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Biographical entry Paton, Edward Percy (1867 - 1908)

MRCS Aug 1st 1889; FRCS April 7th 1892; LRCP Lond Aug 1st 1889; MB Lond (University scholarship and gold medal in obstetric medicine; Honours in medicine and forensic medicine) 1889; MD 1891; MS (Scholarship and Gold Medal) 1894.

March 1867
10 September 1908
General surgeon


Born at Canonbury in March, 1867. He went to Paradise House School, and whilst still a pupil there he matriculated at the University of London. He then entered St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he greatly distinguished himself both at the MB and MS examinations of the University.

He was House Surgeon to Morrant Baker (qv), and afterwards Assistant Demonstrator of Anatomy at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and, at the Hospital for Sick Children, Surgical Registrar and Anaesthetist. In 1896 he was appointed Surgical Registrar to Westminster Hospital; in 1899, Assistant Surgeon; in 1906, Surgeon to Out-patients. In the Medical School he began as Lecturer in Surgical Pathology in 1896. In 1902 he became Sub-Dean; in 1904, Dean; and carried through the negotiations by which the teaching of the preliminary science subjects, also anatomy and physiology, were transferred to King's College.

Paton was a remarkably able surgeon, both as an operator and teacher. Westminster Hospital and School formed half of his life's objective. The other half was concentrated upon the Mildmay Mission Hospital, Shoreditch, to which he was Surgeon.

Under a quiet reserved manner, he was recognized by his friends as a man of the highest integrity based on religious convictions, yet broad-minded. The students recognized that he was their staunch friend in spite of straightforward and firm criticisms. Equally efficient as Superintendent of a Sunday School, he could control turbulent Cockney children. He ably edited the Westminster Hospital Reports (1901-7, xii-xv), and contributed an account of cases of subphrenic abscess (1899, xi, 109) and cancer of the colon (1902, xiii, 137); he was also the author of papers in the Edinburgh Medical Journal (1902, NS xi, 248), the British Medical Journal (1903, ii, 1389), and the Clinical Journal (1905, xxvi, 90, 104) on various infective diseases of joints, all indicating that he was becoming a surgeon of the first rank.

He practised in Park Street, Grosvenor Square, and then at 53 Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square. He examined at the Apothecaries' Hall, first in anatomy and then in surgery.

Early in 1908 he was attacked by an obscure septicaemic infection which manifested itself first vaguely by episcleritis and malaise. Then one day at the Hospital he rapidly became paraplegic and was put to bed. A peculiar spinal meningitis produced attacks of increasing severity. He described a feeling as if his thigh was being inflated like the tyre of a bicycle, until it occasioned agony of pain, for which morphia injections became obligatory. The attack was followed by profuse sweating, clear fluid filled the ears and ran out upon the pillow, the nurses had to change his saturated bedclothes every half-hour. In the intervals he was himself, and he bore a most painful illness with fortitude until worn out.

He died on Sept 10th, 1908. No organisms were identified in the cerebrospinal and other fluid. There were no marked changes, either naked-eye or microscopic, in the spinal cord, but a partial megacolon. He was unmarried, and was buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Broadway, or Westminster Hospital Gazette, 1908, x, 101, with portrait. Brit Med Jour, 1908, ii, 954. Lancet, 1908, ii, 984. Personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England