Lives of the fellows

Henry Clutterbuck

b.1770 d.24 April 1856
MD Glasg(1804) LRCP(1804)

Henry Clutterbuck, M.D., was born in 1770 at Marazion, co. Cornwall, and was the fourth son of a solicitor in extensive business in that town. He commenced the study of medicine by an apprenticeship to Mr. Kempe, a surgeon, at Truro, and at the age of twenty-one, came to London, when he entered to the united borough hospitals, and to the lectures of Dr. George Fordyce, Dr. Saunders, the elder Mr. Cline, and Dr. Andrew Marshall. In due course he became a member of the corporation of Surgeons, and then settled as a general practitioner in the city. Shortly after this, he commenced the publication of "The Medical and Chirurgical Review," a journal that appeared twice each month; of which he was the projector, editor, and almost sole writer, and which he continued for a period of fifteen years, until 1807, when it was discontinued.

Determining to qualify himself as a physician, he relinquished his general practice, and in 1802 proceeded to Edinburgh for one year, but then transferred himself to Glasgow, where he graduated doctor of medicine 16th April, 1804 (D.M.I. quædam de sede et natura Febris complectens). Returning to the metropolis, he established himself in St. Paul’s churchyard, and on the 1st October, 1804, was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians. He was elected physician to the General dispensary in 1807, and about that time began to lecture on materia medica and the practice of physic. His lectures are said to have been like his writings, plain, forcible, and unadorned; full of practical facts, and with an entire absence of speculation. He delivered three courses on each subject in the year, and commanded a numerous class. His receipts, from this source alone, are said in one year to have exceeded one thousand pounds.

In 1820, he sent to the press his Inquiry into the Seat and Nature of Fever a work which attracted immediate attention, and established the character of its author as an original thinker, and one of the most energetic practitioners of his time. From this period, Dr. Clutterbuck’s reputation and business steadily increased, and he soon took a position among the first physicians in the city. For more than fifty years he was a regular attendant at the meetings of the Medical Society of London, where he was known as a most effective speaker. "He might be considered the model of a debater on medical subjects; never for a moment carried away into statements which he could not substantiate, and always preserving the full command of his temper, he spoke with a deliberation and with a clearness which have been seldom excelled. The style of his address was rather cautious than energetic, and he was perfect in the choice of his language. Indeed it would be difficult to conceive a more finished composition of words than fell from the deliberate lips of Dr. Clutterbuck in a debate. He was so easy to follow and so clear in his statements that there was no possibility of misunderstanding him, and the shorthand writer who had to take his speech would, if he took it correctly, have no faults in style or composition to correct."(1)

Dr. Clutterbuck continued in the active duties of his profession to the last. He had attended the anniversary meeting of the Medical Society of London, 8th March, 1856. Having heard the oration at Willis’s rooms, he left to walk home, and in crossing a street was knocked down by a cab. From the injuries thus received he never recovered. He died at his house in New Bridge-street, Blackfriars,24th April, 1856. He retained his faculties to the last, and was said to have seen patients on the very day he died. In person Dr. Clutterbuck was somewhat above the middle height, and robust in form. His complexion was florid, his forehead massive, his features large. A portrait of him, painted by subscription, for the Medical Society of London, is in the meeting-room of that institution.

Dr. Clutterbuck, in addition to the work on fever, which came to a second edition in 1825, was the author of—
An Account of a New and Successful Method of Treating those Affections which arise from the Poison of Lead. 8vo. Lond. 1794.
Remarks on some of the Opinions of the late Mr. John Hunter respecting the Venereal Disease. 8vo. Lond. 1799.
Observations on the Prevention and Treatment of the Epidemic Fever at present prevailing in this Metropolis and most parts of the Kingdom. 8vo. Lond. 1819.
An Essay on Pyrexia or Symptomatic Fever. 8vo. Lond. 1837.
On the Proper Administration of Blood-letting. 8vo. Lond. 1840.
Essays on Inflammation and its Varieties. 8vo. Lond.
A brief Memoir of George Birkbeck, M.D. 8vo. Lond. 1842.

William Munk

[(1) Lives of British Physicians. 12mo. Lond. 1857, p. 403, et seq]

(Volume III, page 14)

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