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Biographical entry Furner, Edmund Joseph (1805 - 1899)

MRCS May 19th 1829; FRCS Oct 12th 1854; LSA 1828.

18 December 1805
Brighton, UK
2 January 1899
Brighton, UK
General surgeon


Born at Brighton on Dec 18th, 1805, the son of John Furner, member of an old Sussex family. His elder brother was a Judge of the County Court, and another brother, Robert Furner, was the donor to Brighton of the Furner Collection of Prints.

Edmund Joseph Furner was educated at St George's Hospital and attended lectures in the Windmill Street School. He then went on a voyage to India as Surgeon in charge of a sailing-ship, and on his return to England succeeded his cousin, Benjamin Valiance, as House Surgeon to the Sussex County Hospital (1831). He became Surgeon to the institution subsequently, and held this post for thirty-two years. He retired in 1876, when the Committee of Management passed a resolution recording his surgical ability and his extreme and unwearied kindness to patients. His colleagues at the same time presented him with a most complimentary address. He was then appointed Consulting Surgeon, remaining so till the time of his death, when his connection with the hospital had lasted nearly sixty years.

Furner practised at 47 Brunswick Square, Brighton, and he took great interest in local matters, particularly charitable institutions. In Freemasonry he became Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Sussex.

He died at Brighton on Jan 2nd, 1899, and was buried in the Extramural Cemetery. He married in 1837 Arabella, eldest daughter of John Lawrence, senr, at one time Surgeon in the Grenadier Guards (qv). This lady died in 1897. Of his two sons and a daughter, who survived him, one son, Willoughby Furner (qv), was in practice in Brunswick Square at the time of his father's death, and was his successor in the hospital surgeoncy.

Besides being a Consulting Surgeon to the Sussex County Hospital, Furner, at the time of his death, held the same position at the Brighton and Hove Lying-in Hospital and at St Mary's Hall, Brighton. It was in great measure owing to his exertions that the Library and Museum of the Sussex County Hospital were founded in 1833, and the hospital recognized for medical instruction in 1834.

Nathaniel Paine Blaker, in his Sussex in Bygone Days, 1919, thus writes of Furner:

"There were a good many preparations in the Museum which had been brought into being by Mr Furner, when House Surgeon, many years before. He put these up fresh and re-wrote the histories. I well recollect almost my first interview with him: I was in the Museum cleaning some preparation jars when he came in. I was about to retire when he stopped me, and from that time till his death was my guide, teacher and friend. It was his custom on his admission week to come to the Hospital punctually at 9 am and take histories of his cases, which were written down at his dictation by his clinical clerk, whom he took great pains to instruct in the examination of patients, in the ordinary clinical testings and in morbid anatomy whenever an opportunity occurred. As soon as he could, he made me his clerk and also taught me how to work with the microscope, and advised me what books to read. I shall always remember him with the greatest gratitude and affection."

(See also Tayler, Robert, and Vallance, Benjamin.)

"Case of Transfusion." - Lond Med Gaz, 1835, xvi, 480.
"Aneurism of Femoral Artery - Ligature of the External Iliac." - Ibid, 1836, xvii, 687.
"Successful Case of Ligature of both Subclavian Arteries for Axillary Aneurism." - Med. Times and Gaz, 1868, I, 456, and Med-Chir Trans, li, 163. This, says his Brit Med Jour biographer (1899, I, 183), was "a wonderful case in those pre-antiseptic days".

The Royal College of Surgeons of England