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Biographical entry Girdlestone, Tharp Mountain (1823 - 1899)

MRCS Jan 3rd 1845; FRCS Dec 7th 1849.

6 July 1899
Sunningdale, Berkshire
General surgeon


The son of the Rev Charles Girdlestone, who was a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, at the time of his son's birth, and later Rector of Kingswinford. One of his brothers was Canon Girdlestone, of Christ Church, Oxford.

Tharp Mountain Girdlestone was educated at St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he was House Surgeon. He was greatly attached to his old hospital, and his talk would be of Lawrence, Stanley, Holden, Paget, and others. Occasionally, too, he would tell of his exploits as an athlete, boxing and rowing being his two specialities, and he could show some trophies won on the river in his student days.

He practised for a long period at Melbourne, Victoria, where he occupied many important positions. He was a coroner to the Goldfields in the early days, and sat in the Legislative Assembly as Representative of a Mining Constituency. He was Health Officer to the City of Melbourne, Surgeon to the Alfred Hospital, Assistant Surgeon and then full Surgeon to the Melbourne Hospital, and Lecturer on Surgery at the Melbourne University. He was also a member of the Microscopical Society of Victoria, and a most active member of the Medical Society of Victoria. He contributed frequently to its Proceedings, for long served on its Committee, and was also Treasurer and President.

His lectures at the university, when he was first appointed, were up to date, and supplied good, sound, serviceable material. His name should always be associated with the use of kangaroo tendon as an animal ligature. He introduced it, and was always a strong advocate for its employment. At the Melbourne Hospital he was the first surgeon to secure union by first intention with something like unfailing regularity by a more strict following of antiseptic routine.

As a surgeon Girdlestone was capable, slow, and a safe, if not a brilliant, operator. He was upright, honourable, and pleasant and kindly among friends.

He was one of the many, including medical men, who suffered from the disastrous failures of banks and companies in Australia in the early nineties of the nineteenth century. He lost his position as Surgeon at the Melbourne Hospital and showed symptoms of heart disease.

He returned to England about the year 1894 and lived with his distinguished brother, Canon Girdlestone. Subsequently he re-entered practice- in England, but returned to his brother's house to die. His death occurred at Sunningdale, Berks, on July 6th, 1899.

In Melbourne he practised at No 114 and then at No 164 Collins Street East.

Girdlestone published as separate pamphlets:-
"Partial Dislocation of the Radius and Ulna backwards, with the Formation of a New Joint," 8vo, 1850; reprinted from Trans Abernethian Soc of St Bart's Hosp, 1849, No 7 and 1851, No 17.
Under the Floor (No 4 Austral Health Soc), 8vo, Melbourne, 1877.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Intercolonial Med Jour, 1899, iv, 426].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England