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Biographical entry Stephens, James (1815 - 1887)

MRCS Feb 19th 1841; FRCS Dec 17th 1857; LSA 1837.

December 1887
General surgeon


Received his professional training at University College, London, and in Manchester. He settled in practice in Manchester, and in 1841 was appointed Surgeon to St Mary's Hospital, resigning in 1848.

He was a hard worker, a clever and cautious obstetrician, but was overshadowed professionally by his distinguished brother Edward Stephens (qv), whom he assisted in his work, often rising from bed at four o'clock in the morning in order to prepare specimens for Edward's class.

In his Life of Joseph Jordan (1904), Dr F W Jordan says:

"James Stephens must have been a hard worker. He did not become famous in any way, owing probably to his domestic ties and his extensive private practice; yet he had abilities which unfortunately lacked direction, and he had no ambition, otherwise his opportunities for advancement were such as fall to the lot of few men. He was, however, of great service in enabling his distinguished relatives to devote so much of their attention to the educational part of medical science by attending to their interests at home, and for this I think he deserves to be remembered."

He is described by his biographer as lively, cheerful, gentle, kindly, thoughtful, "free from the impulsiveness of his uncle", the well-known Dr Jordan. He was latterly a great reader, and could quote poetry well. He delighted in Abercrombie's book on the Intellectual Faculties, and in the works of Watson, Graves, and Trousseau. He was a Member of the Medical Society of Manchester. He died as he had lived at 68 Bridge Street, the date of his death being December, 1887. He was then the oldest practitioner in Manchester with the exception of John Boutflower, and had succeeded to Joseph Jordan's practice. He may be numbered among surgical inventors, for in 1847 he published in the Lancet (1847, 196, "On Funis Presentations") a report of thirty-three cases of prolapse of the funis, with proposal of an instrument to replace the funis within the uterus.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England