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Biographical entry Osborn, Samuel (1848 - 1936)

MRCS 26 January 1871; FRCS 8 June 1876; LSA 1870; DL City of London; JP Co Bucks.

15 April 1848
16 April 1936
Datchet, Buckinghamshire
General surgeon and Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Born at Brixton, 15 April 1848, the only son of Samuel Osborn, FRCS, and his wife, née Mayhew. He was educated at Epsom College and at Wren's, well known as a "crammer" for the army examinations. He then entered St Thomas's Hospital, where he was house surgeon, house physician, resident accoucheur, surgical registrar, and for five years anaesthetist. He was interested for a short time in the treatment of diseases of women, was surgeon to the Hospital for Women in Soho Square, and during this period wrote a work on The sympathetic affections of the breast, bladder, and rectum, with uterus and appendages, which appeared about 1898. From 1883 onwards he delivered lectures at various centres on first aid, nursing, and hygiene with such success that he published a little book which was translated into Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hindustani, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. He thus became associated with Sir John Furley and assisted him in forming the British Red Cross and St John Committee by an amalgamation of the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, the Army Nursing Reserve, and the St John Ambulance Association.

In 1897 he worked with a Greek ambulance during the Greco-Turkish war, and was decorated Officier de 1'Ordre royal du Sauveur; in 1899 he served with Lord Methuen's column during the South African war, was surgeon to several ambulances, was often mentioned in despatches, and received the medal with clasps. On his return to England he was appointed a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and was made permanent secretary of the International Red Cross Society. In 1912 he served with the Turkish forces as surgeon to the Red Crescent during the Balkan war. In August 1914 he went to Belgium with three dressers and three surgical nurses, one of whom was his daughter, and took over a Belgian hospital located in a private house at Gembloux. When they arrived it was found that the village was in possession of German troops, who had advanced so rapidly that they had neither doctors nor nurses. They treated German and Belgian wounded for some weeks, until a German hospital arrived when they moved to the English convent at Bruges. Osborn was afterwards placed in charge of Lady Dundonald's Hospital at Eaton Square, London. For his work in Belgium he was decorated with the Croix de Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Couronne.

Early in life Osborn was surgeon to the Royal Naval Volunteers; late in life he was chief surgeon to the metropolitan corps of the St John Ambulance Brigade. He was also surgeon to the Surgical Appliance Association and to the Metropolitan Convalescent Institution from 1880 to 1922. He was the recipient of medals for long service in the St John Ambulance Brigade, of the jubilee medal for 1887 to which was added the clasp for 1897, having been on duty in the streets with first aid detachments, the coronation medals of 1902 and 1911 for similar services, the Japanese Royal Red Cross decoration for his labours in promoting first aid; and the war medals of 1914-18. He was Master of the Society of Apothecaries in 1919-20.

He married in October 1884 Elizabeth (d 1927), the younger daughter of Robert Boyd, MD, of Bolton Row, Mayfair, and Southall, Middlesex. Their only child married Colonel J B O Trimble of Rhydda Bank, Trentishoe, North Devon. Osborn died on 16 April 1936 at Datchet, Bucks, where he had long lived in retirement, taking an active part in connexion with the Church Lads Brigade and the Boy Scouts.

Hydrocele. St Thos Hosp Rep 1874, 5, 73, and 1876, 7, 101.
Notes on diseases of the testis. London, 1880.
Annotations on anaesthetics. St Thos Hosp Rep 1880, 10, 49, and 1882, 11, 23. Ambulance lectures: first aid to the injured. London, 1885.
Ambulance lectures on home nursing and hygiene. London 1885; 2nd edition, 1891. Premiers secours à donner aux malades et aux blesses. Paris, 1894.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information given by Mrs Trimble, his daughter; The Times, 17 April 1936; Lancet, 1936, 1, 974, with portrait; Brit med J 1936, 1, 864].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England