Lives of the fellows

Golding Bird

b.9 December 1814 d.27 October 1854

Born at Downham Market in Norfolk, Golding Bird, who was an Inland Revenue official’s son, showed an uncommon interest in chemistry and botany as a boy, and even acted as unofficial instructor to his schoolfellows in these subjects. In 1829 he was apprenticed to a London apothecary and in 1832 entered Guy’s Hospital to study medicine. He was a brilliant student, winning numerous prizes, including the Apothecaries’ Company’s medal for botany, and attracted the attention of Addison and also of Astley Cooper, who enlisted his assistance for the chemical section of his work on Diseases of the Breast. Having qualified in 1835, he became lecturer on natural philosophy at Guy’s Hospital in 1836 and, in 1838, physician to the Finsbury Dispensary and lecturer on the theory and practice of medicine at the Aldersgate Street Medical School. Five years later he was made assistant physician at Guy’s Hospital and joint lecturer on materia medica.

Golding Bird’s work on Urinary Deposits, printed in five editions between 1844 and 1857, strongly influenced the development of medical chemistry in England, and his Lectures on Electricity and Galvanism in their Physiological and Therapeutical Relations (1849) likewise brought into prominence a subject of future significance. He was Lecturer on Materia Medica at the Royal College of Physicians in the years 1847-49, and acquired a very large consulting practice. His lectures suffered, if anything, from an excessive speed of delivery. However, his swiftness of comprehension, which was responsible for this fault, enhanced his skill as a physician. He married in 1842 and became the father of five children before his early death at Tunbridge Wells.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1854; Guy's Hospital Reports, 1926, lxxvi, 1; Medical Times and Gazette, 1854; Wilks and Bettany, 245; D.N.B., v, 74]

(Volume IV, page 39)

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