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Biographical entry Golding-Bird, Cuthbert Hilton (1848 - 1939)

MRCS 16 April 1872; FRCS 11 June 1874; BA London 1867; MB 1873.

7 July 1848
London, UK
6 March 1939
Meopham, Kent, UK
General surgeon


Born in Myddleton Square, Pentonville, London on 7 July 1848, the fourth child and second son of Golding Bird, MD, FRS, and his wife, Mary Brett. His father (1814-1854) was appointed assistant physician to Guy's Hospital in 1843 on the retirement of Richard Bright; his uncle, Frederic Bird, was obstetric physician to Westminster Hospital. His mother founded the Golding Bird gold medal and scholarship for bacteriology at Guy's Hospital.

Golding-Bird was educated at Tonbridge School 1856-62, and afterwards at King's College School in the Strand and at King's College. He graduated BA at the University of London in 1867, and won the gold medal in forensic medicine at the MB examination in 1873. Entering the medical school of Guy's Hospital in October 1868 he received the first prize for first year students in 1869, the first prize for third year students and the Treasurer's medals for surgery and for medicine in 1873. For a short time he acted as demonstrator of anatomy at Guy's, but on his return from a visit to Paris he was elected assistant surgeon in 1875 and demonstrator of physiology, Dr P H Pye-Smith being lecturer. He held the office of surgeon until 1908, when he resigned on attaining the age of 60, was made consulting surgeon, and spent the rest of his life at Meopham, near Rochester, in Kent as a country gentleman interested in the life of the village, in gardening, and in collecting clocks.

At the Royal College of Surgeons Golding-Bird was an examiner in elementary physiology 1884-86, in physiology 1886-91, in anatomy and physiology for the Fellowship 1884-90 and 1892-95. He was on the Dental Board as Examiner in surgery in 1902, a member of the Court of Examiners 1897-1907, and a member of the Council 1905-13. He married in 1870 Florence Marion, daughter of Dr John Baber, MRCS, of Thurlow Square, Kensington, and of Meopham. She died on 23 March 1919, and there were no children. He died at Pitfield, Meopham, Kent, of angina with asthma after much painful dyspnoea, on 6 March 1939, being then the oldest living FRCS.

Golding-Bird was an exceedingly neat operator and a delicate manipulator. His training in histology, at a time when all section-cutting of tissues was done by hand with an ordinary razor, enabled him to make sections of the retina, drawings of which afterwards appeared in many editions of Quain's Anatomy. He did much useful work during his long period of retirement, for he was surgeon to the Gravesend Hospital and the Royal Deaf and Dumb School at Margate, chairman of the Kent County Nursing Association, a member of the Central Midwives Board, and churchwarden of St John's Church, Meopham. He was interested in local archaeology and wrote a history of Meopham which reached a second edition. He also published a history of the United Hospital Club and contributed many papers to the medical journals. He long retained his youthful appearance and it is recorded that when he had been assistant surgeon for some years, a question of amputation having arisen, the patient said she would not have her “leg took off by that boy”, but if it had to be done, pointing to the house surgeon, he should do it.

He left his residence, Pitfield, to Guy's Hospital, £1,000 towards the maintenance of Meopham Church and churchyard, £1,000 upon trust for the Village Hall, Meopham, £300 to Kent County Nursing Association, £300 to Meopham and Nursted Local Nursing Association, £100 to the National Refuges for Homeless and Destitute Children, £50 each to the Mothers' Union Central Fund, the SPG, the YMCA, the YWCA and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, and the residue, subject to life interest, between Gravesend Hospital, Epsom Medical College, and the Village Hall, Meopham.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 7 March 1939, p. 16c; Lancet, 1939, 1, 669, with portrait; Brit. med. J. 1939, 1, 570, with portrait; Guy's Hosp. Gaz. 1939, 53, 96-98, with portrait. The story of his father's life is told, with a portrait, by Sir William Hale White in Guy's Hosp. Rep. 1926, 76, 1-20, by Wilks and Bettany in A biographical History of Guy's Hospital, pp. 245-50, and by Dr J. F. Payne in the Dictionary of National Biography, under the name of Bird].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England