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Biographical entry Woollaston, Robert (1801 - 1865)

MRCS April 4th 1823; FRCS Aug 12th 1847; Ext LRCP Lond 1856; MRCP 1859.

22 August 1865
General surgeon and Physician


Came of the same ancient Staffordshire family as William Woollaston, the moral philosopher, author of Religion of Nature Delineated (1724). Lord Macaulay was one of his schoolfellows. He was apprenticed to a leading hospital surgeon in London, and received his medical education at the London Hospital, Guy's Hospital, and in Paris. Electing to practise in Clapham, he was introduced to a good local connection by George Darling, a physician practising in Russell Square. One of his patients was Sir James Mackintosh, the philosopher. He married and removed to Westbourne Terrace, London, where for many years his practice was large and profitable.

The sudden death of his wife completely unnerved him; he sold his practice and accepted an appointment as Physician to the Hospital at Scutari during the Crimean War. He became a member of the Imperial Medical Society of Constantinople. After the campaign he returned to England, married a second wife, and resumed practice at Cheltenham, whence he removed to Wolverhampton, where he was appointed one of the Physicians of the South Staffordshire Hospital. After about two years he removed to Stafford, having been elected Physician to the Staffordshire Infirmary and Visiting Physician to the Colon Hill Asylum. Colon Hill was the original seat of his family. In going there and in accepting public appointments he doubtless attained some of his dearest wishes, for he had always had a strong desire to be connected with some public institution. The state of Mrs Woollaston's health, however, now led him to seek a warmer climate. In Rome he studied antiquities, especially mosaics, and was about to continue his pursuit in Pompeii, when exposure to the sun's heat in the streets of Naples brought on congestion of the brain, followed by diarrhoea and inflammation of the lungs. Dr John Topham, whom he had succeeded as Physician to the South Staffordshire Hospital, had preceded him to Rome and was telegraphed for on Aug 16th, 1865. He came from Sorrento and thrice visited Woollaston, staying the night each time, but, despite all that medical skill could do, Woollaston sank and died on Aug 22nd. He was buried in the English burial-ground, the service being read by the Rev Pelham Maitland, who had been a Wolverhampton vicar.

The Sanitary Advantages of Baths, especially the Turkish, or Roman Bath: A Lecture, 8vo, Cheltenham, 1860.
A Short Description of the Thermae Romano-Britannicae, or the Roman Baths found in Italy, Britain, France, Switzerland, etc, etc, 4to, London, 1864.

Sources used to compile this entry: [His name is spelt WOOLLASTON in the Fellows' Register, and WOLLASTON in College Lists].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England