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Biographical entry Webb, Allan (1808 - 1863)

MRCS July 19th 1833; FRCS Jan 10th 1861.

15 September 1863
Clevedon, Somerset
General surgeon


Born at Tamworth, the son of William Webb, artist; was successively a pupil of Haden of Derby, Jennings of Leamington, and Thomas Alcock, who lectured on surgery in London. He assisted the last-named in drawing, dissecting, and modelling, and obtained the silver medal of the Society of Arts. He next acted as Clinical Assistant at Westminster Hospital. His skill as an artist in depicting surgical anatomy came to the notice of Sir Robert Peel, and through him probably he obtained the post of Surgeon to Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta, who had quasi-metropolitan jurisdiction over the Sees of Bombay and Madras.

Webb used the opportunities afforded by travel when accompanying the Bishop to gather material for his Pathologica Indica. At intervals he worked in the Hospital at Simla, and when there was an epidemic of cholera among convicts at work on the Grand Trunk Road he took steps to check the outbreak.

On the death of Bishop Wilson, Webb reverted to the Indian Army Medical Service as Assistant Surgeon at Fort William, Calcutta, dating from March 20th, 1835, and was also appointed Professor of Military Surgery in Calcutta Medical College, and later Clinical Professor of Surgery and Surgeon to the Hospital for Natives. At the same time he developed a large surgical practice among natives of the better class. He was also Curator of the Museum, and with indefatigable industry collected specimens of forms of disease prevailing in India. He was promoted Surgeon on Oct 10th, 1849, and Surgeon Major on Feb 1st, 1859. He adhered to humoral pathology, regarded cholera as a general disease promoting exhaustion, to be treated by opium and stimulants in opposition to depletion by salines. For hepatic abscess he sought to get adhesions of the liver to the abdominal wall, so as to ensure evacuation of pus without infecting the peritoneal cavity.

He had a large experience of operations for elephantiasis of the scrotum, his experiences being published in the Indian Annals of Medical Science (1854-5, ii, 619). He also published many valuable papers in the Transactions of the Calcutta Medical Society, of which he was Secretary, and he edited the Transactions in 1842.

Ill health compelled his return to England, and he died of liver disease on Sept 15th, 1863, at Clevedon, Somerset. He left a large family; his eldest son, Allan Beecher Webb, was Bishop of Bloemfontein from 1870-1883, of Grahamstown 1883-1898, and Dean of Salisbury 1901-1907.

Pathologica Indica, or the Anatomy of Indian Diseases, 8vo, Calcutta, nd; 2nd ed, London, 1848.
The Historical Relation of Ancient Hindu with Greek Medicine in connection with the Study of Modern Medical Science in India, 8vo, Calcutta, 1850.
Elephantiasis Orientalis, and specially Elephantiasis Genitalis in Bengal, 8vo, Calcutta, 1855.
Ready Rules for Operations in Surgery, 2nd ed, 8vo, London, 1851.
He edited the Quarterly Journal of the Calcutta Medical and Physical Society for the year 1842.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1863, ii, 638, 667].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England