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Biographical entry White, Anthony (1782 - 1849)

MRCS, Sept 2nd, 1803; FRCS, Dec 11th, 1843, one of the original 300 Fellows; MB Cantab, 1804.

Norton, Durham, UK
9 March 1849
London, UK
General surgeon


Came of a family long settled in Durham and was born at Norton in that county. Educated at Witton-le-Wear, he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as a pensioner in on May 18th, 1799, and graduated MB in 1804.

He was apprenticed to Sir Anthony Carlisle, Surgeon to the Westminster Hospital, where he was elected Assistant Surgeon on July 24th, 1806, Surgeon on April 24th, 1823, and Consulting Surgeon on Dec 23rd, 1846. He was also Surgeon to the Royal Society of Musicians.

At the College of Surgeons he was co-opted a Member of Council in 1827 and retained his seat until 1846; he was a Member of the Court of Examiners from 1829-1841, Hunterian Orator in 1831 (the Oration was never published), Vice-President in 1832, 1833, 1840, and 1841, and President in 1834 and 1842.

Anthony White is said to have been the laziest man in his profession. He was habitually unpunctual, yet he was so good a surgeon that he soon obtained a large and lucrative practice. He was the first to excise the head of the femur in April, 1822, for old-standing disease of the hip. The proceeding was then considered to be so heroic that Sir William Blizard and Sir Anthony Carlisle threatened to report him to the College of Surgeons. The operation was successful, the boy lived for five years, and White sent him to call upon his opponents. The specimen is now in the College Museum. [Path. Cat. 1847, 2 no., 941; 2nd ed, 1884, 2, no 2002 and reference quoted there to Chelius A system of surgery, tr. by J. F. South. London 1847, 2, 979.]

In the summer of 1816 he excised with success the lower jaw in a patient at Cambridge with necrosis which had lasted for three years. He also excised the lower end of the femur for a compound separation of the lower epiphysis.

White died at his house in Parliament Street on March 9th, 1849, having long suffered severely from gout. There is a three-quarter-length portrait of him in oils by G T F Dicksee. The engraving of it by W Walker was published on Aug 20th, 1852. A likeness by Simpson hangs in the Board Room at the Westminster Hospital.

An Enquiry into the Proximate Cause of Gout, and its Rational Treatment, 8vo, London, 1848; 2nd ed., 1848; American ed., 8 vo, New York, 1852; 2nd American ed., 1854.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict. Nat. Biog., sub nomine et auct, ibi cit. MacCormac's Address of Welcome, 1900, 94. W G Spencer's Westminster Hospital, 1924, 101].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England