Haviland, M.D., was descended from an old family in the island of Guernsey, one member of which settled as a merchant at Poole, in Dorsetshire, in the reign of queen Elizabeth. The posterity of this merchant have resided chiefly in Somersetshire. Dr. Haviland was the only son of one of them, John Haviland, esq., of Gundenham, co. Somerset, by his wife, Mary, daughter and co-heiress of the Rev. Samuel Codrington Glover, vicar of St. Mary’s, Bridgewater.

He was born 2nd February,1785, at Bridgewater, and educated at Winchester. In 1803 he was matriculated at Cambridge as a member of St. John’s college, of which society he subsequently became a fellow. He proceeded A.B. 1807, and came out 12th wrangler; A.M. 1810, M.D. 1817.

In 1807 he entered on the study of medicine, which he commenced at Edinburgh, where he spent two seasons, and completed it in London by an attendance of three years on lectures, and on the practice surgical, as well as medical, of St. Bartholomew’s hospital. Dr. Haviland was admitted an Inceptor-Candidate of the College of Physicians 4th April, 1814, a Candidate 30th September, 1817, and a Fellow 30th September, 1818. He delivered the Harveian oration of 1837.

Dr. Haviland settled at Cambridge, and in 1814 was appointed professor of anatomy in succession to Sir Busick Harwood, and on the death of Sir Isaac Pennington in 1817, was created Regius professor of physic, and appointed physician to Addenbrooke hospital. The last-named office he resigned on account of delicate health, in 1839, but the regius professorship he held until his death.

Dr. Haviland died 8th January, 1851, aged sixty-five, and was buried at Fen Ditton, near Cambridge, where he had acquired considerable property. He is commemorated in the church there by the following simple inscription:—
John Haviland, M.D.:
Regius Professor of Physic
in the University of Cambridge.
Born February 2, 1785.
Died January 8,1851.

During the six-and-thirty years in which it was Dr. Haviland's privilege to act as professor, he did good service to the university and to the medical profession. His great earnestness and high character, his sound judgment and his thorough knowledge of the academic system, necessarily gave him much influence with the governing bodies of the university as well as with the governing bodies of the profession in other parts of the kingdom.

This influence he turned to good account. It was mainly owing to his instrumentality that the faculty of medicine has been retained at all as an integral part of the university, in accomplishing which he had to contend with much lukewarmness within the body and many attacks from without; and it is entirely owing to him that the medical school has attained its present efficiency; indeed, it may almost be said to have been founded under his auspices.

As professor of anatomy, Dr. Haviland was the first to give a regular course of lectures on human anatomy at Cambridge; and as regius professor of physic, the first to give lectures on pathology and practice. Before his time the proceedings in physic were merely nominal, a few questions put vivâ voce, constituting the only examination.

At his suggestion and by his efforts a lengthened and systematic course of study was required, rigid examinations instituted, and lectures on various branches of medicine and the collateral sciences regularly given in the medical school of the university.

Dr. Haviland is said to have been an excellent practical physician, a quick and clever man, yet discreet, and possessed of sound judgment. His attention was directed less to the niceties of diagnosis than to the minutiæ of treatment in which he particularly excelled. He was most fertile in his resources, and ever ready to impart information on those details of general management which, though highly important, are but too often neglected by the practitioner.

Of a sensitive temperament himself, he was careful over the reputation of another, and always showed his anxiety to maintain inviolate that good feeling which should ever exist between the patient and his medical attendant. Endowed with an ample fortune, he was a munificent contributor to the charities of Cambridge, and was ever ready with his purse and his presence to aid in relieving the poor, and in promoting the cause of education and religion.(1)

William Munk

[(1) Gentleman’s Magazine, February, 1851, p.205.]

(Volume III, page 183)

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