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Biographical entry Brooke, Charles (1804 - 1879)

MRCS Sept 3rd 1834; FRCS (by election) Aug 26th 1844; BA Cantab 1827; MB 1828; MA 1853; FRS 1847.

30 June 1804
17 May 1879
General surgeon


Son of the well-known mineralogist Henry James Brooke; was born June 30th, 1804. He was educated at Chiswick under Dr Turner and at Rugby, where he entered in 1819. He matriculated from St John’s College, Cambridge, and graduated BA in 1827 as 23rd Wrangler. He completed his medical education at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and lectured on surgery for a short time at Dermott’s School. He acted as Surgeon to the Metropolitan Free Hospital and to Westminster Hospital, resigning the latter post in 1869. He was an advocate of the ‘bead suture’ for bringing together the deeper parts of operation wounds and thus minimizing the tension which was a troublesome and painful condition when all wounds healed by third intention.

On March 4th, 1847, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his mathematical and experimental work in connection with physics. Between 1846 and 1852 he published papers on his invention of the self-recording instruments which were adopted at the Royal Observatories of Greenwich, Paris, and other meteorological stations. They consisted of barometers, thermometers, psychrometers, and magnetometers, which registered photographically – inventions which gained for him a premium offered by the Government as well as a council medal from the jurors of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Brooke also studied the theory of the microscope, and invented improved means of shifting the lenses and bettering the illumination. He served as President of the Meteorological and of the Royal Microscopical Societies, and was a very active member of the Victoria Institute and Christian Medical Society. As a surgeon his work was negligible. He died at Weymouth on May 17th, 1879, leaving a widow, who died at 3 Gordon Square, London, on Feb 12th, 1885, aged 86.

In addition to his scientific papers mentioned above Brooke also wrote:-
Synopsis of Pure Mathematics, 1829.
The Evidence afforded by the Order and Adaptations in Nature to the Existence of a God, London, 1872.
He edited the 4th edition of Dr Golding Bird’s Elements of Natural Philosophy in 1854, and entirely rewrote the work when it appeared as a 6th edition in 1867.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict. Nat. Biog. et auct. ibi cit. Lancet, 1879, i, 789].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England