Lives of the fellows

John Clarke

b.1758 d.August 1815
LRCP(1787) MD(1791)

John Clarke, M.D., was born in 1758 at Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, and was the son of Mr. John Clarke, a surgeon of that town. He was educated at St. Paul’s school, of which he rose to be "captain." His medical education was obtained at St. George’s hospital, and by attendance on the lectures of the two Hunters, Dr. George Fordyce, Dr. Osborne, and Dr. Denman, with the two latter of whom he was afterwards associated as a lecturer on midwifery. He became a member of the Corporation of Surgeons, and then commenced business in Chancery-lane, where he soon began to reap the fruits of his exertions both as a teacher and practitioner. As a lecturer on midwifery, he speedily gained a deservedly high reputation; his lectures contained a fund of information; the principles of the art were clearly and succinctly developed, and his practical precepts were precise, well considered, and in the highest degree judicious. He was chiefly solicitous to simplify the management of difficult cases and improve the after treatment: and how well he succeeded, our best obstetrical writers bear ample testimony. He was a good classical scholar, a man of indomitable industry and perseverance, and possessed of all the other elements for success as a practitioner. To great acuteness of perception was added a promptitude in action and a fertility of resources which obtained for him the confidence of patients and the admiration of the profession. His progress was rapid, and for many years he was confessedly at the head of his particular department of practice. He was admitted by the College of Physicians a Licentiate in Midwifery on the 2nd April, 1787, and shortly afterwards removed from Chancery-lane to the West-end. About the year 1791 he obtained a degree of doctor of medicine from one of the Scotch universities. Dr. Clarke eventually withdrew from the practice of midwifery, resigning that portion of his business to his brother Mr., subsequently Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke, bart., M.D., and thenceforward limited his attention to the diseases of women and children. For some time before his death, which occurred in August, 1815, from organic disease of the stomach and ascites, Dr. Clarke had withdrawn in great measure from practice, and resided during half the year in the country. He was physician to the Lying-in hospital in Store-street, and to the Asylum for Female Orphans, and was for some years lecturer on midwifery at St. Bartholomew’s hospital. He sent two papers to the Royal Society, and was the author of—

An Essay on the Epidemic Disease of Lying-in Women in 1787—8. 4to. Lond. 1788.
Practical Essays on Pregnancy and Labour and the Diseases of Lying-in Women. 8vo. Lond. 1793.
Commentaries on some of the most important Diseases of Children. 8vo. Lond. 1815.

"The London Practice of Midwifery" was an attempt by an anonymous compiler to give the substance of Dr. Clarke’s lectures, one of the excellencies of which (as I was informed by the late Sir Charles Clarke) consisted in a successful attempt to illustrate his subject by familiar analogies. Dr. Clarke’s bust, by Chantry, is at Lockleys, Welwyn, co. Herts, the seat of George Edward Dering, esq.

William Munk

(Volume II, page 369)

<< Back to List