Lives of the fellows

Charles Bolton

b.24 September 1870 d.6 September 1947
CBE BSc Lond(1894) MB(1896) MD DSc FRCP(1909) FRS

Born at Whitby, the son of Isaac Bolton, Charles Bolton served a three years’ apprenticeship with a local doctor and another two years with one in Manchester before going up to University College, London, with an exhibition. As a student, he gained many distinctions, including the Andrews and Atchison scholarships. He graduated as B.Sc. in 1894 and M.B. two years afterwards. His first appointments were at the Evelina Hospital for Children and the Eastern Fever Hospital, but he returned to University College Hospital as resident medical officer in 1900. He had studied at University College during an auspicious period for physiological research, and the award of a Grocers’ Company research studentship in 1903 gave him the freedom necessary for laboratory work. Five years later, on the separation of the Medical School from the College, he was made the first director of the Graham Research Laboratories, and in 1910 was given the additional duties of lecturer on pathology. These posts he relinquished after a further reorganisation in 1914. Meanwhile he had been appointed, in 1903, physician to the Queen’s Hospital for Children and, in 1906, assistant physician to University College Hospital itself, becoming full physician in 1912. During the 1914-1918 War he was given charge of the military wing of the Hospital.

After the War, Bolton’s reputation and practice grew rapidly. Nevertheless, he continued to devote a considerable proportion of his time to investigating his three chosen fields—the complications of diphtheria, the genesis of peptic ulcers, and the pathology of oedema—and published noteworthy papers in collaboration with G. W. Goodhart, W. G. Barnard and Payling Wright. Even the relinquishment of his hospital appointments in 1935 did not end his researches, which were terminated only by the outbreak of war in 1939. From 1933 to 1935 he was a Censor of the Royal College of Physicians, where he had given the Oliver-Sharpey Lecture in 1917 and the Croonian Lectures in 1928. He was Hunterian professor at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1910. Bolton was a forthright and cheerful man with the power of intense concentration and a dry wit. On one occasion, having failed a tail-coated candidate from a school which preserved the custom of wearing morning dress for the M.R.C.P. examination, he was heard to remark, " I have just ploughed another of those damn’ waiters". He married in 1911 Ethel, daughter of Henry George, but had no children. He died in London. He was the brother of Joseph Shaw Bolton, F.R.C.P.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1947; B.M.J., 1947; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1948,8]

(Volume IV, page 499)

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