Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Bond, Thomas (1841 - 1901)

MRCS April 26th 1864; FRCS Dec 13th 1866; MB Lond 1865; BS (Gold Medal in Surgery) 1866; Fellow of King’s College London.

7 October 1841
4 June 1901
General surgeon


Born at Durston Lodge, Somerset, on Oct 7th, 1841; his father, who came of a well-known county family, farmed and at one time kept a pack of harriers. His boyhood gave the son a love of hunting, horses, and country life, but financial straits prevented him from following it.

After leaving King Edward VI’s Grammar School at Taunton, Thomas Bond was apprenticed to his maternal uncle, Dr Edward Hearne, of Southampton, with whom he attended the sufferers from the railway accident at Bishopstoke Station in 1856. He matriculated at King’s College, London, in 1861; graduated MB in 1865, and became House Surgeon to Sir William Fergusson (qv), about whom he used to tell many stories. Once Fergusson, in removing a tumour from the neck, nicked the common carotid artery, which spouted freely. Fergusson did not stir, but said to Bond, “Put your finger on it, mon”. Fergusson was excising a knee-joint, when he cut the popliteal artery and forthwith amputated. Then, turning to the gallery, he said, “You notice, gentlemen, that in the middle of the operation I changed my mind”. His experience under Fergusson gained him the Gold Medal at the BS in 1866, and enabled him to pass the FRCS examination.

On the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 Bond was appointed a Surgeon in the Prussian Army, and had full experience of a cholera epidemic. He was himself saved by an heroic dose of castor oil taken at the onset. He further risked his life by carrying a despatch from the Prussian through the Austrian into the Italian lines.

Returning home, he set up practice in Westminster, succeeding to that of ‘old Dr McCann’, of Parliament Street, and lived for a time in Delahay Street before going to Broad Sanctuary.

One day he was called into the Law Courts at Westminster to Mr Justice Hayes seized with apoplexy; the case introduced him to the judge’s daughter, whom he married, and started a legal connection which became very large, both on the criminal side in connection with the police, and in relation to railway accidents. His house being near the headquarters of the police, he was appointed Surgeon to the ‘A’ Division. He thus became a principal medical witness in the case of Kate Webster, the Lamson case, the Pearcey case, Dr Baddeley’s trial, the Richmond murder, the Whitechapel murders, the Lefroy case, and others. By common consent he was the best medical witness of his day; he could not be upset by the cross-examination. His reminiscences of personal experiences surpassed in actuality the stories contained in detective novels. He gained likewise a special reputation as a witness for the Railways. There was much debate over cases of ‘railway spine’ at a time when neurological diagnosis was lacking in precision. Bond was himself in a train which overturned in shallow water. Whilst suffering in his latter days after the Slough accident, he travelled as far as Balmoral on the one hand and Penzance on the other. He was the Surgeon to the Great Western Railway, and was not only called in concerning accidents, but was consulted by the personnel at Paddington and throughout the line. He was also Consulting Surgeon to the Great Eastern and other railways.

Having set his mind on a staff appointment at Westminster Hospital, he faced several contested elections until 1873, when his local connections overcame objection that he was a busy general practitioner. But as a matter of fact he had no time to advance beyond what he had learnt under Fergusson. Those special experiences of the results of major surgery prevented him from venturing much beyond what he himself termed surgery ‘of the fore-and-aft sort’. He thus remained Assistant Surgeon for most of his life, attending surgical out¬patients when his other manifold duties permitted; at the Medical School he had no time for teaching, except for the delivery of his lectures on forensic medicine. Nottidge Charles MacNamara (qv) was elected Surgeon over the heads of both Thomas Cooke (qv) and Bond. When, after some twenty years, he was appointed Surgeon in 1893, he had neither the time nor the health to take up such duty, which fell mainly to his corresponding assistant surgeon; but he was for many years the Medical Officer attending the nurses in sickness. He was appointed Consulting Surgeon to the Hospital in 1899.

Bond had been brought up to horses from a boy; he rode well with a good seat and at a pace which did not spare his horse. He hunted regularly, especially with the Badminton Hounds from Chippenham. Altogether he had hunted with forty-three packs. But he looked forward most of all to the Exmoor Stag-hunt in August and September, riding out to meets from his house at Dunster. He knew his way among the bogs like a native; he could get down and up again out of a combe quicker than most, and none knew better where to wait for the stag to break out from the woods by the sea near Glenthorne. Perhaps of all his accomplishments he himself set most store on his knowledge of horseflesh – as controversial a matter as medico-legal subjects; he often acted as judge at important horse shows. He would return to Paddington by night, and sleep on in the carriage until morning and then do a day's work.

Riding tended in later years to irritate a slight organic contraction of the urethra, and the spasm set up led to instrumentation whilst out in the hunting field or in the lavatory of a swaying railway carriage. A terrible vicious circle was established: the necessity for instrumentation, spasm and radiating pains, attacks of general pain with rigors and sweatings, relief by narcotics. Insomnia, even in middle life, and overwork had tempted him. Morphia was employed too often. Perhaps he could have been relieved by surgery, but the narcotics had already undermined his resolution. For four months he had recurring agonies of pain, and on June 6th, 1901, whilst his nurse was out of the room, he threw himself from his bedroom window in Broad Sanctuary, falling 40 feet. At the post-mortem examination there was found inflammatory scirrhus of the prostate and urethra; no malignant disease. He was buried at Orchard Portman, Somersetshire, the home of his ancestors. There is an excellent photograph of him in the Westminster Hospital Reports.

He married: (1) The daughter of Mr Justice Hayes, by whom he had six children; she died in 1899; (2) In 1900, an acquaintance of his younger days, Mrs Nairne Imrie, daughter of Mr Lancelot Dashwood, of Overstrand, who survived him.

“Railway Injuries.” – Heath’s Dictionary of Surgery.
“On the Contagious Diseases Acts.” – Lancet, 1868, ii, 686.
Midland Medical Miscellany, 1882, i.
Accidents and Emergencies in the Hunting Field, 1892.
“Report to Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Sanitary Conditions and Requirements of the Metropolitan Police Stations” (in conjunction with Colonel Pearson and Captain McHardy).

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1901, i, 1721. Brit. Med. Jour., 1901, i, 1523. Westminster Hosp. Rep., 1902, 13, 1, with portrait. Personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England