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Biographical entry Jordan, Thomas Furneaux (1830 - 1911)

MRCS May 2nd 1854; FRCS June 14th 1866.

7 July 1911
Anatomist and General surgeon


The son of a Birmingham surgeon. He received his professional training at Queen's College, where he was afterwards Professor of Anatomy. He practised in Colmore Row, Birmingham, and was appointed Assistant Surgeon, and in 1863 became Surgeon, to the Queen's Hospital. Some years later he exchanged the Chair of Anatomy for that of Surgery at Queen's College. For many years Furneaux Jordan was one of the leading surgeons in Birmingham. He was appointed Consulting Surgeon to a number of institutions - the Kidderminster, the Dental, the West Bromwich, the Women's, and the Birmingham Skin and Lock Hospitals. In 1866 he won the Gold Medal of the British Red Cross Society for an essay on "Shock after Surgical Operations and Injuries". He was subsequently President of the Birmingham Branch of the Association, as also of the Midland Medical Society. He resigned the Professorship of Surgery in 1884 and retired from the active staff of the Queen's Hospital in 1886, being then appointed Consulting Surgeon. He retired altogether from practice some years before his death, and lived at Teignmouth, where he died on July 7th, 1911, leaving a widow, three daughters, and three sons, two of the latter being in the profession, and one, John Furneaux Jordan, FRCS.

Furneaux Jordan is now chiefly remembered by his method of amputating at the hip-joint, though his operation is no longer performed very frequently. It consisted in removing the head and a portion of the shaft of the femur through an external incision in the thigh and completing the removal of the limb by a circular incision through the muscles. The procedure is described in the second edition of his Surgical Enquiries (London, 1880, pp302-5, with two figures on Plate X). A good portrait of him accompanies his biography in the British Medical Journal (1911, ii, 141).

Furneaux Jordan is described as a great surgeon, and would have been greater still and might have stood side by side with the greatest of them all had he possessed a more robust body. Full of the best traditions of his calling, he was gifted by nature with a fine quality of brain and by fingers of extreme delicacy, so that he should have been as great an artist as he was a surgeon. He was a born clinician, and appeared to do by instinct what others often failed to do after years of laborious effort. To see him examine a surgical patient was an object lesson in courtesy, gentleness, thoroughness, and precision not to be forgotten. A rapid and reliable diagnostician, his judgement was rarely at fault. He was a dexterous operator, original in his methods and ingenious in his plans; a fine anatomist, and a sound practical pathologist. Professor Jordan Lloyd, who assisted him in the case where he first amputated at the hip-joint by his own method, said that he was always under the impression that his procedure was evolved during the time he was actually doing it for the first time. He saw at once the advantages of an operation which further experience has fully confirmed. As a lecturer in the theatre or at the bedside he was unique among his contemporaries. His quiet confidence, his fluent speech, his keen enthusiasm, his concentrated knowledge, his skill in draughtsmanship, and his natural aptitude made him a teacher of conspicuous ability. His methods of giving instruction were vivifying and irresistible, and yet the manner of the man was like that of a gentlewoman.

Furneaux Jordan was not a prolific writer, but what he did write was worth reading and thinking over. His Hastings Essay on shock is a classic, and suggests to one the kind of work its author might have produced had he devoted his abilities solely to scientific investigation. The treatment of surgical inflammation is a volume of original thought and inquiry, and the numerous clinical lectures he delivered and published are brimful of splendid material.
An Introduction to Clinical Surgery, with a Method of Investigating and Reporting Surgical Cases, 8vo, London, 1858.
"Report on the Progress of Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery," 8vo, London, 1858; reprinted from Midland Quart Jour Med Set, 1858, ii, 475.
The Treatment of Surgical Inflammations by a New Method, which greatly shortens their Duration, 8vo, 15 plates, London, 1870.
On Clinical Education: The Introductory Address to the Clinical Session, 1871-2, at the Queen's Hospital, 8vo, London, 1872.
"The Constantly Moist Antiseptic Sponge Dressing," 8vo, 1 plate, Birmingham, 1879; reprinted from the Birmingham Med Rev, 1879, viii, 85.
Surgical Inquiries: A Presidential Address delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Birmingham and Midland Counties Branch of the British Medical Association, June 24th, 1873; 8vo, 8 plates, London, 1875. A second and greatly enlarged edition was published in 1881 with 10 plates under the title Surgical Enquiries. The second edition alone contains an account of the Furneaux Jordan amputation at the hip-joint. This volume also contains the Hastings Essay on shock, the treatment of surgical inflammations, and numerous clinical lectures.
Anatomy and Physiology in Character: an Inquiry into the anatomical conformation and the physiology of some of its varieties; with a chapter on physiology in human affairs, in education, vocation, morals, and progress, 8vo, London, 1886.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit Med Jour, 1911, ii, 141].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England