Lives of the fellows

Caleb Hillier Parry

b.21 October 1755 d.9 March 1822
MD Edin(1778) LRCP(1788) FRS

Caleb Hillier Parry, M.D., was born in Cirencester 21st October, 1755, and was the eldest son of a dissenting minister distinguished for his knowledge, talents, and loyalty, the rev. Joshua Parry, by his wife, a daughter of Caleb Hillier, of Upcote and Minety, in the county of Gloucester. He received his school education at Cirencester, under Mr. Washbourn, and subsequently spent three years at the dissenters’ academy at Warrington. In 1773 he proceeded to Edinburgh and commenced the study of medicine; but in the summer of 1775 removed to London, and during two years resided chiefly with Dr. Denman. He returned to Edinburgh in 1777, and took his degree of doctor of medicine there in 1778 (D.M.I. de Rabie Contagiosâ, vulgò Caninâ). In October of that year he married the daughter of John Rigby, esq., of Lancaster, a lady no less celebrated for her beauty than for her amiable disposition and engaging manners. Dr. Parry then visited Holland, Belgium, and France; and returning to England settled at Bath, in November, 1779. He was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 30th September, 1788. His progress at Bath was rapid, and by the time he had been ten years there, his professional receipts exceeded fifteen hundred pounds per annum. From that time the amount rapidly increased; and is said to have varied from three to over six hundred a month. Of one day the receipts for separate attendances were fifty guineas. His exertions as a practitioner, pathologist, and writer were incessant. To these were subsequently added those of a scientific agriculturist. In 1787 he became possessed of a farm in the neighbourhood of Bath, and within a walk of his town residence. He there commenced those experiments which established his reputation as one of the most original and scientific agriculturists of his day, and obtained for him a succession of prizes, the distinctions of many societies, and the friendship of some of the most eminent persons in the land. His " Essays " on these subjects in the volumes of the Bath and West of England Society of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, are numerous and important.

As a physician, Dr. Parry was distinguished by a clear insight into the nature of various maladies, by promptness and decision in their treatment, and by marked humanity and kindness to his patients. In his professional connexions and relations he was eminently liberal, and at the same time independent. While he treated his medical brethren and his patients with candour and deference, he would submit to no improper dictation; nor for the purpose of retaining a friend or conciliating a foe, submit to any measure which -was inconsistent with the strictest integrity. In his opinion the qualities of the gentleman and really honest man were necessarily associated in the character of the physician. Dr. Parry’s writings bear ample evidence of the extent of his pathological investigations, the acuteness of his perception, and the originality of his views. They exerted a wide and on the whole a beneficial influence on pathology and practice, and deserve more attention than is now accorded to them. Dr. Parry was for many years physician to the Bath General hospital. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, a vice-president of the Bath and West of England Society of Agriculture, a member of the Society of Natural History of Gottingen, and an honorary member of the Farming society of Ireland. On the 26th October, 1816, he was suddenly arrested in his career of usefulness and prosperity by an attack of paralysis, which deprived him of the use of his right side, and during the remainder of his life rendered his speech imperfect and almost unintelligible. Though his existence had become a state of complicated bodily disease and suffering, his mental activity never deserted him, and he was able to amuse himself by reading during many hours of the day. Dr. Parry died at Bath on the 9th March, 1822, aged sixty-six, and was buried in the Abbey church, where a handsome monument to his memory presents the following inscription:—
H. S. E.
Caleb Hillier Parry, M.D., R.S.S.
Vir probus,
Cultor Dei pius, Medicus sagax.
Artem quâ pollebat in hâc urbe per annos fere XL.
Ingenio, moribus,
multiplici literarum cognitione,
exornavit;
scientiâ, naturæ indagatione perspicaci,
feliciter promovit.
Ne tanto nomini
ulla pars observantiæ
desideraretur,
Amici, eâdem arte consociati,
hoc marmor
P. C.
Vixit annos LXVJ. Obt. IX. Die mensis Mart.
A.S. 1822.

"In person, Dr. Parry was remarkably handsome. With much dignity of manner he united a certain playfulness which, while through life it had invigorated and charmed his domestic circle, scarcely deserted him under the severest trials and amidst the heaviest afflictions. His miscellaneous reading, extensive knowledge of men and manners, and an excellent memory, supplied, in his intercourse with society, a constant fund of amusing anecdote and of appropriate allusion. From an intimate acquaintance with many celebrated military and naval characters, he had become remarkably conversant with the details and adventures of their profession; and scarcely a battle had occurred during the preceding century, with the minute circumstances of which he was not acquainted. During a severe illness of nearly six years’ duration, he amused himself with dictating anecdotes of many distinguished friends and contemporaries." Dr. Parry had four sons and five daughters; of the former were Charles Henry Parry, M.D., F.R.S., to be noticed in the next volume, and the distinguished Arctic navigator, captain Sir William Edward Parry, R.N., who was the youngest.

Dr. Parry contributed papers to the "Philosophical Transactions to the Memoirs of the London Medical Society; and to several reviews, magazines, and newspapers. His separate publications were—
An Address to the Medical Society of Edinburgh. 8vo. Edinb. 1778.
An Inquiry into the Symptoms and Causes of the Syncope Anginosa, commonly called Angina Pectoris, illustrated by Dissections. 8vo. Bath. 1799.
Facts and Observations tending to show the Practicability and Advantage of producing, in the British Isles, Clothing Wool equal to that of Spain; together with some Hints towards the Management of Fine-woolled Sheep. 4to. Lond. 1800.
Elements of Pathology and Therapeutics. 8vo. Bath. 1815.
Cases of Tetanus and Rabies Contagiosa, or Canine Hydrophobia. 8vo. Bath. 1814.
An Experimental Inquiry into the Nature, Causes, and Varieties of the Arterial Pulse, and into certain other properties of the large Arteries in Animals with Warm Blood. 8vo. Bath. 1816.(1)

William Munk

[(1) Memoir by his son, Dr. Charles Henry Parry, in " Lives of British Physicians," in Murray’s Family Library]

(Volume II, page 385)

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