Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Wood, Frederick (1820 - 1906)

MRCS July 2 1841; FRCS (by election) Oct 11th 1860; LSA 1841.

8 February 1906


First practised at 8 Great James Street, Bedford Row, when he became a member of the Microscopical Society of London. He then was appointed Apothecary, or Resident Medical Officer, to St Bartholomew's Hospital on March 23rd, 1847, receiving 115 votes as against the 100 of his opponent, Thomas Rivington Wheeler (qv). On the outbreak of cholera in 1849 St Bartholomew's was the first London hospital to open its doors widely and indiscriminately to sufferers from the epidemic. Between June 17th and Oct 6th 478 cases were treated, of which 199 died. The Physicians, with Wood and his two assistants, Mr Helps and Mr Burd, had charge of the cases. Only one of those engaged in the service died of cholera, although Wood, some of the clinical clerks and the sisters suffered severely from premonitory symptoms, which were arrested by a short suspension from their duties.

From July 23rd to Oct 23rd, 1854, 322 patients suffering from cholera were admitted at St Bartholomew's, and of these 105 died. Seventy guineas were voted to Dr Robert Martin, who had resided in the Hospital during the epidemic, and fifty to Mr Wood, as a reward for their services. The treatment consisted of calomel, 5 gr at frequent intervals or smaller doses every ten to fifteen minutes, or calomel and opium, 5 gr, three times a day, or calomel with salines or castor oil, or castor oil with tincture of capsicum. Ice-cold drinks, liquid nutriment, and some alcohol were given. Calomel and opium at the onset seemed most beneficial.

The office of Apothecary was abolished in December, 1867, when four House Physicians were appointed, each to be paid £25 a year.

Frederick Wood then went into practice in St Paul's Churchyard with an address at Woodridings, Pinner, Middlesex. By 1875 be had moved from St Paul's Churchyard to Knightrider Street, Doctors' Commons, EC. In the early eighties he had settled at 13 Marine Square, Brighton.

He died at 12 Lewes Crescent, Kemp Town, Brighton, on Feb 8th, 1906, survived by his wife, three sons and one daughter. His net estate amounted to well over £46,000. Sir Norman Moore gives the following account of his duties:-

"His work was that of fourteen men of the times after his, that is, of ten house physicians, two casualty physicians, and two junior assistant physicians. He also acted as a kind of secretary to the physicians, receiving the fees for medical practice then paid them. Every applicant for treatment was at that period admitted to the casualty department up to 9 am, or a little later. From one hundred to three hundred and fifty used to appear. All these patients were seen and treated or admitted by the apothecary, and Mr Wood, after twenty years' service, used to or one of intestinal obstruction. His decisions belonged rather to prognosis than to diagnosis. His acute observation enabled him rapidly to arrive at a determination of the degree of a patient's illness rather than of its nature. He knew who ought to be admitted to the wards at once, and as for the remaining patients, if he had not time to be elaborate, he had great skill in the use of what Johnston calls 'The power of art without the show'.

"He went round all the medical wards every day. The physicians of his time used to mention useful fragments of medical knowledge which they had learnt from the large experience of Mr Wood. He had the taste for botany proper to apothecaries from the time of formation of their guild, and grew vallisneria with a success uncommon in his time….

"In 1868 house physicians were created, and the last apothecary to St Bartholomew's retired on a pension."

Sources used to compile this entry: [Norman Moore's History of St Bartholomew's Hospital, ii, 392, 394, 720, 722. There is an interesting account of the Casualty Department at St Bartholomew's Hospital by Robert Bridges, MB Oxon, afterwards Poet Laureate, in the St Bart's Hosp Rep, 1878, xiv, 167].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England