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Biographical entry Warner, Francis (1847 - 1926)

MRCS Nov 17th 1870; FRCS June 19th 1873; LSA 1870; MRCP Lond 1876; FRCP 1883; MD Lond 1873.

10 July 1847
16 October 1926


Born on July 10th, 1847, the son of James Neatby Warner; was educated at home until at the age of 20 in 1867 he won a junior scholarship at King's College, London. At the first MB University of London Examination he gained 1st class honours in chemistry and materia medica, in the second MB 1st class honours in midwifery. In 1870, after qualifying, he was House Physician at King's College Hospital. Upon this followed his appointment as Medical Registrar at the London Hospital; in due course he was elected Assistant Physician, then Physician, and after nearly forty years at the London Hospital he became Consulting Physician to the Hospital in 1913.

It was, however, his election as Assistant Physician to the East London Children's Hospital, Shadwell, which determined Warner's researches into the development and mental physiology of the child, and into the physical and mental condition of school-children in London. A guiding principle in his research was that the state and functions of the child's brain could be interpreted by the muscular movements to which they gave rise. He observed the child whilst at rest, and while performing certain simple movements, looking at an object, holding the hands straight in front of the body with the palms down. Muscular overaction or underaction of various kinds was indicative of nervous instability; slack or convulsive positions of the hand, knitting of the eyebrows, indicated nervous strain, or such a physical defect as hypermetropia.

He published from Brain (1880-1881) his Visible Muscular Conditions as Expressive of the State of the Brain and Nerve Centres (8vo, illustrated, London, 1881). In 1888 he read to the Royal Society a paper on the significance of the spontaneous movements of newborn infants, and of older babies, mental action showing itself through muscular movements - such observations led up to diagnosis and treatment of mental deficiency and disorders. Muscular movements in response to mental action were recorded by means of Marey's tambours. He had in the previous year, February, 1887, delivered three Hunterian Lectures on "The Anatomy of Movement: A Treatise on the Action of Nerve Centres and Modes of Growth" at the Royal College of Surgeons. Assisted by the British Medical Association, he made long and laborious inquiries into the mental condition of 100,000 school-children, the effect of environment on mental processes, hereditary capabilities and limitations. In classifying children he enumerated sixty-three signs of defects in bodily development. In 1889 he was a witness before the Royal Commission on the Condition of Blind, Deaf, Dumb, and Defective Children which led to the provision of special schools by the London School Board. In 1896 he was the active member of the Departmental Committee of the Local Government Board on the Feeble-Minded and on the Committee of the Home Office on Reformatory Schools; in 1898 on the Departmental Committee of the Education Department on Defective and Epileptic Children, in 1903 on the Royal Commission of Physical Training in Scotland.

At the London Hospital his principal teaching was as Lecturer on the Neuroses and Psychoses of Children, and he continued to lecture up to 1914. During the War (1914-1918) he lived in the London Hospital and worked every day as a Physician for three and a half years. In 1921 he was granted a Civil List Pension in recognition of his national services.

He had during his active career a busy consulting practice with children, and after becoming FRCP was Examiner in Medicine for the Royal College of Physicians and for several of the Universities.

He had a country house at Whitbourne, Warlingham, Kent, and died on Oct 26th, 1926. He married in 1880 Louisa Loder, daughter of William Howard, of Hampstead, who survived him with a daughter, and a son in the medical profession.

Sources used to compile this entry: [London Hosp Gaz, 1926-7, xxx, 42, with a good portrait. Nature, 1926, cxviii, 704. Bibliography in the Index Catalogue of the Surgeon General's Library, ser ii, and in the Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers, xix, ser iv].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England