Lives of the fellows

Thomas Bateman

b.29 April 1778 d.9 April 1821
MD Edin(1801) LRCP(1805)

Thomas Bateman, M.D., was born at Whitby, in Yorkshire, on the 29th April, 1778, and was the only son of a surgeon in good business in that town. He received his rudimentary education at two private schools, one at Whitby, the other at Thornton; but at neither of them did he give indications of the ability which afterwards distinguished him. He was remarkably silent and reserved, and although punctual in the performance of his tasks at school, evinced no particular pleasure in the pursuit of knowledge, and never opened a book for his own amusement. He passed three years with an apothecary at Whitby, and in 1797 came to London, when he entered to the lectures at the Windmill street school, and to the physicians’ practice at St. George’s hospital. In the following year he proceeded to Edinburgh, where he graduated doctor of medicine 24th June, 1801 (D.M.I. de Hæmorrhœa Petec-hiali). He then returned to London and completed his studies at the Public dispensary, under Dr. Willan, through whose influence he was elected physician to the London Fever hospital, and shortly afterwards physician to the Public dispensary. He maintained the high reputation which that institution had attained under his predecessor, Dr. Willan, as a school of practical medicine, and among his very numerous pupils there were Dr. P. M. Latham, Dr. W. F. Chambers, Dr. Richard Bright, and Dr. Addison.

Dr. Bateman was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 8th April,1805. In that year he joined with Dr. Duncan, jun., of Edinburgh, and Dr. Reeve, of Norwich, in establishing the "Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," to which he contributed those Reports on the Diseases of London and the State of the Weather, which first brought him into notice and contributed materially to the establishment of his professional reputation. He also contributed the whole of the medical articles in Rees’ Cyclopædia from the letter C inclusive, with the exception of that on the "History of Medicine." In the Medical Reports, as in his attention to cutaneous diseases, Dr. Bateman followed in the footsteps of his friend and colleague, Dr. Willan, on whose illness and consequent departure for Madeira in 1811 he became the chief authority in London on all questions relating to affections of the skin. He proved his qualifications for this position by his well-known and useful "Practical Synopsis of Cutaneous Diseases according to the Arrangement of Dr. Willan," which appeared in 1813. This was followed by the "Delineations of Cutaneous Diseases, exhibiting the characteristic appearances of the principal genera and species, comprised in the classification of Willan, and completing the series of engravings began by that author." 4to. Lond. 1817, The Synopsis became a standard work, was translated into French, German, and Italian, and its fame extended even to Russia, the emperor of which was pleased to desire, through his own physician, that a copy of each of Dr. Batemans works should be sent to him through the hands of the imperial ambassador in London. His majesty rewarded Dr. Bateman with a diamond ring of a hundred guineas value, and at the same time intimated the imperial pleasure that any future works written by Dr. Bateman should be transmitted in like manner to St. Petersburgh.

In the year 1815, when Dr. Bateman’s professional fame and emoluments were rapidly increasing, his health began to decline. To derangement of the digestive organs and attacks of periodical headache from which he had for some time suffered, was superadded a gradual failure of the sight of one eye, which was regarded as amaurotic. And as the other eye was, also, to a certain degree affected, it was resolved to have recourse to mercury. The general health having been improved by a sojourn of some weeks at the seaside, the plan was commenced early in the year 1817. But it was soon necessary to desist, for he was attacked with mercurial erethism, from which he narrowly escaped with his life; but with a constitution so broken as to limit all his subsequent exertions. Of the distressing train of symptoms Dr. Bateman experienced, he has given a graphic sketch in the ninth volume of the "Medico-Chirurgical Transactions." In the spring of 1818 he resigned his office at the Fever hospital, and in the summer of the following year, that at the Public dispensary, about which time he withdrew from London to Bishop Burton, near Beverley, and eventually to his native town, Whitby, where he died on the 9th April, 1821, in the forty-third year of his age.

Dr. Bateman collected into one volume his Reports on the Diseases of London, 8vo. Lond., 1819, and was the author also of—
A Succinct Account of the Contagious Fever of this Country exemplified in the Epidemic now prevailing in London; with Observations on the Nature and Properties of Contagion. 8vo. Lond. 1818

A biography of Dr. Bateman appeared in 1826. It was anonymous, but is known to have been written by Mr. J. Rumsey—
"Some Account of the Life and Character of the late Thomas Bateman, M.D., F.L.S., Physician to the Public Dispensary and to the Fever Institution in London." 12mo. Lond. 1826.

William Munk

(Volume III, page 19)

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