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Biographical entry Tayler, Robert (1794 - 1883)

MRCS April 2nd 1813; FRCS Dec 11th 1843 one of the original 300 Fellows.

21 November 1883
General surgeon


Educated at St Bartholomew's Hospital, was a pupil of Abernethy, and won distinction for the ease and rapidity with which he passed his examinations. William Lawrence was one of his contemporaries. Before he was twenty he became assistant to William Newnham, of Farnham in Surrey, who was famous as an accoucheur, his reputation extending far beyond his locality.

Tayler was one of the original Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons appointed on Dec 11th, 1843, when 300 Fellows were chosen under the new charter. This honour he doubtless owed to his skill as an operator. It was in or about the year 1839 that he ligatured the common carotid artery on account of protrusion of the right eyeball with pulsation. This had come on after an injury to the patient's head, which had been squeezed between two railway trucks. The man recovered and lived for thirty-one years.

In 1828 Tayler became Surgeon to the newly opened Sussex County Hospital. His connection with this Institution continued till his death. He died on Wednesday, Nov 21st, 1883, at his residence, Old Steyne, having been in practice for seventy years.

Tayler was always looked on as an excellent surgeon. He was in reality a gentlemanly and courteous old man, though of an irritable temper, and could on occasion swear very fluently. He was very fond of horses and always drove himself in a park phaeton and pair. Dr Edward Latham Ormerod, of Brighton, was once sent for to see a patient in the country and a trap met him at the railway station. The driver said to him as they were driving along, "Do you know Mr Tayler, sir?" "Yes", said Dr Ormerod. "Very hasty gentleman, Mr Tayler; I used to drive for him. One day, sir, in St James's Street, he had gone into a house and I was sitting outside with the carriage, when a man from the waterworks came and turned on the cock in the middle of the road and the water flew up in a jet two or three feet high, splashed the horses and frightened them, so that I was obliged to wait a few doors off. When Mr Tayler came out he just did swear, and he took hold of the waterworks man and held him over the spout till he was wet through." Dr Ormerod adds, "I attended Mr Tayler for several years, indeed, up to the time of his death, and I once asked him if this story was true." "Of course it was", he said. "What right had a fellow to frighten my horses?" For some reason he persistently declined to have his name and qualifications recorded in the Medical Directory.

The first three Surgeons of the Sussex County Hospital, Messrs Lawrence, Blaker, and Tayler, all resigned the same day, and were succeeded by the first three House Surgeons, Benjamin Valiance (qv), E J Furner (qv), and John Lawrence, junr. For many years Tayler was in partnership with E J Furner and F W Jowers (qv).

Sources used to compile this entry: [N P Blaker's Sussex in Bygone Days, 1919].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England