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Biographical entry Shattock, Samuel George (1852 - 1924)

MRCS Jan 25th 1876; FRCS Dec 8th 1881; FRS 1917.

3 November 1852
Camden Town
11 May 1924


The second child and second son of Mr Betty, a pharmaceutical chemist, of Park Street, Camden Town, NW, was born on Nov 3rd, 1852, and was educated at Prior Park College, Bath. He entered University College School in 1867, matri¬culated at the University of London in June, 1869, and entered University College as a medical student on Oct 1st of the same year. Here he won the Liston Gold Medal in 1875, and in the following year, under the supervision of Marcus Beck (qv), he began a descriptive catalogue of the preparations of surgical pathology in the Museum of University College.

He was admitted a Fellow of the College in December, 1881, and then changed his name from Samuel George Betty, which he had previously borne, to Samuel George Shattock, under which he gained a world-wide reputation. He gave as a reason for the change that the Shattock side of his family was likely to become extinct. As he intended to devote himself entirely to pathology he never registered as a medical practitioner.

He was elected Curator of the Anatomical and Pathological Museum at University College in succession to Professor Cossar Ewart, and in 1884 became Curator of the Museum at St. Thomas's Hospital, a post he held, with the addition of Lecturer on Pathology in the Medical School, and latterly of Professor of Pathology in the University of London, until he died in 1924. Here he began to teach surgical pathology by a system of typical museum specimens, and his classes proved so advantageous that they were officially recognized in 1886. From 1889-1894 he was closely engaged upon a new catalogue of the pathological museum of St Thomas's Hospital, and in 1895 he gave a short course of practical demonstrations on bacteriology, a new science in which he had already shown himself a pioneer.

At the Royal College of Surgeons of England he made a series of micro¬scopic specimens of the human hair in 1878 to illustrate the anthropological lectures given by Sir William Flower, and he began to outline a series of human bones with the attachments of the muscles which was afterwards incorporated in the anatomical collection of the College. He delivered the Morton Lecture on Cancer in 1893, arguing for and against the infective nature of the disease with a slight bias in favour of its infectivity - a position he maintained until his death. In 1897 he was appointed Pathological Curator in succession to J H Targett (qv), undertaking to devote four hours daily to the post. The actual hours not being specified, he interpreted the clause liberally and often worked until far into the night. With his appointment at the College he began the preparation of a series of cultures of pathogenic bacteria, and side by side he placed specimens of the results of their action. In addition to regular work in the preparation and classification of the many new specimens to the Museum, he was usually called upon to offer a final opinion upon morbid growths sent from all parts of the Empire.

He also undertook to edit the third edition of the pathological catalogue. The second edition had been produced by Sir James Paget (qv), Sir James F Goodhart, and Alban Doran (qv). Shattock began the third edition in 1909 and finished it in 1916, associating with himself Mr Cecil Beadles, and allotting to Alban Doran the gynaecological section. The work was laborious, for Shattock was never contented with the mere registration of entries in the previous cata¬logue. He took nothing for granted, but when there was the least reason for doubt the specimen was further dissected, submitted to microscopic examination, carefully described and remounted. The final section, dealing with foreign bodies and gunshot wounds, was scarcely finished when the European War provided countless specimens which taxed his strength to the uttermost, though it resulted in the magnificent collection of war injuries which forms so prominent a feature of the Museum. From the very first Shattock's idea was to make a special feature of 'General Pathology', to bring together as complete a collec¬tion as possible to illustrate the main principles of pathology so far as they could be exemplified by museum specimens. He began the work in conjunction with C F Beadles, FRCS, in 1910, by selecting, arranging, and cataloguing the specimens, and finished it in 1923. The Collection filled the floor space of Room III, forming a complete and systematic treatise on pathology, written not in words but in illustrative specimens, and is a worthy monument to his industry and genius.

He was Hunterian Professor of Surgery and Pathology from 1909-1911, when he took as his subject, "Certain Matters connected with Internal Secretion and with Fat".

Shattock rendered splendid service to the Pathological Society of London. Elected a Member in 1880, he served on the Morbid Growths Committee from 1884-1900 - a Committee most carefully chosen from the best pathologists of the day for the purpose of determining the nature and origin of morbid growths sent from all parts of the world. The findings were usually looked upon as final. He was a Member of the Council from 1885-1887 and 1893-1896; Surgical Secretary, 1890-1892 and 1902-1907; Vice-President, 1896-1898. From 1900-1907 he was editor of the Proceedings, and introduced the wise custom - not continued - of summarizing some of the more important contributions in Latin. He prepared an excellent index of volumes xxxviii-l (1887-1899) of the Proceedings, which was published in 1901, and when the Society became the Pathological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1907 Shattock was elected the first President.

When the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology was founded under the editorship of German Sims Woodhead, Shattock served as assistant in the special department of Morbid Anatomy and Histology from 1896-1906 (vols. iii-xi).

At the British Medical Association he was President of the Section of Pathology in 1910, and in the same year he was made a Fellow of University College. In 1913 he was elected President of the Section of General Pathology and Pathological Anatomy at the International Congress of Medicine held in London, and in his Address laid stress upon the necessity of accurate knowledge derived from experiment. He was a Member of the Nomenclature Committee of the Royal College of Physicians in 1902 and 1913, and was mainly responsible for the Latin equivalents in 1902, agreeing reluctantly to their omission in the edition of 1913.

He was elected to the rare distinction of an Hon Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1916 and became FRS in 1917. He also acted as Secretary of the Board of Advanced Medical Studies at the University of London.

