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Biographical entry Windsor, John (1787 - 1868)

MRCS May 1st 1812; Hon FRCS Aug 26th 1844; FLS.

Settle, Yorkshire
1 September 1868
botanist and Ophthalmic surgeon


Born at Settle in Yorkshire, one of a large family. He was educated for the most part at Giggleswick Grammar School, and then became the pupil of William Sutcliff, surgeon, of Settle. Afterwards he was for some time with a Mr Allen in London, and attended Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals. At the close of the session of 1811-1812 he received a prize from Sir Astley Cooper for anatomy and surgery. At this time he was an ardent student, often rising at 8 o'clock in the morning.

After qualifying at the College, he attended hospital practice in Edinburgh for one winter, and was taught by such able lecturers as Barclay, Hamilton, Gregory, Rutherford, and Holme. Next winter he was Clinical Clerk to Sir Astley Cooper at Guy's, and sometimes attended Abernethy's lectures. His other studies included the practice of St Thomas's and Guy's, five courses of Sir Astley Cooper's and Cline's lectures on anatomy and operations, Cooper's lectures on surgery in 1810-1814, the lectures at the London Eye Infirmary, the lectures of Dr Haighton on Midwifery, and those of Drs Babington, Marcet, and Allen on chemistry. In June, 1815, he began practice in Piccadilly, Manchester, being elected not long afterwards a Surgeon to the Manchester Eye Hospital. This post he held for some forty years.

Windsor is said to have formed the resolution early in life always to attend anyone who sought his aid, and he kept this rule till the day he died, when he saw two patients. He was a man of tireless energy and perseverance, a good example of the successful provincial practitioner. His habits were regular. He rose very early, was an ascetic in diet, despite which he kept up his spirits to an extraordinary degree and enjoyed robust health. For forty years, he sometimes averred, he had not been confined to bed for a day. He was thin and of medium height, but strongly built and possessed of great powers of endurance, on one occasion walking fifty miles in twelve hours. He was also in his earlier days an excellent swimmer.

He was always a keen botanist, and is mentioned as early as 1810 in Sir James Smith's English Botany. His herbarium was a fine one. In 1837 he was a Lecturer on Medical Jurisprudence at the Manchester Medical School, and for several years on Midwifery. He gave up some portion of almost every day to medical study, kept well abreast of his science, paying special attention to diseases of the eye and skin and to parasites; read the Classics and the French medical journals - was, in fact, a fine scholar and a man of science. He figures in The Manchester Man by Mrs Laennecus Banks.

His illness was very short and he retained his mental clearness to within a few minutes of his death, which occurred on Sept 1st, 1868. He died as he had lived at No 65 Piccadilly, Manchester, and was succeeded by his son, Thomas Windsor, MRCS, himself well known in Manchester and as editor of the Ophthalmic Review.

He paid a visit to Paris in 1822, and refers to it in the Association Medical Journal (1854, 945, footnote):-
"Perhaps I may be permitted to state that in the year 1822 I had an opportunity of accompanying Laennec in the wards of the Hôpital Necker, and of bringing with me from Paris stethoscopes in that year, and thus introducing into this part of the country their use; one was for my old friend, Dr Hull, then at the head of the profession at Manchester."

John Windsor's contributions to medical journals and transactions are voluminous. Some twenty-four papers are fully discussed in his life in the Med Times and Gaz, 1868, ii, 517-19. He also wrote copiously on botany.
His first publication, often quoted by authorities, was printed in the Med-Chir Trans in 1819, x, 358. It was communicated by Astley Cooper and is entitled, "Some Observations on Inversion of the Uterus, with a Case of Successful Extirpation of that Organ". Long afterwards he was able, through J M Arnott, to communicate "Sequel of a Case of Extirpation" to the same periodical; his patient survived for thirty-six years.
"Case of Painful Subcutaneous Tumour, in which the Tumour was Penetrated by the Twig of a Nerve." - Edin Med and Sur Jour, 1821, xvii, 261.
"Case of Malconformation, with Ascites, in a Foetus." - Ibid, 561.
"A Case of Bronchocele Cured by the Seton." - North Eng Med and Surg Jour, 1830-1, i, 325.
"Ulcers of the Cornea." - Lancet, 1830-1, i, 430.
"Permanent Contraction of the Fingers." - Ibid, 1833-4, ii, 501.
"Spontaneous Discharge of Calculi." - Prov Med Jour, 1842, 183.
"Carcinoma of the Eye." - Ibid, 1843-4, 423.
Other important contributions were made by him to the Trans Prov Med and Surg Assoc (1837, v, 375), to the Assoc Med Jour (1854-6), the Brit Med Jour (1857, 1858, 1864). He also wrote largely on tumours of the eye and eyelids, surgery of the eye, ptosis, empyema puriforme, and oöphoritis. He contributed many articles to the Phytologist and other botanical journals. After his death there was published at Manchester (8vo, 1873), for private circulation, his work, Flora Craveniensis, or a Flora of the Vicinity of Settle in Craven, Yorkshire.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England