Lives of the fellows

Charles (Sir) Locock

b.21 April 1799 d.23 July 1875
BART MD Edin(1821)LRCP(1823) FRCP(1836)

Sir Charles Locock, Bart., M.D., D.C.L., was the son of Henry Locock, M.D., of Northampton, and was born in that town the 21st April, 1799. He studied medicine in London under the direction of Mr., afterwards Sir Benjamin Brodie, with whom he lived for nearly three years as his only private pupil, and who was from that time his chief friend and adviser. He was intended for a consulting surgeon, but was induced by the advice of Sir Benjamin Brodie to devote himself to midwifery, as he would be better able to advance his pupil’s interests in London in that line of practice than he could do in surgery. He went, therefore, to Edinburgh, where he graduated doctor of medicine 1st August, 1821 (D.M.I. de Cordis Palpitatione), and shortly afterwards settled in London.

While yet a very young man, he had the good fortune to be selected by Dr. Gooch, from among all his contemporaries as the person on whom that very acute and eminent physician could best rely, and to whom he could most conscientiously transfer the midwifery portion of his own business, when he was compelled by failing health, in 1825, to withdraw from all but the prescribing part of his profession. Dr. Locock proved himself worthy of the confidence thus early reposed in him; he rose rapidly to the first position as an accoucheur in London, and for a long succession of years was in the enjoyment of the highest and most lucrative business in his department.

In 1840 he was appointed first physician accoucheur to the queen, and in that capacity was in attendance at the birth of all her majesty’s children. In recognition of his services and of his professional eminence he was created a baronet in 1857, an honour which had been offered to his acceptance by lord Melbourne in 1840, but then declined for prudential reasons.

Sir Charles Locock was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 24th March, 1823, a Fellow 9th July, 1836, and was Consiliarius in 1840, 1841,1842. He was for many years physician to the Westminster General Lying-in hospital. Sir Charles contributed some valuable practical articles to the Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine and to the Library of Medicine, and to him we owe the important discovery of the efficacy of bromide of potassium in epilepsy. He was a doctor of civil law of Oxford, a magistrate and deputy lieutenant for Kent, and was an unsuccessful candidate in the conservative interest for the Isle of Wight at the general election in 1865.

He died 23rd July, 1875. "Sir Charles Locock," says his friend, Sir James Paget, "was rewarded by many proofs of her Majesty’s approval and constant confidence, and the last honour of which he could be conscious was conferred on him when the queen visited him on his dying bed, and proved to him the regard which his wise and loyal care had earned. Such a proof of gracious friendship must have been to him like an afterglow. When his sun had gone down, and there seemed in this world only coming darkness, light flashed again, and in the light he died. Sir Charles Locock had great power of work, and was active and unsparing of himself in his devotion to duty; he had a quick, keen insight, and a large and ready store of knowledge for the daily needs of his practice. Besides, he was skilful in his use of knowledge; his beliefs were strong; all that he believed he felt sure of; and with clear, plain speech he would so express his surety as to make most of those he spoke to believe that he must be right. He gathered knowledge from all quarters, from the honest and dishonest, from high and low, if only he thought that it was knowledge he could do good with, he cared little whence it came. Doubtless Sir Charles owed some of his success to his social qualities. He was a very amusing companion, light hearted and genial, a pleasant, vivid talker, a lover of news, a good storyteller. Thus, without effort or design, he became a general favourite, both in the profession and in society. But if we must admit that these qualities often raised a prejudice in his favour, it is as certain that the prejudice soon gave way to a yet more favourable calm judgment when it was seen how fit he was for the daily duties of his calling; how patient and watchful; how gentle in his sympathy with grief; how calm in the midst of others’ tears; how joyous in their joy."

William Munk

(Volume III, page 270)

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