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Biographical entry Pritchard, Urban (1845 - 1925)

MRCS July 20th 1869; FRCS Dec 10th 1872; LRCP Lond July 20th 1869; LSA 1868; MB CM Edin 1869; MD (Ettles Scholar and Gold Medal) 1871.

October 1925
ENT surgeon


The fifth son of Andrew Pritchard, FRS, Edinburgh; studied at King's College Hospital, London, where he was House Surgeon, then at Edinburgh, winning the Ettles Scholarship and Gold Medal, his Thesis being "On the Structure of the Lamina Spiralis Membranacea". He returned to King's College Hospital, and was Physician's Assistant to Sir George Johnson, Dr Lionel Beale, and Sir Alfred Garrod, later Surgical Registrar and Curator of the Museum, and was afterwards Demonstrator of Physiology and Lecturer on Physiology to evening classes. From researches on the labyrinth he passed to the study of diseases of the ear, and in 1874 was appointed Surgeon to the Royal Ear Hospital, then the sole institution of its kind in London, and he held office until 1900, when he became Consulting Surgeon.

In 1876 he was appointed the first Aural Surgeon to King's College Hospital, and in 1886 he became the first Professor of Aural Surgery in Great Britain. He retired from both posts in 1910, being made Consulting Surgeon and Emeritus Professor.

He published four papers, detailing original research on the internal ear, the first of which was read to the Royal Society by T H Huxley. He traced the cochlea of man through mammals and the ornithorhynchus to birds, and described the lagena which terminates the cochlea in birds and reptiles, thus connecting mammals and man with both.

After that he devoted himself to clinical work at the Hospital and to a large private practice. From 1884 he was the chief British Representative of Otology, and was President of the International Congress of Otology at the meeting in London in 1899. As a result the Otological Society of the United Kingdom was formed, which later became the Otological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. Pritchard was the second President of the Society. His handbook of Diseases of the Ear ran through three editions (8vo, London and Philadelphia, 1886; 3rd ed, 1896). He was an active member of the Paris International Congress of Otology in 1922. He was co-editor for the United Kingdom of the International Archives of Otology from 1890-1908.

Pritchard practised at 55 Wimpole Street until ill health caused his retirement. He died, after long and painful suffering, in October, 1925. He married in 1872 Miss Blade Pallister; they celebrated their golden wedding in 1922. Mrs Pritchard survived him with one daughter and two sons, one son, Mr Norman Pallister Pritchard, MO, MA, MCh Cantab, MRCS, then practising at Chertsey.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Bibliography is included in Mr Arthur R Cheatle's Biographical Notice of his predecessor in Brit Med Jour, 1925, ii, 770].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England