Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Goodsall, David Henry (1843 - 1906)

MRCS May 19th 1868; FRCS June 13th 1872; LRCP Lond 1870; LM 1870.

4 January 1843
14 September 1906
General surgeon


Born at Gravesend on Jan 4th, 1843, the second of four brothers, one of whom, Dr Frederick Goodsall, at one time practised in the City. Their father, relatively late in life, was a student at St Bartholomew's, where he died of the effects of a finger-prick received during a post-mortem on the eve of his MRCS examination, leaving his widow and family unprovided for.

David Henry Goodsall was taken from St Ann's School and apprenticed at about the age of 14 years to Mr Manley, a chemist near Aldgate, and from that early period of life he began to support himself entirely by his own exertions. He entered the Medical School at St Bartholomew's Hospital in the early sixties, being excused his fees on the ground that his father's fatal wound was inflicted by a member of the staff. During his whole studentship he supported himself by acting as assistant to Fred Ingoldsby, of Finsbury Square, with whom he gained great experience in midwifery. He was thus enabled to serve with distinction the office of Midwifery Assistant under Dr Greenhalgh, the Physician-Accoucheur of St Bartholomew's, his tenure of office being from September, 1889, to April, 1870. At the latter date he was already 27 years of age, and through hard experience and study had acquired a maturity of manner, both serious and kindly, which endeared him to his patients.

He was elected House Surgeon to St Mark's Hospital on leaving his old hospital in 1870, was appointed Assistant Surgeon in 1871, full Surgeon in 1888, and retired on reaching the age limit in 1903, when he was appointed Consulting Surgeon. He was peculiarly identified with St Mark's up to the last, and on his work there his reputation is based. He was elected Surgeon, with charge of In-patients and Out-patients, at the Metropolitan Hospital, at that time in Devonshire Square, City, in October, 1872. He became Senior Surgeon in January, 1892, retaining office till the end of his life. He was also a member of the Committee of Management from 1887, and a Trustee from 1898. For the last ten years of his life Goodsall was likewise Surgeon to St Saviour's Hospital.

A great authority on rectal surgery and an excellent operator, Goodsall had doubtless been first led to take up the course of practice which specially distinguished him through his early association with Peter Yeames Gowlland (qv), Senior Surgeon at St Mark's, to whom he acted as assistant in Finsbury Square, a locality where Goodsall himself took up his residence about the year 1871. Goodsall was a most careful and painstaking surgeon who left nothing to chance; it is not to be wondered, therefore, that he obtained most excellent results.

He was a splendid man of business, and as such he was greatly valued by the authorities of the hospitals with which he was connected. He was associated with the Metropolitan Hospital when it was in Devonshire Square, City, then in the temporary premises in Commercial Street, and was largely instrumental in securing its present site.

He was for nineteen years Chairman of the House and Finance Committee of the Medical Society of London and was Hon Treasurer of the Society from 1896 onwards. During the last year of his very busy life he took a leading part on behalf of the Medical Society in the negotiations then proceeding for the union of the London societies in one body. He was formerly a director of the Odessa Waterworks Company, and at the time of his death was on the directorate of the Western Telegraph Company, which he had greatly assisted, as well as being managing director of a printing company.

So various were Goodsall's activities that he had no time for society, but he enjoyed playing and watching a game of chess. For half a century he never spent a single day ill in bed, and returned from his holiday, shortly before his death, apparently in excellent health. He died just before midnight on Sept 14th, 1906, and was cremated at Golder's Green. He left a widow and a young son. He practised at 17 Devonshire Place, Upper Wimpole Street.

Diseases of the Anus and Rectum (with W ERNEST MILES), 8vo, London, vol. I, 1900; vol. Ii, 1905. This classic embodies much of the matter contained in Goodsall's widely diffused contributions to journals and transactions. It is based on his long experience. The passages on operations devised by contemporary specialists were submitted to their scrutiny before publication. Goodsall had the good fortune to live to an age which allowed of a long record of experience. His observations on left iliac colostomy in the second volume showed how surgery had advanced since 1870.
"Twenty Cases of Foreign Bodies in the Rectum." - St Bart's Hosp Rep, 1887, xxiii, 71. This includes careful observations about the time that a bone takes to pass from the mouth to the rectum.
"Six Cases of Sinus over the Sacrum and Coccyx." - Ibid, 1888, xxiv, 229.
"Fissure, Non-syphilitic and Syphilitic, of the Rectum and Anus." - Ibid, 1892, xxviii, 205.
"Two Cases of Opening the Caecum for Intestinal Obstruction." - Trans Med Soc Lond, 1892, xv, 439.
"New Rectal Bougie." - Lancet, 1888, I, 1250.
"Diseases of the Anus." - Practitioner, 1895, lv, ii, 350.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England