Shattock married on Feb 18th, 1882, Emily Lucy Wood, who survived him with three sons and one daughter. His eldest son, Clement Edward Shattock, FRCS, became Surgeon to the Royal Free Hospital. He died of arterio¬sclerosis, after some months of failing health and impaired sight, at his house, 4 Crescent Road, The Downs, Wimbledon, on May 11th, 1924, and was buried at Wimbledon Cemetery.

Shattock was an outstanding figure amongst pathologists of his generation. His mind was so inventive and receptive that he could take a leading part in the advance of the wholly new science of bacteriology, and was at the same time so conservative that he looked with veneration akin to worship upon the work of Morgagni and Bonetus, and of surgical pathologists like Astley Cooper, Edward Stanley, William Lawrence, Sir James Paget, and Sir William Savory. Like his great exemplar, John Hunter, whom he resembled in many points, he was insistent that morbid anatomy should be advanced by experiment, and held that there was a general pathology, including the morbid anatomy of plants and of animals, of which bacteriology and human morbid anatomy were only a part, for it needed a sound clinical knowledge of disease and a working acquaintance with chemistry and physics.

Essentially humble-minded, he loved to talk out with his friends any difficult problem which confronted him in his day's work, and came to no conclusion until he had considered it in every aspect and given due weight to all he had gathered in his discussions. His memory was so good, his experience was so vast, his accuracy and common sense were so great, that his statements on morbid anatomy were accepted without reserve as correct. He was always ready to help and advise his fellow-workers, and he enjoyed the confidence, the esteem, and the friendship of a world-wide circle in the medical profession.

Apart from his scientific knowledge, Shattock was a hero-worshipper and had some of the traits of a mystic in his character. He loved abstract specula¬tion, was a fervent Roman Catholic, and made Thomas à Kempis his guide through life, at his death leaving behind him a manuscript of the Most Christian Doctor ready for the press. He was a competent musician; his fine memory enabled him to give the name and date of every winner of the Derby and made him an expert on cricket scores.

A shy man, Shattock was yet a most engaging lecturer. He seldom looked at his audience, he prefaced his sentences with short dry coughs, he soliloquized, he sometimes broke the bottles and glass cases of the specimens by the violence with which he emphasized his points, but he held his audience spellbound by the entrancing manner in which he unfolded the story he had to tell.

As a man he was seen at his best in the upper workrooms of the College of Surgeons, where he would sit for long periods lost in thought, looking forwards and upwards, with chin raised, much as Joshua Reynolds pictured John Hunter. A little above middle height, his complexion was pale, his eyes bright but not piercing, his hair long, and with side whiskers but no moustache. He continued to use the dress of a professional man of his younger days - a frock-coat, a top hat, gloves - and he always carried a small black handbag.


It is to be regretted that with his unique experience Shattock wrote no standard work on pathology. His bibliography has yet to be compiled. He contributed largely to the scientific transactions, especially to those of the Pathological Society; often, as has been pointed out, in association with others. His publications include:-

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Specimens illustrating Pathology in the Museum of
University College, London
(with MARCUS BECK), parts i, 8vo, London, 1881-7.
A Descriptive Catalogue of the Pathological Collection in the Museum of St Thomas's Hospital, 2nd ed, 4 parts, 8vo, London, 1890-4.
"On the Reparative Processes which occur in Vegetable Tissues," 8vo, illustrated, London, 1881; reprinted from Linnean Soc Jour (Botany), 1881-2, ns xix, 1. "Pathology and Etiology of Congenital Club-foot" (with ROBERT W PARKER), 2 plates; reprinted from Trans Pathol Soc Lond, 1884, xxxv, 423.
"A Note on the Histology of Sterile Incubated Cancerous and Healthy Tissues"
(with Sir CHARLES A BALLANCE), 8vo, 2 plates, London, 1888; reprinted from
Trans Pathol Soc Lond, 1888, xxxix, 409.
"Note on an Experimental Investigation into the Pathology of Cancer" (with Sir CHARLES A BALLANCE); reprinted from Proc Roy Soc, 1890, xlviii, 392.
"Cultivation Experiments with New Growths and Normal Tissues, together with Remarks on the Parasitic Theory of Cancer" (with Sir CHARLES A BALLANCE), 8vo, plate, London, 1887; reprinted from Trans Pathol Soc Lond, 1887, xxxviii, 412.
An Atlas of the Bacteria Pathogenic in Man, with Descriptions of their Morphology and Modes of Microscopic Examination, with an Introductory Chapter on Bacteriology, etc, by W WAYNE BABCOCK, 8vo, 16 plates, New York, 1899.
"On the Microscopic Structure of Urinary Calculi of Oxalate of Lime" (with WILLIAM MILLER ORD), 8vo, 5 plates, London, 1895; reprinted from Trans Pathol Soc Lond, 1894-5, xlvi, 91, etc.
Article on "General Pathology of New Growths" in Allbutt's System of Medicine, 1st ed, 1896.

For many years he indexed British publications for the International Catalogue of Scientific Literature, and discharged this heavy duty almost to the end of his life.
Accounts of some of his more important researches and Museum specimens will be found in the Lancet and Brit Med Jour biographies.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 1924, May 13. St Thomas's Hosp Gaz, 1924, xxx, 49, with a fairly good portrait. Lancet 1924, i, 1028, with portrait. Brit Med Jour, 1924, i, 888, with a eulogy on page 926. Nature, 1924, cxiii, 724. Proc Roy Soc, 1924, B, xcvi, pp. xxx¬-xxxii. Med Press, 1924, i, 524, gives a good account of Shattock's manner of lecturing. The Calendar of the Royal College of Surgeons of England for 1924, 403-6, summarizes Shattock's services to the Museum. Personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England