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Biographical entry Nottingham, John (1810 - 1895)

MRCS Oct 5th 1832; FRCS April 16th 1846; MRCP Lond 1844.

7 May 1895
ENT surgeon, General surgeon and Ophthalmic surgeon


Was a Yorkshireman, and was apprenticed to the father of C G Wheelhouse (qv). He received his professional training at Guy's Hospital, and in Paris under Dupuytren and Velpeau, where he became a member of the Medical Society formed of English students studying in Paris. He was appointed about the year 1837 House Surgeon to the Liverpool Infirmary (now the Royal Infirmary), and was noted for his eagerness in pursuing his clinical and pathological studies. He and a contemporary made post-mortem examinations together early in the morning, and throughout life Nottingham did much work at that time of day.

He began general practice in the centre of Liverpool about the year 1840, but excluded midwifery cases from his routine. He soon acquired a good surgical practice, and in a few years settled at Everton in succession to Wainwright. This was then a charming and opulent suburb, and here John Nottingham continued till his retirement in the late seventies of the nineteenth century. He practised at 20 Roscommon Street, which became a slum during his time. Together with the late J Penn Harris and others he founded the St Anne's Dispensary, which rapidly became popular, and is now one of the Liverpool East Dispensaries. Here he made a reputation as specialist in eye and ear diseases. In 1850 or thereabouts Nottingham was appointed Surgeon to the Southern Hospital, where he was known as cautious, ingenious, and skilful in operations. During his tenure of office the hospital was rebuilt on a new site (1872) as the Royal Southern Hospital.

After his retirement he suffered from double cataract, and remained in seclusion and blindness at his country seat at Whitchurch, Salop, till successfully operated upon in 1880 and 1881. He then again enjoyed good eyesight till 1887, when, just before Christmas, exposure on a cold night brought on inflammation and the globe of one eye had to be extirpated. The question of sight affected him in an extreme degree, for he had an immense library, comprising medical, surgical, and other literature, dictionaries and encyclopaedias, in most of the European languages, arranged on the walls of four spacious rooms, where also he had in many cabinets an extensive museum of surgical instruments.

He was a great student, an omnivorous reader, and when not reading hard himself he employed a polyglot reader who lived in his house and arranged and managed his books. He was an accomplished linguist, and had a most retentive memory. A mind thus well stocked from many literary and scientific sources, great conversational power, and a quiet affable manner rendered him a most charming companion. He was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and of the Royal Medical Society of Berlin.

Nottingham visited much among his well-chosen circle of friends, including Sir Joshua Walmsley, ex-Mayor of Liverpool, with whom he travelled in Spain and frequently shot in England. Latterly the old scholar never appeared abroad without a veil, and he died of mere old age on May 7th, 1895. He married Sarah Worthington, of Whitchurch, who survived him.

Report on the Restoration of Sight, by the Formation of an Artificial Pupil, in a Patient of St Anne's Dispensary, l6mo, Liverpool, 1850.
Surgical Report on Bilateral Lithotomy, with General Remarks on Operations for Stone, 8vo, London, 1850.
Practical Observations on Conical Cornea, and on the Short Sight and other Defects of Vision connected with it, 8vo, London, 1854.
Diseases of the Ear. Illustrated by Clinical Observations, 8vo, plate, London, 1857.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1895, i, 1406].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England