Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Soden, John Smith (1780 - 1863)

Member of the Company of Surgeons, 1800; FRCS Dec 11th, 1843, one of the original 300 Fellows.

29 March 1780
Coventry, UK
19 March 1863
Bath, UK
General surgeon


Born at Coventry on March 29th, 1780; was educated at King Edward’s Grammar School. He was then apprenticed to George Freer, of Birmingham, the author of Aneurysm and some Diseases of the Arterial System (1807), who evidently inspired his pupils with higher aims that the mere routine of practice, for Soden was Jacksonian Prizeman in 1810 with an essay on “The Bite of Rabid Animal”. Moreover, Joseph Hodgson (q.v.), a fellow pupil with Soden, President of the College in 1864, was the author in the following year (1811) of the Jacksonian Prize Essay on “Wounds and Diseases of the Arteries and Veins” – an elaborate piece of work.

Having qualified in 1800, Soden entered the Army as a Hospital Mate on June 13th, 1800, became Assistant Surgeon in the 79th Highlanders three days later, served in Egypt, and resigned before April 16th, 1803. After returning to London he settled in practice at Bath, where he was appointed Surgeon to the United Hospitals, the Eye Infirmary, the Penitentiary, and the Lock Hospital. He thus took up a position as a leading practitioner in Bath, a successful operator and eye surgeon. He was an original member of the British Medical Association. He practised at 101 Sydney Place, Bath, and died in retirement on March 19th, 1863. His son, John Soden (q.v.), succeeded to his practice.

He was ambidextrous in operating for cataract, sitting facing the patient, the patient also sitting; he made the lower incision by means of Baer’s triangular knife. Puncturing the cornea almost vertically, he watched for the jet of aqueous humour, then carried the knife across the anterior chamber without touching the iris. Soden made an admirable collection of the Portraits of Medical Men – Ancient and Modern, British and Foreign. It was presented after his death to the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society by his son John Soden, of Bath. The collection consists of four folio volumes containing 872 mounted medical portraits, with two additional volumes, the one of caricatures and newspaper cuttings, the other of autograph letters and signatures of medical men. The six volumes are preserved at the Royal Society of Medicine, where they are known as ‘The Soden Collection’.

“On Inguinal Aneurysm, Cured by Tying the External Iliac Artery.” – Med-Chir. Trans., 1816, vii, 536.
“Of Poisoning by Arsenic” – London Med Rev, 1811.
Address at the Third Anniversary of the Bath District Branch of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, 1839, 8vo, Bath, 1839.
Address at the Annual Meeting of the Bath and Bristol District Branch of the above, 1854.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston’s RAMC Roll, No, 2007. Lancet, 1863, i, 399. Proc.Roy. Med-Chir Soc, 1861-4, iv, 255, 295. Brit. Med. Jour, 1863, i, 382].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England