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Biographical entry Herman, George Ernest (1849 - 1914)

MRCS April 19th 1870; FRCS June 10th 1875; FRCP Lond 1885; MB Lond (Hons) 1879.

8 February 1849
11 March 1914
Obstetric and gynaecological surgeon


Born Feb 8th, 1849, son of the Rev G L Herman, of Kilwarlin, Co Down, entered the London Hospital in 1866, where he became Resident Accoucheur in 1870, Medical Registrar in 1873, and Junior Resident Medical Officer in 1874. He was deeply influenced by Dr Henry Gawen Sutton's teaching of pathology, which afforded a real understanding of many abnormal physical signs in place of traditional explanations or want of explanations. He was much guided by Dr Matthews Duncan's expositions of midwifery, at first in Edinburgh and then at St Bartholomew's Hospital; also by the older obstetricians, Smellie and Ramsbotham.

In February, 1876, Herman was elected Assistant Obstetric Physician, and in June, 1883, Obstetric Physician, to the London Hospital on the death of Dr Palfrey. For the succeeding two years he also carried on the Out-patient Department until he was given a junior colleague. In those nine years he collected notes whilst he gained much further experience on obstetrics as Physician to the General Lying-in Hospital and to the Royal Maternity Charity. Much attention was then concentrated on the flexions and versions of the uterus, and his notes enabled him to relegate these conditions to their proper place in gynaecology. For puerperal eclampsia he advocated early morphia and opposed rapid methods of emptying the uterus. During his time operative gynaecology enormously developed. Herman started under the conditions laid down in particular by Spencer Wells and Lawson Tait; he was a brilliant operator, and his results were very good, but he did not advance altogether in attention to detail. He was an excellent teacher, basing himself always on common sense and observation, but rather sparing of words. The same applies to his style of writing. He was an active member of the Obstetrical Society of London, serving as Librarian 1880-1881, Secretary 1882-1885, and President 1893-1895. He also attended the Hunterian Society and was President in 1896-1897. He was Examiner in Midwifery at the Conjoint Board and at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London, Durham, and the Victoria University. He practised at 20 Harley Street, and his advice there was sought especially by Jews, among whom he enjoyed a great reputation.

After twenty years as Obstetric Physician he was elected in July, 1903, Consulting Obstetric Physician, and on that occasion his former Residents entertained him to dinner. He began his speech to them in a paraphrase of a familiar text: "As has been well said, there is more joy over one senior that resigneth, than over ninety and nine just appointed persons." In 1913 he retired to Caer Glou, Cam, Gloucestershire, and died from acute pneumonia on March 11th, 1914. He was survived by his wife, daughter, and four sons. He had married in 1884 Miss Emily Gibbings, of Chichester. Good portraits accompany his obituary notices in the London Hospital Gazette, 1914, xx, 211, and the British Medical Journal, 1914, I, 857.

Difficult Labours, 1894; editions appeared in 1895, 1901, 1910, 1912.
Diseases of Women, 1898, and subsequent editions.
Many other works on midwifery and gynaecology.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England