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Biographical entry Oldham, Charles James (1845? - 1907)

MRCS Jan 26th 1870; FRCS Dec 14th 1871; LRCP Lond 1870; LSA 1870.

24 January 1907
Ophthalmic surgeon


Came of the family to which belonged Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, who founded Manchester Grammar School in 1515, and Netley Abbey, besides being co-founder of Brasenose College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

The son of James Oldham (qv), he received his professional training at Guy's Hospital, where he was House Physician, House Surgeon, and Resident Accoucheur, and at the Sussex County Hospital. He was at one time Resident Medical Officer at the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children, London, Clinical Assistant at the Royal Ophthalmic Hospital, Moorfields, and Assistant Surgeon at the Central London Ophthalmic Hospital. He went to 53 Norfolk Square, Hove, in 1870, and lived later at 1 Brunswick Place in partnership with his father, James Oldham (qv). Here his skill as an oculist brought him a large practice. He was Senior Surgeon to the Sussex and Brighton Hospital for Diseases of the Eye, Surgeon to the Brighton and Hove Dispensary, and at one time President of the Brighton and Sussex Medico-Chirurgical Society. At the time of his death he was Treasurer to the last-named Society and Consulting Surgeon to the Brighton Blind Asylum, besides holding his Surgeoncy at the Eye Hospital and his post at the Dispensary. From 1897-1899 he served on the Council of the Ophthalmological Society, and at the time of his death was Vice-President. In 1886 he was President of the Ophthalmological Section of the British Medical Association.

He was well known in the profession, and in private life devoted himself to music and to the collection of rare instruments. Among the latter were three valuable 'Stradivarius' violins, a viola and a violoncello by the same famous maker. For the last-named he paid a price which ran into four figures, and one violin and the viola formed part of the set of instruments which Stradivarius is said to have made for the King of Spain of the time. Another of the violins once belonged to Rode, a great violinist of his day. Oldham was a Director of the Royal Academy of Music, and was the very active President of the Brighton Sacred Harmonic Society.

His death occurred at his residence, 38 Brunswick Square, Brighton, on Jan 24th, 1907. As being of Founder's kin he left £3000 to Manchester Grammar School, "to be applied for the advancement of learning as the authorities may think fit", besides the residue of his estate, which it was thought might range between £7000 and £10,000. Another clause in the will ran that he "peremptorily requested and desired that no person be appointed as an additional trustee or executor of his will who shall be either a solicitor, a Jew, or a German although he may be a British subject, but that he desired rather that a competent business man in a responsible position, such as a bank manager, shall be appointed."

At the International Ophthalmological Congress, held in London in 1872, Oldham read a paper on "An Improved Refracting Ophthalmoscope." - Rep Int Ophthalmol Congress, 1873, iv, 119.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med Press and Circ, 1907, i, 129. Lancet, 1907, i, 765, 910. Additional information kindly given by Charles Trew Winckworth, MRCS].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England