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Biographical entry Tomes, Sir Charles Sissmore (1846 - 1928)

Knight Bachelor, 1919; MRCS, July 20th, 1869; FRCS (by election), April 14th, 1898; BA Oxon, 1866; MA, 1872; LDS, 1869; FRS, 1878; Hon LLD Birmingham, 1909.

6 June 1846
London, UK
24 October 1928
Aylsham, Norfolk, UK
Dental surgeon


Born in London on June 6th, 1846, the eldest son of Sir John Tomes (q.v.). He was educated at Radley College during the Wardenship of the Rev W Sewell and rowed in the School Eight in 1863. He matriculated at Oxford from Christ Church on May 27th, 1863, rowed in the Trial Eights in 1865, and graduated BA in 1866 after gaining a 1st class in the honours school of Natural Science. His name appeared in one of the shortest honours lists ever issued at the University, for he was alone in the first class, there were two names in the second, and none in the third or fourth classes. He became a student at the Middlesex Hospital, where his father was Surgeon Dentist, in October, 1866, and also attended at the Dental Hospital. He gained prizes in medicine and surgery in 1869. The Natural Science School at Oxford, in which he had been educated, was a school of biology under Professor George Rolleston; and histology, then a new science, was being taught by Charles Robertson. Tomes immediately showed the effects of their training and published in rapid succession a series of remarkable papers on the structure and development of the teeth in the Batrachia, Reptilia, Ophidia, and Pisces, as well as one on the enamel organ of the armadillo. The papers contained much that was original, and in 1878 he was elected FRS.
He practised at 37 Cavendish Square, at first in partnership with his father, later with E G Bett and Sir Harry Baldwin. He lectured on anatomy and physiology at the Dental Hospital, where he was afterwards Surgeon and Consulting Surgeon.

In 1898 he was appointed Crown representative on the General Medical Council when the Dental Board was established, and he acted as Treasurer of the General Medical Council from 1904-1920. At the Royal College of Surgeons he was an Examiner in Dental Surgery, 1881-1895, and in 1920 he presented to the Museum the microscopic preparations of teeth made by himself and by his father. The collection thus presented consists of more than 1300 specimens of ground, or otherwise prepared, sections of the teeth of vertebrate animals. The dental anatomy of all forms of mammalian teeth is depicted more fully than in any other collection. The ‘Tomes Collection’, which is thus accessible at the Royal College of Surgeons to students of dental anatomy, proves of the utmost use to those who are investigating problems in dental structure. Many of the specimens used by Sir Richard Owen in the preparation of his Odontography are also preserved in the Museum of the College. The oldest microscopic preparations of teeth in the College collection are those made by Hewson in the later part of the eighteenth century.

During the European War Tomes served as Chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and was Inspector for the Norfolk Red Cross. For his services he was gazetted Knight Bachelor in 1919. He married in 1873 Lizzie Eno, a daughter of Charles D Cook, MD, of Brooklyn, New York, who with one daughter survived him. He died at his home, Mannington Hall, Aylsham, Norfolk, on Oct 24th, 1928.
Like his father before him Tomes was a pioneer in the scientific advancement of dentistry, by which means alone it could attain the status of a learned profession. Less concerned with the political aspect of the movement to advance dentistry, he showed by his high character and hard work that there was such a scientific side which might be usefully investigated and profitably applied to the advancement of orthodontics.

“On the Development of the Teeth of Newt, Frog, Slowworm and Green Lizard.” — Phil. Trans., 1875, clxv, 285.
“On the Structure and Development of Teeth of Ophidia.”— Ibid., 297.
“On the Development and Succession of Poison-fangs of Snakes.” — Ibid., 1876, clxvi, 377.
“On the Development of the Teeth of Fishes.” — Ibid., 257.
“On the Structure and Development of Vascular Dentine.”— Ibid., 1878, clxviii, 25.
Tomes edited the 4th, 5th, and 6th editions (1894-1904) of A Manual of Dental Anatomy, Human and Comparative, and A System of Dental Surgery, 4th and 5th editions (1897-1906), originally written by Sir John Tomes (q.v.).

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit. Med. Jour., 1928, ii, 822, with a good portrait. Lancet, 1928, ii, 949, with portrait. Brit. Dental Jour., 1928, xlix, 1230].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England