Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Sibley, Septimus William (1831 - 1893)

MRCS Feb 27th 1852; FRCS May 23rd 1857; LSA 1854.

15 March 1893
Bletchingley, Surrey
General practitioner


Born in Great Ormond Street, the seventh son of Robert Sibley, architect and surveyor to the County of Middlesex, and brother of George Sibley, the well-known civil engineer. He was educated at a private school and then at University College School, where he distinguished himself in mathematics, being second to Edward Routh, of Cambridge, who was afterwards Senior Wrangler. In applied mathematics in the 6th class of the school he won the first prize over the heads of Routh and Henry Cooke, who were bracketed in the second place. He also obtained the first prize in experimental philosophy. He then attended Professor de Morgan's lectures at University College, and worked chiefly at higher mathe¬matics and experimental philosophy with his friends, Sir William Flower (whose medical attendant he afterwards became), Dr Routh, and Sir Robert Fowler. He desired at this period of his life to devote himself to mathematics, but in 1848 he decided on the medical profession and entered as a student at the Middlesex and University College Hospitals, attending clinical instruction at the former and lectures at the latter school, where he won the Gold Medal in medicine, Joseph Lister (qv) at the same time winning the second Silver Medal. He also obtained the Silver Medal in surgery, the second Silver Medal being won by Lister. William Flower, Lister, and William Roberts were his chief contem¬poraries at the Hospital.

At the Middlesex he was House Surgeon and then Medical Registrar from 1853-1860, and was later appointed Lecturer in Pathology, a post which he held for ten years. In 1856 he became partner with Thomas Farquhar Chilver. This practice, one of the leading ones of the day, had been founded by Sir Walter Farquhar (Physician to George IV) - who was succeeded by Samuel Chilver, father of Thomas Farquhar Chilver - and by Dr Martin Tupper, FRS, whose eldest son was Martin Farquhar Tupper, author of the once famous Proverbial Philosophy.

Sibley practised at 12 New Burlington Street and then at 7 Harley Street; the firm was at first Chilver, Sibley & Plaskitt, and latterly Sibley Plaskitt. Up to within a year or two of his death Sibley was a member of the Middlesex Hospital Medical Committee. He was also for ten years Chairman of the Managing Committee of the Dental Hospital of London in succession to his friend Campbell de Morgan.

A notable fact in his career is that he was the first general practitioner elected to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons, where he represented his colleagues from 1886-1891. His personal qualities of gentleness and conciliation were well calculated to gain affection as well as respect. He represented the best qualities of an accomplished general practitioner. He was singularly courteous in his demeanour, considerate to all, and was never too pressed for time to do a kind or charitable action.

An active Member of the British Medical Association, he sat on the Council from 1881-1891, was Vice-President of the Parliamentary Bills Committee from 1886-1891, and Member of the Scientific Grants, Premises and Library, and Medical Charities Committees. In 1878 he was President of the Metropolitan Counties Branch and was for many years Treasurer. His fellow-councillors greatly respected him for his earnest industry and independent views, and he exerted a marked influence over them. He was Vice-President of the New Sydenham Society and of the Royal British Nurses' Association; for some years Treasurer of the Medical Sickness, Annuity, and Life Assurance Society; Fellow of the Royal Medico-¬Chirurgical Society; and Member of the Pathological and Clinical Societies.

Sibley died at his country house, The Hermitage, White Hill, Bletchingley, Surrey, on March 15th, 1893, survived by Mrs Sibley, who was second daughter of Sir Robert Garden, Bart, MP, and by two sons, of whom one was Dr Walter Knowsley Sibley, a dermatologist, and five daughters. He occupied himself with scientific pursuits in his scanty leisure and was an authority on many nonprofessional subjects.


Report on the Cholera Patients admitted into the Middlesex Hospital during the Year 1854, 8vo, London, 1855.
"Contribution to the Statistics of Cancer. Collected from the Cancer Records of the Middlesex Hospital, communicated by James Moncrieff Arnott," 8vo, London, 1859; reprinted from Med-Chir Trans 1859, xlii. 111.
"Cases Illustrating the Causes and Effects of Fibrinous Obstructions in the Arteries both of the Brain and of Other Organs," 8vo, London, 1861; reprinted from Med-Chir Trans, 1861, xliv, 255.
"On the Structure and Nature of so-called Colloid Cancer." - Med-Chir Trans, 1856, xxxix, 259.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict Nat Biog, sub nomine George Sibley (1824-1891), his elder brother].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England