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Biographical entry Kesteven, William Bedford ( - 1891)

MRCS March 23rd 1838; FRCS April 19th 1854; LSA 1837; MD St Andrews 1875.

9 September 1891
General surgeon


Born at West End House, Hampstead. His father, a cloth-merchant, afterwards resided in Milk Street, BC. In infancy he suffered from infantile paralysis and was consequently lamed for life. He was apprenticed to George Chapman, of Liverpool, saw severe work among cholera patients on ships in the port between the years 1820 and 1830, and completed his medical education at St Bartholomew's Hospital and University College, London. After qualifying he was assistant to a practitioner in Russell Square, and in the year 1838 began to practise in Holloway. Together with his father-in-law, F Henry Hume, and others, he was one of the promoters of the Holloway and North Islington Dispensary, of which he was first Medical Officer and then Senior Surgeon till his retirement. For many years he acted as Poor-law Medical Officer, under the guardians of St Mary's, Islington, of the Hornsey Road Schools, and brought them to a high state of sanitary efficiency.

Kesteven was by his own spirit and action a typical example of what a medical man should be in relation to his patients and his professional brethren. He was at once tenacious of what was honourable in the traditions of medical practice, generous and reasonable in judging his brethren for any apparent violation of them. He was at one time a member of the committee of the Blind Asylum, and did good work on it. He had a wide connection with medical and other societies, including the Anthropological Society. Until age began to assert itself he was very regular at the meetings of the Pathological Society, and later, and perhaps less regularly, at those of the Clinical Society. He was also one of the founders and main pillars of the Islington Medical Society.

Out of his large experience he threw light on most cases, but mostly with a singular diffidence, as of one learning from, rather than informing, others. Feeling no longer equal to the duties of general practice, he took in resident patients suffering from nervous complaints, who were cheered by his geniality and benefited by his experience. Latterly he removed to Boxhurst, Boxhill, near Dorking, and here he died of angina pectoris on Sept 9th, 1891. He left a widow and family. When in full practice he lived at 401 Holloway Road, N, where his son, William Henry Kesteven, also practised. His other address was Little Park, Enfield. He was at one time President of the North London Medical Society and Surgeon to the St Mary's, Islington, Infirmary for Children. He was for many years sub-editor of the London Medical Gazette, when Dr Alfred Taylor was editor, and he assisted the last-named in his standard work on Medical Jurisprudence. The anatomy and pathology of the brain and spinal cord greatly interested him, as also did medical ethics. His photograph is in the Fellows' Album.

"Report on Minute Anatomy of the Spinal Cord." - Nat Hist Rev, 1862, NS, ii, 377.
"The Morbid Histology of the Spinal Cord." - St Bart's Hosp Rep, 1872, viii, 1.
"The Pathological Histology of the Spinal Cord." - Seventh Internat Med Congress, 1881, i, 402.
"On the Brain." - Science Monthly, 1884.
"Our Senses and their Illusions." - Ibid, 1884.
In the College Library and the Library of the Surgeon-General are the following:
"Remarks on the Use of the Bromides in the Treatment of Epilepsy and other Neuroses," 8vo, Lewes, 1869; reprinted from Jour of Med Sci, 1870, xv, 205.
"The Microscopical Anatomy of the Brain and Spinal Cord, in a Case of Imbecility, associated with Duchenne's Paralysis," 8vo, plate, Lewes, 1870; reprinted from Jour of Ment Sci, 1871, xvi, 563.
"Miliary Sclerosis: its Pathological Significance," 8vo, coloured plate, London, 1874; reprinted from Brit and For Chir Rev, 1874, liv, 187.
"On the Early Phases of Mental Disorders, and their Treatment," 8vo, Lewes, 1881; reprinted from Jour of Ment Sci, 1881, xxvii, 189.
"The Border-land of Insanity," 12mo, Bristol, 1885; reprinted from Bristol Med-Chir Jour, 1885.
Home Doctoring: a Guide to Domestic Medicine and Surgery, 16mo, London and New York, 1889.

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