Lives of the fellows

Edward Cox Seaton

b.3 August 1847 d.20 February 1915
MB Lond(1870) MD FRCP(1886)

The son of Edward Cator Seaton, F.R.C.P, medical officer to the Privy Council and to the Local Government Board, Edward Cox Seaton was born in Chelsea and educated at Tonbridge School and St. Thomas’s Hospital, graduating as M.B. in 1870. His career, like that of his father, lay in the sphere of public health. He was medical officer of health successively of Nottingham (1872-84), Chelsea (1884-91) and the administrative county of Surrey (1891-1910) and, after 1910, he was consulting medical officer to Surrey. He held concurrently numerous other appointments connected with public health. From 1886 to 1908 he was lecturer on public health at St. Thomas’s Hospital, and he was examiner in the same subject at Oxford, Cambridge and London Universities and the English Conjoint Board. In 1896 he chose as his subject for the Milroy Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians The Value of Isolation and its Difficulties, and his Chadwick lectures in 1910 were on Infectious Diseases and their Preventative Treatment. He was a keen supporter of the Royal Sanitary Institute, the Society of Medical Officers of Health and the Epidemiological Society. For the Government he acted, in 1890, as special commissioner for the Home Office and Local Government Board in enquiries into working-class housing conditions, and he was Government representative on the Sanitary Inspectors’ Examination Board and the Metropolitan Asylums Board. He edited Sir John Simon’s public health reports in 1886. He himself was the author of the article on vaccination in Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine.

In general, Seaton’s main interests lay in the compulsory notification of infectious diseases—on which he actively promoted legislation—in isolation hospitals, and in the control of smallpox and typhoid fever. A man with an independent viewpoint, he frequently clashed with his official masters, although he was esteemed by his own profession. He married, firstly, in 1875 Florence, daughter of John Waggett, M.D, and, secondly, in 1892 Jeannette, daughter of John Marshall, F.R.S, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, by whom he had one daughter. He died at his home in Chelsea.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1915; B.M.J., 1915]

(Volume IV, page 318)

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