Biographical entry De La Garde, Philip Chilwell (1797 - 1871)
MRCS Aug 6th 1819; FRCS Dec 11th 1843 one of the original 300 Fellows; JP.
- 17 November 1871
Exeter, Devon, UK
- General surgeon and Ophthalmic surgeon
The only child of the Rev Peter de la Garde, sometime Rector of St Martin, Jersey, and of Sarah, daughter of Jonathan Chilwell, of Westerham, and Hadlow in Kent. He was born at Chelsea, and there his father died when he was a year old. He was educated at the Exeter Grammar School when John Lempriere, editor of the Classical Dictionary, was the master. He was apprenticed in 1813 to Robert Patch, who died in the same year, then to Samuel Peppin, who died in 1816, and finally to Samuel Barnes. His three masters were Surgeons to the Devon and Exeter Hospital.
He next went to London, entered St Bartholomew's Hospital and attracted the notice of Edward Stanley (qv), who appointed him Prosector on account of his skill in dissection. He served the office of House Surgeon, and in 1820 he returned to Exeter and began general practice, though he styled himself 'surgeon oculist'. He was early elected one of the three medical officers to the Corporation of the Poor, and in 1886 he was appointed coadjutor with Samuel Barnes (qv), his former master, as Surgeon to the Eye Infirmary. He was elected Surgeon to the Devon and Exeter Hospital in 1841 on the death of Samuel Luscombe the younger, and began to practise general surgery, although his bias was always towards ophthalmic work.
He married in 1826 Susan, the second daughter of his old schoolmaster, and by her he had five children. His eldest son died young; his second son was John Lempriere Delagarde (qv).
Philip de la Garde acquired more than a local reputation as an ophthalmic surgeon in the West of England. He published a treatise on cataract as early as 1820, and was an advocate for the cure by 'couching', for until 1869 he never extracted a lens. He then adopted von Graefe's linear incision, though he preferred to open the capsule of the lens before making the section of the cornea. He was a safe and successful operator in the major operations of general surgery, for he was a good anatomist and had sufficient self-confidence.
He was a fluent speaker, clear, distinct, and elegant. He was a member of the old Borough Corporation of Exeter, serving as Sheriff in 1832 and Mayor in 1836, but he practically retired from public life after the passing of the Municipal Reform Act in 1836. In person he was about middle height, somewhat spare, firmly built, and of great muscular power. For many years he made his professional visits on foot or on horseback, but in later years lumbago and bronchitis obliged him to use a carriage. His features were marked, sharp, and somewhat hard; latterly he grew a beard. He always wore a white tie and a frock coat of black cloth. He walked with a somewhat jaunty spring in his ankles, carrying his hands a little way from his sides. He was quick-tempered, excitable, and singularly emotional, though to outward appearance he was calm and quiet. He died at his house, 23 Southernhay West, Exeter, on Nov 17th, 1871.
A Treatise on Cataract, intended to determine the Operations required by different Forms of that Disease, on Physiological Principles, 8vo, London, 1821.
Medical Education (with THOMAS SHAPTER), 8vo, Exeter, 1863.
Nursing Sisterhoods, and Hospital Schools for Nurses, 8vo, Exeter, 1867.
A Brief Commentary on the Construction and Conduct of Hospitals: founded on a General Account of that of Exeter, 8vo, Exeter, 1870.
Numerous papers in the Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Association, which he helped to found; in Archaeologia; and in the Transactions of the Institute of Civil Engineers, to which he communicated a "History of the Exeter Canal", awarded the Telford Medal.
Sources used to compile this entry: [Delpratt Harris's The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, 1922, 153-8].
The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Created: 21 September 2011